Something happened to me and I am still trying to make sense of it. It has to be one of the most bizarre things I have had to face.
A couple took the empty flat in our compound. I wanted to be welcoming without being nosy. We said the initial hello. A few days after that, I saw the wife with a moving van trying to fix the place up. I was going out with my two sons. I stopped and we chatted a bit.
I honestly can’t remember whether I asked her about children, but I probably did. It was a pleasant surprise to know that she had two boys too who were coincidentally the same ages as my sons. I was excited and we talked about their classes and I told her I was eager to meet them.
I announced to my husband and other neighbours what I had just learnt and how it was a lovely coincidence.
They fully moved in, but the wife and kids were yet to be around. I was not even curious. Maybe they travelled or were waiting for school term to end.
Well, people. A conversation with the husband who is fully around revealed that they were still ‘trusting God’ for children.
This left me in complete shock. I spoke about birthdays and schools with his wife. Why would she go to such lengths and detail to tell a lie?
This is not your typical ‘faithing’ things. This was dangerous.
I was very angry and felt foolish. By the next day, I started trying to make sense of it.
I probably had asked her if she had children and that was maybe the worst possible question I could have asked her.
Maybe she decided to shut me up by describing my children back at me. If she did that, then I have to admit that the award for the most passive-aggressive dig goes to this diminutive deeper life looking woman.
Or was it some advanced level of “calling things that are not as though they were” that a beginner like me can never get.
Whatever it was, it sucked.
Like I said, I cannot remember if I asked her if she had children but looking back, I probably did.
Is it wrong to ask if a person has kids in a conversation?
Or to ask if a person is married?
I certainly was not trying to be nosy. It was mindless conversation. It did not matter to me if she had or hadn’t. We do not live in each other’s pockets in my neighbourhood. Apart from a former neighbour (the one that moved out of the flat) and another lady, I do not visit the other flats. We simply say hello and move on to our individual lives.
One of the most important lessons I have learnt from writing is that everyone has a back story. We are a sum total of our experiences and influences in life. Understanding what these things are is the key to understanding a person.
Geologists say the past is the key to the present.
No one is a complete bad guy and no one is a complete good guy. The pressures of life mould us and we learn differently. No one is born a saint or a serial killer. Something about our predispositions and journeys lead us to where we find ourselves.
So what had happened to this my neighbour to make her think that a big lie in a tight situation was the best way to navigate a conversation she found awkward?
Did she live through every single second of her sleeping or waking life thinking about how she does not have children?
Have people found ways to mock her to the point that she is so sensitive to what anyone says to her?
What if she had been schooled to never admit childlessness so that it would not be her reality? That is not far fetched. It is called ‘faith’ language. It used to confuse me when I first moved to Lagos.
A colleague would call me and say “I am feeling strong, I can’t come to work.” Or “I was very rich that day so I could not buy anything.”
Or the one that I can’t get used to
“What if I come out early and they rob my enemy?” I would quietly try to process that in my head. It was later I realised that people here never used themselves in a negative analogy. They would not say “If I came out that early, I could be robbed.” It could only happen to their enemies.
Just yesterday in the market I saw something funny. A South-south Waffi speaking woman asked a Yoruba person selling stuff in the market how much something was. She was told and she exclaimed
“Una winch me wey I go comot that kain money give una?”
She said it in laughter. And from what I could tell, it was more to express surprise at how much that thing cost.
Well to her (and my) surprise, the Yoruba person broke the lid in anger.
“What kind of talk is that? How you go call me a winch? No carry that bad talk spoil my market…”
And so on she went. The woman tried to explain but there are no figures of speech allowed with a suspicious person. She walked away in a daze.
So it is possible, this my new neighbour wants to leave no room for childlessness by claiming she has kids.
Faith language or lying?
Or maybe she was teaching me a lesson for asking a question she was sensitive to.
Whatever it is, I promise you my people, Obiageli Fire (My alter ego) does not take unnecessary chances. This woman shall be avoided henceforth with a strict instruction to my nanny not to open the door if it is her.
Or am I taking it too far?
Sabinews readers, abeg hit me up with your own interpretation of this situation…
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