You Are Single, What Do You Do With Your Money?

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SingleI needed to process a benefit for a colleague, the company in recognizing the difficult economic terrain had amended the rules to indicate that an employee could either get that particular benefit as immediate cash or deferred benefit. I reached out to him to confirm his preference and he gave the response 99% of Nigerians will give in the circumstances (myself included)- he would prefer cash. Because he and I had a friendly relationship, I teased him that why not defer it since it wasn’t a lot of money. He insisted it be paid out immediately, he went on to list a few pressing needs that money could sort and ended with: Shey me I don’t have responsibilities yet, and shey I have a sponsor!

This question/ assumption, alongside the- when are you getting married (or whatever variant of the question the interrogator chooses to use) are one of the most frequently asked questions I currently get. In the workplace, at social events, among friends; it’s like everyone not-single keeps asking this question. The ones not asking are thinking it and will ask it one day.

I find it particularly exhausting. Like everytime it comes up, I’m just tired. The reason for this tiredness is; for everyone who asks this question, I scream a mental not you too! Or another one bites the foolishness dust! And I sigh. Deeply!

I find it particularly sad (and irritating) that someone will believe that any sane person, in this Lagos (regardless of marital status) will choose to put his or herself through the torture of waking up at an ungodly hour everyday- every blessed work day, navigate Lagos traffic, endure shitty less than stellar bosses and work colleagues; because of fulfilment, or to keep busy! Doesn’t make a lick of sense. And calls into question your sense of judgement if you hold that opinion. Maybe if I worked in another city I could better understand the logic behind that question and belief, but because we (my interrogators and I) work in Lagos, I cannot understand it. No matter how much I try.

The logic is, because you are single you don’t have any responsibilities, abi? Single working-class folks are just piling up the money, no responsibilities. Yeah right! It’s even worse when you are female, guys are given a somewhat free pass- because its believed they probably have a girlfriend(s) whom they foot their bills (the belief that men foot their lady’s bill is just bullshit an empty belief. Where are the men who supposedly foot their women’s bills- or even like 50% of the bills (and I’m not referring to transactional relationships)? I haven’t met them and no one around me has! But that’s a rant for another day).

There’s also the ones that will come to borrow money from you and get upset when you decline. That one is just plain old bad behavior.  But then, you’re single; what do you do with your money? Why won’t you have money when I need to borrow it?

Let’s take a step back before I totally go off; while I agree the married person has more responsibilities in that the family is bigger (current nuclear and previous nuclear family), do we stop to think, just for a moment that; perhaps, just maybe the reason the single person is still single is because- current responsibilities will not allow for added responsibilities? Possible? That’s a thought though.

So, you ask the married person for his/her responsibilities- and they always without fail mention their parents and/or siblings in addition to their spouse and children. The question now is- did you just start caring for your parents and siblings when you got married? If no, then perhaps you shouldn’t be asking the single person what he/she does with his/her money. Shouldn’t the answer to that be very easily derived?

A thought does occur to me though, maybe I shouldn’t be looking at this lapse in memory as a single event but should look at it from the perspective that we Nigerians have very short memories and can believe the most outrageous things. All it takes for something to become authentic is for us to hear it being repeated often or repeated by someone we believe knows better (an influencer- off and on-line).   Even when someone is trying to rejig our memory and to remind us of past events that negate our current conclusions, or to logically point out another perspective, we adamantly refuse to reason because it is said or Lagbaja said so. Case in point- pre and during 2015 elections. Its 2018 and some of us have still not regained our reasoning.

Or perhaps I should situate this question (and other such) in terms of the fact that we are naturally nosy people who never mind our business. Maybe if I did, I won’t find it so sad or irritating. With us, if it isn’t this one thing it’s another, we are always all up in other people’s business at the detriment of ours. It’s a proven fact that Nigerians are very good at putting out fires in other people’s fields while our kitchen is on fire. And when someone points out that our kitchen is on fire, we deny with our last breath, even when the smoking kitchen is obvious for all to see; our kitchen isn’t on fire. Case closed. That’s our story. Or do you want to argue with the owner of the house about the state of his/her house?

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To avoid being on the giving or receiving end of offense, we should all learn to mind our business. Might be difficult, particularly for those of us for which it will be like learning new skills in old age, but it must be done. It isn’t my business what I do with my pay- the company which pays me doesn’t ask me what I do with the money they pay me; and that’s because I have worked for the money. Same way you shouldn’t ask me why I am yet to marry or have a child, or get a masters, or go bungee diving, or have a plastic surgery for the heck of it. We should all pay attention to our businesses aka: Mind Your Business! It isn’t that difficult. Abi? How difficult can it be to mind your own business?

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This article was initially published here on BellaNaija.

Photo credit: Dreamstime/BellaNaija

The Other Woman

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This article was conceived in Lagos traffic. There’s nothing new about Lagos traffic; it’s where talents are developed and lost, and majority of the population waste away, slowly, daily, unknowingly.

The Other Woman, Chinma Eke Blog

So, there I was in home-bound, distracting myself with twitter when I stumbled on an article about the late Princess Diana, and since no article on Princess Diana can be complete without a mention of Camilla Parker Bowles, I also did a quick google search on Camilla. I had always been curious about her and it beat looking out at the sea of cars and wondering why we aren’t yet closer to our destination. I had always thought of Camilla as ‘the other woman’, I bet that’s how most of the world sees her. I think I read somewhere there was a time she was the most hated woman on earth! That evening I tried to read up on the woman for whom Prince Charles was willing to give up the throne, I tried to keep an open mind regardless of my views. I’ve always had this feeling this is not the life she would have chosen, it couldn’t have been easy being the world’s most hated mistress.

I’m staunchly #teammarriage or perhaps #teammonogamy I don’t care if the love is written in the stars by the gods, if they are married; leave them alone! It doesn’t matter if they are reasonable in the marriage, you shouldn’t date them until they decide they want out of the marriage. However, the same me loves the series- Scandal, as a matter of fact I loved it better when Fitz and Mellie were married and Olivia was the other woman. Olivia had gumption, she was the strong ‘single’ lady who could make or break the American presidency; while Mellie, though no push-over was constrained by the ‘Mrs.’ title, I think the script writers didn’t do her character justice.

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Either way and inspite of my love for Olivia Pope, I’m still #teammonogamy! I believe marriage is a binding contract and like all contracts should be adhered to with all parties abiding by its terms. At any time either of the parties chooses or needs to walk away all they have to do is notify the other party, have a conversation and observe the terms and conditions of disengagement. Like an employment contract; it’s unethical to be in full term employment with ABC industries and at the same time employed by XYZ industries. The moment you get the employment with XYZ you must leave ABC. Clean break!

Then I thought of the side hustle, most people have one and it does not actively interfere with their day job. Could the relationship with the mistress be termed ‘the side hustle’? Let’s not go down that lane because then we have to think of the sequence of activities that have to take place for *Chike to move to XYZ. He must apply, attend interviews, negotiate with XYZ, while still at ABC! Now liken that to a marriage, the application and interview process is already termed cheating in my mind. For me, the moment you see the XYZ ad and decide to apply; please let’s have a conversation and agree to part amicably. I cannot come and be thinking you are still on my team while you are testing the waters outside. But then, how can you resign when you aren’t sure you will get the new job or that the terms they will offer will be favorable? Also, you could see an opportunity that doesn’t require your full-time attention and allows you to merge it with your day job successfully without either suffering. There are even cases where the boss and colleagues know of the side hustle and even patronize you- lol, I can’t liken that one to a relationship o! It’s mind boggling; very French!

So, I tried to have this conversation with my friend to be sure I haven’t fallen off the #teammarriage wagon by beginning to understand what drives ‘the side hustle’.  She made matters worse by trying to rationalize why people look outside and the economic importance of ‘the other woman’. She cited the 2014 rom-com: The Other Woman. She was of the opinion that Leslie Mann’s character- Kate didn’t have that extra pizzaz a fine young upwardly mobile man’s wife should have and even her biological children will have cheated on her! In her opinion, it wasn’t all bad; Carly and Amber took off a lot of pressure for Kate, her husband came home happy not snappy, etc. I need new friends!  

The other woman

We did distil that thought though, Kate probably wasn’t like that before marriage, she most likely had the ‘extra’, enough to get herself to the alter. Whatever happened after the vows, in the movie she said she gave up a lot for her husband, but we all saw how it turned out. But why are we like that; very promising before marriage or before we are offered a job but quick to get complacent once we’ve settled in be it at our job, in a relationship, everywhere (happens with the best of us). You know, when that happens; we leave room for another to shine just by standing beside our lack-lustre form be it the other woman or a colleague.

Another argument is that it’s not always about the other woman being better, it just might be that: the heart wants what the heart wants! Lol that could be it right? That might explain why Prince Charles knowing he couldn’t marry Camilla at the time never stopped longing for her even after marrying Princess Diana. If is do say so myself, those two have proved their affection wasn’t just a fluke by having been together these long. (I can’t believe I am understanding their relationship! Where’s my #teammarriage hat)?

I refuse to attempt to understand what drives or fuels ‘the other woman’, it could be love, greed, the wife’s inadequacies or plain old curiosity. Neither can I fathom living with that arrangement, no matter how hard I try (I’m too selfish to understand the concept of sharing in the context of marriage). I was once tempted, guy was tempting for days, we gelled, within a day of meeting him it was like we had known each other forever; finished off each other’s sentences, had the same tastes; well except on the tiny issue of monogamy. And it was on that point I stood to say; not today devil!  (be like me, where’s my white hat?) It doesn’t matter if the African society is traditionally polygamous and we actively or passively share depending on our religious inclination or the choices of our partners. I’m firmly #teammarriage!

So, here are my questions; for what reasons can we justify the existence of ‘the other woman’, have you ever found yourself knowingly or unknowingly as ‘the other woman’ or if you are #teammonogamy like me but admire Olivia Pope or any other mistress, how do you cope with the double standards?

xoxo chinma

Images Credit: Google Images

For Adults on Children’s Day

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Children

Aunt Nikki* called out to me as I walked past her shop. I was hoping she won’t see me as I walked past, but alas I wasn’t so lucky. She spotted and called out to me.

I summoned up my trademark smile and turned to her. “Kaa Aunty.” (Good evening aunty) I greeted her.

“Chinma imelagi?” (Chinma how are you?) She asked in response.

“Adim mma. I lua le?” (I’m fine, are you back?) I asked her. I asked her referring to the trip I knew she had taken recently.

“Alua lem. Mommy gi a?” (I’m fine. How is your mom?) She responded and asked.

On and on the conversation went. When I finally continued my journey, a thought occurred to me: I had become my mother!

My mother is the strongest woman I’ve met, just by being, she challenges me to be better. Let’s not even get into her beauty; my sister and I have concluded our family’s beauty is one that gets better with age. That’s the only way to get through the ‘your mom is more beautiful than you’ comments. I love and admire my mom very much, so much that I love it when people say I’m just like her. But I don’t want to be ‘all of her’. There’s some of her character I would rather do without. Top of my mind is the ‘Nigerian’ greeting culture.

The greeting/ conversation with Aunt Nikki that just happened, was exactly how my mom would have greeted her. And if I were with my mom at the time (or maybe a few years earlier) I would have said a simple ‘good evening’ and walked ahead a few paces to wait for my mom and aunt Nikki to ask about everything and everyone while silently wondering why they couldn’t just say a quick good evening and walk away.

But here I am, replicating that same behavior I would love to not do. I imagine a lot of young adults are in my shoes, wondering how we got to replicate behavioral patterns we dislike. Some of us have come to realise that the world isn’t so black and white and issues aren’t so clear cut. The clarity of our childhood and youth has been eroded by this adult thingy and we are on our way to being our parents, guardians, teachers, mentors.

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I have used an example that’s easy, almost a non-issue, but when you really examine every other of your behaviors and mannerisms, you will find yourself replicating your parents or the people you associate with. In the good and the bad. That’s how issues like polygamy, domestic violence, lawlessness, drunkenness, etc. become family traditions. A child will do what he/she sees you do a hundred times befre he/she will do what you have asked him to do once. In the words of Dr. Gregory House of ‘House’ medical series: monkey see, monkey do!

Try as we can, we cannot run away from the influence of our formative years, which is why as parents we need to nurture our children with this consciousness. Knowing fully well that we are the bows from which our children as living arrows are sent forth.

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For our sakes as much as theirs, we need to do better. We need to be the future we hope to see. It’s not enough to want to do better, we need to actually do better. Ko ba le da! (so that it can be well).

 

Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults. – Abraham Lincoln.

Have a happy Children’s day!

*Not real name.

xoxo chinma

 

What’s in a name?

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A name is an identity, something for which you’re known, which you stand for.

So what’s my hang-up about names?

People have done battle because of a change of name, society attaches so much importance to a name; whatever it may be. Well, as it rightly should. So if I say my name is bla-bla-bla, it is my name. You have no right to change or refine it! Or misspell or mispronounce it.

Here’s the thing: I meet you or I write to you and I introduce myself as; Chinma. What that is saying is; please refer to me as Chinma. Please don’t go fishing, it’s not a time to ask: will that be Miss, Ms. or Mrs. Chinma? Like those irritating customer care agents. Neither do I expect you to reply me mispronouncing or misspelling my name, if you didn’t hear me clearly please seek clarification. Thank you very much.

It’s particularly irritating if it’s a written correspondence and I have written ‘Chinma’ or ‘Chidinma’ as the case may be, and then you reply or refer to me as ‘Chima or Chindinma’. Haba! I know us Nigerians struggle with names of people from other tribes or complicated names, but: the name is there, written in plain text, all you had to do was copy and paste. That’s not difficult nau, I haven’t asked you to spell my name, and it’s not a test, just get the spelling of my name.

You see us Nigerians are finicky about such things. For some, it’s the title: Chief, Dr., Professor, High Chief (definitely different from a mere ‘chief’), Mrs., etc. we all have our names and titles and are finicky about such things.

I think it stems from the fact that our names have meanings and importance; a letter added here or taken out there gives a name a totally different meaning. See the Chinma- Chima example: Chinma- Good God, Chima- God Knows. See why someone will have a problem with you misspelling or mispronouncing his/her name? Or it could be about Chidinma- God is good, Chimdinma- my God is good. In this case, just one letter differentiates the names and its wrong to think just because you don’t understand it that it’s the same. Seyi is not the same as Sayo. Pay attention to the details for that’s where the devil is lurking.

This is like a person saying; this is who I am and you (respondee) are saying; this is who you are! Like seriously? Who are you to change my name? Who are you to decide not to use my title or whatever?

There’s also this thing about special names for certain people based on relationship. If I’m walking on the street and I hear my name it’s Lagos, I won’t turn. Lol, I already have an idea of what kind of relationship I have with the caller or where we’ve met by what he/ she calls me. So that provides clarity. Caveat: If you are present at that meeting, it’s not a call to start calling me honey bun or sweet cheeks because you heard my dear aunty call me that! No, stay in your own lane with regards to what you call me.

There’s also the thing about given names vs preferred names. Say; mama and papa decide to name their child; baby boy, and the child grows and decides to be known as; wizchild. Lol. The rule I will follow for this is; call the person what he has insisted he should be called i.e. what he has introduced himself as. QED.

This name thingy, it can be as e get o, people take serious offence to being called something they will not prefer or not being called what they prefer. It can be the difference between getting a lucrative contract and not getting it. It can be the difference between getting a job and not getting it. Front office and customer facing staff kind-off understand it, hence their asking us; will that be Miss or Mrs.? But…. I think the rule you should follow is: refer to the person as the person has introduced himself. Imagine sending me a request mail referring to me as Chindinma!!! You have successfully pissed me off already nau, case closed.

To avoid this, I will suggest the use of the ma and sir rule. Trust me you can get away with that any day or time. Just politely refer to the person as ma and sir. Uber gets this one, their drivers are trained to ma and sir their passengers to death.

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So, in conclusion; what’s the big deal about a name one might ask? I would say it’s about the fact that it is a differentiating nomenclature. Differentiates A from B, it tells of a story. Mine says my parents looked at me and thought how good God is. Yours might testify that your parents looked at you and felt joy unspeakable or prophesied goodness into your life. Whatever the case may be, it is your name and no one has a right to change it.

For all of you who specialize in misspelling and mispronouncing names; God is watching you. For those who have had or constantly have their names destroyed; I feel your pain, share your story.

Till next week, wishing you love and light!

xoxo chinma

Breaking The Silence: Drama?

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Here’s the continuation of the Breaking the Silence series. If you haven’t read any of the episodes and/ or have missed any episodes/ or can’t remember them; here’s the first: And the news came, the second The situationshipThe Situationship 2,  The End and a Beginning and The End & A New Beginning 2

Please read, enjoy, let me know what you think (comment) and don’t forget to share. 

****

…… She read all 22 messages, laughing at the desperation to hear gist in Linda’s messages. Rather than text a response, she decided to call her.

After the call, she checked her other whatsapp messages. Regular group convos, and …… a message from Chike “Hi, how are you?”

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Like seriously, how am I?

I’m peachy, very fabulous!

Lol! Angry female alert!!!

I need to get over this guy and all other guys and I need to do it fast. Like one line from him and I am cave girl all over.

Seriously, the line probably meant nothing to Chike; he was cunning like that and might just have been catching trips. Meanwhile; here I was, about to burst a vein. Smh for myself.

Anyways, Ada wasn’t going to reply that message; at least not this night. She had had enough of the day.

Just before she drifted off to sleep a text came in. curious she checked her phone; it was from Mofe saying goodnight.

She went to bed with a smile on her face.

***

The coming weeks were drama-filled for Ada.

She avoided speaking with Chike and only responded to his messages r calls when it was absolutely necessary. But he was persistent! Like he invented the word.

At the same time Mofe was pursuing her like with all he had. Mofe was a sweetheart, but she just wasn’t ready to commit to a relationship with him. He said all the right things, made all the right promises, but Ada was like; been there done that! Lol!

She threw herself into the final details for Linda’s wedding and when that day came it was so beautiful, Ada teared up a number of times and she wasn’t a crier.

Their friends came in for the wedding so it was a sort of girls’ reunion.

In one of their men bashing/ advice offering sessions, it just clicked; Sola and Chike!!!

Sola was an ex-coursemate of theirs who rarely kept in touch. She was such a special person, peculiar in her own way. Sola wouldn’t keep in touch for months, but in your hour of need she was one person you could bank on, not just count on.

She came in for Linda’s wedding from Port-Harcourt where she worked and it was like they had never been apart. To be friends with Sola, you just needed to understand her and give her the space she needed when she needs it. And, what set the light bulb off in Ada’s head; she and Chike were so alike in their relationship ideals! With her (Ada and Chike), she had thought the law of opposites thingy would be what they had going for them, unfortunately; that didn’t work out. Their differences was responsible for all the fights they had. So….. maybe with someone more like him; they will be in sync! Why didn’t she think of this all the while? Ever since that text, Chike had been hounding her. He wanted them back together, but she was having none of it. Maybe if she hooked him up (discretely ofcourse on his part), he will let her go; focus on the new catch.

But she will pre-inform Sola though. Sola was too solid a friend for her not to fully disclose.

“Ok!” Was Sola’s response when she spoke with her about it. Her face lit up in a mischievous smile.  “Let’s have a bit of fun!”

Classic Sola! The plan was to get Sola to run into them; Chike had been asking for a meeting, she will indulge his request and somehow get him to meet Sola.

Either way, whatever the outcome of the meeting; she wasn’t leaving the meeting with Chike still nursing a come-back bid.

***

She invited Mofe to Linda’s wedding (more like he made her invite him, lol). She forgot she had also invited Chike sometime in the past. Or maybe she didn’t forget, she just had not expected him to attend. Even when they were together he always had an excuse why he couldn’t be at family events.

So it was very surprising when he showed up at the reception!

They had ushered in the couple, the reception was in full swing with the MC piloting the affairs, the bridesmaids and groomsmen had left the couple and joined the party. Ada had gone to sit with Mofe and his friend, and just like in the movies; Ada’s gaze was pulled to one of the entrances and there was Chike walking in with two of his friends.

She stopped mid-sentence with her mouth open in shock, her smile froze, her throat was suddenly dry.

She managed to end the sentence and promptly excused herself to go block him off before he came in and made a scene at Ada’s wedding.

Walking on rubbery legs she searched her brain for what she would say to him; empty, she came up empty. She felt like everyone in the party was watching her; which couldn’t be but it felt that way. The MC’s voice fell away, all felt silent and all she could hear was white noise. Her mind went over all the possible reasons Chike could have for coming to the wedding. In her mind’s eye she saw him walking in angrily, seeing her with Mofe and making a scene.

She would just die from mortification.

She was so lost in thought she didn’t see the waiter until she had bumped into him.

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The End & A New Beginning 2

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Hey dearies, how have you all been. 

I’m sure quite a number of you must have given up on me. I apologise deeply. 

I have really truly not tried

So here’s the continuation of the Breaking the Silence series. If you haven’t read any of the episodes and/ or have missed any episodes/ or can’t remember them; here’s the first: And the news came, the second The situationshipThe Situationship 2, the most recent The End and a Beginning

Please read, enjoy, let me know what you think (comment) and don’t forget to share. 

breaking-the-silence-series

As expected, he called. Luckily for him it was later in the evening when I was true with the day’s hustle and bustle and able to put my feet up.

He sounded pleasant (don’t they all at the beginning?), we talked for like an hour. A lot of it was just getting to know each other. He said he was Mofe Boboye, worked for an investment firm (more like his father’s investment bank, lol; I have CIA skills), second son of a family of two male and two female children, single (google didn’t help with that), liked water sports bla bla bla.

I gave him the short and simple version; Ada, coincidentally they shared similar birth positions, and no; she wasn’t a fan of water sports.

He tried to get her to open up more but she gave him the short and simple response versions.

The conversation ended when she began to drift off to sleep. He ended the call, promising to call the next day.

***

True to his word he called and several times after. She who said she was on a break found herself looking forward to his calls and messages. They talked a lot and knew so much about each other. He was easy to talk with, and she had told herself she wasn’t looking for a relationship at that time. With the absence of those pressures, it was easy to just enjoy the conversations and budding friendship. Then came their first physical date. He took her to an upscale restaurant where the food was fantastic.

Against her better judgement and with Linda’s encouragement, she dressed up nicely and was happy she did. It would have been disaster for her had she dressed in jeans and top and he brought her here.

There had a nice dinner with enjoyable conversation. Undiscussed, both of them put their phones away for the duration of the meal. Not even for one second did they glance at their phone. That was a rare feat in this social age where a lot of people behaved as though their phones were their life source.

Without her saying anything he ensured he got her home in time. When he got to her front door, he said his aim had been 9pm but traffic saw them getting in at a quarter past nine. Not so bad, it was a Saturday night she didn’t have to get up very early the next day.

Ofcourse as was to be expected there were several update requests from Linda. Lol, the girl liked amebo.

She would reply to the messages after her bath.

While she was in the bathroom her mom came into her room.

“How did your date go?” Amaka Chukwuemeka asked.

Adaeze rolled her eyes in the bathroom. ‘Next thing mommy would start planning wedding’ she thought to herself.

“It wasn’t a date, but it went well.” She replied.

He mother sighed deeply. “You and your sister, do you think you are getting any younger. All my mates already have grandchildren even the males. Yet I don’t even have an in-law not to talk of grandchildren.

“Mommy …” Ada attempted to interrupt as she came out of the bathroom.

“Don’t interrupt me!” Her mom shut her down. “What do you want to say; that will you marry yourself, or that every relationship must not end in marriage?”

Adaeze didn’t reply. She concentrated on selecting a sleep wear as though it were the most important task in the world.

“I’m not asking you to perform magic or do something impossible. All I’m asking is that you and your sister come off these your high horse and choose one of the men flocking around you. In a few years, there will be no one. A woman’s time ……”

“Mommy, we’ve heard.” Ngozi, Adaeze’s elder sister came to her defense.

Adaeze turned around sharply. She hadn’t heard Ngozi come into the room and neither had their mom.

Both Ada and Ngozi held their breath expecting their mom to continue with the scolding, but Mrs. Chukwuemeka just sighed and rather said; “Your Uncle Sam called, the burial has been fixed for June.”

“June!!!!” both Ada and Ngozi exclaimed.

“That’s a whole 9 months!” Ngozi said quickly calculating.

Amaka Chukwuemeka sighed deeply by way of response. “Anyway, it’s their brother, there are the one who have the final say.” She got up to leave the room. She turned back to the ladies at the door. “You ladies need to settle down, you are not getting any younger. Ehn, biko!” with that she left the room.

“How was your date?” Ngozi asked after their mom had left.

“It wasn’t a date, why is everyone seeing it like a date?” Ada sank into the bed.

“Ok, how was your meeting?” Ngozi rephrased.

“It went well.”

“So…….?”

“So nothing. We just had a nice meal; a delicious one at that.”

“Lol, did you go there for the food?” Ngozi teased.

“Ofcourse. I was hungry. Anyways, Mofe is cool, but….. I’m not ready.”

“Why, because of Chike?”

“No, because of me. I just, … I get mommy’s point of view that we aren’t getting any younger. Believe me; I know. But; I’d rather not make a mistake.”

“Isn’t that our fear? Anyways, just to remind you that overtaking is allowed.”

They both laughed. “You and this your overtaking is allowed. I need to reply Linda’s messages before she has a heart attack.” Ada picked up her phone.

“Aite. Good night. Church tomorrow?” Ngozi asked as she got up to leave.

“Sure.” 22 messages from Linda! She read them all, laughing at the desperation to hear gist in Linda’s messages. Rather than text a response, she decided to call her.

After the call, she checked her other whatsapp messages. Regular group convos, and …… a message from Chike “Hi, how are you?”

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Breaking the Silence: The End & A Beggining

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‘I’m not going to get into how you never see anything wrong with your actions, I’m not going to get into how much you’ve hurt me. But you have and try as I have I can’t get past it. This thing of ours is unlike anything I have ever known; it’s been two years and I can’t get used to it. I don’t want to be friends with you anymore; it hurts too much! Don’t ever contact me; if you do I will block you. Have a good evening.’

Adaeze edited and reread the text. It might not look like much but her heart was in those words. She really needed to pass the message to Chike that they were done for good.

A few hours later he responded. ‘Wow, many words! No worries, I will honor your request. If you want it like this so be it.’

**

Adaeze’s philosophy to breakups had always been; it’s not over until the ex tries to make a comeback and you refuse to go back, avoid Okafor’s law and all…. Then it really is over.

Adaeze tried to move on in spite of the pain of the broken dream and dashed hope. She threw herself into work, life; there was just something about living and not existing, especially when you are living on your own terms and not on the whims and caprices of another in the name of being ‘girl-friend’.

She could go out with her girls without having to check with Chike on convenience or if he would have preferred that they do something else.

The up-side to being in a relationship is it provides for companionship, the downside- is its restrictiveness. When you’re in a relationship you become a part of a pair (as it should be). The downside comes when the relationship is over. Then you find you don’t know who you are anymore. Everything reminds you of your ex; movies watched together, places visited together, you could just be in the middle of a conversation and you say a word that had double entendre and just like that you are back in pity party land.

Adaeze gave herself time to mourn her relationship. She knew she needed to heal. Beyond Chike she knew she needed to get rid of the daddy issues she had. This constant search for a father figure in her relationships needed to end lest she do herself in by settling for a crappy relationship or worse; a crappy marriage.

Linda was a rock through this trying times for Adaeze. Adaeze had always admired Linda’s relationship. Linda had been seeing Tayo Fayemi for about three years at the time and they were the classic ‘point of contact couple’. They rarely had any fights of note, got along famously, were so in sync, could finish off each other’s sentences, and were good old friends. They were getting married the next year. ‘Daeze was sure they were going to do the ‘I’m marrying my best friend’ lol! They were an inspiration and a heartache; the classic Yoruba and Ibo union, their relationship surviving against all odds. They were also a heartache, could drive a sister to envy! Lol!

Adaeze threw herself into helping Linda plan her upcoming wedding. Between work, church and the upcoming wedding, she was kept very busy. Too busy to think about a guy! Lol! At the time, the last thing she needed was a guy distracting her, she just wanted to be alone to ‘find’ herself.

It was a busy Saturday, she was backing out of Sofresh neighborhood market, a parfait in one hand, her phone wedged between her ear and shoulder, her handbag and a shopping bag in the other hand. She bumped into a warm body and spun around so very quickly almost spilling the contents of her cup on the person she bumped into.

“I’m so sorry!” She apologised. “Babes, lemme call you back.” She said into the phone and dropped both the shopping bag on the floor with her handbag on it. She retrieved her phone from her shoulder. “I’m sorry she apologised again. “Hope I didn’t stain you.” She examined his shirt, and well; got a good look at him. He was tall, but not so much; say 5’ 9”, dark and of average build. Adaeze took in the smile, sunglasses and the white ‘Yoruba demon’ attire (as she had come to think of the popular male traditional shirt and trousers) and her defenses rose.

“No you didn’t.” He replied, giving her an appreciative look.

Duh! She could see that for herself. His cocky attitude was putting her off already, she was immediately irritated. Besides, she knew she didn’t look her best, she had been shopping and running errands all day, was in a plain top and leggings, her hair was unmade and she wasn’t wearing any makeup. What was he appreciating?

“Sorry I bumped into you.” She bent to retrieve her hand and shopping bag. She made to walk around him.

“Not so fast beauty. My name is Mofe” He extended his hand in a handshake.

“Nice to meet you Mofe.” She replied with a plastic smile. She raised both hands in an indication that her hands were full.

He followed her out of Sofresh. “Where are you headed?” He asked walking with her.

She pointed to the waiting cab.

He walked with her to the car and extended his phone to her when she got in. “May I have your number?” He asked in perfect politeness.

She looked at him, her perfect smile in place, set to decline. And then she thought……… ’wharrevva

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Breaking the Silence: The Situationship 2

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If only he had left it at that. If only he hadn’t tried to push by asking if she will talk to him this time if he came to her house. For that was when she snapped!

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He first thought was to call him and rant. Second thought; send him a stinker. Pour out her anger and give him a piece of her mind. But then she reflected on who she was dealing with. Railing at Chike won’t make any difference. He was immune, numb as a matter of fact to criticism or suggestions for improvement. She decided to send him a message indicating irrevocably that she was done with whatever it was they were doing. This situationship (for lack of a better word) was over.

She tried to calm herself before sending the message. For if there was one thing she always said to herself it was to never act at a time when emotions are running high. So she called Linda. Linda was her bestest friend in the whole wide world! Lol! They had been neighbors, nursery, primary and Junior-secondary school classmates until Linda’s father got an out of station transfer while they were in SS1. They reunited in University, studied the same course, lived in the same hostel; were practically twins.

“Babe!” She greeted Linda when she answered her call.

“Hey love, how are you doing?” Linda replied drowsily.

“I’m good, but I can tell you’re better. You’re sleeping at this time.” Adaeze teased.

“What’s a girl to do nau? Been running myself ragged for two straight weeks, barely had a moment to breathe.” Linda yawned. “What’s up?”

“It’s Chike.”

Linda hissed into the phone.

“I know you’ve never been his fan but can you listen to me; unbiased?” Adaeze pleaded.

Linda sighed. “Ok darling. What had he done this time?”

Linda had never been a fan of Adaeze’s relationship with Chike and had only tolerated him for the sake of their friendship.

Adaeze poured out her pain to Linda, telling her of Chike’s recent exploits.

“It is well with you and Chike o!” Was Linda’s only response for a bit.

“Chike was the first person I called when I heard the news.” Adaeze went on near tears. “Was it too much to ask for him to just be there for me? Lin, step back am I asking for too much?” She got up off the bed and began pacing. “Maybe you are the wrong person to ask; being female and my friend. I should ask a guy. Because, I don’t get it! This is someone I’m supposed to be in a relationship with but has never been there for me; not once! But he sneezes and I run to his side immediately. And Lin, this isn’t me just praising myself; he has attested to that in an unguarded moment, his brother even said the same thing.

Did I put myself out too much, do I appear like I can carry the weight of the world open my shoulders?” Adaeze was actually sniffling at this point.

“Babes, calm down. You are working yourself up over nothing.” Linda said calmly.

“I am calm. In fact I’m done. I can’t keep doing this. I intend to formally break it off not the unofficial; drifting apart things and we will come back together again! Clean break!” She said affirmatively, wiping her tears.

“My dear; like I said you need to be calm and really think about this.”

“Babes, I’ve thought about it. Can I really continue like this?” Adaeze lay back on the bed face-up. She sighed deeply. “This thing of ours is fruitless o! It doesn’t have a future. Chike himself told me that although he denies it but he said it unconsciously. And you know; n’ibi ere, la ti moo to oro.” Adaeze said in Yoruba, meaning ‘a lot of truths slip out as jokes.’

Both ladies were silent for some seconds.

Linda broke the silence. “You know my problem with this conversation; one word or text from Chike and all your resolve is down in the gutters. Like I don’t know what it is about this guy; na jazz abi? Or is it the age thing? Are you just holding on to him cos you feel age isn’t on your side? This isn’t you Daeze, I can’t understand it. I mean; your exes will strongly testify that this isn’t you. Kilode? I refuse to believe this is love, like how can it be?” Linda asked heatedly. “He’s been trouble from the first moment but you kept on keeping on. You want to change him, are you the Holy Spirit?”

“I ask myself the same questions. I really don’t know what this is about, but I know I’m done.”

“You’re not done until he tries to come back and you stand your ground that you’re done.” Linda reminded her,

“I know. But this is it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes dear I’m sure. Can we talk later, mom needs me now.” She lied to get off the phone for she was very close to tears.

She ended the call and burst into tears. She bawled like a baby. She cried for what could have been, for the lost hope, time wasted, emotional investment and otherwise, for the uncertain future; she cried for all the pain of the moment. And when she was done crying; she composed the text.

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Breaking the Silence: The Situationship

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……….After taking the call, Adaeze’s mom called herself and her siblings and broke the news to them; their father was dead.

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Then the drama began, we all know in Igbo land an African man cannot die a natural death; someone has to be responsible for it.

His family came with the drama; they alleged his wife and children abandoned him and contributed to his death.

It didn’t matter that he had abandoned them as children and didn’t contribute a dime to their upkeep or education. He was their father and that meant they owed him the duty of care.

It didn’t matter that they were mourning the death of a father they never had, all of that didn’t matter; in Africa it rarely does.

It was in times like this Adaeze asked herself if all the pre-wedding fact finding actually makes sense. Because if with all the fact finding people still end up married into horrible families; what’s the point?

Then came the sympathy and the sympathisers, it felt awkward, almost hypocritical.

The period was a difficult one for all involved, the antics of the father’s people didn’t make it any easier. Mrs. Chukwuemeka had to relieve the pain of the separation all over again; accusations flew all over mainly centered on abandonment. Mr. Chukwuemeka’s people were having a field day.

Then came the story peddlers with their false story telling; they said Mrs. Chukwuemeka abandoned her husband because he lost his job and could no longer cater for his family.

In a world where history is written by the loudest voice there also is the belief in silence being golden. Why do we hush our children when they attempt to express themselves, why do we perpetuate the culture of repression with only a few speaking up, and them carrying the day eventually? It’s in every aspect of our culture, we glorify the silence of the multitude and praise or envy the outspoken few. Lol. Some of the most loved and hated celebrities come to mind.

**********

You know that feeling of being surrounded by people yet alone? Adaeze felt it deeply at this time.

Chike; her boyfriend (or so she thought) was the first person she called to share the news with. He didn’t answer his call at the time; no surprise there, Chike had an annoying phone habit; he was always on the phone but never with his phone when you needed to reach him. So she sent him a whatsapp message. He called hours later. Asked all the questions, said all the needed things and killed it with; “Let me see if I can come?”

That saddened Adaeze. It was a Saturday, what was he doing asides hanging with friends? Could he not see she needed him?

He sent a message later; he couldn’t make it!

Absence makes the heart fonder is a big lie! A more accurate maxim is; nature hates vacuum, or out of sight is out of mind! The next day she was on her way from church when he sent a message asking what time she would be home. She replied with an ‘I don’t know’ for at that point she was upset already. What was he coming to do; to comfort her? If her comfort was dependent on him she would probably be in perpetual mourning.

He called. She ignored the first call, he called back. She repeated the same thing her message said.

‘I’m trying to find time to come and you are being difficult. Just tell me when you will be home?’ He had said clearly exasperated.

Not wanting to get into an argument with him at the time, she ended the call.

He sent a message; ‘Don’t ever end the call on me again.’

Lol! She was done, and this time for good. How Chike could make this difficult time she was in about himself was beyond her. He was always doing that. She had known him for two years and in those two years he had never been there for her. Theirs was the classic situationship where he took all she could give but gave little or nothing.

Birthdays, other joyful moments; he always made excuses. Traffic, something came up, illness, all this were excuses he used to avoid being there for her. Whereas the reverse was the case with her. She was there for him when he sneezed, every event, occasion during their two years; if she knew about it, she would be there. And it wasn’t just her praising herself, he had also attested to it.

She remembered how they met, it was through a joint venture their companies had. In reality, she has been the one to chat him up. Maybe that was where the issue lay. It’s no secret most guys can’t handle being propositioned. Maybe that was why he had never valued her or their relationship. Theirs was a relationship that had never been defined. They weren’t even friends with benefits for they was nothing to benefit from it. They were more or less sexual partners or in a ‘situationship’ for lack of a better word. Well, whatever the case; she was done. Really truly done. For two years she couldn’t think of a 3 month stretch when they were together, but there were stretches that long where they were apart.

What she couldn’t understand was why he didn’t want to let her go. He had said to her severally that she annoyed him but every time she tried to break it off, he refused. This wasn’t the first time she had tried to end the relationship but he always refused. Well. She was done, he just didn’t know it yet.

*********

He came by 3 weeks later. He came with a mutual friend. She ignored him. Ain’t no time for rubbish. It was a Saturday and her family was home so that helped to mask her ignoring him. Adaeze didn’t care though! A week later he sent a message asking if her ignoring him when he came to her house was good. And I’m her mind she was like; ‘I hope this young man is ok’?

Like really he couldn’t see anything wrong with his actions? That must be done serious shit. She ignored the message. It was a whatsapp message so he will be able to tell it had been read but she wasn’t going to respond to it. 2 weeks later he sent another message that he was in the neighborhood and could he stop by?

‘Okay.’ She had responded.

If only he had left it at that. If only he hadn’t tried to push by asking if she will talk to him this time if he came to her house. For that was when she snapped!

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Breaking the Silence: And the News Came

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I’m not much of a sharer. I prefer to share my thoughts and imaginations on air, to strangers and friends.

A friend once told me I have a hyperactive imagination. Lol! I’m owning it. I do, so what? A lot of my experiences have been shared through my writing. Some truth, some fiction. You know what they say; truth is stranger than fiction.

I sometimes think my life is too boring. I always long for excitement. Matter of fact I can’t really explain my personality type. I’m the one who will be the first to get ready for an event, but 30 minutes into it; having seen everyone and smiled to jaw aching point, I’m ready to go home and cuddle with a soapy book or movie and a smoothie or tigernut milk. Lol. Soon as I have that, I’m looking for the next exciting outing; and the circle continues.

So here goes the Breaking the Silence series. A diary series of the twenty-something lady. I invite you to step into my imagination with me; I haven’t written in a long while and as such I’m rusty. Coupled with that some of this series will be written in the first person pronoun (which I have difficulty doing but as it is a diary series I have to try) except when Adaeze is narrating. I hope you like, I hope you enjoy, and as usual; lemme know what you think.

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We have a culture of silence, it’s ingrained in us. Just like our culture of respect for elders, fear for authority, there is also a culture of silence. We all want to keep up appearances, and when it’s not particularly about keeping up appearances, it’s about not showing our shame to the whole world. It’s that inate desire not to open ourselves to the world. We are all guilty of this. Lol, just writing this reminds me of a recent happening that involved my ten year old cousin. He had done something extremely incorrigible and my sister commented on the believability of it. She said; if I say this outside, nobody will believe me. And my response was; who asked you? How can you be answering questions not asked?

It might sound hilarious but it is very true of us. We don’t share, regardless of the fact that sharing may help someone. Or maybe it’s about the fact that everyone has their own issues; the person you’re sharing with has greater problems than you do. I overhead someone say; a lot of people’s current situation is such that if you come to them with a problem, by the time they share theirs you will end up trying to solve theirs first. But then; I think that’s the whole essence of sharing. The saying goes; a problem shared is a problem solved. Abi?

Another danger of not sharing is; if it’s an event that involves more than one person, the sharer controls the narrative. There’s this saying that the hunter will continue to triumph in the story of the hunter and the lion until the lion begins telling his own story. History has always been written by the victor because who writes history will always ensure he writes it such that he emerges the conqueror. So when we keep quiet, we allow others other than ourselves to control the narrative. This Adaeze found to be her predicament.

Adaeze was born into a family of four children; she had the privilege (or not) of being born as the spare, lol (for those who don’t know; the spare child is that child not occupying any particular ‘important’ position; there’s the first child- who doubles as the first son or daughter, then there’s the first son or daughter (opposite gender of the first child), then there’s the last child (lastborn). For the ‘royal or dynastic’ families, the second son can be referred to as the spare for the first son, but in Adaeze’s case; she was the third child in a family of four. She had an older brother and sister (Austin and Ngozi respectively), and she had a younger brother- Michael who was the last born. She was named Adaeze not because she was the ‘Ada’ i.e. first daughter in Igbo culture but because she was named after her father’s sister, whose name was Adaeze (Ngozi was named after her paternal grandmother).

Adaeze’s parents had been separated for as long as she could remember. Probably happened almost immediately after Michael’s birth. None of the children knew the cause of the breakup, and it was either all the adults around were not willing to tell what they knew or they truly didn’t know. All four children were raised by their mother who was a business woman petty trader.

Growing up was tough. It was obvious even to the blind that Mr. Chukwuemeka wasn’t supporting his family. He wasn’t catering for his children. It was Mrs. Chukwuemeka (she didn’t change her name because they were not legally divorced) who paid all the bills- rent, school fees, feeding, etc etc. Adaeze’s mom scrimped and saved and managed to put her children through school; ensuring they all had at least a first degree.

Adaeze and her siblings were raised in a home that was a kind-off church extension. Mommy was very involved in their church and the children grew with a love for and personal relationship with God which saw them also involved in the church.

 

**********

 

On that fateful Saturday morning, Adaeze had rolled out of bed thirty minutes earlier. She was an early riser and if she didn’t get to her chores before the sun was up, chances are those chores won’t get done that day. She was loading the washing machine when her mom’s phone rang. Her mom was in her room and had dropped her phone in Adaeze’s room. She picked the phone and went into her mom’s room.

Her natural curiosity had her looking at the phone screen before handing it to her mom. It was James, a cousin on her father’s side. James was the only one on the father’s side of the family who was very friendly with Adaeze’s family. The rest of the family was estranged from them as a result of the separation. As usual in such separation issues; it had to be the fault of the wife.

After taking the call, Adaeze’s mom called herself and her siblings and broke the news to them; their father was dead.

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