Monday 8 September 2008

The matter of tying the knot

We speak now

I was chatting to my father the other day, one of those New Year’s Considerations I had to get over with.

Sometimes, I wonder about why our relationship has been so estranged as a result of a process of growth from childhood to adulthood and independence rather than some particular seminal event.

I suppose up to a point, the patriarchal survey of my father had tried to envelope my sometimes antithetical views which at certain times of expression simply created conflict.

Now, though I have many years ago been in outright conflict with my father, it only lasted about 8 months during which my mother secluded from an outrage that was about to consume me because of my failures.

Eventually, we made up and he actively participated in my rehabilitation for which I am very grateful. When the successes came, he was the chief cheerleader and though he upbraided my mother for not making preparations for the celebrations, I really felt that duty was left to my mentoring auntie and uncle who took over the responsibility of seeing me through my toughest years.

Leaving from the chapel of love

One topic that has been dusted over and over again is that of marriage, he has the opinion, I am scared of the issue and hence, I have not settled down.

The fact is, I did once seriously consider marriage and that was just under 20 years ago, the lady and really the one lady that caught my attention then had me in dreamy spires – Oh! What could have been – but I did not pursue it far and time overtook everything else.

I am as settled down as I want to be, maybe not as happy as I would like to be but grateful for what I have and glad to be able to count my blessings.

Incy-wincy spider at 40-plus

Then, I saw that advertisement of a lady who instead of starting a family had a very successful career, but strikingly she noted that children of old school mates as she reminisced where now coming out of university and she and her child had only started on incy wincy spider [1].

I believe that advertisement was to encourage women to start families even if they have had fulfilling careers, because motherhood also had its fulfillments – I took from it that idea that I could be still raising children as an old man.

In the background someone was attending to the toilet requirements of a half-brother that was hardly three, nay, nay, three times nay – I have been sold completely on loving the kids of others and giving them back when I need my peace.

This, considering that by the time my parents were my age, at least two of their children were out of secondary school.

Premmies hardly procreate

No, the matter of marriage and children fell off the burner a long time ago and I have spent a lifetime encouraging my parents to accept the notion that I am settled with the encumbrance of happy families with little running feet.

I would not use the next issue to corroborate my situation, but it makes interesting reading about the lingering effects of premature birth predicated on the likelihood to drop out of school which I did not do and the unlikelihood that they would bare children [2].

Born at 26 and a half weeks, I do not think I had any serious developmental problems apart from growing my feet a lot faster than my age group and having an astigmatism that was not properly diagnosed till I was in my twenties.

I was a year below the average age of my class in primary school and was always in the top three apart from the last year when I was away for 4 months doing entrance examinations and still came out in the top half of the class.

In secondary school, I was just under 2 years below the class average and still held positions well above average amongst my peers. I do wonder if studies like this would dare to explore predispositions to particular traits including that of sexuality.

Accepting the situation as is

It does not bother me that much really, I told my father, we need to begin to appreciate that there are exceptions to the idea of marriage and kids for certain people and somehow that exception happens to be closer to home than is comfortable.

Besides, in what might sound rather cruel though not expressed, I cannot say that I have many role models who have attended to the institution and sacrament of marriage with the determination of a life-long inviolable partnership to one partner.

Marriage has its purposes and I am a supporter of the proponents of marriage to the extent that I care less about whatever sexual pairing that makes up that family unit of love, devotion, commitment and responsibility.

Indeed, one does crave companionship but in many ways those relationships have fallen somewhere between a soap opera of unmentionable antics to the shrill cacophony of an opera coming to its final crescendo.

I have probably become an onlooker and observer of the kisses and hugs that sometimes get expressed as hisses and shrugs – I look away from the worst parts of something really good that has turned too bitter for taste.

Citizens of different classes

The conversation then skirted other topics as my career and other activities and then that issue about living in the West and how that must affect me adversely.

I could understand that when my parents were in the UK in the 60s they came against a number of unpalatable issues with racial tension and war going on at home in Nigeria.

It lead my father to say at one time that living here left me in a position where I could be treated as a second-class citizen; an interesting view where in Nigeria being treated as a so-called first-class citizen security and safety were at a premium as well as the gauntlet of corruption I had to run through to get anything done.

Beyond the race to success

My memory served me well because my father passed his accountancy examinations winning the Faulks-Lynch prize in 1969 – Cannot find any record of it now, but it appeared in his listing for the Men of Achievement – he appeared on television and suddenly all his colleagues who were generally condescending grew in admiration and respect for him.

In some ways, achievement and success trumps the unsavoury rudiments of racism, I wish the situation were better but like I have written in another blog, see those situations as an opportunity to educate rather than be offended – hopefully, a quick wit would see you through it all.

In any event, it was a big first step, as we exchanged pleasantries and talked at length. I know that the matter of marriage would not die a natural death, but like I told him during our conversation, he gave me an education that allows me to speak my mind – I think our conversations would sharpen my ability to express myself better on matters I feel strongly about in a man-to-man and father-son heart-to-heart exchange.

Other matters of the heart that could unsettle him are not in the purvey of what I view of settling down.


[1] You Tube – Incy wincy spider

[2] Study: Premature birth has lingering effects -

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