Tag Archives: Marriage

Red flags? Run, baby run… Part 1

You’re in a relationship, and there are red flags flying all around; alarms are just ringing… when is the best time to run? If you’ve been asking yourself that question, now might be the time to run. Don’t wait till it’s too late. A few weeks ago I was walking from class with a friend, and I was asking how she’d been the previous day since I hadn’t seen her. She went on to tell me how she had visited her sister and how she witnessed her sister’s friend, who was also visiting, go into labour.

She said it so casually so I just figured it was no biggie. It was just another case of an expectant woman realizing time had come for their bundle of joy to come into the world. At first I thought the lady’s labour pains were just a false alarm, until it hit me that she was actually going into labour. Only difference is, she hadn’t been rushed to hospital yet because she had rung her husband and was waiting for him to come drive her to the hospital.

My sister’s friend was nursing an infant herself and therefore couldn’t drive her friend to hospital. It took them a while to realise the dad-to-be, wasn’t going to be arriving soon. The lady obviously started panicking, afraid that her baby would die if she didn’t get to hospital soon. She had lost triplets before, so naturally she was afraid the same fate would befall this unborn baby.

Two hours later, on realizing that the friend’s husband had bailed, my  friend’s sister called a cab. About an hour later, the dad-to-be showed up, just when the cab was also arriving. Disappointingly, he was drunk. I had trouble understanding why the guy was acting so slothfully when the matter at hand sounded like it required urgent attention. If they hadn’t lost three babies already I just might have understood him, but realising what was at stake made me judge him harshly.

I’ve seen guys who are excited about the thought of being dads. It’s usually that excitement, coupled with the love they feel for their wives/baby mamas,. This particular dad-to-be however, couldn’t have seemed far from interested. He didn’t seem remotely concerned about the grief his wife would be subjected to if she lost a fourth child. My heart bled for the lady.

At first one would imagine the guy was just nervous about how this delivery was going to turn out; and in such a case, that would be perfectly understandable. However, what I gathered is that the man’s a philanderer. He’s always getting involved with younger girls because apparently he feels he’s very hot so in his opinion they find him irresistible.

“He must be on top of some woman, when his wife is here waiting for him,” my sister’s friend had speculated when she saw the panicky state her friend was in. Thankfully, the lady got to hospital safe but delivered through C-section as she’d taken too long to get to hospital since she went into labour. She had a bouncing baby girl. That was a miracle if you ask me.

It’s only been two years since lady got married to this guy. In my books, they should still be in their honeymoon stage, where they are still madly in love with each other. In other words, the marriage is still too fresh for the lady to have started living her unhappily ever after.

“Why is she still with him?” I asked my friend. “Does she depend on him in any way?”

“She recently took a loan to buy him a car,” my friend answered.

“So she’s financially independent. She can walk away now when it’s still early,” I replied.

“She loves him terribly. She doesn’t feel like she could live without him.”

I pitied the lady. She’s madly in love with a guy who doesn’t even seem to remember she exists. “That’s one-sided love,” I said. “At some point that marriage is bound to fail. Problem is, when that separation happens, it’s going to leave a very bitter and scarred woman in its wake. If that woman knew half of my mom’s story, or even the life my sisters and I have lived, she would take to her heels.”

Family life, not meant for all? Part 2

The entire week he didn’t call and he refused to pick up calls. Since he comes home on Fridays, we waited to see how he would handle that sticky situation. Eventually the week ended and as was expected, he called mom to tell her he was coming home and he wanted to find the car keys in their usual place. From what I gathered, he practically barked the order over the phone.

When he got home, he found my small sis and I. We didn’t have classes that day. First thing he did, he asked for the car keys. It didn’t escape my attention that he had alcohol breath on a Friday afternoon, meaning he’d imbibed before making his way home.

We told him we didn’t know where the keys were. Disappointingly, he dialled his brother and I must say I felt ashamed as I watched, and listened to him pouring out his heart to him about how we had hid his keys. According to him, we were colluding with our mother… which wasn’t entirely false. He went on to say some things I would have preferred remained unsaid since those are essentially family ‘secrets’; and all these he did, thinking we would be intimidated into giving him back the keys.

I couldn’t help but wonder, what authority he thought his brother had over us. He’s never come through for us when we’re in dire need of some assistance. Worse still, the last time he visited us while in the company of his mom and siblings, they tried to show mom how bad she was for dad and he (dad) blatantly took their side. Because of that and other unfortunate incidents, I do not feel his authority is binding on us. If at all he has any, it would only be persuasive.

As a daughter, I must admit I felt disappointed and ashamed. Disappointed that my old man was too blind to notice obvious things; that there are issues in our family which need to be addressed and it won’t be an outsider addressing them; and ashamed that by implication, he was giving up his ‘man card’. Because he was indirectly creating the impression he is not strong enough to handle his wife and kids, so only his brother could.

When he was done, he said he was leaving and was never going to come back. That again, he thought would function as a threat, which obviously didn’t serve the intended purpose. Shortly after, he left. Of the things that really got me so worked up was the fact that he didn’t care to ask how we’d been doing since he’d been gone, given that he knew mom had told him we were experiencing some serious financial challenges. All he cared about was his mother. The rest of us could go to hell.

Later in the evening, his brother called mom. He didn’t tell her why he was calling and only said he was inviting her to join them in some trip they had the next day. The one that had dad taking an early off on a Friday. Courteously she refused because it was on such short notice. Even he, was surprised dad hadn’t told us in the least that there was a family event; not that we would have attended anyway.

Mom asked him if there was anything else he wanted to tell her and he said there wasn’t so she just told him she knew he wanted to ask about the keys. She explained to him why she had taken them and unexpectedly, he actually understood why she had done it. He even asked if dad was still going to church. It wasn’t hard to tell he was also concerned about his brother’s behaviour. She also told him she wouldn’t be giving dad back the keys until the underlying issues were resolved.

When dad came home from the bar later, he said he was washing his hands off of us. He didn’t want anything to do with us. I had trouble understanding where he had prioritised us as his family, seeing as he was readily going out on a limb for his extended family, yet when it came to us, he seemed unperturbed.

The other day he was drunk, he got cross with my small sis, apparently for something she did ages ago, when she was around six. “You asked your mother if you could go find a new dad,” he scoffed, “maybe it’s time you did. Go find yourself another dad”.

That got me really concerned. All these years, I never knew he heard when my small sis had said that. Clearly she hadn’t said it out of pride, or anger. It was an innocent child speaking her mind out as a result of the misery our own father was putting us through.

So why would he in his right mind, not take a moment to ponder over that? Why would an innocent six year old say that of her dad? Personally I would freak out if God-forbid, I heard my children saying they wanted another mom.

Family life, not meant for all? Part 1

Ever bumped into someone and after watching them for a while, the impression you formed of them was, “This one wasn’t definitely cut out for a family life?” That might be a sad analysis of an individual I know, but sometimes circumstances might have someone reaching that conclusion. Here’s my own personal example:

Last week, I found myself analysing the life I’ve lived, and especially the things I know about my dear dad. And oddly, I just reached one conclusion: not every man was cut out to be a family man; to be someone’s husband, or dad.

He seems to have been unaware of his responsibilities as a family man from the get go. I have discussed my dad in so many of my posts that everyone who reads them ardently has an almost perfect image of who he is, based on how I portray him.

What had me reaching this weird conclusion was a series of events that have happened at various points in our lives, the most recent being last week. As I had mentioned in the previous post, dad’s mom has been unwell for a while, and most of that I attribute to old age.

After the fuss I’d mentioned in the particular post about the issues dad and his siblings had when they were trying to decide who among them was best suited to take their ailing mom in, they finally reached an agreement.

Their brother, who’s deemed the most affluent of them all took the onus; the fact that he had married a woman his mom didn’t want notwithstanding. It had been a really stressful issue for them because each sibling seemed to have a genuine concern as to why they couldn’t let the family’s matriarch into their homes; the past played a major role in this- she burned so many bridges in her ‘halcyon’ days.

When she eventually moved in, the siblings started visiting her regularly since she was close to them and it was easier that way; at least no one would have to worry about stirring up trouble in their house by taking her in. For starters, she and her oldest daughter-in-law don’t see eye to eye, so that household was off limits. And ours… that’s a belaboured account.

About three weeks ago, dad called me on a Saturday afternoon. He wanted to know when we were planning on visiting his mom. Given the very wanting relationship we have with her, we were obviously reluctant about it.

Again, I’ve mentioned in previous posts that family gatherings with dad’s family don’t quite make me ecstatic because those people have the potential to break someone down…and I mean really. That’s the one event you attend and by the time you leave, all you want is to never attend social gatherings again. They’re too competitive; always focusing on tearing someone down so they can feel good about themselves.

Dad sensing my reluctance, threatened he was going to tell on us to his family if we didn’t go. So I just wondered why he would use such a card, knowing how ‘unmoved’ we are by his family. Based on the poor relationship we have, it just never feels like we owe them any explanations. Anything we do for/with them, we do out of goodwill. Apparently he’s never figured that out.

After deliberating with my sisters, we reached a consensus; we’d be visiting her the next day after church. She is aging, and in spite of the way she’s treated us in the past we felt it was good to just check on her. Two wrongs don’t make a right after all. So the next day we honoured our promise.

Last Saturday but one mom needed some urgent cash, plus we needed to restock our pantry since we were running low on food supplies. She asked dad for some because he did have. She had seen it. He refused, completely. So mom was just stressed the entire weekend.

A few days before then, she had taken his car keys. This she’d done in the hope that it would hamper his drinking ways, seeing as he seems to be bonding with the bottle more with each passing day. It even gets worse when he drives to some nearby bars because he could spend an entire night out then come home close to noon. Like he did this past Friday. The risks involved here are numerous.

Neighbours complain he’s drunk and disorderly, and obviously when he gets home in that state, basic parking becomes a problem. It’s even horrifying thinking about all the accidents he could cause when drunk driving.

Lately he’s been spending all his weekends at his brother’s, where his mom is; however, that weekend he didn’t go since mom refused to give him back the keys. He slept on the couch the entire day; didn’t even talk to anyone. I felt he was behaving like a petulant child. Early Sunday morning he left the city so he could be ready for work by Monday.

Burning bridges – Part 2

When dad suggested he was going to bring his mom home, we all voiced our disapproval. For starters, she has never acknowledged us as her grandchildren. The last time she passed by for less than hour, in the company of her three other children, things got ugly when she started attacking mom, treating her like an outsider. She threatened to take her son away, from mom…

We couldn’t fathom living with her under the same room indefinitely.

If God-forbid she came down with a cold or something, especially now that her health is frail, we could be accused of poisoning her or something. So to be on the safe side, we’re all avoiding the responsibility of taking care of her. God knows we’d really want to, even if for humanity’s sake, but that would most likely be to our detriment.

Now would even be the worst time to bring her to live with us since we all leave in the morning and come back home in the evening and as we’re in a financially tight situation, we can’t afford to seek the services of a private nurse. That means she would never have anyone to take care of her and that could earn us her eternal wrath. I doubt anyone in their right mind would want that.

Ironically, when my maternal grandma was alive, we were the ones begging her to let us take care of her. We had a tight relationship with her and because she was naturally kind-hearted, we didn’t have to fake anything with her. Whatever problems we faced in her presence, we knew she wouldn’t judge us; she wouldn’t resent us. We went to her for guidance and she was only too eager to give it.

When mom and dad fought, she never took sides. She would admonish whoever of the two was at fault. That’s something dad’s mom has been incapable of for ages. Where her children are concerned, she effortlessly takes their side. And that explains the wanting relationship she has with her daughters-in-law. According to her, they have always been the enemies.

The one daughter-in-law who at least seemed to like her a bit is the one she encouraged her son to ditch because she favoured another woman over her. So now, nature has put her in a position where she needs help, and though four generations have sprouted from her, she has had trouble finding a safe haven where she can spend her sunset years.

She called too many shots when she was strong and able, without caring whose toes she stepped on. Now those same people whose feelings she bruised are the same ones whose helps she needs. Life really has a way of shuffling things around. Problem is, tolerance and trust don’t just bloom overnight. Worse still, where trust is absent, in its place there’s too much suspicion, which could be disastrous when it’s unrestrained, like in my family.

What I’ve learned from all these is that no man’s an island. Furthermore, even when someone feels invincible because they’re financially stable and are in good health, they shouldn’t take others for granted because no one knows how tomorrow will be. We might need to use the same bridges we burned to get to the other side of the river.

never-burn-bridges

In addition to that, sometimes it’s better for parents to let their children make their own choices, however wrong they feel those choices might be. It would be too bad if a parent and their child are separated later in life simply because the parent couldn’t respect their child’s decisions. That happens to most people, especially where there are new members being introduced into the family by virtue of marriage.

The truth of the matter is, once the child grows up and leaves the nest, their better half will in most cases have a say in the decisions they make. That therefore means that when a child chooses a partner, if they insist that’s who they want to share their life with, their parents should respect that. For everyone’s sake.

I don’t know if dad’s mom regrets her past choices, but I can almost bet she’s feeling their effect now and I find it a tremendously sad situation. From what I’ve seen in my family, that simple act of parents not meddling in their children’s relationships could save generations tonnes of rancour. It could also spare aging parents the misery of having to spend those final days in utter solitude because they burned all bridges and therefore have no one to turn to when they’re too old to take care of themselves.

All we have to keep reminding ourselves is that tomorrow might be a very different day from today and the people we seem to despise or take for granted are the same ones we’ll be running to for help. That’s just how life is. Sod’s law of some sought.

Burning bridges – Part 1

burning-bridges

Life as we know it, is a curve. A baby is born, s/he matures and ages, then ultimately dies. At least that’s the normal curve, even though not everyone gets to go through all the stages. Now, as any keen person may have realised, person(s) on either side of the curve seem to be in the same state technically. The only notable difference would be the difference in age and the obvious physical characteristics accompanying each.

What I find interesting is that persons on either side of the curve appear to be in a similar stage. For instance, when a baby is young, they require assistance taking a bath, moving from place to place, they need to be fed…etc. and so does an old person. Interesting, ain’t it?

My paternal great grandmother passed on two years ago and albeit no one knew her exact age, she’s rumoured to have been over a century old. Now if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is; in my humble opinion at least.

I was lucky to see her a couple of months before she passed on and when I did, I had trouble reconciling the version of her seated in front of me, with the version of her I knew when I was a child. Unlike her relatively younger self, she couldn’t move on her own and therefore had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair. She seemed so fragile; and obviously because she had lost all her teeth, there was a variety of foods she couldn’t eat. Just like it is with infants.

The reason I find this human curve interesting is because, once a child is born, they rely on their parents/guardians to get through life; then the child matures, they become independent and at some point they get families of their own and as it is with life, they continue aging. Now the interesting part is that when they do, the independence they once enjoyed when they were lithe fades away with age so they start relying on their children to perform, even the most basic of tasks.

Another difference is that unlike babies, who can’t chose who takes care of them, elderly people have that discretion of choosing. This they determine by the relations they have; how they treat their children and those close to them during their younger years.

One thing I keep reminding myself as life goes on is that life is too short to learn everything, so a wise person will learn from other people’s experiences, without necessarily waiting to learn from their own. Sometimes, when we’re in our prime, we delude ourselves into thinking that we can survive without help from others. But as some of us may have learned first-hand, in this business of aging, life knows no status quo.

A few years ago, dad was just going on and on with his drunken rumblings. He said my sisters and I could go get married and that he didn’t need any of us. He had his money and would therefore never require our assistance. I shook my head, concerned that he was being too myopic; he could barely see what was right in front of his own two eyes.

At the time, his grandmother was already in that stage where she was too old to take care of herself. The rest of his family had trouble deciding who was going to take care of her as she had too many ‘special needs’. I only told mom to remind him later that sometimes there comes a time, when parents rely on their own children to feed and bathe them. As it is though, dad is as obstinate as they come. Most often than not, I feel he’s one of those people who wait to learn from their own experiences.

Currently as we speak, his own mother, whom I’ve mentioned (not in very good light) in some previous posts is now aging and needs someone to take care of her. Dad and his three siblings have had trouble lately, deciding who would take her in.

See thing is, in her halcyon days, she burned many bridges; just like most of us do when we feel our lives couldn’t be better so we don’t need others to get by. She was practically the one calling the shots in her children’s lives; who they should marry, how they should treat them… the ones from humble backgrounds like my mom were only acquainted with the callous side of her.

She got to decide if her children married well, and this was always on the basis of monetary wealth; good virtues didn’t matter to her. Where she felt they could do better, she incited them, hoping to break them apart. With my parents for instance, she tried and failed miserably so we’ve -in most cases- been treated like pariahs.

Now as it turns out, her only daughter, who never married (because she didn’t want her marrying a poor lad) is not in a state to help her (financially speaking); her sons on the other hand, didn’t marry the wives she wanted so they (she and her daughters-in-law) don’t get along too well and as nit-picking is seemingly one of her fortes, no one wants to be in a situation where they are blamed for ‘maltreating’ her.

This is because they never forged a healthy relationship that’s characterised by trust and tolerance when they should have, so they are naturally weary of each other. It therefore goes without saying that any unintentional slip-up on their (daughters-in-law) side, might be construed as a deliberate attempt at making her life miserable.

The place of a family in the modern society

family

Relationships, what has become of them nowadays? Once upon a time, people would meet new acquaintances and they would agree to go out for coffee or lunch and gradually some new romance would brew. It was a step by step process that would eventually lead to the creation of a new family.  Nowadays the picture is very different though. People don’t put so much emphasis on dating, mostly the preliminaries are skipped and the two go straight to engaging in coitus.

When most old people are asked to give their two cents worth on the matter, they say young people have become very promiscuous. Normally I would be on the front line disputing that because I’m in that age group, but it just so happens that I’m in total agreement with the old folks.

The other day I was riding in a bus. I was seated next to a young man whom I imagined couldn’t have been older than thirty. He seemed a bit chatty and though I wasn’t in a talking mood, thanks to my introversion, I kept nodding.

To his delight, an older woman came and sat next to him. She seemed chatty too and before we knew it the two were exchanging excited banter. From what I gathered the young lad had sneaked from work in the afternoon and was headed to another place for a job interview.

Excitedly he told the lady how he had to get a job so he could take care of the children he was going to get in future.

“Are you married?” The lady asked him.

“I’m not married,” he replied freely. “And I don’t plan on it.”

“Why’s that?” The lady continued.

“Nowadays people don’t marry. A guy just gets a woman who gives birth to his children.”

“But shouldn’t those children be raised by both parents?” The woman asked, curiosity palpable in her voice.

“Not necessarily. Nowadays there are no women who are worth marrying. But since guys still want children, it’s easier to just find a woman who will agree to give us children.”

“Don’t you think the children will want to know who their father is?” The lady prodded further.

“Of course I’ll introduce myself to my children. Only I won’t be living with them. Maybe I’ll just be visiting once in a while and then I’ll be giving their mom money for their upkeep.”

As I listened in on that conversation, I couldn’t help but pity the current young generation. In my humble opinion, most guys seem to have lost the essence of what a family represents in society. Most people seem to think that it’s ok to just sire kids outside wedlock. And in some cases, most guys are siring children with more than woman while the women get children with different men.

This begs the question, do we as young people value families anymore? Or what they represent in society? A few years ago, while in high school, I learned that the family is the basic unit of society. Most values a child learns are picked up from these basic units.

In my family for instance, mom would have split from dad ages ago, were it not for the simple fact that she wanted us (my sisters and I) to grow in a complete family. Personally I don’t think that’s always important, given that if the parents are not in harmony, the whole idea of raising children in a complete family could even be to the children’s detriment instead of benefitting them.

My sisters and I for instance. We grew up in what outsiders would term a ‘complete family’, but deep down my sisters and I know the pain and suffering we’ve gone through. So, even though I advocate for families to continue being nurtured, I know they are not always advantageous to the children, or even spouses who suffer stoically at the hands of their partners, so they can raise their kids in a complete family.

So, back to that guy in the bus. From the things he told that lady, I would surmise he grew up in a complete family himself; with his mother, father and siblings. What he fears now, or seems to be afraid of is that the available women are not worth marrying, for instance, because they are too materialistic.

Personally I can’t even blame him. I know many ladies nowadays have embraced the ‘no romance without finance’ concept. However, I’m still of the opinion that we shouldn’t take for granted this small units in society. They are not worthless as many would imagine. They have their perks too.

So instead of giving up on them, we should try to find better partners. I believe that where someone presumes they won’t find a credible partner because ‘all women’ or ‘all men’ are the same, we already close our minds to the possibility of getting good life partners. We should be optimistic. There may not be too many people out there who seem to have the qualities we such for, but I believe they are there. And besides, we should also take our children’s needs into consideration. I would want to believe it’s every child’s dream to be raised by both parents.

Where life presents so many obstacles that two partners are separated, it’s ok for their kids to be raised by one parent, but if it’s our preconceived assumptions that hinder us from trying at least, then I think for our kids, we should try.

Christians, are we? Part 2

This far I’ve come, I’ve tried according dad’s mother all the respect I could master, but apparently it’s been all for naught; she refused to look at my sisters and I as her son’s daughters. Instead, she covered us with the same tainted cloth she did my mother. She extended the hatred she feels for my mother to us, refusing to see beyond the poverty mom came from.

Her favourite in-laws are the wealthiest ones, and as my mom is not, she remains her least favourite; her worst rather, yet she’s always thumping her chest saying, “I’m saved.” If I wasn’t a Christian already and I met her, I would hate everything Christianity stood for; thankfully, I know better. At this point it may seem like I’m haranguing out of anger but in the next post I will give an account of that blasted meeting we had, and I will let you be the judge of it.

The underlying point I’m trying to put across is that many of us claim to be saved, yet we perpetuate everything Jesus would stand against. For instance, I would like for dad’s mother to tell me what the Bible preaches about marriage. I would quote very many verses, e.g. man leaving his parents and starting a life with his wife, where the two shall live as one (Ephesians 5: 31) … what God has joined together let no man put asunder (Mark 10:9)…

The above verses refer to married couples. Astonishingly, thirty years after my parents met, dad’s mother is still trying to break them apart as she feels mom is still not the right woman for her son. Looking at it from her perspective, I would say yes, mom is poor, because she’s not as loaded as the rest of the daughter-in-laws; but what authority does she have, to try and split them up?

Dad’s siblings have failed miserably, relationship-wise and in my opinion it can all be attributed to their mother’s injudicious counsel; but I stand corrected. My deductions are primarily based on the fact that up until now she hasn’t acknowledged the wonderful woman dad married. Since she’s known mom she’s been too busy fault-finding, that I feel it will be too late when she realizes she lost out on a gem like the humble woman my mother is when she was too occupied collecting ordinary stones.

If it wasn’t for the respect I accord my elders, I would give her a detailed account of the agony dad has put mom through, then I would want her to tell me who of the two doesn’t deserve the other. In her case, apparently, age didn’t impart wisdom, because she still judges relationships and family ties based on the individuals’ pecuniary value. I pray to God I never get tired of saying this, but money is not everything; there are things that are far more precious.

Ironically, that same Sunday was still the anniversary of my maternal grams death. It’s been two years since she passed on and her memory is still fresh in our minds. I imagine if she were still alive, she would give dad’s mom a few words of wisdom.

For starters, dad’s mom hates mom because she’s not rich; not because she’s ever offended her in any way. On the other hand, when my maternal grams was alive, dad disrespected her in ways so unimaginable, yet she found it in her kind heart to forgive him. So how can dad’s mother claim to be a Christian, yet she manifestly perpetuates hatred and segregation?

 

Christians, are we? Part 1

Last Sunday but one during mass the priest gave a homily that had me thinking an awful lot. It was about people who are forever saying, “I’m saved”. You ask them what that means and they’ll be like, “I was a sinner but Jesus saved me.” So first of all, what comes to mind is, man is inherently a sinner. No one is sin-free on this earth, and that’s why Jesus died to save us from eternal damnation. So when someone says they were once sinners but are now saved, one imagines they are no longer sinners.

However, there’s another way of looking at it. One was leading a life of sin, but they let Jesus into their hearts, thus choosing to turn over a new leaf; abandoning their sinful ways. This means that one acknowledges the fact that they are sinners, but they chose to let God into their hearts, meaning everyday they get out of bed they strive to live a life that’s principally pleasing to God.

The Priest went on to say that some of these people treat everyone else like sinners because they consider themselves sinless. If you asked them they would tell you they no longer live on this earth but on some realm that exists between Heaven and Earth –wherever that is.

Now from what I gathered, the Priest’s qualms was that during the day these saved ones will be pretending to lead saintly lives but in the dark, they will drop those façades, indulging in the most despicable of ways. Additionally, if one gets a chance to snoop into their bags they will find all sorts of charms; you ask them what those are, and they will flagrantly tell you, “That’s my protection”.

So the million dollar question is, “What kind of Christians are those?” That is if they’re Christians to begin with.

As the priest delivered the homily, my mind drifted to one woman; my father’s mother. Up until two weeks ago, I used to call her granny, not because she revelled in the respectful title, but because, unlike my dad and his siblings, I couldn’t bear to call the woman who birthed my father by her actual name. The thought of it is just preposterous. It reeks of disrespect to say the least. So even though she detests it, my sisters and I insisted on calling her granny.

However, about three weeks ago, she visited and what ensued had me, in my God-given wisdom, deciding I wouldn’t call her granny again; and this time round it had nothing to do with her refusing the title. My sisters and I figured, a woman who acted as she did didn’t deserve such a respectful name.

I realized that all this while we’ve been according her so much respect, yet all we are to her are just impecunious daughters of a daughter-in-law she loathes to the core, simply because she (mom) came from a very humble background.

I tried comprehending how a woman of her age would act in such a manner; and the only feasible explanation, or the mere semblance of it that came to mind was the embodiment of wickedness. As I can’t call her by her name, I’ll just stick to calling her ‘dad’s mother’, because the name ‘granny/grams’…etc. bespeaks love, and affection; none of which I feel for that woman.

Letter to my husband: Part 4

Experience has taught me a few things. One of them being that there’ll be at least one person who judges someone for some misfortune that befell them; and personally, I’m not big on sob stories. In any case, I avoid circumstances that will make people want to pity me…or think I’m weird. In light of that I figured I couldn’t tell every guy I attempt dating the issues that cause me anguish. I also figured on the same note that if I explained this to anyone, it would be my husband. The man I hope to share my life with.

Looking at the events that have happened in my life, this doesn’t even get close to putting it all into perspective. All I know is that after living for more than two decades, witnessing domestic violence, I came out of it relatively wiser; but damaged.

Wiser because now I know many things I didn’t know before; things they’ll never teach in school. For starters, I know what I want in a relationship. I know the qualities I seek in a man; and money and looks aren’t it. If those two counted for anything, my mom would be the happiest woman on earth; but we already established she’s not.

And damaged because, of the things that cause me anxiety, relationships top the list. I have met some men, who would possibly have made wonderful husbands, but the instant they started exhibiting traits that reminded me of my father, I cut loose before it got too real. Such, is the extent of my ‘damaged-ness’.

I could pay a professional shrink tonnes of money for them to tell me what’s wrong with me and how I could make things better, but as I said, I already figured myself out. Relationships are a hard limit for me. Mom’s miserable life makes me dread the sheer thought of vowing to spend the rest of my life tied to someone, because truth is, it’s not easy getting out when things start going downhill.

Unlike the younger, naïve version of me who hoped to be swept of her feet by a tall, dark and handsome guy, now I know what I want; or what I don’t want.

I don’t want a man who will take me for granted. I need someone who will love and cherish me for me, without hoping to turn me into something I’m not for his own convenience. I realized, if mom had her own money from the beginning, her fights with dad wouldn’t have been too frequent. They fought a lot because she was dependent on him; and he was too tight-fisted. I would love to have a career, and for it not to be affected by our family life.

I don’t want a man, who wouldn’t be moved by our children’s grief, when they’re hungry, or crying because he is abusing me. I would want a man who wouldn’t eat or go on a binge-drinking spree when our kids can’t sleep because they are too hungry.

I would want a man who smiles at least, when his daughter tells him she’s graduating magna cum laude, or seem moved in the least when another one tells him she’s done working on her novel. Sometimes people think it’s all about money, when all one needs is just a simple hug. I would want a man who can spare a thought for our children; how his actions affect them.

I don’t want a man who will fill our children’s heads with sad Christmas and New Year’s day memories, because he just couldn’t help throwing punches at me; and on the same note, I would want a man who respects my mother, because were it not for her love and sacrifice, I wouldn’t be there to be his for the taking in the first place.

I wouldn’t want a man, who makes our children develop anxiety disorders and some other stress related illnesses like depression and peptic ulcers because they are afraid he will kill me when they’re in school.

And when eventually we decide to get married, I would be happy to have just a small wedding with just us, our witnesses and the priest.

So, unlike my younger self, I’m not interested in looks and money. All I want is someone with whom I can spend a happy forever with; someone who will give our children the happiness I didn’t have growing up; the lack of which has caused me so much anxiety.

I don’t have any children yet, but when I get them, I hope to raise them in a love-filled home, so they won’t dread marriages and relationships like I do. Truth is, if I had to choose, I would opt for a life of utter solitude, rather than live the miserable life my mom has lived. It’s not one I would wish, even on my worst enemy.

All I want is happiness…and love…and some peace of mind.

My beloved husband-to-be, if you can give me that, then I too will go out of my way to make you the happiest man on earth.

Letter to my Husband: Part 2

Most of the Christmas eves and New Year’s eves I remember were sad ones in our house. They were tear-filled. We would attend mass on Christmas and New Year’s Day with our eyes red and puffy from crying so much the previous night.

Dad would go out and come home drunk, unleashing hell on anyone he could get hold off. One time he got into our bedroom, where my late grandma was sleeping, and he brashly pulled her out of bed, so she could see how her daughter was behaving. He’d found out we had gone to visit one of his female cousins earlier in the day. I was only ten at the time and I remember panicking at the sight of it. Grams was only in a sheer nightie and he was shirtless.

In catechism we were taught to respect our elders, but what he was doing seemed anything but. I was traumatised; and the memory remained with me for a very long time, until he gave me new horrifying things to ponder over as I grew up. He always out did himself, sinking lower and lower at every turn. And it has been so to date.

I would wish the memories were good, but they’re far from that. Growing up, we cried more than we laughed. Mom has always been a social woman, friendly and all. So she made friends easily. Most of the time these friends would come to visit, but dad found fault with that. He couldn’t stand the thought of finding guests in his house. It didn’t matter that those guests were priests or nuns. All he saw were intruders in his house. In a bid to change that, he moved us to a very tiny house, so mom would never be able to host guests anymore.

As it is, they say one only knows her true friends when they’ve hit rock bottom. When we moved, very many things changed. Apparently most of those friends were not real because most of them stopped visiting. We became loners. I was always introverted, so I never socialized a lot really, but then the loneliness that ensued wasn’t something we chose. It had been imposed on us by a man, who was too selfish to care about his family’s well-being.

Given the unfavourable location of the house, mom and my baby sister developed a dust allergy. Everytime mom would visit some nearby clinic and the doctors would give the same diagnosis; allergy. I often wondered why dad didn’t care enough to move us back to a nice neighbourhood.

When all that was going on, mom and my sister falling ill constantly, friends ditching us, dad getting more violent… dad’s relatives, who had always considered us paupers, as apparently everyone else was pretty much moneyed, would show up just to see the kind of hell-hole we lived in. The sadists they are, they enjoyed every minute of our suffering. It wouldn’t have hurt as bad as it did if I knew dad didn’t have money; but he had.

Every time schools were re-opening, mom and dad would always fight. I was never sure why it always had to be that way every damn time. The fights would start in their bedroom, with them exchanging bitter words (that I slowly picked up on and used later to insult kids who rubbed me off the wrong way) and ended up in the living room or our bedroom, when mom fled, afraid he was going to hit her.

Once, when they were arguing, he threw my school fees at me and the notes scattered all over. I left the money and went to sleep, crying and traumatized after what I’d seen that night. In the morning, before I left for boarding school, I woke up to find the money and I couldn’t help the choking lump that rose in my throat as I realized some notes had fresh blood stains. I didn’t know where the blood had come from or whose it was, but the very thought was horrifying.

Every time our parents fought, my sisters and I would intervene, breaking them apart. Sometimes we even got hurt in the process. That had me wondering what would happen if we weren’t there to stop it. I always feared the worst.