It’s been a couple of years since my parents started nagging me over the issue of marriage. I hadn’t even got a job the first time they brought it up. I suppose a bunch of factors contributed to their hastiness, one of them being that I am the first child. And another being that I lost one of my brothers to a violent death some years ago, and on some deep level, his demise serves as a constant reminder to my parents that life is too short. My brother’s death serves as a reminder to me too, that life is too short. And my parents and I interpret this reminder in ways that differ, one from the other.
It makes me want to live my life according to my own dictates.
It makes them want me to get settled fast – a wife and kids in quick succession.
And a couple of years ago, when I was unemployed and they brought up the issue of marriage, despite my aversion to their concerns, I very kindly offered them an excuse – my lack of employment. That seemed to grant me a reprieve from their agitation.
Then I got a job. And they called again.
This time, I gave the excuse of finding suitable accommodation. For a while, that excuse worked. For a while. And then, they started bugging again. My mother suggested we at least begin the journey – find a woman, marry her, and God would surely provide. My father offered to help with the search for a suitable woman, if perhaps I was too busy to find one.
At first, my response to their badgering was polite declination. My patience however quickly wore thin, especially when my father started talking about the one or two young women whose families he’d been to see to drop hints about a possible betrothal. That riled me in no small way, and being the outspoken son that I am, I didn’t hesitate to let him know what I thought about that. I reminded him of the stories he’d told us, his children, years ago of the time he reached marriageable age and his family started offering women to him to marry, offers he turned down because he wanted to find his own wife.
“You eventually found her, dad,” I pointed out sharply. “You found her, you married her, and your pet name for her is ‘Choice,’ because she was your choice. Kindly refrain from taking my own choice away from me.”
That effectively silenced my father on that subject.
And then, there was my mother.
The woman nagged and cajoled and complained, using every weapon she could produce from her maternal arsenal in her effort to get me to cede some control over my life to her.
“You children are not giving me joy,” she groused during a particular phone call. “Both you and your sisters and brother, you are just not making me happy. You are not giving me joy at all.”
Recognizing the guilt she was trying to inflict me with, I very calmly returned, “Mummy, find something else that will give you joy. Something. Anything. Forget your children and find something that will give you joy.” In the shocked silence that followed my reprimand, I continued, “If grandchildren are what you so desire, take my younger brother. He lives under your roof, he is very virile and you are always complaining about the girls that are always flocking around him. Well then, marry one of those girls for him, and do the family thing for him. If that is what will give you joy, get him settled and get your grandchildren from him. And then, let me be.”
That aftermath of my chastisement was the cold war my mother thereon waged on me. I’m still working on thawing the ice.
But you see, I’m too concerned with the things that give me joy to let all this bother me too much. I love my parents, I love my family, but I love me more. Ironically, I do want the same thing that they do – my own children. I love kids, and I’d like to have some of mine someday. I just don’t want to have them through marriage with an unsuspecting heterosexual woman. If I lived abroad – or eventually find myself in the West – I’ve always believed I’d go about getting my child through unconventional means.
But I’m in Nigeria, and the option I’m seriously considering is something contractual with a lesbian, where sentiments are set aside and an understanding will be met. Because, at the end of the day, I do want to be a father. I want to be responsible for a miniature version of me, to feel crushing pride at the burst of my child’s intelligence, to raise my voice in reproval when he errs, to pull her into an embrace when she’s unhappy, to feel his joy, to guide her fumbling steps to maturity.
I want fatherhood. That gives me joy. But I do not want it at the cost that my parents – and by extension, society – are demanding. Life may be acceptable with its joys and mistakes and delights and regrets. But woe is he who lives his life regretting the decisions he knows he had the choice not to make.
Written by JBoy