Sunday, 27 November 2011

What's it about marriage sef?

Let me say that marriage is honourable and beautiful when the right ingredients are in place and properly mixed to make it work. However, I don’t believe that marriage is a do or die affair as most people would want to take it. Some people go to any extreme to make sure that they get married forgetting that marriage is a journey that one needs to embark on carefully. It requires its own form of education, planning and preparation. It requires a whole lot of compromising, perseverance and maturity. As it is often said, it is a university that you are awarded the degree before embarking on its training.

Yet, it is a beautiful experience. Marriage is like being in a well kept garden; a lot of efforts and hardwork is put into it to make it beautiful. It is a well kept garden yet it is filled with rocky paths and valleys that require its own special training on how to tread. It becomes successful when you embark on the journey with the right person. It is not a journey you go with the next available person.

A lot of people have made the mistake of embarking on this journey with the available person therefore, making a well kept garden become an abandoned one overgrown with weeds and thistles. What   baffles me is that despite the issues associated with the failures in marriage, a lot of people still commit exactly the same errors those that went into it blind did. I thought the Yorubas say that the person who falls into a deep pit teaches other passerby to tread carefully. I have since found out that this is not the case when it comes to marriage. If this is not the case, how come there are many bad marriages out there. I have heard a lot of mind boggling stories about some marriages but nothing beats the story I heard about my once upon a time friend and her husband.

I said once upon because our friendship became strained because I had advised her at the time to think carefully about the guy before committing herself. Despite all appeal, she went ahead and got married to the man. I had never seen a more downcast and unhappy bride in my life. She was so unhappy that we kept on reminding her to smile on her wedding day. Soon after, they settled into the marriage. I lost touch with her for a while until I ran into her at a wedding. Initially, I was excited to see her. We hugged and soon got down to the business of catching up. She asked about my marriage and I regretfully told her that I was single again. She heaved a huge sigh and I braced myself for some preaching since that was the norm with people. But she kept quiet for a while and then she touched my hand. “Ose,” she said, “you are very brave”. I was stunned since that was not what I expected. “I am burning in hell” she continued. I looked at her carefully and I realised that she has aged though her carefully made up face hid some of the strain and tension. I held her hand and whispered “It is well!” “No, it is not well. I have deceived myself for too long. I have made too many excuses but I know now that it can’t be well” she blurted out. I kept quiet as I was short of words. Moreover, I have learnt from experience to keep quiet at moments like this since there is peace in the silence. We were like this for a while. I held her hand trying to assist her to draw out some strength from mine. “Ose, he brought a prostitute home and slept with her on our matrimonial bed” she said quietly. I opened my mouth to talk but left it hanging out of shock. “He didn’t have money to pay her and the girl started making trouble. The children were home and they fought right there in the presence of my children.” She said with her head bent. She was so embarrassed that she could not look at me. The whole story as I could link it up with the disjointed way she narrated her ordeal was; she had gone out without the children and her husband seized the opportunity to bring home a prostitute. She would not have known anything about it except that he had no money to pay the girl for the service rendered and since prostitutes do not provide service on credit, an argument ensued with the girl holding tight to the trouser of my friend’s husband. It was at that point that she came back home. Wondering what could have happened, she asked her husband what the problem was and when he refused to answer, the prostitute proceeded to tell her about the service she just rendered in which she demanded full payment for. My friend felt so humiliated that she had to pay the girl.   

I sat there not knowing what to say to her. Finally, I asked her what she intended doing and she said she had moved out of the bedroom and she would never allow him to touch her again. I looked at her with my eye balls struggling not to pop out of its sockets. I wanted to tell her if she had some pathological hatred for herself that she had to subject herself to such humiliating circumstances. I am sure the look on my face said it all because she said “I can’t leave him”. “Why not?” I asked flabbergasted “Because of the children”  she said. “The children?” Do you think that’s a healthy environment for your children to live?” I asked. “I am a Christian and God hates divorce” she replied defensively. I held my peace at that moment.  I know that God hates divorce and it is not an experience I wish on my enemy but I equally know the only ground for divorce in the Bible is adultery.

I ask, are there deeper reasons why a woman will not want to leave a bad marriage? Is it because of societal stigmatisation or because woman just lack the will power to do so? Or are women masochist?   

Saturday, 19 November 2011

You Can Be Who You Want To Be

There were these two guys who were my mates in the University-Lanre and Yemi. Yemi was my course mate while Lanre was in the English department though in the same Faculty of Arts. Lanre and Yemi shared something in common. They were both blind. But this was where it ends. While, Lanre was very out going and very friendly, Yemi sort of kept to himself. Lanre was often seen in the company of the most beautiful girls on campus. Girls and boys alike were easily drawn to him and often offered to assist him in getting around on campus but Lanre would not hear of it. He would politely turn down anybody who offered such assistance. Lanre was gregarious and so almost everybody who came in contact with him, liked him. He could also not forget a voice and would recollect your name even if he only spoke with you once. He would often call everyone by their names and crack jokes as he used his cane as his guide refusing anybody to help him. What struck me about Lanre back then was his positive attitude. He often laughed at himself.

Yemi on the other hand, was often withdrawn and he kept to himself a lot. He often cut classes and I remember him complaining about his inability to get his Braille or the inability to transcribe what we were taught in class into Braille language. After a while, he stopped coming to class and his excuse was that he had nobody to lead him to class which I felt it was absurd.

I was not close to either of them but I had friends who were quiet friendly with Lanre and so I was able to observe him closely. Actually, both of them made impressions on me. Lanre, was always seen around the faculty. I am sure he never missed a class but Yemi sadly so, dropped out of school after our first year and we never heard of him again.  Twenty-six years after, Lanre is now a lawyer. He graduated and went back to study Law.  

I am sure both Lanre and Yemi had their challenges back then. While Lanre forged ahead, Yemi decided to give up. Discussing about both men with a friend recently convinced me that we can be who we want to be. We can either face the challenges head on or give up without trying. I read a book once titled “Tough Time Don’t last but Tough People Last” by Robert Schuller, the book encouraged people to hang on no matter what a person maybe going through. He believes that it is only those that are tough that will last but every situation-no matter how tough would change. That book, I read a while ago but the content stuck with me.

As human beings, we are bound to face challenges that may appear in surmountable but our reactions and attitude to these challenges will determine where we will end. We can be who we want to be if we have the right or positive attitude to the situations. We may decide to have a pity party and invite hopelessness, worry, complains, anger, sadness and other vices as our companion to such a party because it is so easy to wallow in self pity. We may decide to become emotional and blame everybody and everyone for the challenges being faced. Blame the government, our parents, family, friends and even God for allowing this sort of calamity to befall us. Blame everybody except the person that is to get the blame. After all, nobody understands how it feels. Anyway, nobody loves me so how can they understand what I am going through.  Instead of looking for the way to confront the issues and think of other options or alternative way out, we sink deeply in self-pity enjoying the pity party while acting helpless

Being who we want to be require us to be focused and positive. We need to know that good things may not necessarily come easy. We need to be tough to confront the challenges of life because life does not get better by any chance but by the changes we make.   Too often, we focus on what is not instead of what could be. I believe we should live what we cannot control to God and concentrate on those things we have control over.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Midlife Crisis Or Time For Change

We may go through midlife crisis at one time of our lives. These crises normally occur when approaching 40years or in the mid 40s. Some of the symptoms of midlife crises as highlighted in some of the searches I did on the web indicated the following:
  •  No longer knowing the person staring at you in the mirror
  • Worrying about where your life is going
  • Feeling frustrated with just about everything
  • Experiencing feelings of regret
  • Focussing on what you are losing
  • Feeling almost invisible
  • Thinking the time is running out
  • Questioning the meaning of life
  • Feeling trapped
  •  Wanting to make some changes and not knowing where to start
But I often wonder if the symptoms highlighted above are actually a midlife crises situation or just a time for a desperate change. I recall, when in my 30s I felt all these symptoms and some more so I made some drastic changes in my life. I had being unhappy with both my work and my marriage and I took a decision to make some changes. I left my work not really knowing what I wanted to do and then I had to walk out of marriage because I felt I needed to be happy-something I wasn’t experiencing. I reviewed my life and I knew that it was time to do something about the situation I was being faced with. I didn’t know what I wanted but I sure knew what I didn’t want. Friends and families tried dissuading me believing that I had lost my mind. “How could you walk out of your job after investing eleven years of your life?” This was the question I was bombarded with. “Whatever the case, play the office politics and it will be well with you.” This was the advised I was given by well meaning friends. However, apart from not being happy working at the place any longer, I had reached a point of burnt out and I just needed a change. I also wanted to invest time in my marriage- thought I could make things work out but I soon realised that the marriage was already dead and there was nothing to work on again. Both parties were no longer keen in seeing it work. I was no longer interested in pretences. But people thought I was mad. Some felt I was going through a major premenopausal syndrome but I just wanted to be happy and be fulfilled something I wasn’t getting.  I had gone through a lot of challenges in my life and at that point, I felt I deserved to be happy. So I effected the changes and I am happier for it.

Today, I celebrate my  birthday and as it is usually the case with me, I spend time reviewing my life than celebrating the day though I love birthdays but I believe I should spend time to think of how far and well I have faired in my life. Assessing the past seven years of my life; especially the last one year, I realised I am due for another change.  Maybe, I am going through another stage of midlife crises, but nothing as drastic as I did in my 30s. I lost a dear uncle and my cousin in quick succession and these incidents have got me thinking again. I have asked myself often after these two incidents, what is it about life that we tend to hang on too tenaciously. No one knows when death will come calling so why don’t we just live life to its fullest and live each day as if it is the last? A lot of us worry so much about what we have no control over.  We place premium on material things and have ignored to spend time with our loved ones. Selfishness and self centeredness has become the order of the day. No wonder the family system is collapsing and fast too.

As I celebrate my birthday, I have made the decision to live my life a day at a time as if it is the last for me. Going forward, I am handing everything over to God. I love the freedom of the bird. They can fly anywhere and everywhere without worrying. I have decided to be like the bird. I will spread my wings and fly. I will fly without inhibitions and fears. I will fly to accomplish the best and attain the greatest height I can reach. There are things I have planned to do and for whatever reason, I have not been able to achieve these things. I am going to spend quality time striving to achieve these things. I will try to be more patient and tolerant in my dealings with people. Finally, I will love as I have never loved before. I have guided my heart jealously over the years not wanting to take the risk of being hurt but from now on I am going to let go and love as I never did. I will worry less about being taking for granted, enjoy my relationship with my loved ones and above all improve my relationship with my creator. So help me God.

So I begin to fly...
Tweeting of the Bird

If I have a wing like a dove
I will fly, fly away….
So the song goes
But I don’t have to have wings like a dove
I can develop my wings
And fly away without fears
I can fly and be who I want to be
I can fly with the freedom of a bird
Carefree, no worries, no fears
I can fly over the mountains and the hills
I can spread my wings
As wide as I want it to be
I can fly alone with the peace that comes with solitude
Or with companions and enjoy the joy of being with others
I can build my nests wherever I want to
Or perch on the window pane
Chirping love songs to my loved ones
Tweeting to the beautiful day
The day the Lord has created
I can love as I never loved before
Free of fears and inhibitions
Giving all to the one who deserves it

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Storytelling: The Art of Teaching Values and Morality

Sitting under the moonlight with the starts gazing down at us, we sat with our legs stretched out while my auntie sat on the kitchen stool. “Alo o!” she said. “Alo o!” we responded. This signified the beginning of the storytelling session for that night. The theme of her stories was based on the tortoise and its pranks and foolishness. The other characters were the tortoise’s wife-Yanibo, the hare, and the dog. These stories were told to educate us about moral issues and the right values. My auntie would often ask us about the lessons learnt after telling us  this story. One after the other we would raise our hands to tell her about the moral of the story.

After each story told, we would often beg for more. My auntie, obviously tired from the stress of the day would agree. Sometimes, if she was very exhausted, she would ask one of us to tell a story. Because we wanted to outshine each other, we would fabricate our story line sometimes going on and on and not knowing when to end, trying to show off our dexterity in creating story lines and wanting to outdo each other. This act of coming up with our own stories assisted us in developing our creativity and unknowingly, making us an aspiring master storyteller.     

Soon, the younger children fell asleep while the much older children started to doze off though we would quickly deny feeling sleepy if we were asked to go to bed, wanting to prolong the storytelling session. Before we knew it, nature would take its course and we would no longer be able to fight sleep, bowing to it under the soothing voice of my auntie.

The storytelling sessions taught us about values and how to live right in the society. The emphasis on the stories was about morality and the consequences of not doing the right thing.  Though largely as a child, it was our own form of entertainment because stories were often accompanied by songs which we chorused and sometimes danced to but it was also an opportunity to ignite our creative juice.  Again, it afforded families to bond and some of the sessions were used to address certain moral issues that might have affected the family. This was the traditional ways of entertaining while also educating the children. Some of these stories have lived with me. Some of the stories I remember very well. One of such is the story of the tortoise’s visit to his in-law.

Once upon a time, the tortoise decided to pay his in-laws a visit. He got to the in-laws’ house while she was a preparing dinner. She had a pot of yam porridge on fire and she invited tortoise to stay and have dinner with the family. Tortoise declined claiming not to be hungry while his mouth watered at the aroma of the food on fire. The in-law went to the backyard to get more firewood. Tortoise could not resist the smell of the food. He opened the cover of the pot to see what was being cooked. He quickly covered it and moved away from it. He muttered to himself wondering why he declined the invitation to dinner. He walked back to where the food was being cooked. He stooped short contemplating what he should do. His stomach rumbled. “Let me just taste the food” he said to himself. He opened the pot cover again, smelled the food and took the kitchen spoon to scoop just a bit so as to taste it and satisfy his curiosity if the food tasted as good as it smelt. He dipped his hand inside the pot and then heard footsteps approaching. “Ha! I can’t afford to be caught”. He mumbled to himself. He quickly scooped some of the hot yam porridge and put it in his cap. Hurriedly, he wore the cap and covered the pot and moved away from the cooking pot. He acted as normal as he could though his scalp was burning up.

“Ha! My in-law. I am sorry it took me a while. I was looking for something to send to my sister.” Tortoise’s in-law said as she walked back into the kitchen.

“That’s ok” tortoise replied. “I have to go now” He said shifting from one leg to the other. He had become uncomfortable and his face had turned red. “I just have to go really” Tortoise insisted.

“My in-law, are you ok? You are burning up” the in-law said while feeling his body.

“I am ok really.” Tortoise replied, moving away from his in-law. ”I am sure I am only reacting to something in the air” he said trying to convince his in–law.

He walked out of the in-law’s compound and at a decent distance; he started running because he could not bare the burning sensation of the yam porridge he stole. He saw a river and he quickly jumped into it. He removed his cap and the hair on his head had fallen off and that’s why tortoise is bald till today.   

Storytelling made it easy for parents to train their children without being too boring. Learning from whatever happened to the characters of the folk stories prepared us for how to conduct ourselves in the larger society. Unfortunately, like most of the tradition that was prevalent when I was growing, the culture of storytelling is almost dead not with the advent of telecommunication and technology.