Livid does not even begin to describe how I was feeling as I dialed my mother’s number. I am boiling with as much anger as irritation. “Who does Aunty Ope even think she is,” I scoffed. “Who made her the accurate timekeeper of my life?”
“Good morning Mummy,” I greeted in response to my mother’s hello. “What’s wrong?” She asked, immediately sensing this was not a casual call. I would playfully hail her every time I call, but this time, my tone was anything but playful.
“Mummy,” I started, sighing and willing myself to be calm. “In case, Aunty Ope calls you to complain that she can’t reach me, do not doubt it, I have blocked her number.”
“Okay?” My mother responded, her voice wary.
“Could you believe she called me this morning, cutting short my otherwise beautiful Saturday morning sleep, just to start spouting rubbish? She…”
“Show some respect Teniola!” I heard my mother snap, interrupting my tirade. “No child I raised is allowed to disrespect their elders. I don’t care how angry you are. So, if you will not calm down and tell me what happened without insulting my sister, then I don’t want to hear it,”
“I’m sorry ma,’ I said, temporarily subdued by her scolding. “But Mummy, I’m really just upset,” I began again. “Does anyone think that my life is more important to them than it is to me? It is mine after all. Aunty Ope called this morning, just to talk about how everyone has gotten married and I am the only one left. She said I should get off my high horse, and not be picky especially since I will be thirty in a few months. Can you imagine Mummy?”
“Who on God’s green earth wants to wake up to all these conversations?” I continued, now pacing. “What am I even saying? It was not a conversation, she did all the talking, She was going on and on about how I was wasting my time chasing money, instead of settling down. She even said I should tone down my smart mouth, so I don’t chase men away. Mummy, you are not saying anything?”
“Well, you are not slowing down now,” She responded.
“Sorry ma, I’m just so upset and frustrated. Do you know she didn’t even ask me about my job and how I was doing? Nothing, just about how my life is incomplete without a husband. Did I tell her I don’t want to get married? But should I kill myself stressing about it, just so Aunty Ope and Co can be satisfied? I’m so tired of everyone thinking they have a say in my life and when I get married.”
“And what’s this obsession about my thirtieth birthday?” I snickered. “Am I the only unmarried 30-year-old lady in the world? It’s as if being thirty suddenly makes me ancient and I’m sick of it. Please Mummy, just warn her to get off my back, and that her plan to hook me up with some man she mentioned today will not work. I don’t even know why you told her I was coming home for Bola’s wedding. She should just leave me o, and let me be because I do not want to have to disrespect her,” I ended hotly.
“Can I speak now?” I heard my Mum say.
“Yes ma,” I answered finally satisfied with my tirade.
“Don’t be angry, oko mi. Your Aunt is just as worried as I am, but I understand you. Shebi you have blocked her now? It’s okay.”
“It is?” I asked, surprised by her comment. My mother has always bugged me about marriage, and it has been the cause of our regular quarrels, so to hear her agree with me came as a surprise.
“Ha, it is o. You have told me my own is too much now, so even me, I have kept quiet and decided to just be praying for you, before you block me too,” She responded.
“Mummy, you know I won’t block you, ever,” I assured her. “But the pressure you were giving me was too much. I want to get married, believe me, and it will happen, eventually but until then, I do not want to be thinking about it 24/7 and I do not want to be made to feel like something is wrong with me until I do get married. What’s wrong with actually enjoying life, living my life without the constant pressure from the society and my own family to get married?”
“Omoteniola,” I heard my mother call. She only ever uses my full name to communicate the seriousness of the conversation to follow. Looks like I celebrated my mother’s short comment too soon, I thought.
“I am your mother, and all I want is to see you and your brother happy and settled in your own homes. I also want to have grandchildren running around my house. When you become a mother, you would understand my worry about your continued singleness. It bothers me and your father, and I am not justifying your Aunt’s call o, but I know she’s concerned too. You know her daughter, Tiwalade got married last month, and that girl is just 24 years now,”
“Mummy, I will get married,” I said, barely concealing my frustration at having to sit through this conversation all over again. “Isn’t it better to choose carefully and marry the perfect man, than make a mistake?”
“You see, that’s where you are mistaken. There is no perfect man my dear,” My mother said quickly and confidently as if she had suddenly discovered the root of my problems and could now solve it. I walked into that, I thought groaning. With the number of times we have had similar conversations; I should have seen it coming and avoided using the ‘perfect man’. As usual, I couldn’t tell if my mother intentionally misunderstands my use of ‘perfect’ just to find a way to suggest that I had an unreasonable expectation.
“Are you listening to me, Teniola?” I heard my mother say, forcing me out of my zoned out mode.
“Yes ma,” I grunted in response. Abi I should tell her about Lolu? I thought. I knew telling her I was in a relationship is the surest way to end this conversation, but knowing my mother, she will immediately pick a wedding date or at least a wedding month. No, I don’t need that pressure, I resolved.
“You can never find a perfect man o, Teniola.” She continued. “Even you, are you perfect? All these unrealistic standards and expectations about men are the problem of most of you modern-day girls. Your Father didn’t even have anything when we got married, look at us today. Apart from our lack of money, he also had some habits that I didn’t like, and so did I. It’s all about tolerance, and with time, we adjusted, I worked on my weaknesses and he worked on his. That’s it o, Teniola,”
“I understand Mummy, I will take note ma,” I agreed. I have learnt a while back never to argue or even explain that my not being married has nothing to do with unrealistic standards, or that I’m not asking for too much, just a mature man who gets me, and is perfect for me albeit his imperfection.
“Thank you ma,” I quickly added, gearing to end the call.
“Teniola, wait o. Your Father wants to speak to you,” I heard my mother said just as I was about to tell her goodbye.
“Oh, okay ma,” I said, groaning inwardly.
“Teniola bawo ni?” I heard Daddy said in his usually calm voice. “How is work?”
“I’m fine sir. Work is going well,” I responded, willing this conversation to be over. I have a great relationship with my Dad, and we always have good conversations, except when it comes to conversations about their perceived unreasonably high taste that I have in men.
“I heard what your mother has been saying to you,” He started. “She is right o. You see, take this from me, you won’t find a man who is 100%, but as long as he respects and loves you, and there is nothing communication cannot fix. So, you better know what you are doing.”
“Yes sir,” I responded berating myself for walking into this trap of a phone conversation. How did my call to report Aunty Ope backfire like this?, I thought, massaging my head to keep the headache at bay.
“And errrm, there is no big deal if Ope introduces you to someone. So, meet the person. Abi, did Ope say once you meet the man, you must marry him?”
“No Sir,” I responded, mentally snickering. Lolu will throw a fit if I go on a date with whomever. Maybe I should tell him about this potential date at our planned date tonight, I thought, smiling at my imagination.
“Exactly,” He said. “Okay o, hope the house is not too quiet with Bola gone now?” He asked, yawning.
“It is, but I’m hardly home too, except for weekends like this,”
“You too will soon go to your husband’s house in Jesus' name,” I heard my mother say underground. “Amen,” My dad responded, bidding me goodbye.
“Teniola, take care o,” My mother said, already back on the phone. “Don’t forget to bring home all my sacks in your house next weekend o. You remember we are going to visit your brother in Abuja, and I will need them,”
“I won’t forget, by ma,” I said, sighing, as I ended the call.