People wonder why most women are more vocal and rebellious these days. I think that it stems from the fact that our mothers showed too much weakness and obeyed without questioning, all because of “the kids” thus us. we watched them carry so much pain and burden in silence that we vowed in our hearts that we will not go through what our mothers went through. so even though they sought to teach us submissiveness by their actions, they indirectly taught us to rebel
We lay calmly like a river
It is hard to believe just like
The river we are made up of
droplets and shattered souls
You can’t fathom the elasticity
Of our pain bearing souls
it is in this despair that strength
emerges to lift up our chain so
we may carry our burden more
we are broken women yet
our smiles are complete
our love is wholesome
our womb creates humanity
our strengthen is resilient
There is never been a day where I felt like I should be a man (oh only during moments when being a woman does not favor me). Growing up in a culture where being a woman is limiting and yet having a grandmother who commanded so much respect and fought the odds to achieve everything she has ever wanted for both her children and grandchildren, I was aware of the strength of a woman from an early age. My grandmother mirrored it all and was known as “De Gaulle” (a nickname she was given because she was thought to be strong, firm and strict like General De Gaulle of France) because of the power she exudes.
I must have unconsciously picked certain characteristics from her because I always want to work hard to achieve all that I ever wanted. I wanted to earn my own money so I could spoil myself and buy what I wanted. She taught me the value of hard work, honesty and independence (but she did spoil me rotten too). I remember my first day in the boarding house, I was merely a child (in Junior High School) but I was so aware of myself and my surroundings (unlike many who looked lost and in tears) that the then headmistress said to me “you don’t need a school mother” (So I gladly never got one).
I therefore grew up depending more on myself and I have realized since finishing school and working that most people I have encountered turn to tell me I am a strong woman. That is a compliment or should be a compliment but for some funny reason I become a bit uncomfortable and turn to ask the giver of such compliment to further explain what they mean by “strong woman”. This might stem from the fact that I have come to believe (I say this because it might not be a widely accepted belief) that statement has some negative undertones. When people say you are a strong woman in this part of the world I think they mean one or the following;
- That the woman is somehow difficult to deal with
- She is ruthless in speech and in dealing with others
- domineering in her dealings with others
- The “I know my right” kind of woman
- The “odindin” (woman of steel) type of woman
Don’t get me wrong I am proud of being called a strong woman and I wear that compliment around most of the time but I can’t help but think of the negative connotations and undertones that might sometimes accompany that phrase “STRONG WOMAN”.
With the child strapped to her back
And that pot balancing heavily on her head
She steps majestically towards the river
Miles away she makes her way back home
For the moon must not beat her to it
I don’t know how she does it
She bustle through the crowed for the bargain
The few coins must cater to the family
The bellies waiting must be filled
And in time the bowls will gather
I don’t know how she does it
The alarm should not ring to closed eyes
The dread of the city traffic weighs on her
The kids must not miss the morning bell
And she the morning meeting to attend
With deadlines screaming her name
I don’t know how she does it.
Yet she walks so gracefully
With a smile that says
Everything is under control
She makes it look easy
I don’t know how she does it.
Being a human being comes with certain expectations of you but being a woman is even worse. And in my part of the world, being a woman comes with a Manuel of expectations.
Girls become aware of these expectations right from the start. You could not play certain games as a girl child and you had to be in the kitchen to learn cooking skills from mama. But that is ok because those skills would come in handy later in life. This is also a bonding period for mothers and their daughters
I personally loved all the skills that my mother has taken the time to teach me both in and out of the kitchen. I am benefiting enormously from this in my adult life and I know I will always fall on these skills to come in handy every now and then.
Growing up a girl is sent to school and the fear most families have is the girl getting pregnant and dropping out of school and yet sex is not talked about anywhere near the house.
The girl is therefore put through this pressure of avoiding a “mistake” she has not been taught how to. The only advise being drummed into her is ‘’be careful not to get pregnant’’, ‘’don’t come back home if you get pregnant’’, ‘’don’t bring disgrace to the family’’ and so on. It’s almost like both society and the family is waiting to see if she would be able to make it through school without getting pregnant.
A girl is therefore walking around school under this pressure of not knowing so much about sex and yet having to do her best not to get pregnant as well as getting good grades. Usually most girls are able to pull through school without getting pregnant. That is the first hurdle she crosses.
She is now a woman who has a job and another pressure is soon to raise its head. When is she getting married? The pressure mounts so much with the celebration of each birthday. You cannot attend a wedding ceremony without answering at least two questions on when you plan to get married.
Your parents will mount this pressure with the support of the community, friends, colleagues and even enemies (who are mocking you secretly anyway). Most of them will go out of their way to tell you what your problems are; some think you are picky, you look too expensive or you expect too much from love.
When has it become so wrong to wait for a man you think you can create a future with? And this natural clock that is supposed to be in us is also not helping since it ticks away so fast.
Most women are able to escape this and finally settle into the homes of their husbands. Finally they can breathe a sigh of relieve but no wait, they can’t because society expects her to bring forth a child within the first year of marriage. There is nothing like when the woman wants to have children, no! Society won’t hear of it. She is blessed if she has a child within the next two years of marriage if not another pressure would be mounted by the in-laws, friends and even her husband.
The pressure never stops and this is just what being a woman means at least in my part of the world but that does not define who we are because in all of this we radiate through with smiles because at the end of the day we are women. That is how tough we have been created.
He approached me with a dazzling smile that took my breath away. Not only did he have a set of white teeth but he was so good looking, and with a gentle man demeanor he asked if he could join me on my table. I was trembling and trying not to stare too much, I was finally able to find my voice and managed to say the words ‘’yes of course’’. He whispered a thank you and took the seat right in front of me.
In a few seconds my eyes had scan him from head to toe. He was tall, handsome, well groomed and God! he smelled like heaven. And before I could finish my assessment he stretched his hand and gave me his name as Coleman. I gave a weak smile and said a humble ‘’nice to meet you’’.
He was everything I have dreamed of in a man. Like the man that he is, he took charge and started a conversation. We talked about so many things from movies, music, novels to fashion. We had so much in common.
He wanted to know what a young single girl like me was doing all by herself in a busy city such as this one. I told him I was having my ‘’ME’’ time and I do so by ordering one of the most expensive food in a restaurant of my choice. After a long chat and laughter I decided to ask the question every young lady of my age will be dying to ask. I however went about it in a cunning way. Here is what I said ‘’so what is a good looking single man doing in this city crashing tables of young ladies’’? Coleman looked at me and smiled ‘’I am happily married with three kids’’.
My world came crashing just as my facial expression changed. I prayed to God he did not notice the sudden change. I was disappointed and angry but what was I thinking that other women were blind and could not see? As usually all the good men are already taken. He told me he had to rush back to the office and as he made his way out of the restaurant he said to me ‘’if I was not married, I would want to be with someone like you.’’ With this he left. As if his words will change anything, I smiled and kept thinking about his words all day. It was all I had left from him.