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Read Letter

Accident Waiting To Happen

Dear Jil,

Let me restate the facts just to be sure I got things right. You met an older gentleman just a few months back – five months ago to be precise.

Within that period he asked to meet your parents. Turns out your mum in particular likes him. And somehow a wedding date has been set 5 months hence even though in fact you have your misgivings. For one you’re only 24. (He’s almost 40). You’ve not completed your studies in university. And you’re not physically attracted to him. I assume you’re also not sexually attracted to him. You seem ashamed of certain anatomical features situate in the region of his head. I won’t specify. The whole scenario is a bit hard for me to understand though. I’m a bit confused. You really don’t want this man obviously. Why then do you keep progressing the relationship towards marriage?

He doesn’t know you don’t have same feelings for him. He assumes he’s found a “good girl!” And now you’re contending with the pressure of a marriage chiefly orchestrated by your mum. Like any mum her joy is to see you married.

When you introduced this gentleman to your parents they of course assumed you were serious. They assumed you knew what you were doing. Who introduces an older gentleman she’s not sure about to her parents?! Surely the purpose of such an introduction was not to facilitate discussion of local government elections among adults. So your parents are gleefully preparing for marriage, and the gentleman is looking forward to marrying you. You’re being herded into matrimony and now you’re panicky. You don’t know how to tell the gentleman about your true and contrary feelings. You don’t want to break his heart; not all over again. It’s been broken once, by someone else. Your conscience is troubling you. You’ll disgrace your family and disappoint your “fiancé” if you back out.

Now I do recognise that people somehow find themselves in this bind, or shall I say put themselves in this bind. If you go ahead with the marriage plan there’s a sincere possibility you’ll grow to love him. But there’s also a corollary possibility. You may not grow to love him! And that’s the scenario I fear the most.

Marriage is not a vacation job. It’s a lifetime commitment ab initio. It’s not an internship. In other words you’re going to be stuck with those same physical attributes you dislike but can’t share with your man. And it will spill over into other things including sex. Sex is physical intimacy afterall. You are working to marry a man you can barely tolerate physically. Let’s just say you’re potentially joking with depression. Not just for him but for you as well. You will be unhappy and you won’t be able to explain your unhappiness. Repulsion is an amazing thing. You may end up hating an innocent, albeit undiscerning man.

And that feeling of being rushed into marriage at a young age can metamorphose into feeling cheated later in life. You’re going to feel that may be you could have done better with your choice, if you had been patient. As your classmates start getting married and you start meeting their husbands, jealousy may set in. You’ve been lacking in moral courage so far. Isn’t it high time you redeem yourself? Shouldn’t you fess up about your true feelings on the prospect of this impending matrimony? Shouldn’t you sit your mother down and talk? I mean, TALK!

The only reason you’re going into this marriage is to please others – your mother and your fiancé. You don’t go into a marriage to please people, or not to disappoint someone. That’s dangerous! Someone’s going to wind up in a psychiatrist’s chair down the line. Or become vicious, or bitter. You may end up very unhappy and end up cheating on your spouse. Being real! Jil, marriage is a potent experience. It always processes people. The man who goes in is never the man who comes out. Think.

As to feeling being shepherded into matrimony at the urging of others, let me share a story with you. At a T-junction in Las Gidi – the endearing baptisimal name your generation gave the city of Lagos – I witnessed something. In the traffic was a gentleman in a new Toyota Camry car. The traffic was manic as usual. Private mini bus (Danfo) drivers were particularly aggravated. They’re always aggravated. I suspect many are on a loooong tin! Behind the gentleman in the new Toyota Camry sedan was a Danfo driver. He kept bullying the man to jut his nose into the vicious space where two roads and eight lanes butted. Horns and verbal abuses. He used some Fela Anikulapo-Kuti epithets: Zombie, Suegbe (mentally slow individual)…and a few others Fela didn’t use. The sun was particularly hot. The heat boiled bloods. The neck muscles of our Danfo driver was bulging, his veins throbbing with hot blood. He was sweaty in his singlet, his eyes blood shot with anger. He kept yelling at the Camry man, so much harassment. Were he in front he would have manuevered his way through the logjam using the threat of damaging someone’s car. Such threats are very credible. Ask any Lagosian! Under so much pressure the Camry man lunged forward. And a car rammed into him, tearing his fender. Did our Danfo driver sympathise with him? No! He abused him further, using the Fela epithets in a new context: “Oode! (Dim witted fool), Suegbe (Of slow intellect)…So you don’t even know how to drive!… …Shio!” (Shame on you and your pedigree. And you’re a disgrace!). As you can see, English is no match for the depth and profundity of African dialect.

All sweaty faced, our Danfo driver maneuvered his way through the knot, threatened cars and sped off. And that which was spoken by the Danfo driver came to pass: our Camry man was now indeed “Ode!” (fool). And the urging and pressure became prophecy. He was left to his fate, and his troubles, alone. And that is the end of my story. Make what you can of it. I’m just a story teller!

May God grant you courage and wisdom.

I remain your loving mentor, LA.

©Leke Alder 2013



Tags : Marriage, Older gentleman

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