Dear not-yet-30 Nigerian girl, I duly received your earlier letter asking me what you must do before you turn 30. It was a very expressive letter, though only flawed with a couple of grammatical errors here and there. You are forgiven though, for english has never been your father’s language. Nevertheless, and in response to that, I shall be very brief with what I have to tell you, but if I happen to be long, please bear with me for it is how deeply this issue has touched me for the past three weeks that I’ve been having this argument with a very good friend as to the ‘unprecedented’ achievement of getting married before you turn 30. I clearly detected the belated and relished tone of your letter. It might seem crazy what I have to say, but I would say it nonetheless. Let me go straight to the point. Forgive my brusqueness and mindlessness in replying you like this, for I’ve never had the ‘golden’ opportunity of experiencing what am telling you myself. So, see below the six most important things you need to do before you turn 30:
1. Marry: Because that is the only way you become complete as human. That is the only route to be acceptable to society. Things would get better if you get married, notwithstanding that your father might be richer than Bill Gates. The institution known as marriage remains the only fundamental basis of your worth as a member of our larger society. Don’t be like those incomplete women who tag themselves ‘feminists’ and ‘independent women’. Those ones parading themselves as independent women or feminists are nothing but some bunch of failed women! They are not truly speaking of the psychological torment they undergo on many sleepless nights when they don’t have any man to warm their beds. So, don’t emulate them. Marry! It doesn’t even matter that you have to throw away your father’s sweet-sounding and much-meaning surname to bear a husband’s own meaningless surname. Haven’t you noticed? the media is majorly overshadowed with subtle, yet powerful messages that being married is the fons et origo of feminine existence. You would constantly be reminded of your flower-like longevity as a woman. That he might be bad-tempered, randy and a serial wife batterer is of no significance. You would even be expected to throw away your own body’s autonomy. And if you are able to miraculously scale the hurdle of being accepted by his family members – most especially his mother and sisters, go to a nearby church and give the highest amount of thanksgiving ever given in that church. Haven’t you noticed that even church messages are heavily furnished with this marriage-mania? “My husband must not pass me by this year,” calls out that church’s crusade banner. “You must receive your heavenly husband by this month!” the preacher would triumphantly declare on radio. “I must get married this year!” the T.V would echo, while reminding you of the 3-day single sisters crusade being organised by the local church. But, that certainly is not the end of the matter, for a mother in-law’s arms were specifically created to rock babies. You know what to do. And where the babies have refused to leave wherever was their initial abode to grace your marriage, quickly go for a spiritual cleansing or to a very potent babalawo who would inquire into unfathomable depths to know what is preventing them from coming. It doesn’t matter the despicable things you have to do in order to have babies. When the babies finally decide to let go off where they initially reside to grace your marriage, and your husband is going about showing off his bloated ego of how he has made you a complete woman, suffer in silence sister. He is right. Lest I forget, remember to give him sons especially, or else mother in-law literally show you hell. Wherever it is you know sons are made, go to any length and give him because that is the only way his ancestry would continue. If you don’t give him sons, he might be publicly scorned, and where that happens, you would bear the brunt of it alone. Weep secretly, but smile publicly. That’s the idea. You are married. End of story.
2. I said marry: Even though you might never have the slightest iota of ‘love’ for him, don’t worry, just go ahead and pretend as if you love him. Its just a matter of time. With time, you would learn to love him. His roof over your head, his wealth at your beck and his surname that you are now sharing are enough consideration for you to love him. Where’s the place of love in marriages today? After all, you are far better than those old sourpussed spinsters parading themselves as independent women. Those lesbians! Psychological wrecks! Do you know what it means to have your own man – whether he is the type that has hotter-than-fire loins? He might not even get to fulfil your emotional needs, but don’t worry, dear, you are married. That’s all that matters. The sex timetable is according to the frequency of his sexual urge. It is just one funless boring routine like that. In the middle of the night, his hands would ‘mistakenly’ stray across your breasts. You instantly become awake. You immediately spread your legs as his plaything because you understand. The sex itself is a slapdash, lacklustre affair. When he’s sexually satiated, he rolls over to sleep without bothering to see the furrows of unfulfilled desires stealing over your soul. Don’t ever open your mouth to speak of how unfulfilled you are, sister, or else you would be sent back home to your parents – and consequently bring shame upon your family. Telling of how unfulfilled your emotions and needs are is only done by loose women – women of easy virtues. Or do you want to be labelled a nagging wife? And if he ever forces you to have sex against your will, that is not rape sister. The law backs him for that. He can demand the services of your body anytime he wants. Your body is his to be sated with pleasure. Its his right. It doesn’t affect him in the least that you might be famished after a tedious day nor that some ‘unhappy’ and ‘envious’ ones in the guise of feminism are advocating for your own rights, too.
3. You should marry: Even though you might be the one single-handedly feeding and housing the able-bodied man and your children from the meagre salary you receive or the little business profits you’ve managed to pool, don’t bother sister. Just bear and pretend everything is perfect. Its just for the now. Even if tomorrow he gets a job and decides not to do his own duties of providing for the family as the head of the house again by making Madam Vero’s beer parlour as his place of permanent abode, don’t worry, just go ahead and continue doing the husband’s work, that’s marriage. Its for better or worse – however for better or worse as it suits the husband. He might even come back at 1am and is heavily smelling of a woman’s cologne – you knew this because he bought you the same type on your last birthday. She (side chick) might have even suggested he buy it as your birthday present – but don’t worry sister, he’s a man and would always be one. Bottom line is you are married. In any case, just remember to make ready your body for the night, in case the stud hasn’t gotten enough feel of his extra-marital concubines. Should you complain to a senior, more experienced wife, she would duly tell you of how men are lords in our society. “Don’t you address him as my lord?” she would coldly ask. That settles it. And when you meet the pastor in your perturbed state, he would joyfully tell your sorrow-laden soul that Mark 10:9 has finalised your case. ie, “What God has joined together, let no man, trouble, pain, predicament, suffering (the list goes on) put assunder. He would quickly point out the bible portion in Ephesians 5:21-24, which requires you to submit to your husband, while stressing how important it is for you to be humble, gentle, and tolerant of your husband’s unsavoury behaviours. And where your confused mind is still seeking for more explanation, he would gladly guide you to 1st Timothy 2:11-12 which says, “Women should learn in all silence and humility; I do not allow them to teach or to have authority over men, they must keep quiet.” (Good News Bible).
4. Marry: Or if you don’t, there would be a very big problem. A very big problem. When at Tessy’s baby shower or Amina’s birthday party, and you listen to all the old girls effortlessly and endlessly mouthing out the ‘heavenly’ bliss their marriage has thus far fruited, you would become heartbroken I assure you. Even the mannish Amaka, whose hair was always cut short, and had little or no feminine charms would join in the gossip to point out your odd-one-out status as the only non-married member remaining from secondary school because she happened to have joined the league of married women. A bevy of them all, praising to high heavens their perfect marriage. However, Susan would never tell that the week-old bruises she’s manfully wearing were administered by her abusive husband, nor would Stella ever tell of how her ten-year old son, Junior, is gradually turning into a full-time thief by ‘taking’ money from her purse and throwing a class-break snacks bash for his friends, nor would Vicky tell of her pubertal daughter’s well-known shameful conduct of being a runs girl, nor would even Jumoke tell of her well-known he-goat of a husband’s widely circulated rumour of impregnating 5 different women. They would only be telling of how wonderful and heavenly their respective families have been. You would become a mental wreck after listening to them and you don’t have your own husband. You see, there’s no problem with you having your own impish ‘Junior’ or a reprehensible character as a daughter. It’s just a mere price to pay for being married. You are far off better than any unmarried, and of course, unhappy spinster. It doesn’t matter the near-death experience of childbirth nor the fact that you’ve turned into a constant HBP in-patient of the nearby hospital for time without end because you happen to be a mother of stubborn children. Just marry. That’s all that counts.
5. Yes, marry: You are getting to 28 and you happen to be of the Igbo ethnic affiliation and no male homo sapiens is showing the slightest interest in you, do you want all your father’s ‘investment’ on your head to become a waste, if you don’t get married? Your mother would not longer hide her disdain for you remaining in her own house to share her husband with her. Just go out and marry anything. Moreso if you are of Bini customary origin and you are getting close to 25, 26 or 27 and no suitor is knocking on your father’s door, then my sister, that wicked old witch in your village really needs to be appeased. For beyond 30, your brideprice starts depreciating. You are of the muslim stock and your father unceremoniously announces that you would be married off to Alhaji Danladi, you grandfather’s age-mate, immediately you turn 18. Alhaji Danladi already has 3 wives, but because you have been bethrothed to him when you were born and Islam allows a man to have as many wives he wants (can control), you must marry him whether you like it or not. Don’t complain sister, just go ahead and play a subservient handmaid role in Alhaji’s house, because that’s what you would end up being. Alhaji being the omnipotent master. It doesn’t even matter that you might be in your 2nd year in the University then. And if by chance you ‘mistakenly’ like one very good non-Muslim boy in your class, don’t ever increase the mistake by falling in love with him, or else you would spell doom for yourself and your remaining sisters. Because your father would construe such ‘irresponsible’ conduct to be the ugly fruits of sending a girl to school, and thus would stop sending your other sisters to school. “Haven’t I said it that nothing good comes out of that their western education when given to girls? The girls would only turn out to become disobedient and rebellious to their parents!” He would angrily thunder in a family meeting. And all his 3 wives -your stepmothers – would speechlessly nod their approval in unison. It is inimical of a properly brought-up muslim girl, they would all echo in their hearts. And you that your parents happen to be far down the rungs of societal ladder, or they are even classless, as it were, you are excused for getting married (or being auctioned off, to put it appropriately) to 60-year old Oga Monday at 14. That you might develop Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) or other life-altering diseases is just the added incendiary to the marriage (auctioning).
6. Last of all, you need to be married before you get to 30 sister. By all means marry! The reason is simply because marriage is the be-all and end-all of your existence as a woman in our society. Marriage is the subsistence of your societal standing. Society has made it so. It doesn’t matter that you’ve gone to school and learnt, learnt, learnt and acquired all the certificates in the world and you are now emitting book, book, book all about you. It would all end up in the house of something that parades himself as a man. It doesn’t sound okay to us that you laboured to get a very good Phd. added to your name, without bearing ‘Mrs’. You see, when you write your name as Dr. Prof. Miss Tope Williams, the ‘Miss’ doesn’t fit at all. That you might have been a first-class student is of no consequence to us if you don’t end up married. If you happen to be reading this private letter and you are a Nigerian lady getting close to 30 and not yet married, sister, the witches and wizards in your village are seriously at work. Its time to visit that prayer house, native doctor or white-garment church. Let your prayer point all through be, “God, give me my own husband this year.” And if the lascivious prophet suggests that you personally come for a personal deliverance by 11pm in his bedroom or a spiritual bath at the nearby stream by 12 midnight, don’t worry sister. Its all for the good of getting married. It doesn’t matter that he gets a first-hand taste of what you are preserving for your future husband. After all, the thing has no meter. So just marry. Marry anything at all that happens to label himself a man even though he might not have the slightest inkling of what manhood is about.
The greatest barometer, as far as our society is concerned, is whether at the end of all your endeavours as a woman, you have a husband to ‘gloriously’ crown your efforts. Therefore, if on the voyage called life and on the path to greatness, you perchance forgot to marry along the line before you clock 30, you should be gravely sad and depressed for life should not be worth living in your case. Feel all the ‘goodness’ that society has thrown your way as a woman and embrace them with an open mind. Well, I think that’s about it for now. Until then, thank you for your understanding.
Arikor Collins Ogonnaya,