My friend wept bitterly last week. Someone asked her when she was getting married. This was not why she cried; lord knows she gets that stupid question, complete with the grating tone, every day. It was someone else’s response to the question that made her sad. “Don’t mind her, let her be there selecting up and down, she doesn’t know she’s getting old.”
When I hear statements like this, questions start running through my mind. How do people know when a single lady is being choosy? Do they have an invisible tracker that records the number of her toasters? How are they certain that anyone has indicated interest, not to talk of her being picky? And most importantly, how is it that people just don’t know how to mind their own business?
I did my best to console my friend, and brought to her attention the fact that this kind of imprudent talk is never going to end. Here’s how it goes:
- You’re not yet married
Aunty: “Ah, how far? When are we eating your cake na? It’s not to be doing career-career up and down o, when a woman is too successful she scares men away o…”
Church ‘Mama’: “My daughter, when are we wedding you? I hope you’re not selecting o, money is not everything o. A woman is like a flower, before you know it now, time has passed. Even your parents are not getting any younger…”
Colleague: “Babe, what of that your suitor na, that one that always used to keep you up with free midnight calls? The way you just fashi that guy, merely because he wanted you to pay for his professional exams, na wa o. So, do you have anybody now?”
- You are now married
Neighbour: *sees you in spaghetti top* “How far na? I’ve been thinking you were pregnant o, I didn’t know you’re still doing hot babe. It’s better to have them early o, don’t waste time. It’s when you have them early that you’ll have energy to take care of them, not when you are old…”
Salon girl: *eyes your flat tummy* “Aunty, you wan do these tiny braids? Ah, e go take time o, and e no good for person in your condition to siddon for too long…”
- You have your first child
Hospital receptionist: *sees one-year-old* “Haay, see our baby! Ah, she’s a big girl now o, you should be coming back for another one soonest abeg, what are you waiting for? That woman you used to give a ride home from antenatal classes? She’s pregnant again o, sharp sharp!”
Partner’s friend: “Ah ahn, what’s happening noooow, Bobo is overdue for aburo o, you people should give him a playmate please, the gap is too much now, haba?!
- You have your second child:
Old school mate: “What do you mean you’re done? Na only two your mama born?
I will never understand what makes people think this kind of thing is okay. Sure, some of them mean well, but even then, doesn’t common sense tell you that people probably do want the best for themselves even more?
They don’t think perhaps there’s a reason. It doesn’t occur to them that maybe you do desire marriage deeply, but it hasn’t worked out and you actually battle loneliness most days, or that someone wanted to marry you but your genotypes didn’t match and you had to go through the heartache of letting go. Or maybe you’re living with HIV and this has made settling down even harder.
They don’t consider that perchance you’re trying to avoid anxiety about not having conceived, in order not to make it even more difficult for it to happen. They never stop to think that it’s possible you have only one child because you’re dealing with secondary infertility and you can’t even talk about it because at least you already have one child and shouldn’t go around sounding like an ingrate. They don’t think: they just open their mouths and spew forth.
Even if none of the above is true for you, even if you’re just okay with where you are, and grateful for the way your life is, it is still your personal life, and such insensitivity is inexcusable.
A few weeks ago one of my “big” friends asked me, “So, when are we expecting another baby na?” I was irritated, but I did not give her the length of my tongue; this is how I know that Christ is doing a great work in my life. I simply asked her, “So, when are you getting married?” Taste it; e sweet?
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