Still A Man
You are that woman who has been married for seven years.
No children have been forthcoming in those many years. You wonder why your womb will not budge. Why it will not honour you with an offspring or two. Two, a boy and a girl, would be nice. You’ve dreamt it, craved it, willed it, prayed for it – there’s nothing you haven’t done for it.
You have been forced into having the dreaded talk with your mother. Because she is mother, she has thought of this subject and broached it way before you were ready. Because you can never be ready for this conversation. It has been awkward but she has picked at it like one picks grain; shifting it, carefully selecting a bad one and tossing it aside one after another.
Are you and him ok?
What do you mean Mam?
Is he not touching you?
Haha. An uncomfortable laugh should nip this conversation in the bud, is what you think. Wrongly.
Eish Mam, why such questions now?
Well, is he?
Her determination to endure the awkward has been unwavering.
Not that it’s any of your business but yes, he is.
Where is the evidence? I don’t see it.
That stomach is as flat as when you were a teenager.
There goes your mother hitting the nail on the head like she has no time to waste nudging it by the sides.
You have feigned surprise. Seven years is a long time to be married without a child? Now it has hit you.
She said it.
You now have really thought about it. You’ve cussed your periods for being so freaking persistent! To hear your mother voice your concerns is to have that rubber stamp, laden with dark ink, land with a thud on a snow-white piece of paper, and confirm your fears. This is indeed an issue. It is in fact, a thing.
I don’t know Mam. I guess some things happen just when they happen – that is all you’ve managed.
Your mother has however not shut up. If it makes you feel any better, they never do. Mothers like to take us where we’d rather not go. They insist on pointing out that which we’d rather ignore. She has revisited this subject and asked that you have yourself checked. You’ve seen your gynecologist and you’ve been given a clean bill of health. The doctor has asked that you request your husband to accompany you for the next visit.
You have managed to convince him to go to the doctors with you. He’s agreed to accompany you if only to get you off his back. The doctor has sat with him and delivered the bad news. He has advised him to visit the clinic regularly for medication to right his wrongs.
He’s heard many things from that talk with doc. Top on the list – he’s not a man.
He does not know what to do with that information. How can he not be? But he is, isn’t he? How can he not be a man? Don’t look at him like that? What are you thinking? Is that pity? Do you think that you are better than him? And what are you doing standing out there, talking to your neighbor friends as if you have nothing better to do? What are you saying to them? Are you talking about him? And why are you talking to men anyway? What do you want from them? Something he can’t give you perhaps? Are you having an affair? Are you thinking of having these men’s children? Do you think he is useless now? Is he of no use to you anymore? What’s with the attitude? Why did you respond the way you responded when he spoke to you? Did your tone just climb a notch higher? Are you talking to your friends about him? Telling them that he is useless? Are you talking to your parents about him? Telling them that he can’t give them a grandchild? Are you going to leave him? Hook up with another man and have his child? Throw him to the curb? This useless example of a man? Expose him to the villagers? And his friends? Make him a laughing stock? You will let everyone see that he was the problem all along, won’t you? The whole seven years that you were childless? That it was him who could not stir your womb to life? For seven years?
Why won’t you fix him? Why won’t you just fall pregnant and make him look good? Why woman, why?
This one evening, you are eating dinner quietly. Alone. You wonder whether your relationship with your husband is mendable when he, talk of the devil, appears at your doorstep.
It behooves you to open the door for him.
He will not walk in alone though. He comes with all these thoughts weighing on his shoulder. The thoughts tell him that he can deliver himself from the shame he now wears. That life can be bearable again. That he can hold his head high again. That he can face his peers again, be an equal among men. That he can find that which he lost. His deliverance, the thoughts reason, lies in him getting rid of you. The thoughts advise him that you will always be a stack reminder of his incapabilities. They tell him that you are the evidence of his worthlessness. The link that needs to disappear. These thoughts tell him that since you can’t fix him, you will only be good at exposing him. He cannot handle that.
These thoughts walk with him that night, holding his hand, patting his back and pointing directions. We wake up to the news of your hacking. Your chopped hands. Your close brush with death. Your very severe assault. We are shocked, we are sad and we are furious.
We sympathize with you. We vilify him. He had no excuse. By attacking you, he confirmed that he was what he was trying to prove he wasn’t: unmanly. The verdict at the doctors did not make him less of a man. His actions did.
Let’s now focus on you. Now that he did not succeed in ending your life; did you survive the attack or did you come back to life?