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Mystery of womanhood

Tinu’s door had no lock. Everybody went in there as they pleased. Good thing is she never complained, neither of overcrowding or overworked.

Whether he was a two- minute noodles man or a marathon plunger, Tinu fitted them all in somewhere somehow. Oh, and no, it wasn’t something that happened suddenly or a habit she picked up in the university. She was born beautiful. Everybody told her. By the time she was in primary six, everybody knew she was going to wreak havoc somehow. Her age-mates envied her already emerging curves. School teachers took furtive glances and smacked their lips when they thought nobody was looking. Tinu knew they were looking too, she just didn’t know what to do with their hooded glances.

By her third year in the community secondary school, Tinu was sworn into womanhood and whoever did the swearing must have done a good job because he opened a flood gate and all men streamed in. Like they were all under a spell. Men just liked Tinu. And she liked them back, if you understand my meaning. Her mother beat. Her father locked her up for days without food. Tinu was the village disgrace. She just couldn’t hold back and people whispered the regular whispers .

          ‘Was she circumcised at all?

          ‘Maybe she is a spirit’

           She’s definitely not a normal child ‘

           ‘Nobody in this village will marry her’

Tinu capped her escapades in her final year with pregnancy. It was unwanted, of course. The boy she had been fooling around with said he had never seen her nakedness and his parents backed him up . They had never seen her in their compound .WAEC examination was just three months down the road when the scandal broke. Tinu’s parents became the butt of the jokes in the village. They could not attend any social function. They stayed away from church.

Everybody waited for Tinu’s tummy to start showing so they could really sing songs of shame for her to dance in the village square.

Tinu took the wind out of their sails by having an abortion. She bled, looked frail, lost weight. The village whispers went full blast.

‘I heard they removed the baby with

her womb.’

‘That’s what I heard too. They said

she’d never have children’

‘Very sad and unfortunate.’

‘Serves her right’.

Tinu struggled to finish her examination and took off. The shame and hiss were too much. She ended up in Port Harcourt where she got a job as a cashier in supermarket. If you thought the pregnancy and abortion would slow Tinu down or turn her into a beret-wearing-born-again Christian, you goofed. She simply became a city girl. She partied and dated fine boys, from two- minute men to plunging plungers of mean repute. She returned to the village only at Christmas wearing the best clothes, shoes and all. She brought gifts for her parents. Her father turned them all down. All he wanted was a decent daughter who would go to the university and make him proud.

    Then one day, Tinuke brought home a man, a respectable man who worked in the oil-and-gas as an engineer. They came in a big car, leaving everybody holding their jaws.Her wedding day was a day of ‘shame to bad people ‘ according to Daddy Showkey.

The whisperers did their business in hushed tones.

‘She must have used juju on him’.

‘Poor son of a careless mother’.

‘After all that fanfare, she’d not give him children’.

‘How can she? She has no womb, remember?

And then Tinu shamed everybody comprehensively. She had five children in quick succession. All boys. Everybody saw her in pregnancy, so the whisperers could not accuse her of faking the pregnancies or buying the babies. Her husband treated her like a queen. All Tinu does these days is cruise around in the latest cars. She travels abroad like she is travelling to a nearby village. She has even rebuilt her father’s compound.

Can you explain how Tinu ended up a queen and mother of five sons after two or three abortions?

 Compare Tinu with Adaora. Pretty petite Adaora, the brilliant child that was the yardstick used to measure the good manners, or lack of it, of other children.  She had seven straight As in O’Levels and went on to graduate with second class upper in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at 21.  She got married a virgin at 24. That was ten years ago. She still does not have children. She is soaring in her career, yes, but not even one pregnancy occurred once in a decade.

Strange, mysterious? I have found it strange for years. A cool girl, level-headed one ends up with troubles. The one who followed sugar daddies from secondary school to university ends up marrying one fine-boy-no-pimples who spoil her silly and treat her like porcelain from Italy . A reserved girl who never slept around ends up childless and miserable while the one who’s had half a dozen abortion has to tie her tubes after four children and at 45 too! Because if her husband smiles at her, she can conceive. She is what the Yoruba call ‘elede’ , a pig, just not in a derogatory way.

Don’t tell me you have never wondered too why or how bad girls end up with not just good guys but in good marriages that end up stable, lasting forever with nothing worse than regular marital bumps. Is it that it is okay to be bad or simply a case of God’s certain words in  Exodus 33:19:

 “I will have mercy on those whom I will have mercy.” Don’t tell me I’m the only one who sometimes mutter ‘it’s not fair’ under my breath as if God won’t hear, when I see wives of genuine men of God age without children of their own. It breaks my heart to no end. We all call them mummy but when the service is closed, they return to their homes where there are no children. Some of these mothers-in-the-lord married as virgins. Many were very decent spinsters. They are serving God with all their might, and yet they come up empty every month. What is more mysterious is how they pray for the barren and those ones return with their babies within one year and the Pastor Mrs dedicate children year in year out without the testimony of their own.

This all sound like I’m querying God , right, to some people? No way. I know my limit even as a pampered child of God. I’m just wondering aloud at the mystery of it all. I know you can’t decode God, otherwise He will no longer be God. But I’m just a woman wondering at the mystery of womanhood.

Look at the mystery of marriage, monogamy or polygamy. A woman married to a man with other wives sometimes is happy and finds enough fulfilment to want to stay in the marriage forever. Compare that with another who is the only wife of her husband, yet she is miserable and sometimes end up running off with another man. I have no explanation, right now, why these woman can share one man and there are  women who can’t  keep one or keep to one. Is it about making the wrong choice or simply about not being true to oneself when choosing a life partner?

 Some women want men who are keepers and then go ahead and marry men who want to be kept. That’s an error of judgment and a matter for another full day.

Why do long distance runner, committed women end up with men who have no staying power, men who treat them like thrash? See Sheki’s bad fortune. Well-brought up child of very devoted parents. She does not leave her head uncovered. She dresses decently. She is beautiful and curvy. She has a thriving business which she ensures does not come before her marriage. She cooks, does school run and never misses NASFAT.

But her husband is from another world. He’s not even an ordinary womanizer. He has impregnated two of their house-helps. Yeah. He plays only home matches, eats only home cooked meals. All maids are endangered and fair-game.

Meanwhile you’ll find women who are all over town, sometimes, have calm husbands. They bleach, they party, they drink alcohol and their marriages last.

Their men are calm and I ask, why do these things happen. Why did Tinu get away with being loose and Adaora who married a virgin is not able to have children? Why do decent girls end up with indecent men? Why is it that women who are in polygamous homes able to share one man for 40 years and one woman married with one man end up miserable?

Who can explain these things? Why do these things happen?

   Happy international women’s day.

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Online Editor: Aderonke Bello
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