I have done everything that society asks of me, but get and keep a man.
I have done well in school. Gone ahead and clinched good grades. When I was attacked by the severe case of adolescence, which bestowed me with boobs, hips, periods and heap-loads of acne, society sat me down, handed me a packet of Always and said:
You’re a woman now, don’t mess around with boys. Don’t smile back when they smile at you. They just want sex. Don’t talk to them for too long – they only want sex. Don’t you dare go behind closed doors with boys – that’s their trick to getting you to have sex. Don’t even think of letting them touch you…
OK! OK! OK! I get it. I won’t mess around with boys – Jeez!
Boys were bad. They made girls pregnant.
I heeded. Never messed with them – at least for a while.
I was good. Even this one time when I sat in class, next to my desk-mate who was a naughty boy. Even when he unzipped his trouser while the teacher taught in front of the class, and hiding behind his desk whipped out what was supposed to stay concealed inside his trouser, then when I had my first lesson on how to handle men – or in this case, boys – I was able to give the teacher, society and my studies my full attention. I listened. I learned.
Society must have been proud of me. Weren’t you, society?
Education came. Periods came. Higher education continued uninterrupted. Sex threw itself in there at some point. A job followed…
Society and I were getting along just fine. As long as it was making demands of me and I was meeting those demands, we were good.
Then I entertained the thought of having a baby but not necessarily a man to go with it. And Houston, we had a problem! Nay, we had a crisis!
Society would have none of it. I swore I was happy without a ring on my finger. It said no – there was no way I was happy without that ring. That was every girl’s dream.
Every girl’s dream?
Yes. Every girl’s dream.
But si I was a girl? No. I was a weird girl?
Back and forth we went. We exchanged words, society and I. Since it refused to relent, I gave in. Yes. Sigh. If society says I need a man, then maybe it knows something that I don’t. So cue man.
Man came. I can be lovey-dovey. And shit.
I wore the charm. The laughter came in droves and was all over the place; the living room, the kitchen and the bedroom. But the bedroom had more than just laughter – there were giggles, moans and screams in there as well.
Was society right?
Maybe it was?
This is where society was supposed to quit – while it was ahead. But it kept making demands. It said I had to be careful how I treat man.
Why? Will he die? Is he fragile? Sick? Hapless? Why? I was curious.
This is the thing, society replied. He needs sex. On a regular basis. Fail to give it to him and he will find someone else – there is always someone out there willing to take over from where you leave.
O – K…
He needs feeding. Make sure that you cook for him – you. This idea of letting the house help cook for man is not a good idea.
Why? But the house help cooks good food? She is very hygienic too? Surely if our baby eats it and doesn’t suffer a running stomach, then surely man’s hardened mutura-ingesting stomach can handle the same food?
It is not about that.
What is it about then?
You are his wife.
Do you want him to start sleeping with the house help?
Why would he do that while he is married to me?
Be careful or your man will be snatched from right under your nose! Cook for him. Do you know how to cook?
I can whip up a decent meal, yeah…
Then do it for him.
Not for his helpless baby. For him? What if I get tired of cooking? That can happen you know…
You are his wife. That’s your job.
So what if I cannot keep my appointments in the kitchen – maybe due to some work commitments – can he at least stir some flour into hot water to make Ugali as I find my way home with a bunch of Sukuma wiki from mama mboga?
Iron his clothes every morning. He should not go to the office looking drab.
That was society ignoring my question.
Make sure he leaves the house looking sharp.
Now I get to dress him as well?
When did you become so big headed?
Me? Big headed? I thought we were friends society. I really did.
You! Utaletewa bibi mwingine!
Now why would society tell me such things? Was I a helpless puppy waiting for things to be given and taken away from me?
I was confused. So what if I didn’t feel like having sex – I am no sex machine, sometimes I just don’t feel like doing it. And if you wait for me to apologize for feeling what I feel, you will wait a very long time.
Maybe this was a prank. What was wrong with this man? Why could he not cook? Why did he need my help in dressing up? How did he suddenly not have control over who he had sex with?
We had arguments with society a few more times.
Remember that education you asked me to get? Do you remember the time when you told me boys were bad and I should only concentrate on getting good grades so that my future could be bright? Well, it is bright! I therefore have a job courtesy of that education you asked me to pursue. I am also smart, courtesy of the same education. Smart enough to know when things don’t add up. Do you know what I think? If man over here is keeping me from pursuing my dreams, insisting that I find my way to the kitchen every chance I get, then he is as bad as that boy back then who was trying to keep me from finishing school, isn’t he?
What changed? Why the double standards?
I looked at society. I looked at man. I bolted out of the door.
Society and I don’t get along any more – such a waste of a good friendship if you ask me. This is because it wants me to agree with it that a man should go with everything for it to make sense, for it to look good and for it to be accepted. That a man should go with that woman, that baby, that job, that house…heck, for my living room to look good, I need a man to go with my furniture!
I am tired of listening to society. From today henceforth, if society attempts to talk to me, I will only respond by holding out my middle finger.