Like mom like me

Close up portrait of teenage girl

A popular sombori (don’t ask me who) once wrote that the highest need on a woman’s hierarchy of needs is the need to build a home as a wife and a mother. Every other need pales in comparison to that need. Well, some women would say that it’s not true, that there are women who desire to succeed in life, business and career just like the men and for such women raising kids and building a home is not their priority. Some others may say that it is the truth. To consider whether it is true or not I decided to do a little comparison between the daughters of three women.

Gina is the only daughter of a very successful Neurosurgeon, in fact one of the best in Nigeria. Her mother’s drive to succeed at her career was first before everything else. Gina saw very little of her mom in her growing years. Her mother was only at home a couple of hours in a week and most of those hours were spent in her room reading, preparing for an upcoming surgery or an exam she needed to upgrade to the next level. Her mom was never there to assist with homework or school projects; she wasn’t there when Gina saw a baby pigeon which fell from a tree while she was playing outside with her brothers and didn’t know what it was, she wasn’t there either when Gina needed an African attire to wear for her school play. She can’t erase the memory of her classmates’ laughter when she arrived in school wearing the hideous buba and iro her father had improvised from her mother’s wardrobe. She also wasn’t there the first day Gina saw that red stain on her skirt and wondered what it was. Today, Gina has graduated as a medical doctor and has no interest in getting to the peak of her career for fear that like her mom she may not be there for her own children.

Rita, on the other hand was born to a mother who is a school teacher. Her mother was there to pick her and her siblings up after school. She assisted with homework and school projects. Rita had a confidante in her mother who was always there for her. It was her mom who picked her up after school and listened to all her stories. She learned to cook while assisting her mom in the kitchen. Rita learned to cut and sew and amend dresses from her mother. When in boarding school, her mother always came to visit during visiting days. Her mother knew about her first boyfriend and even gave her invaluable advice about relationships. Her mother’s comforting arms were there after she got her first heartbreak and her mother has remained her best friend since then. Rita has also graduated as a medical doctor and can’t wait to become a consultant in Oncology.

Gina and Rita are good friends. Gina doesn’t think much of Rita’s ambition. Having been the daughter of a very successful mother, Gina knows all about the wide gulf that a woman’s success can cause in a family and advises against it. She is convinced that it will affect Rita’s relationship with her children. Gina has made up her mind to be the best mother she can be to her children and if it takes not being a career woman to achieve it then Gina is prepared to be a stay-at-home mom.

What would your advice to Gina be? In case you’re wondering who the third young woman is, just insert your own childhood experiences and decide what kind of mom you would like to be. Is it possible to be a combination of both mothers? I appreciate your thoughts.

Femmetotale

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Looking back

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It all started when her husband came home that evening with two strange men who he had offered a place to lay their heads that night. They were obviously strangers. They still looked clean and fresh as though they were unburdened with the stress of rearing livestock under the heat of the desert sun. She wondered who they were and where they came from. Her husband didn’t volunteer much information. He was more interested in hurrying her to prepare their meals. That wasn’t a problem. With the help of her daughters she sprung up a feast and was happy when the men had eaten and were satisfied.

Then the men started coming. It was as if they had called a meeting to round up the most vile among the men in the city. They pounded ferociously on the door. Their demand was simple. Her husband would have none of it. He pleaded with them to take his two daughters instead for the two men were under his protection. She didn’t want that fate for her daughters but she was too scared of the men to protest. They were notorious for their trouble making. Their voices went louder. They wouldn’t back down. They wanted to break down the doors. That was when she saw the most remarkable thing she had ever seen in her life. It was as if sudden blindness came upon those wicked men. They groped in the darkness trying to find their way back to their houses.

“Quick,” the visitors said, “we were sent to destroy this land.” That was when she and her husband understood who they were. These were not ordinary men. They had just entertained Angels in their home. “Take nothing and don’t look back,” the men said. “You must leave immediately. Only call your family members.” Their daughters’ fiancees thought it was a joke. They wouldn’t move an inch out of their land.

There was no doubt about the seriousness of the words the Angels spoke.  There were so many things to think about. What to take and what to leave. They weren’t given much time. The Angels grabbed their hands and led them out of the land just before they started seeing liquid fire dropping from the sky on the land they once called home. What would happen to the property they had accumulated over the years. What would happen to their livestock, her jewellery and the rest of their valuables? How could they let go of those things when they didn’t know what lay ahead of them? The choice was simple, life first before property for everything else can be regained as long as there is life. It seemed like a simple choice but it was not so simple to her. She couldn’t stop thinking that it was much easier to live in Sodom and Gomorrah no matter how much evil existed there than to go into the unknown. She turned back to take one more look at the city she once called home. Then it happened as though in a flash. She found herself rooted to a spot. She knew life had gone and death had come. It was all she could do, stand there staring in regret, unable to go forward and still  unable to move back. She wondered if people would ever know her name or if she would only be known as ‘the woman who looked back and became a pillar of salt’.

Are you one of the pillars of salt we see today? Are you standing rooted to a spot, refusing to let go of the past and yet unable to change the past? Do you desire to move forward but thoughts of the past keep drawing you back? The instructions are simple, ‘Forget the things of the past for behold I will do a new thing.’ Every moment you spend holding onto the past will keep you standing at the same spot like a pillar of salt for a very long time. Now is the time to move on and leave the past behind.

Have a pleasant weekend.

Femmetotale

Gen 19

To be a side chic

Couple walking together

How does the story end? What choices will Tomi make? This is your chance to predict the end of To be a Side Chic before it is published. The person that gives the most accurate prediction will receive a complimentary copy of my next short story before it is posted here!! Cheers!!! 🙂

It was supposed to be a very simple trip; take a taxi to the airport, get a ticket, get on the plane, arrive at Lagos in one hour and call her brother once they alight from the plane. Little did she know that things would not be that simple. The day started out quite normally for Tomi. She had packed her bags the previous day, woken up early and arrived at the airport around 6am. Her flight was scheduled for 8 but she wanted to be at the airport on time to avoid the embarrassment she had endured the last time. She was in high spirits. She had been planning to visit her only brother and his wife in Lagos for months but one thing or the other always came up and spoilt her plans.

First, the flight did not take off at 8am. The operator announced in a bored voice that there would be a slight delay and that passengers should please be patient. Tomi was patient….well, up until 11am when the voice announced yet again that the problem would soon be rectified. It wasn’t until 2pm that they heard the final apology and were asked to board. By then she was already tired, hungry and grumpy. She had barely eaten two slices of bread that morning just so that she could make it to the airport on time. Other angry passengers were complaining about the delay while she was just happy it was finally over.

Everything else was quite normal after that until they got to Lagos. They arrived Lagos in one hour and she went to pick her box from the baggage claim area. She had to stand there for a few minutes. It was quite rowdy and the boxes were just thrown haphazardly on the luggage belts. There was no use complaining, she simply picked up her box and headed to the gate. The box seemed heavier than normal so she stopped to adjust it. That was when she noticed that the name on its tag wasn’t hers. Alarmed, she quickly rushed back to find hers and drop the box where she got it. She couldn’t seem to find any other box like hers there and she was beginning to worry when someone tapped her. “Excuse me, you seem to have taken my box.” Tomi turned to see a guy with the most dreamy eyes she had ever seen. He seemed a bit surprised too, as though she was different from what he had expected when he saw her from behind. She laughed nervously and handed the box over to him. “I’m sorry, I thought it was mine,” Tomi said.

He laughed nervously too, “Thank God we realized it before we left the airport.” They walked out together and he even offered to help her with her own box. Tomi was impressed. It wasn’t every day that one came across a guy that acted like a complete gentleman.

Tomi stole glances at the guy walking beside her. Although he was of average height, he was well built and had a pleasant face. He had a nice gait and looked like someone who was used to being in charge. He seemed like an interesting person and Tomi who was enjoying the wisps of his nice perfume was not ashamed to admit to herself that she hoped he would ask her out….

To be continued….

Femmetotale

NB: Watch out for the concluding part of To be a Side Chic… ‘You don’t rush a delicious meal!’ 🙂

Should I leave it in the Closet?

© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporation

This is for the ladies who carry so much emotional baggage around, hoping to make a new relationship work, wondering if you should reveal the skeletons in your cupboard or if you should just let them be. If you’ve never had emotional issues in the past then you may not be able to relate with this but if you’re one of those who have had so much to cry about in the past, who have been on the brink of suicide or have experienced untold hurts and pain from people you placed so much hopes on then you may feel at home reading this. I hope you find inspiration to make your next relationship work.

From childhood, Jane always felt there was nothing special about her. She wasn’t a bright kid, she had poor grades, couldn’t grasp simple arithmetics and didn’t feel good enough for anything. She wasn’t the kind of child anyone would see and smile at. She was simply plain Jane. To worsen matters, she had taken a liking to stealing. She would pilfer erasers, sharpeners, ribbons and pens in class. Somehow, she never got caught. She hated school but going home wasn’t something to look forward to either. Her mom would beat her for not getting an answer right in her homework or for some other reason such that she was miserable most of the time.

Then, Erastus, her dad’s second cousin came to live with them. He was a second year University student. He would slap her butt playfully when no one was looking and when she told him to stop he would tell her he was only playing with her. One day, he caught her stealing money from her mother’s purse. That was the day everything changed for Jane. He threatened to tell her mom if she refused to do whatever he wanted. She was so afraid that she gave in. She was only twelve when the abuse started.

Jane grew up feeling so worthless. She hated mirrors because everytime she saw her image in the mirror, she was reminded of how worthless she was. Her low self esteem degenerated into self pity, resentment and anger. Sometimes she would just stare into thin air for minutes. She felt she had nothing to lose anymore and started sleeping around at a very young age. Somehow she finished school, became a strong Christian and carried on with her life. None of her relationships ever lasted long. She couldn’t understand why they were so quick to dump her after hearing the sad story of her life after all she was doing whatever they wanted. Why couldn’t they love her and forgive her past? It wasn’t her fault she was abused, was it?

For years, Jane struggled with her pain and rejection. She finally met this man that seemed to be her dream come true. After a couple of dates, he told her he loved her. She was so relieved to hear him say that. It wasn’t long before she started to tell him the story of her life. What she saw in his eyes was not pity or empathy, rather he looked repulsed. He stiffened and loosened his embrace. He had to pick up his mom from church, he said and zoomed off rather quickly.

Within the next few weeks, Jane barely heard from him and cried her heart out for days. I tried to console her and pull her out of her depression as much as I could. Now it’s not normally my style to be blunt but… I told her that she has to be healed from her past hurts first before starting any relationship. My take on this is that it is not necessary to start broadcasting your issues to your date at the early stage of your relationship except if it is something that is still ongoing or likely to come up in the future. Besides why are you still carrying such a heavy burden around? Why heap it on someone else and expect him to carry it for you? Ask God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself and move on and if there is still any burden to be carried then hand it over to him. He promises to bear your burdens for you. You cannot keep dwelling in your past. It is true that something bad happened to you but your past does not define your present. If you doubt it, ask the great men and women who had terrible pasts too. Read Paula White’s or Donnie McClurkin’s story and you will understand. Let what happened in the past stay in the past. Time heals all wounds, they say and it is true. The wounds may heal and leave a scar. Just as the warrior proudly displays his scars, let that scar be a reminder that you are a  survivor. As much as you can, be an encouragement to someone else in your shoes.

If you want to make your relationship work then please leave that baggage in the closet and enter your new relationship free and positive. Love yourself and live in your present. If your views are different from mine then please I’d love to hear them. Just leave your comments in the comment box. Cheers!

Femmetotale

Quarter Past One

quarter past one

Do you know the meaning of the slang, ‘quarter past one?’ Before you read this post, first you must note that this is not an adaptation of any Nollywood movie but someone’s real experience. Real names are withheld for the privacy of the characters.

Hannah was in no way prepared for the sight that greeted her eyes when she got home one evening after a long day at work. A lady was sitting on Hannah’s sofa, watching TV. As soon as Hannah opened the door the lady got up and said, ‘hi honey,’ before she realised that her company was not who she was expecting. This made Hannah uneasy? Something just wasn’t right.

‘How can I help you?’ The lady asked Hannah who was now confused.

Hannah’s first impulse was to look around her, at the door and at the keys in her hand, wondering if her keys had opened the wrong apartment door. She ignored the nagging unease she felt and asked, ‘are you Frank’s cousin?’

The woman laughed and said, ‘it’s funny but I was about to ask you the same thing.’ She had an accent that Hannah could not quite put her finger on its origin.

Hannah blinked hard. The woman was obviously in the early stages of madness. Very slowly Hannah said to her, ‘my name is Hannah and this is my house. I live here with my husband, Frank. May I know who you are?’

The smile slowly disappeared from the woman’s face and she sat down on the same sofa she had been lying down on. ‘I’m Lola and Frank is my husband. There must be a mistake somewhere.’

Hannah also sat on the nearest sofa. Though tempted to believe that someone was playing a cruel joke on her, the look on the woman’s face was enough to tell her it was no joke. She laughed anyway. ‘You’re joking, right? Frank and I got married in church here in Lagos two years ago and we have been together since then.

‘Well, Frank and I also wedded in a church in Dallas, Texas in February two years ago and I have a daughter, Cathy to show for it,’ Lola said.

‘What?’ Hannah laughed nervously. ‘This must be a joke right? My daughter’s name is Catherine.’ But deep down inside, Hannah knew it was no joke. The month her husband spent in the United States with only a few calls to his newly wedded wife and excuses of being too busy at the training his company had sent him to the US for, was beginning to make sense to her.

‘Frank and I had dated for a while when he came for his company’s project in the US and we planned to get married but he stopped calling me for some months and I was devastated. He had always told me that his mother wanted him to marry a Nigerian and since I’m from Kenya, I thought he had left for good but then he came back and told me he loved me and wanted to marry me. We got married in my church and he came back to Nigeria. Since then we’ve seen each other a number of times. I didn’t hear from Frank for a couple of months and I was worried. His phone’s been switched off. I was able to trace his address through a friend at the embassy and I thought I would surprise him. Little did I know that I was the one in for a surprise. I saw the keys under the flower pot in front of the front door. Frank and I always keep a spare key in the same place in our house at Dallas. Are you telling me that Frank was already married to you and he still came to marry me? Why would he do such a thing? He doesn’t even need a Green card. He’s a citizen!

Both Hannah and Lola stared at each other in silent rage. Each was lost in her own thoughts, wishing she could wake up from the nightmare.

Hannah’s sister chose that moment to come upstairs with Catherine, Hannah’s daughter. Hannah forced a smile at her daughter while seething inwardly, regretting the day she met Frank. Just a couple of years earlier, she had been a single lady with only thoughts of getting married. Therefore, when her aunt referred Frank, a comfortable man working with an oil firm in Lagos to her, it was like a dream come true for Hannah. All she could think about now, was the shame and ridicule she would face if the story got out and the pain of Frank’s betrayal. In that moment, Hannah hated Frank more than anything in the world. She thought about packing her belongings and returning to her father’s house immediately but almost wept at the thought of becoming a quarter past one, after leaving singlehood for two years. Being single was difficult enough but being quarter past one…Hannah couldn’t think of any sentence worse than that.

What would you do if you were in Hannah’s shoes?

Femmetotale

Please lie to me

photo credit - madmenoire.com

photo credit – madmenoire.com

Ladies, you know how it is naa. It is so easy to say, tell me the truth but…really? Is it the truth you want to hear or the garnished lie? Do you really want to hear that you’re not the beauty queen you think you are? Would you really rather hear the truth? Lol..now here’s the serious stuff.

A very good friend of mine once said to me, ‘A lie is a lie no matter what colour it comes in. There is nothing like a white lie or black lie. Every lie is a lie and a sin according to the holy book!’ Hmm I nodded in agreement but simply said to him, ‘please lie to me’.

Surprised as you are, he asked me why and so I elaborated. ‘Please lie to me sometimes…not all the time…especially when I ask you how I look’. Hahahaha…. now you know what I’m driving at. I remember seeing a very beautiful picture of two cute chicks (real chickens not babes, please) as a child. Written on it were the words, ‘No matter what, I like hearing the truth, ALWAYS’. It was such a beautiful picture and it’s message was so apt cos believe me, with the number of lies and deceit that occur in the world by the second I’m surprised the devil still has a job. I mean, I’m sure when the devil hears what comes out of some people’s mouths he goes like, ‘damn, even I couldn’t have thought of that.’ It was years later, having outgrown the childhood innocence and felt the cutting edge of some words from people I look up to that I realised that the truth may not always be so desirable. I sometimes wanted to say, ‘I know you don’t want to tell a white lie but please can u make it a little grey?’

But seriously, I have seen people who cut your heart open in the name of being honest. Some say, ‘I can’t help being honest with you, it’s just my nature’. Really? I can’t remember any law that says u must say everything you think about. I mean, do you really have to keep telling me that I look fatter each time you see me? I have a mirror, you know? Do you have to tell me that the hair I spent money to do including the pain I endured, is awful? Do you really think it is nice to tell me that the meal I spent my time and energy to make is terrible? I mean don’t you think maybe you could find a better way to relay it? Before you speak, could you just stop for a minute and consider a better way to say something that is hurtful? Instead of saying, ‘that’s a dreadful hairstyle! You could say, ‘that hairstyle is not so flattering on you’. More importantly, it’s not enough to only criticize, you should balance it by suggesting ways to make it better. 

I’m not saying you should start telling lies oh! Just remember that the world could definitely do with some extra sensitivity.  We often forget that you can cut or heal with your words. Some say hurtful things to you just to make themselves feel better but sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Putting somebody’s candle off cannot light yours. Spoiling someone’s day cannot make yours better, rather kind words can put a smile on someone’s face and in return, that smile could make your day. So again I say, please lie to me.

Femmetotale…

 

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Picture Perfect

picture perfect

The first time I saw her, my first impression was ‘wow!’ She looked so beautiful and perfect in my eyes. Her ivory complexion was glowing, her teeth seemed so white and perfect, she had these slanted eyes and perfectly sculpted nose. Her figure was like that of an hour glass. I remember staring and wondering, ‘if I’m staring like this what will a guy now do?’ Well, she was a lot older, I was only a fresher in school then while she was a final year student. I felt that if she was that beautiful then her life must be perfect. How wrong I was.

One night, I was on my way to the cafeteria when I heard someone crying in a dark corner, by the wall of our hostel. She was huddled all alone in that corner, crying so hard I thought her chest might burst. At first, I doubted if she was really the one there but it was her glowing complexion illuminated by the bright full moon that gave her away. What could she possibly be crying about? Someone, who was the envy of all the girls in my department. Someone who was not only beautiful but also topped her class. I walked away quickly. I didn’t want her to know I saw her crying. I thought it was best to let her sort herself out alone.

I saw her again the next morning. She was walking to school with two of her friends. They were gisting and laughing gaily. There was absolutely no trace of the previous night’s tears on her face. Her shoulders were not slouched like someone passing through a difficult time. She looked as perfect as ever. I even began to wonder if the previous night was a dream.

Much like Princess, many of us have become experts at being picture perfect while inside we are far from perfect. All we do is tuck in our challenges, disappointments and disillusionments behind a perfect exterior. Someone somewhere goes to bed at night feeling envious of your perceived perfection, oblivious to what you are battling with. You could be a pastor’s wife contending with maintaining the calm exterior of one who encourages others to trust God with their problems while secretly battling with yours. You could be looking at that perfect celebrity in the magazine who’s had to go under the knife several times just to keep her career. You may even think that your friend who’s husband just bought her a brand new car is the luckiest woman in the world but you don’t see her tears at night, all alone in her bed as usual while her husband is in a hotel with one small girl. Abi you are envying that woman who is a Chief Executive in her company but you have no idea how hard she worked or what she had to give up to get there. You’re also not aware that she has no child of her own.

I’m not saying that you should delight in other people’s miseries or think that everyone who is succeeding has some form of misery in her life. All I’m saying is we are PICTURE PERFECT. That’s exactly what it is, a picture. It is the image we want to portray to the world. You could apply all the make up you want to achieve perfection but there is no make up on earth that can be used on your heart. How wonderful it is to know that there is someone to whom we can hand over our burdens. God is the one we can reveal our imperfections without reservations because He truly cares and is ready to lift your burdens – Matt 11:28. You can trust him to handle your problems. Have you spoken to him about it today?