Men are in trouble. Did you say, what else is new? I agree. They have always been in trouble. And right from the days of Adam, their father, their woes have always centred on women, the daughters of Eve, our mother. These troubles increased as the years rolled by. For a long time, most men only had to contend with their one-man-one-wife hassles. Some coped.
Some didn’t but they trudged on anyway. Many opted for second and third wives, believing that if you bring in a counter force to the force at home, all forces will be neutralized and their troubles will be over. What did they know? One force plus one force makes two forces. Two new wives plus one old wife is equal to three wives which means three forces and one headache raised to power three. Many husbands soon learnt to just minimize their problems by keeping one headquarters and then opening other branches.
Some have branches all over the country but the headquarters staff doesn’t get to know or see the fruits of the labour of Chairman until he kicks the bucket. It is at Chairman’s burial that all the ‘dividends of his democracy’ show up at the graveside. A cold war or a full blown one usually follows but that is a matter for another day. Let’s just stick to Chairman’s troubles of the present age, the one that he cannot control, the one he did not bring upon himself. My heart goes to him because finally his dreams have come true. The problem is this is one good dream he doesn’t know what to do with. It is a good dream that he ordinarily should be celebrating but which unfortunately has become a nightmare. Worse still, he is not allowed to wake up from it. He can shut his eyes for as long as he can but whenever he opens them, this bad thing is waiting for him. He is stuck, so stuck he has considered suing God.
Take a look around you every day you step out of your house. Count the number of women you see. Try and compare that with the number of men. Then compare the figure of the married men to the number of single and available women all over the place. Don’t stop there, now assess how beautiful, mouth-watering, eye-popping, full-bodied, God-given endowment of these ready-to-mingle women. They remind me of that fruit juice television commercial where all kinds of fruits were ripe and begging to be harvested so they could become fruit juice. Whether in your church or nightclub, they are there.
It is at parties that I pity Chairman most. The kind of things they stick in his face when he looks up are worse than the opportunities open to him when he looks down, if you get my drift. The kind of smiles he gets just by saying ‘hi’ politely on the way to his seat and the silent promises he gets unsolicited all leave him panting. Without opening his mouth, he is fed until he’s overfed. For no fault of his. Most men today struggle to stay on the straight and narrow. They try to do what the holy books say. They try not to disappoint their pastors but the temptation is too much. Too many beautiful single girls racing against their biological time and ready to do virtually anything to grab a man.
Now, that Chairman’s job is cut out for him, made very easy, he doesn’t know what to do. His resistance level is naturally low. He is a hunter now being hunted. He doesn’t know how to run. He doesn’t have the tools of a prey. Yet he is being hunted. The girls are circling over his head and hemming him in on all sides. His wife wants him back home every night but the girls have roadblocks all over the place. How does a man stay faithful to his vows with so many women around him? I do not understand. I am worried for my brothers. And if the atmosphere is this clogged and suffocating in 2013, what will things look like for your sons and mine in 2020?
According to my friend, a medical doctor, ‘It is not easy to resist the temptation of a woman. Neither can a woman understand the mystery of the psychological and physiological impact women have on men. With a little push, a man is down.’ My friend went on to remind me of our days in ‘Great Ife’, when men wooed us with flowers and dinners at ‘Forks and Fingers’ and movies every night at Oduduwa Hall. Mozambique and Moremi queens were treated like royalty, which was what we were. I remember, a ‘toaster’ cooking for me during the October Rush. I was ill and to impress me, he brought this big loaded bag with food and drinks, sweating. How did I know he cooked it himself?
The fried plantain was burnt! But burnt offering or not, all my roommates in U5, Mozambique Hall were impressed. His two beautiful cards passed from hand to hand in the room when he left. Do men still bother with such stuff? Why do they have to, when single women are now a-dime-a dozen? Let’s conclude with the way my friend summed it up. ‘There was a time when men fought over women. They bought cards, spent time and money to win the heart of women but not anymore.
Reason? Today’s young men are so pampered that they don’t know the art and science of wooing women. Reason? It is no longer necessary. When supply is in excess of demand, there is a glut and market price and value drop.’ It’s so sad, ominous, disconcerting. But come to think of it, it’s not just the chairmen that are in trouble, we all are.
The name Maina
You know, every time the name Maina is mentioned, I shudder. It is not all Maina whose name makes fear run up and down my spine. It is the pension Maina. Yes, Abdulrasheed Maina, the Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, his name it is that gives me panic attack. It is not that I have concluded that he is guilty or that he actually stole billions of naira meant for old men and women, sick and destitute after 35 years in the civil service. No. Maina is innocent until the court decides he is guilty. But his name still frightens me. His name makes me wonder if the money being deducted from my salary every month for my pension will still be there I need it. His name makes me afraid of those days when I will no longer be able to work 12 hours a day.
Maina is a name that makes me break out in sweat, shuts my eyes in a quick fervent prayer; My creator, anybody who will strip me naked and leave me in the rain when I need my pension, God, please relocate them to the cemetery now, this minute. Yeah, it is that bad. I am not just trying to fill this back page, I am truly afraid because certain things have happened recently that says pensions are not safe in Nigeria. You could save for years and wake up one day to find it all gone. And then you are too weak to do anything. Even now that 109 strong Senators are shouting at the top of their voices, they are being ignored as if they are just exercising their jaws. And Mr Maina, at the centre of this storm is not helping his own name, reputation and what we all are likely to conclude.
Why has he chosen to ignore the Senate? Why is he not explaining his side of the story? In Yorubaland, when there is a rumour that you are a thief, you should ensure that you are never caught ‘playing’ with a goat. Or how will you explain your romance with a goat, that there are no more human beings in your compound or in the community to play with? How did we get to this point where the Senate had to resort to issuing an ultimatum to the Presidency because of one man, one single Nigerian? Is he that powerful, more powerful than the security agencies in Nigeria?
Is this one man bigger than President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, the one and only husband of Dame Patience? Is it juju or what? Maybe the Senate is weak or not as strong as we thought. Don’t get me wrong, Mr Maina is innocent but I don’t understand him and I don’t like the way the mention of his name makes me break out in cold sweat. As I write this, I am afraid. God, please keep my pension safe and don’t forget to send the Angel of Death into the homes and offices of anybody or set of people who are even thinking of stealing my sweat. I am truly afraid.