Okay, I’m tired. I’m really, really, really tired of my family trying to set me up with husbands.
Sometime last year, I made it clear to my parents that I had no intention of being a wife to someone. They thought I must be joking, because at the time, I was upset with my brother-in-law over some personal issues. My mother had talked about how she wanted more grandchildren. I reminded her that she already had two and would get more from my younger sister when she gets married. Her response to that was that she wanted grandchildren from me. I told her I could still give her grandkids without getting married, and she went all “Tufiakwa” on that, talking about how God wouldn’t allow that. So then, I told her that if she was so hungry for marriage, she should consider taking on a second husband. She laughed it off; I was just a comedian making jokes apparently.
Following that, my mother’s older sister started giving out my number to her friends, attempting to network her way to an eligible husband for me. I could imagine her going to the market in the village and telling everyone that there is a fine single young woman she is related to, onye gara akwukwo bi na Lagos na acho di (Translation: who is educated and lives in Lagos, searching for a husband) – because the calls started flooding in. Business men that live in the village, who were most likely looking for an educated wife to “open shop” for.
One of them couldn’t even call me himself; he outsourced the job to his cousin. This cousin was a lady who kept calling me on his behalf. The first time she called, she was going on and on with small talk, which was very trying for my patience, because I’m terrible at small talk, especially when the language is Igbo. And then, she asked me what I do for a living.
When I told her, she screamed with joy, “Engineer! Engineer! Odimma!”
After that day, she began calling me at least five times a day EVERYDAY! I mean, I don’t even eat that much in a day. She wanted to see my picture and I directed her to Facebook. I had no fear of her hounding me on Facebook, because I’m rarely active there; it’d be easy to ignore any unwanted messages there.
Her frequent calls quickly became a nuisance, and because I was too polite to tell her off, I just simply stopped picking her calls. Even had to save her number as “Otu Nwanyi”, so I would know not to mistakenly answer her call. I thought she would get the message after going for a couple of weeks of unanswered calls.
I thought wrong.
She kept on trying her luck till the end of December. She may have even made it a New Year resolution to never give up, because she is still calling and not taking the hint from my refusal to pick her calls.
Then, there was a cousin who I hadn’t heard from in a long time. In fact, I don’t speak to her. And she called me out of the blue to tell me that a man who stays in Abuja was going to call me.
As I was trying to decide how to react to this, she went on to ask if I was the “doctor”. A short laugh bubbled up inside me as I said no, that that was my older sister. The married sister.
She said okay, and then instructed me to put up my picture on WhatsApp. Again, I laughed, this time internally. I did have my picture up on WhatsApp, but only people whose numbers are saved on my phone can see it. But I told her sure, that I would do that.
The man from Abuja never called. I figured she must have promised him a doctor for a wife, as she thought her single cousin was the doctor. How disappointed she must have been to learn that the doctor was the married cousin.
Recently, another aunt of mine called me. She is not related to me in anyway; she’s simply very good friends with my mother and was very present in our lives when I was growing up. She and I have no real relationship and have only ever talked on the phone once or twice. So, it was quite surprising when she called me; I actually thought she called to ask me for money or something. I would soon find out that she had hopped on the “Let’s Get Net Married By 2020” wagon. Or train. Or whichever vehicle moves really fast.
So, she called and started talking about how I was clocking twenty-five soon and needed to get married. And I was like: Uhm, I’m actually going to be twenty-nine this year. And she exclaimed, saying, “Oh wow! See how much you have grown. This is why you need a husband osiso.” She went on to say that a guy was going to call me. That he was looking to relocate from the North to perhaps Owerri, but that he wants a wife first, and that the wife’s location would determine where he’d settle.
And because I’m a good girl, I was like: Alright, sure, let him call. This had become my default answer to all this intrusion.
The guy (let’s call him Nnamdi) called on a Friday, but I was having a good time that night and wasn’t available to pick any calls. I even missed my aunt’s call; she called around 11 PM, probably to know why I didn’t answer the man’s calls.
I called him back the next day and after the introductions were done, we talked for a bit. He sounded like a fine gentleman – but then, that’s how they all sound until they wife you. We talked about different things and I peppered him with some questions.
I asked him what his stand was on the LGBT. He said he didn’t know what that was. So, I rephrased, asking him if he was pro or against homosexuals. He seemed taken aback by that and said carefully that he was on the fence. I asked what he meant. He said he doesn’t like it but he doesn’t condemn it either, that he thinks it’s a spiritual case and that gay people need deliverance. I laughed and was like: “Really?” He said yes, that that is why he can’t blame them, because they are not themselves. He went on to say he had once imagined himself being with another guy and nah, he can’t do it. And I was inside me, like: So, you have even imagined it.
I went on to lecture him on how being homosexual wasn’t spiritual. I asked him how he knew he likes girls. He said he just knew. And I said, “You see? There’s nothing spiritual about knowing who you like and who you want to be with. That is the same thing for homosexuals. They just know who they like. Plus it’s not like they hurt anyone with their love.”
He didn’t quite argue with me, but it sounded like he was tired of hearing about homosexuals, and I didn’t dwell on the topic either, before he would go back to my aunt and tell her that all I wanted to talk about was homosexuality, and the news would travel from my aunt to my mother.
I moved on to adoption, asked him what his stance on that was. He said that he would like to have his own kids because “blood is thicker than water”. To this, I said, “True. There’s nothing wrong with having your own kids. But there are a lot of children in the world right now that have no one taking care of them.” He appeared to rebut my point by saying that he knows of an adopted child who beat up his parents after they told him that he was adopted. I responded, “Surely, that’s not the case for all adopted children. And there is definitely more to that story.”
Anyway, this guy appeared to be against homosexuality and against adoption: two issues that are close to my heart. Even if I was crazy enough to consider wedding a straight man, these two points did not work in his favour.
However, I didn’t rebuff him and we stayed in communication as the days went by. One time, at night, I went to dinner with a friend and he messaged to ask what I was up to. I told him I was having dinner with a friend. He replied saying that it was nice but I should have dinner earlier next time.
I was stunned by this. Who the hell did he think he was? We weren’t even what one would call friends and he was already telling me what to do!
I didn’t reply him. But the next day, when he messaged, I told him straight-up that what he did was unacceptable. And his response was this and that about the health benefits of eating earlier. As if I didn’t already know this.
And all this while, my mother kept acting like she didn’t know what her sisters and friends were up to. I was positive she orchestrated it. I was also sure she would forever deny it, should I bring it up with her. So, I went to visit my older sister, the married one (let’s call her Adanne), and I told her all about Nnamdi, including the dinner thing. She laughed and advised me not to rush into anything with anyone.
That evening, my mother called me and we talked about stuff. She told me they just finished fasting in church and that she prayed for all of us, me especially.
“Thanks, mom,” I said. “That’s nice. But I hope the prayer was for God to give me more money and not husband.”
She laughed and said she of course prayed for a husband. Then she went on to ask if I remembered one time during my I.T. period when I told her that a pastor colleague of mine told me that my husband would come from one of her friends. Upon hearing this, I couldn’t help the burst of laughter that came from me. Oh my mother. She is a wily one. I knew my aunt had updated her on hooking me up with Nnamdi, and she was looking for a way to get into the gist. So, I did it for her. I told her that I knew she wanted to talk about the guy who my aunt set me up with. I told her we were still talking and getting to know each other. But that I wasn’t promising anything, and that no one should pressure me into anything with him or anyone else.
She responded, “My daughter, you know there is a right time for everything. This is your time to settle down.”
“It’s my life, mommy,” I replied. “I should know my right time, not you.”
To further make my point about decisions and consequences, I accused her of always supporting my brother-in-law over my sister whenever they had issues, pointing out how she was pressuring me to get married now only for her to abandon me should I need her on my side in whatever future I have as a wife.
“Tufiakwa,” she exclaimed. “Don’t say that. God won’t allow you have a bad marriage. Besides, I only support Adanne’s husband when I know she is wrong.”
Eventually, we ended our talk.
About a few minutes later, my younger sister texted me, wanting to know what was going on.
I texted back: Going on where?
She replied: Going on with Mommy, Adanne and her husband, lol.
I promptly called her for the gist. She said that our father was talking to Adanne on the phone, when our mother began berating her from beside my father, accusing her of discouraging me from getting married, saying she was responsible for why I’d stopped picking the calls of the prospective suitors seeking to get to know me.
And this was the same woman who would like me to believe she didn’t know anything about all this.
After speaking to my younger sister, I called Adanne. I thought she’d be upset, but instead, she was laughing over the phone, saying my mother was being too paranoid and then wished me luck with the pressure. LOL.
A few minutes later, my father called me and because that day was a Sunday, he began by asking, “How was church today?”
“Fine, I’m sure,” I said. “I didn’t go.”
I could imagine him shaking his head as he asked, “When last did you even go?”
“I can’t remember, daddy,” I said, and with a chuckle, I asked, “Did you call to ask me about church or about marriage?”
At this, he laughed and said, “Oh, so you’ve already gotten the memo.” Then he went on to advise me on how important it was for me to go to church because I wasn’t worshipping the pastors or the church members but God. Then he moved on to the marriage talk, basically saying the same things my mother said: about how I should settle down and have children.
“I mean, if you don’t do this, what will happen when you get old?” he asked. “Who will look after you? Over there in the US, they have nursing homes and whatnot for the elderly to move to when they get too old to manage by themselves. But you have to remember where you are, my child. You are in Africa, and children look after their parents here and bury them when they die. If you die, who will bury you?”
This was all so morbid, but I wasn’t fazed. Instead, with a laugh intending to convey just how little I thought about these concerns he was bringing up, I said, “Daddy, I’m just twenty-nine years old, and you want me to be thinking about what my life will be like when I am seventy-ish? Come on. Daddy, I just want to be happy. I just want to live as happy as I can with the decisions I make for my own happiness. I am not scared of being alone, of growing old alone and of dying alone. I would rather be happy and alone than be sad in an unhappy marriage I was pressured into. I don’t even want to think about when I would be seventy-or-more years old, and when I die, will I even care know anything about how and where I’d be buried? No, because I’d be dead. So, I don’t really care about that.” Pausing, I said in a tone that was both gentle and firm, “I need you to hear me when I say that I will not be pressured by you or mummy to get into a relationship with anyone I don’t want to be with, with anyone I’m not happy with. Don’t you guys care about my happiness? Is being happy not as important to you? I am not going to please anybody just to end up sad.”
For an interminable amount of time, he didn’t say anything. And then he said, “We love you, Net. And surely, your happiness is important to us. I am not pressuring you to get married to this Nnamdi person. All I’m saying is: keep an open mind and give him a chance. If you don’t like him, then don’t marry him. I will be okay with that.”
We had nothing more to say to each other, so we said our goodnights.
I once mentioned to a friend that all this has got me so tired, and that I’m seriously considering changing my number and cutting everyone off. Lol. I still talk to Nnamdi. I mean, he is making an effort – always texting and checking up on me. But I’m not simply a single woman. I am a lesbian. There’s no way this could ever work between us. I give him these cold responses, expecting him to just give up from my noncommittal attitude to his interaction. But it seems he hasn’t gotten there yet.
And with all this, I’m wondering how to put a definitive end to all this, especially with my family. Is coming out to them the answer? How do I even come out to them? Do I even need to? It can get really overwhelming, and I’m just really tired of having all the wrong people interested in my hand in marriage.
Written by Net