Tag Archives: Family

Being Herod: Part 2

Months down the line, my young cousin unknowingly enrolled into the same university as my big sister. They bumped into each other one day as they were heading to their respective classes. Boy was she gobsmacked! They had not thought we could afford being in such a prestigious institution.

I suppose that’s why we are told to think the best of others. Clearly she went home and told her mother, who was not so pleased about it because she stopped making her routine calls in a futile attempt to figure out what we were up to.

Couple of years later, she called my sister one evening, asking for directions to our house because she and my cousin were ‘in the neighbourhood’, and wanted to say hi. Obviously we figured they had purposed to visit because our homes are numerous miles apart.

Given that they had not visited in close to five years, when they came they found we had done a couple of renovations, replaced most of the furniture. Unknown to her, my big sister had been doing some research job, which was bringing in some good money.

I don’t know what they expected to find…maybe they had thought we were living in deplorable conditions since they had not heard from us for a long time; and, members of my family are known to brag when they are making achievements in life…rubbing it in people’s faces.

They only stayed for twenty minutes tops, and each of those passing minutes was characterized by forced smiles, fake giggles…feigned pleasantries…but for the most part, it felt like we had just sat through an impromptu interview: what have you been doing? Are you guys dating? And judging by my aunt’s facial reactions, all our answers rubbed her off the wrong way…

We were not rude to them…nor were we snobbish or anything of the sort. However, it was unmistakably clear; all the raw disdain patent on her face. She had thought we were suffering, but to her utter dismay, we were actually doing alright. The one thing she had dreaded all through.

Since my aunt paid us that unannounced visit, she dropped her charade about loving us to bits and all. To her we were adversaries, who should be plunged into the chasm of desolation. All ties with us were unofficially severed, and it’s not until recently we bumped into her at my uncle’s wake. Even then, she was unable to mask her displeasure with us behind her characteristic ‘charming’ façade.

As usual, our conversation with her was more like an interrogation: whether we finished school; whether we found jobs; were we dating… To a third party, those questions might feel relatively harmless. Nonetheless, in this case, they are usually meant to gauge how my sisters and I are doing, and whether we are doing better than her children.

I can bet all my money she would sabotage us if she knew how. The way I see it, my aunt and people of her ilk are no different from the Biblical King Herod; people who use their power and influence to cripple others; people who would go to the ends of the earth to ensure others’ downfall.

As this year was starting, a recently ordained deacon in our church gave a beautiful homily. “In this new year, do not be someone’s Herod”, he said. “Do not do things or make omissions that will put others at a disadvantage. For instance, if you know someone who’s struggling with alcoholism, do not buy them alcohol, lest you’re faulted for derailing them. Build other people, inspire them”,

He went on to preach about the Magi. King Herod had instructed them to go back to him with news of the whereabouts of the new-born child once they saw him. No one would have guessed what his intentions were…but deep down he wanted to kill the baby, afraid he would dethrone him.

Our human nature predisposes us to the green-eyed monster; to envy. If we’re not too careful we get carried away and act on it, hurting the people we are envious of. We are called to be like the three Wise men. Once they saw the Star of Bethlehem, they did not go back the same way they had come. They used a different route. This is symbolic of people not sinning once they accept Jesus Christ.

Like the deacon preached, we should all aspire to build others, not destroy; our religious affiliations notwithstanding. If we are offering to assist others, let it be the type of help that arises from compassion; from empathy.

There is really no need of helping a hungry person with food, in the hope that the same food will kill them or incapacitate them. People can do without such kind of help. If the desire to help a person does not stem from love, do not do it.

Being Herod: Part 1

Sometimes we come across people who seem so kind and caring…they offer to help us out of whatever predicament we might be going through. However, unknown to us, their assistance/good deeds are nothing more than a ploy to set a greater stage for our downfall.

A story is told about a king, who sought to dim a newly born child’s dreams. He wanted to have the baby killed because he knew the baby was destined to become king; and that, made him pretty apprehensive. Kinda reminds me of some male animals, which kill young ones of their kind, as a way of taking out competition for the role of the pack/pride leader in future.

King Herod and the three Wise men

Personally, I have met such people who pretend to help someone out but it is never with good intentions. For instance, I have this aunt, who for the longest time, when my sisters and I were growing up seemed to have our best interests at heart. I remember this one time when we were struggling financially. My mom was unemployed and she offered to help her get a job.

Eventually she got her a temporary job at their office; one my mom would not have taken under normal circumstances, but which at the time felt better than staying home penniless, and at the mercy of my stingy dad. Needless to say, my mom was grateful for the job.

After high school, my big sister took a short business course in college, while waiting admission into university because at the time my dad said he did not have money to pay her tuition fees. My aunt was quick to jump to her rescue. She offered to find her a data collection job in one of those neighbourhoods where a caring parent would not let their daughter set foot in, for fear they could get mugged or raped…

My sister was so desperate to get a job, but after taking everything into consideration, we figured her going to collect research data in an unsafe neighbourhood was extremely risky, thus worse than her staying home. Subsequently, she turned down the job.

Over the years, my aunt tried getting us jobs, all of them relatively modest. We did not think much about it until much later when her own children, who are slightly younger than us, finished high school. Whether it was just their good luck or not, I cannot say for sure…but her connections got them very good jobs. When we realized she was deliberately trying to put us in a situation where we would not be more successful than her children, we started avoiding her.

Eager to keep tabs on us, she would call often to find out what we were doing…and we, having figured her out, would withhold all the pertinent information. However, as the saying goes, ‘A team is only as strong as its weakest link”, my dad, who tends to be a loose cannon when inebriated would call her, giving her every intricate detail about us. That is how, my aunt has managed to stay informed about us over the years.

We did not know what dad was doing behind our backs, until my aunt started calling, gloating about how privy she was to our personal affairs, courtesy of dad. Consequently, we started withholding personal information from him since we knew he would share it with anyone who asked. It is even worse that generally my sisters and I are very private people. We felt unsafe, knowing dad was our weakest link.

Like we had imagined, once we stopped briefing dad on our progress in school (we are not very tight with him therefore we don’t share much with him regarding our social lives), everyone was submerged in the dark, such that whoever wanted to know what we were doing would have to find out from us.

Still, we did not want to come off as unfriendly, so if my aunt invited us over to her place we would decline politely, citing financial hardship or any reason that would sound believable. The thought of our constant impecunious state seemed to bring her great comfort and as such, she wouldn’t insist. The less we had, the more she loved us…

Seventy times seven

Cold wars are a serious problem in my family and lately they are becoming annoyingly common; for instance, for the most part of last week and the previous week, my big sister and I were not talking to each other. What’s funny is that we’d fought over something so trivial – splitting house chores. At first the conversation had been going ok, but after a while we started disagreeing and before we knew things escalated…next thing we were going our separate ways.

A day later, I’d already gotten over the anger and I was ready to reconcile. My sister, on the other hand, seemed grumpy. I tried talking to her a couple of times but she blatantly ignored me. At some point I started panicking when I realized she was so bent on keeping to herself, that she would use alternative doors, so we wouldn’t bump into each other.

After a careful examination of my conscience, I realized that even though the things I’d told her were true, they were hurtful. Furthermore, the situation had been worsened by the fact that I’d said them with my voice raised. Possibly if I had said the same things calmly under different circumstances, they would not have stung as much as they did. Granted, I had said them in response to what she had told me and that’s why I had gotten angry in the first place. Since I knew she wouldn’t talk to me, I sent her a text apologising.

Still, she did not talk to me. I gave up trying and asked God to soften her heart because I could not understand how she could carry anger around for that long. I missed talking to her, but I did not know how else to reach out. Eventually, she started talking to me after a week. Of utter silence.

Over time I have realised that when I hold grudges, they consume me from within, so if I stay angry for long I end up hurting. That’s why I try not to stay angry for longer than necessary. Furthermore, there’s that reading about not letting the sun go down when still angry; meaning, even if it is alright to get angry sometimes, we should not drag it out.

“If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day… Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you…

Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God as has forgiven you through Christ”. (Ephesians 4:26-31).

Those words keep ringing in my head whenever I’m angry…and I thank God for them because they keep me from holding grudges, even when I feel someone has really hurt me. Coincidentally, the Sunday readings in church the last two Sundays focused so much on forgiveness.

One thing I got from this past Sunday’s reading is that if you want God to forgive you, you must forgive others as well. That is a prerequisite we must fulfil before seeking God’s forgiveness. That got me thinking, most of the time we walk around holding grudges against people, yet when we sin, we ask God for forgiveness, forgetting we haven’t forgiven others ourselves.

Jesus’ parable about the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18: 21-35) teaches on that. In a nutshell, it is about a servant who owed his king millions of dollars, so the king ordered that he be sold as a slave, together with his wife and children. The servant dropped on his knees, imploring the king to be patient with him because in time he would pay everything. The King felt sorry for him and forgave him his debt and let him go.

When this servant was on his way, he met up a fellow servant who owed him only a few dollars. Enraged, he grabbed him by the collar, asking him to pay all he owed him. The poor man fell on his knees asking for more time, just like the servant had begged the king, but he wouldn’t hear any of it. Instead he had him thrown in jail until he cleared his debt.

Other servants saw what had happened and they reported it to the king. Incensed, the king ordered that the unforgiving servant be brought to him. He castigated the servant for not showing mercy to his fellow servant. Subsequently, he had the unforgiving servant thrown behind bars, where he’d be punished until he repaid all the millions he owed the king.

As Jesus told His disciples, that is how God the Father will treat all those who do not forgive others. We should forgive each other seventy times seven times. This is just figurative. What Jesus was trying to say is that we should forgive as many times as possible because our human nature makes us prone to sin. That way, even God will forgive us.

On that same note, we are highly discouraged from avenging ourselves. In Romans 12:17-19 we’re told, “If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it”.

One of the lessons I’ve learnt during this covid period is that being cooped up indoors with your loved ones could easily make them seem like foes, because everyone starts focusing on the small, insignificant things… We need to overlook those trivialities, because it’s in so doing that we can live in peace and harmony…and when fights inevitably break out, forgiveness is key. That way, our humanness doesn’t pull us away from God’s grace.

 

Let’s talk about sex

How much is too much when it comes to children’s knowledge about sex? I’m under the impression some parents/guardians avoid this topic at all costs, but when you look at the happenings around us, the situation needs to be addressed. As the world is battling coronavirus, and all the untold hardships it has brought upon us, one of the glaring cons is that children have stayed out of school for longer than they should have.

You know some of those old sayings we so often take for granted? Some are proving hard to ignore; for instance, ‘An idle mind is the devils’ workshop’. Children are at home, and as it is, statistics show the number of underage pregnancies have rapidly increased.

These, have been attributed to gender-based violence, where girls are being defiled by male relatives; in some instances some naïve girls are being lured by wealthy men, who are promising them the things their parents/guardians cannot afford…then there’s the larger majority, who are just experimenting, of their own volition because they have so much time on their hands.

The latter is my bone of contention. Thousands of underage girls are getting pregnant…Question is, what are we not doing right? Something had me thinking…majority of guardians/parents are afraid of having the ‘birds and the bees’ conversation with their children; either because they are too reticent, or because in some cultures sex is one of those taboo topics everyone should avoid, except when discussing it with peers.

I’ve watched several movies on various local channels, where basic kisses are censored. Ever watched a Hallmark movie? They are the most family-friendly…they have a very intriguing storyline, which has relatively harmless love scenes. Methinks, the amount of kissing and nudity in these movies is too minimal to be censored.

Thinking of it from a child’s perspective, it feels like one of those instances where I’m watching my parents kiss…and as one would expect, it’s not one of those raunchy moments which scream, “Get a room!’ It’s the subtle type, which doesn’t focus on the physical aspect, but the intense love behind that kiss.

So, begs the question, should we bury our heads in the sand, pretend kids know nothing about sex and let things continue spiralling out of control? Should we let our innocent children get derailed by all the misleading information from their fellow friends, or the misleading pornographic content that’s easily available online?

When looking at a child, it is easy to dismiss them off as naïve, but I beg to differ. Just think of how old you were when you found out about sex. The difference between adults and children is, the former have a good amount of information to help them make informed choices, whereas the latter are still in a stage where they’ve got relatively little information that’s relevant, and ballooning curiosity.

I’ve interacted with children a lot, and one of the things I’ve picked up from my interaction with them is that a kid as young as five, has heard about sex from some older kids…problem is, the information they have is skewed…and that is where, in my humble opinion, parents/guardians should step in.

As a lawyer, one of my areas of expertise is children and the law, and as such, I could use pages expounding on the legal aspect of this conundrum. For starters, anyone found engaging in coitus with a minor should be charged with statutory rape…

However, the greatest challenge is that most of the teens are having sex with their fellow teens. In most jurisdictions, a child is anyone below the age of eighteen. So if both are minors, engaging in consensual sex, who should bear the criminal liability?

In the few years I’ve studied law, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt is that law does not solve all problems. The implication of this is that we need to find non-legal solutions and nip the problem in the bud. When I was a child, the one thing parents and teachers kept repeating was, ‘True love waits’.

From what I gather, most teens engage in coitus due to peer pressure. A kid who wants to appear cool needs to have sexual experience, because this is all kids are talking about nowadays…and the internet isn’t helping either. The way I see it, it’s about time we grabbed that bull by the horns.

Let’s have this conversation with kids…let’s tell them point blank of all the repercussions of teen sex…let’s not wait for them to collect misleading information from the internet, from peers… Let that vital, life-changing information come from a place of love…let’s teach them, that true love waits!

Alternatively, there’s the issue about safe sex education. If they cannot wait, there are safe ways of doing it. I know for most parents/guardians this might be unnerving, because children are angels, whose innocence should be protected. However, avoiding this topic is only worsening things.

The only way a parent/guardian can know the options available to them is by talking to their kids and gauging their position with regards to matters sex. What’s obvious, is that silence is not a viable option; because while we’re busy ignoring this, hoping our kids are still little angels, they are busy having sex…

 

When love flies out the window

 

When two people get into a relationship, hardly do they take time to contemplate the challenges that might arise if things go awry; at least most of us don’t…and even the few who ‘think ahead’ only do so with regard to finances and assets, hence the dreaded prenuptial agreements.

Earlier this month when I started my pupillage, my pupil master gave me some heads up, that in some instances I’d find myself looking for tissues to dry my tears when a client’s story got me all teary. Thankfully, I have read several cases, so I know how poignant a person’s experience could get.

Now that I’m being exposed to the practical side of a lawyer’s life, one thing I can confidently say is that breaks up can be awfully messy… and the worst part is, the ones who seemingly bear the mother-load of the brunt are the innocent children resulting from the relationship. Funny thing is, even legally they are referred to as ‘issues’, instead of children.

About a fortnight ago, I got to attend a negotiation, where an estranged couple were trying to reach an out of court agreement about how to have joint custody of their baby girl. As I watched the two split every holiday for the next seven years, I almost cried. I mean, here were two parents, who could not stand each other, but who wanted to be a part of their child’s life.

I have watched such incidences on TV countless times, but every time I comfort myself that the heart-wrenching scenes are all scripted. However, this was different. It was all real. There was an innocent child caught up in the murk. The case made me think of my own life. All through, I’ve watched my own parents fight and my mom’s sole reason for staying was because she wanted to ensure dad provided for us…basic needs and all.

I can say for a fact that living in a home marred by violence is damaging on so many levels; I have an anxiety disorder to show for it. On the other hand, having a child transfer from one school to another every year because their parents live in different localities feels equally traumatising for the child. Is there a lesser evil really?

As I sat through the negotiation, most of my concerns were about the girl. She needed stability in her life and that, didn’t seem like it would be happening anytime soon. Then there’s puberty, when a child is transitioning from childhood to adulthood. She would need someone to explain the physical changes taking place.

Silently, in the depths of my mind, I wondered which of the two unfavourable paths she would pick if she had a choice; her seemingly bleak one, or my anxiety-inducing one. I’m not sure there’s a better option between the two. What I’m pretty sure of however is that arguably, children suffer most when their parents fall out.

Joy of Christmas

Every Christmas I find a Christmas carol which rings in my head the entire season. In most cases it’s a reflection of my feelings. It’s not something I do consciously; I just hear a song and depending on my mood, I’ll find myself singing it over and over again.

This Christmas, two songs have stood out: John T. Williams’ Home Alone 2 (movie) version of ‘Somewhere in my memories’ and Pentatonix’ ‘Where are you Christmas?’ The former fills me with nostalgia as I remember the happy feelings I always have on Christmas.

The latter on the other hand, is an expression of the turmoil in my head this season:

Where are you Christmas?

Why can’t I find you?

Why have you gone away?

Where is the laughter you used to bring me?

Why can’t I hear music play?

My world is changing

I’m rearranging

Does that mean Christmas changes too?

Yesterday was Christmas day…for some reason however, it did not feel quite like it. In the evening I looked at my phone, and obviously the date on the screen was 25th December. If I didn’t know better, I would say my phone was malfunctioning, because the day itself just felt ordinary. I was not bubbling over with my usual Christmas cheer…and neither were my family members.

Light-heartedly, I said, “My phone shows it’s 25th….and that’s Christmas day!”

“What?” My big sis, getting what I was insinuating feigned surprise. Mom however, did not get my drift so she said it was Christmas indeed.

“Of course it’s Christmas,” I affirmed. “It just doesn’t feel like it”. Christmas is usually a big deal to me. It is my favourite season of the year. To me, it represents hope. My sisters and I have this tradition of watching Hallmark Christmas movies. For anyone who’s into them like we are, you will notice they are relatively predictable.

Most are usually premised on a love story, where a lady and a guy meet. Over time they develop feelings for each other, but then they run into what feels like an insurmountable hurdle. With determination either from both parties or just one of them, they find a grand solution to the problem and they end up together. Sometimes there’s a dash of Christmas magic…

My sisters and I are big on happy endings. Therefore it’s not hard to understand why these movies are so appealing to us. In a way, they are a representation of hope: broken families are reunited; lonely hearts find love, people who had stopped believing in the Christmas magic find a reason to believe again…  The movies are simply inundated with hope, and that’s what Christmas is all about; the wonderful gift of hope.

This year though, I have been running low on the Christmas cheer. I know a huge contributor to that has been this awful fatigue that’s been making me feel so worn out. This year has been a very busy one for me. At the start of the year I got into bar school and I only managed to come up for air when I finished my bar exams in late November.

Seemingly, the fatigue has aggravated my anxiety so I’ve been feeling on edge these last couple of weeks. Everytime I try to shake off the angst but the general atmosphere at home hasn’t helped the situation. This, I think, is what has robbed me off my Christmas cheer this season.

I know I’m not the only one who feels like the song by Pentatonix voices out their emotion, and there are several reasons this could be attributed to: it could be a family feud that has members distancing themselves from each other; or it could be because one has been hoping by the time the year ends they will have found love but they haven’t yet.

It could also be because a couple was hoping to get a child this year but they haven’t; or someone was hoping to get an end of year promotion but it didn’t come. It could also be because one’s fallen behind on paying their debts now they are drowning in arrears…the list is endless.

During the third Sunday of Advent, that is last Sunday but one, the priest gave an uplifting sermon about the joy of Christmas…and yesterday in church he reiterated what he had said then: the reason for this Christmas season is Jesus Christ.

We often think that having everything in life will make us happy. However, that is a fallacy. I remember watching Alladin, where Will Smith, who plays the genie cautions Alladin against drinking from the cup of voracious power because, not even all the money in the world could ever feel enough. That is true. The more one gets, the more they want…

In reality, the things we think might bring us joy might just turn out to be the bane of our lives: the child a couple thought would bring them joy might be the one who brings them tears and immense sadness; the spouse one waited for, for so long might be one who causes them anguish.

In light of this, we need to realize that all the joy we need can only be found in Jesus Christ. When one finds the joy of Christ, they can be happy even when they’re sick, childless, hungry…etc. That’s the joy we’re reminded to find this season. Speaking from experience, I know that’s easier said than done…but when we find that joy, everything will feel right…

I sort of got stuck on the first part of Pentatonix’ song, but towards the end, lies the answer:

Christmas is here… everywhere

If you care

If there is love in your heart and your mind

You will feel like Christmas all the time.

As we’re nearing the end of year 2019, I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous Year 2020!

Mommy Issues

I know a bad relationship when I see one. Be it a romantic one, a filial one, a fraternal one or even a fiduciary one…and this is not because I’ve received any formal training on matters relationship. Overtime I’ve just learnt to look out for the red signs in relationships… I guess because I’m afraid of getting hurt by people.

In light of this, I know the relationship my sisters and I have with dad is bad; because every time I feel we’re only kept together by money. I’ve delved into that matter in previous posts but for the sake of clarity, with regard to this particular post, I’ll explain it again.

Dad is our primary provider, because we have not gotten jobs which pay well enough for us to become fully independent. Due to this, we put up with a lot of hurtful treatment from him as he always does things for us half-heartedly. Yesterday, my small sis was saying, “Dad is like the devil. He never gives anything for free, and always comes to collect”. I was, and have been of the same opinion for a very long time.

See, he and mom went out shopping to replenish house supplies for the month, and they came back happy. However, shortly after they arrived he went out to drink. When he came back home he treated us to his usual drunken rumblings, with the music playing so loud, an outsider would have been tempted to think there was a religious crusade taking place in our house, since he was listening to gospel music.

He always makes us feel like we need to give up something for his ‘generosity’. From experience, he seems to revel in our misery, therefore whatever he knows we hate, he’ll gladly do it, just to spite us. For instance, yesterday when he went to the bathroom I went to the living room and turned the volume down. Sadly, when he came back, he turned it up again. I didn’t bother to reason with him because I knew we would only end up arguing; and nowadays I don’t really have the strength for that.

When the music was still playing, I heard him talk to someone at the top of his voice. I knew it wasn’t mom because they had argued a short while ago. So I figured he was on the phone. What caught my attention was him saying, “I love you” to the person on the other end. My curiosity piqued, I literally started eavesdropping…

‘You’re the best mom in the whole wide world,” I heard him say. So it was his mother. As I mentioned at the beginning, I can tell a bad relationship when I see one…and in that regard, dad’s relationship with his mom is a very unhealthy one… toxic even.

When addressing her he and his siblings call her by her first name. When I was young I found that odd since from my upbringing, I had been told children should address grown-ups respectfully, and this entailed using ‘titles’ if there were any; mom, dad, aunt, uncle, Mr, Mrs… ergo, hearing dad call his mom by her name felt like sacrilege. With time I learned she had asked her children not to call her mom. It’s sad, I know. Apparently she was afraid the tag ‘mom’ would prejudice her as it would make her appear too old.

She had prohibited us from calling her grandma as well, so as we were growing up we always had trouble calling her during the rare occasions we met. Eventually, after high school my sisters and I decided it was about time she stopped living in denial, so we started calling her granma. I couldn’t fathom calling her by her name; it just felt wrong. Sometimes she would ignore us, but I guess she noticed we were not going to relent…she stopped fighting it.

From what I’ve gathered, dad had a somewhat difficult childhood. His mother was too hard on him, that at some point he ran away from home. Unfortunately, he still craves her validation to date. She has tried so many times to break him and mom up, since she’s always wanted a rich daughter-in-law, yet dad doesn’t/has never tried to defend his marriage.

When we were young, she would summon him constantly and every time he came back home, he and mom would always fight. She was filling him up with resentment towards mom and he didn’t care to resist the influence. Her latest stunt to split them up was in 2015, when she came here accompanied by her other children. They had come to whisk him away…

My sisters and I gave them a piece of our minds…they had not seen that coming. Since then I haven’t seen or heard of any such attempts. Now what bugs me about this whole situation is that, dad fails to realise he is still holding on too tightly to the past to let himself enjoy what he has now. God gave him a loving wife, who in spite of all the misery he puts her through, still remains faithful to him.

Furthermore, my sisters and I try so hard to make this miserable relationship we have with him amount to something beautiful, but he’s always pushing us away. He always chooses his mother and siblings over us. He refused to move on completely. Now we’re all grown up, and about to move out, yet most of our memories with him are sad ones. He refused to embrace this future/present that God gave him.

We would have had a very happy life, but he chose to cling on to his past, hoping that someday his mother would give him the love he so desperately craves.

 

 

Who’s my neighbour?

As a lawyer, I know my neighbour is the person who is close to me, in terms of proximity, that my actions or omissions would cause them harm. This neighbour principle is intended to caution a person to be careful of what they do, or don’t do because they will be held liable for their actions/omissions.

About a fortnight ago, the readings in church were about a conniving lawyer who was trying to test Jesus’ wits, asking Him what he needed to do to attain eternal life. Jesus told him to be good to his neighbour. The rationale is, someone cannot love God, who they have never seen if they cannot love their own neighbour.

In this lawyer’s attempt to outshine Jesus, he asked Jesus who his neighbour is…and Jesus went ahead to tell him the parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was done, He asked him who of the three people was a good neighbour.

In a nutshell, the moral of the parable is to be kind, even to those people we don’t know. The neighbour principle discourages us from doing things that might harm others. It teaches us not to do to others, what we wouldn’t want done to us.

That Sunday morning after mass, mom and I were at a petrol station checking tyre pressure, when we heard the distinct sound of shattering glass. On reflex, I looked over my shoulder thinking a driver had rammed into something.

But lo and behold! I saw a relatively young man, possibly in his early twenties, bending forward. He was trying to pick something from the ground, but his centre of gravity seemed very wobbly. His back and forth rocking motion bespoke early morning inebriation.

Then, I also realised, his pants had pooled at his ankles and he seemed to have such great difficulty yanking them up. He would bend, and his entire tall frame would tip forward, then he would attempt to stand.

I bet he was so drunk because he took like three steps forward, trying to find his balance, then he took a few steps forward. It was sad really. I would have been tempted to laugh, but the situation was just heart breaking.

When he was still trying to fasten his pants, which thankfully he had managed to pull up, he dropped his phone; and at that point he let go off his pants then bent forward again to pick the phone. Next to him was a broken window of a fast food restaurant, and shards of glass were scattered on the ground. That had mom and I thinking he had something to do with the breakage.

A waiter from the restaurant got hold of him and directed him inside. Then he locked the double glass doors from inside, I guess to prevent him from disappearing before they settled the damages. Though I doubt he would have, given his uncoordinated movement.

I could not help but wonder why such a young man would get himself into such unnecessary trouble on a beautiful Sunday morning. After seeing dad drink for all these years, and knowing the problems this has brought him and us, I am of the humble opinion people should just try to avoid the habit, difficult as it is.

Funny thing is, during mass the priest had said a good neighbour is one who doesn’t do things they wouldn’t want other people around them to do. Interestingly, he gave an example of a drunk man/woman, who comes home after three days. When asked where they’ve been, they turn hostile.

The priest asked, “If you wouldn’t want your partner or children coming home that drunk, why would you think it’s ok to do that to them?” Being a good neighbour means sparing a thought for those around us.

pressure to get married

I’m staring out at the sky, praying that he will walk in my life…

Where is the man of my dreams…I’ll wait forever how silly it seems

How does he laugh how does he cry, what’s the colour of his eyes;

Does he even realize I’m here…where is he…where is this beautiful guy…

Who is he…who’s gonna take me so high…”

These are the lyrics to Justin Roman and Natalie Soluna’s song, ‘Where is she’. When I was younger I used to sing it word for word, because I loved it (still do). Now it pops randomly as a reminder of what’s going on in my life.

See, when my two sisters and I turned 13 (at different times), dad automatically assumed we would give in to the raging hormones teenagers are usually said to suffer from at the onset of puberty. Therefore he always treated us like we were just sleeping around with boys. “I know they’ve done it…either in that bedroom, or that bedroom…”This, he would say during his drunken ramblings, pointing at the bedrooms while standing at the hallway.

As a result, we always avoided inviting guys over because we didn’t want to be judged. Even the ones who came over did so without our consent. Like this one evening my childhood sweetheart popped by on his way home from work. Needless to say, I had not invited him over. When mom got back from work, she found him there but since she knew him since he was a child, and was friends with his mom, she was generally happy to see him.

Only thing she was not privy to was that a couple of years ago he and I had been in a relationship. At the time we had already gone our separate ways and he had visited, hoping we would get back together. However, I had already moved on so that chapter had long been closed.

Then, 25 came and suddenly dating was the implied requirement…if one was not dating and introducing their partner to the family, people thought that person was slacking off. The pressure to get married started. Mom light-heartedly started saying she wanted to see her grandchildren before she turned 50.

One of my cousins got a baby at twenty and the entire family ganged up against her. No one wanted to be associated with her, and I couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. I mean, at the least, she was above 18, if age was the issue. She stayed with us for a while and a couple of years later, everyone was doting on her little girl. Nowadays, in family get-togethers, the same people who had ostracised her refer to her daughter as her second degree, her first being her bachelor’s degree.

So question is, is it just in my family or that’s the norm? Where before one turns 25, dating is almost a felony…then after 25, there’s pressure piling from all corners for one to get hitched. Nowadays, all my dad’s drunken ramblings start and end with marriage; but in all honesty, I sort of understand why. Most of our cousins are getting married and having babies.

Dad yearns to be called a grandfather, like his elder brothers. However, he fails to realise marriage is an almost permanent situation, given that it’s usually intended to be, “Till death…” So the way I see it, it’s not a matter of having attained the suitable age for marriage, but about being prepared emotionally, financially…

I really do not want to end up in nuptials because I’m ‘ripe for marriage’. If marriage was merely about age, right now I’d be nursing my own children, and taking care of my husband. Nonetheless, I want to find a man I truly love…someone who completes me in every sense of the word; someone who understands me in all my ‘damagedness’…and that, in my opinion, should not be rushed. It’s not about whether dad and mom are ready to be grandparents, but whether I’m ready to start a family.

Cons of sowing too many seeds

Sure, God did command mankind to multiply and fill the earth. However, there’s the saying about everything having pros and cons. Off of the top of my head, there’s that advantage of parents being able to leave legacies through their children especially where one child doesn’t amount to much, at least one of the progenies will amount to something…

Now to disadvantages; the way I see it, there’s more to parenthood than just donating egg or sperm. Generally speaking, anyone can conceive; but only a few can actually become parents in the real sense of raising their kids.

There is this uncle I have. He’s a well-known serial dater, who practically sires children with every woman he talks to. Last I checked, he had seventeen known ‘wives’… I would say that’s a case of polygamy at its best; and as for the children he’s fathered, well those ones keep popping up like ads when you think there couldn’t possibly be more.

His first ‘legit’ firstborn (the one we all thought was his first born) is just a coupla years older than me, but as days pass by, more children older than him keep appearing. That obviously means he started following God’s order to Adam and Eve, “go forth and multiply”, when everyone clearly thought he was only sharing his life with one woman.

Interestingly, his older children have already started their own families yet he is still siring more children; some of who are now younger than his grandchildren. But that’s hardly a problem. Nonetheless, one of the common factors is that for all his children he’s been an absentee father. Now that’s where the problem lies.

Ordinarily, he lives with a woman for a while and when the children are barely ten, he takes off and moves in with a different woman, leaving a very disgruntled family behind. Such is the life he’s lived since before I’ve known him. Unfortunately, karma is finally catching up with him.

A few months ago, his ‘legit’ first born and his wife, welcomed a baby boy and while my uncle hoped the baby would be named after him, my cousin refused. Such was the case when his second born and wife also welcomed a son. Saddest truth, is his children do not want to be associated with him. Furthermore, the women he has been cohabiting with recently, have also sued him for child maintenance.

As if that’s not enough, he’s been sick for a long while and he has got no one to take care of him. None of his women are willing to be associated with him. I find it sad that he’s got so many children but he’s all alone and lonely.

Luckily he was able to get a nurse, who’s now taking care of him…and though it definitely isn’t my place to be saying this, there has been rife speculation that he is already romantically involved with her. So it’s not hard to imagine how that story will end.

Looking at my uncle’s life, I’m more convinced it’s not about the number of children one sires, but the number one raises. Parenting is more than just conceiving and giving birth to babies. Proverbs 5: 15-19 says, “Be faithful to your own wife and give your love to her alone. Children that you have by other women will do you no good. Your children should grow up to help you, not strangers. So be happy with your wife and find your joy with the girl you married”.