Aching Expectations

Aching Expectations
By Clinton Ikechukwu

I am often disturbed by a certain dysfunctional idea about marriage, especially in this part of the world. And this dysfunctional idea has left many ladies psychologically unbalanced, less confident, & gravely unhappy yet they move about in plastic smiles and drown in depressive anxiety within the confines of their privacy. It is the idea that at a certain age an unmarried lady is tagged a failure. People’s eyes lingering over her with a deep sense of disappointment.

These self-made gatekeepers assume that at a certain age an unmarried lady should consider herself a huge loss. They are quick to run this lady’s life through their furnace of expectation. And then consider whether hers is a fulfilled life or not. And this is why the girl child is often burdened with an aching weight of expectation of bringing home the right man. So she is often under pressure to escape this societal shame and this impending humiliation. At this point, her dreams, ambitions, & aspirations are often placed as an afterthought. Because of this societal pressure, many are quick to strip naked before a seeming suitor even if love is absent – and if the intended is not achieved, promiscuity is let loose – they have to try again.

The thought of finding a man before they reach this age beclouds reasoning. So, they are quick to push away what they once called love, because there, marriage still seems far. While many others become complicit to crimes of domestic abuse and rape because they're scared of losing a seeming suitor. So they must absorb this private shame than the public shame of not bringing home a man. But for the male child, there seems to be no prescribed age for him. Nobody tells him, ‘I am praying for you to get married.’ Nobody stares at him with a deep sense of failure for not getting married at a certain age.

These gatekeepers feel, probably, he is yet to make his choice. And when I think of why it is like this, a dim voice tells me it’s culture – it's an African thing. In Africa, the institution of marriage is one of the most revered. And of course, it should be, marriage is by far one of the greatest blessings in life, and then, choosing one’s spouse should also be one of the most important decisions one would ever make. Culture evolves. And people make culture.

How can we be blind to these bold absurdities? If these things are not unlearned, we should expect the girl child to transcend into dire desperation as there will be more "special package" – some sort of fetish, or charm-like substances used to lure, hold and make a man answer to one’s demands.

This image is a mirrored reflection of our society.

Marriage should not be a mechanical adventure. Marriage should happen like love happens, anytime.

In raising my girl child, I’ll teach her to build a healthy pride, to live, to love and be conquered by love, and most especially to reach for the stars because that is the essence of her birth.

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