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Read Letter

Bolekaja Reprise

My dear Jil, I get worried when I get mails like yours. Come on, think! By your own admission this guy is temperamental and you doubt he loves you – you feel he’s using you as placeholder. He’s unwilling to travel to see you though you’re in the same region. And he blames you for his woes. You have constant fights and he cuts you off for periods. And then you have to apply yourself to restart the relationship. It’s what I’d call a bolekaja relationship. I’ve told you about bolekaja buses before.

A bolekaja bus is a cultural staple. Your father’s generation is well familiarised with it. It’s the original mass transit. It’s so uncomfortable that an altercation between passengers can only be resolved by disembarkation, hence the name bolekaja. Bolekaja literarily means, “Come down let us fight.” That’s West African Yoruba language. The name came from the peculiar sitting arrangement of the bolekaja bus. It’s actually a Bedford truck with a built fuselage. There are two wooden benches running the span of the bus on either side, a double bench in the middle. In conventional buses, the people sit facing the north. In a bolekaja bus, the people sit facing east and west. The corridor between the benches is so strictured maximisation of space comes by the tucking of knees. No headroom. When the driver wants to create additional space for yet more passengers he steps on the brake pedal suddenly. The people naturally slide to the north of the bus, the incredibly bald wooden benches serving as glides. The friction of the benches has been worn out by successive derrieres seeking to maximise personal comfort.

What makes the bolekaja bus a technological wonder is that it must be cranked before the engine starts. If the engine stops running at any juncture of the journey, the conductor (bus attendant) has to disembark to crank up the bus. He inserts the crank into the front of the engine through the grill, does a few revolutions and the engine kicks to life. Unfortunately, the bus has been phased out by the municipal authority so you can’t come across one. If there is ever a museum of transportation in Lagos, a bolekaja bus has to feature prominently.

Your relationship strongly resembles the engineering configuration of a bolekaja bus. Every time you fight the bus breaks down. After some days, one of you emerges with a crank and cranks the engine. It sputters for a few days, starts running. But after some time the engine coughs and stops, and you have to crank again. What are you doing in a relationship in which a guy doesn’t love you? How can you want to go into marriage with a man you know doesn’t love you? You must really hate yourself. You’re somehow hoping this relationship would sputter to the marriage registry. And it doesn’t matter to you in what state the relationship gets to the registry – bandaged, bruised or battered. What seems to matter to you is that the relationship stumbles across the finish line, somehow. You won’t embark on a long journey with a sputtering car. Why embark on a life journey in a sputtering marriage vehicle? You already know at some point that vehicle will break down. It’s so obvious. That it sputters to life every time you crank it doesn’t justify embarking on a perilous journey in a poor vehicle. At some point, such vehicles will refuse to listen to cranks. You’re taking a huge risk being in such a marriage vehicle.

Don't embark on a life journey in a sputtering marriage vehicle. Click To Tweet

If the antecedents of your relationship portend future unhappiness, shouldn’t you have a rethink? Poor vehicles have a knack for breaking down in the most desolate places. Poor vehicles are very temperamental. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bolekaja bus or a marriage vehicle. Such vehicles have a knack for breaking down when you can’t afford a breakdown, or at odd hours. You don’t embark on a marriage journey in a vehicle whose gasoline is futile hope. The theology of audacity of hope does not apply to foolish marital choices. That’s mendacity. When we’re besotted with foolishness in the choice of spouse, we turn commonsense on the head and create a philosophy of pain. All that talk that at the beginning it’s supposed to be tough…and then it will get better… Tell me, if in the early stage when you’re supposed to be on a sugar hill you keep fighting, how can the latter be happy? Why do we assume relationships are supposed to be fraught with fights and disagreements! Isn’t it telling you already that you’re incompatible if you keep fighting? Why would you see a lion’s den ahead and suddenly decide your name is Mungo Park? Why would you want to turn the fabric of your soul into a rag? That’s what these constant fights do. I keep telling you emotions of love and workability of a relationship are two different things. That you love someone doesn’t mean the relationship will work. Emotion and practical reality can be two different things.

That you love someone doesn’t mean the relationship will work Click To Tweet

Before you embark on marital foolishness go and spend time visiting with someone who’s been through horrific divorce. The life of that divorcee represents the draft of the prose of your life if you insist on bad marital choice. There’s no poetry in pain. Despite Hollywood there’s nothing romantic about disappointment and a broken heart. The man who romanticises emotional trauma has been reading novels by imaginative authors. So sit down and reevaluate this relationship. Should this be the man you should be wanting? Should this relationship be the kind of marriage you should be desiring? It’s either you face the truth about your relationship, or you fool yourself like a CNN poll on electability of Trump. And sometimes we manage to convince ourselves about lies with lies. When you live in alternative reality, it’s a matter of time before reality revolts against you. I can analyse things for you, proffer wisdom…but the decision as always is yours.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |

Tags : Choosing a partner

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