It has become very necessary that we must guide and control some of the embarrassing questions we ask others,which cause them sleepless nights. My trip to my village this last Yuletide opened my eyes to this situation. I walked over to the adjacent compound, to exchange Christmas pleasantries with my kinsmen, when I saw Chikaodi, who hit the golden age of 50 last December. I met her in tears and pain. She had just returned home from the usual Christmas day outing. Though not yet married, Chika as she was fondly called, has struggled to maintain a responsible lifestyle as she carried on her merchandising business in a major market in Abuja. Chika has been a worthy daughter to her parents and siblings. Seeing her teary looks, I inquired what was amiss and she recounted how a kinswoman in the kindred had mischievously said that she was thirsty for a drink. Initially, Chika did not catch the drift of what the woman said. So, she asked her what kind of drink she wanted and offered to buy for her. The woman in question, Mama Eliza, then said categorically: “I do not want a drink from you, I am rather yearning for a drink your suitor would bring, because you are of age.” Embarrassed by the woman’s effrontery, Chika walked away shattered, her erstwhile Yuletide gaiety shot to hell.
With a voice laden with pain and emotion, Chika said: “Am I God who blesses men and women with marriage in due season? Why would Mama Eliza remind me of my unmarried condition? Why would she add to my pain as if I don’t know my age or my mates who have even raised university graduates? What is my offence for not getting married like other ladies in the community? Should I run away from my father’s house because I am not married? Must all married couples make heaven while hell awaits the unmarried?” Too many questions begging for answers filled Chika’s heart as she sobbed.
In one brief moment, a busy-body woman in the village turned the festive season into a nightmare for a lady who had saved up money to fund her trip to spend the Christmas with her kith and kin at home. In all honesty, Mama Eliza had no business, whatsoever, to determine for Chika when to marry. Clearly, she trespassed, as it were. But Chika being a well raised lady endured the remark which dripped with mischief and psychological malfeasance.
The Mama ‘Elizas’ of this world should bear in mind that in life, anything and everything is possible. Yes, some of Chika’s mates might have married before her, but it is not how early, but how well the marriage has progressed and matured.
In the same vein, people who begin counting the months for new couples soon after wedding to know when their first baby would be born, should stop the nauseating and offensive practice this year. It is not your business and should not be. While the new couple is having a honeymoon and planning how to make their marriage work and turn out successful, a self-appointed monitoring spirit begins to keep tabs on, waiting to see the result of their ‘other room’ fellowship meetings. It might also be possible that the couple is experiencing infertility challenge and trying to cope with the situation. So nobody is permitted to add to their pain by looking for the telltale sign of pregnancy. And failing to see the sign, now irreverently ask: “You are yet to get pregnant after years of your beautiful wedding; why?” Such question not only humiliates, but reduces the esteem of the person so accosted. Oftentimes the people who do this, quickly realise their error after blurting out the embarrassing question and then offer an apology, when the damage has already been done. Instead of apologising, the right approach is to keep sealed lips, and avoid causing someone sleepless night.
Some other people ask women, ‘When is the next pregnancy coming.’ Take the case of Mrs. Rebecca Adedoyin, who went through hell to have her first baby after eight years of waiting. As she was going through the same process for the second child, not knowing she was recovering from a badly managed miscarriage, her colleague carelessly asked: “Madam, when are we coming for the next ‘Ikuomo’ (naming ceremony).” These questions are uncalled for in this 2021. If we did not know before, please let us all learn and know it now.
In the market where a sister is waiting patiently on the Lord, sitting in front of her shaded wares while inwardly crying and wondering when she would carry her own child, another who has been blessed would be humiliating her by often saying, ‘We mothers, we mothers’. One day, the one that was waiting for a child was forced to say, “I am waiting on the Lord to have a legal child, not one born out of wedlock.”
For the eagle-eyed people who see a very mature woman with a young child and ask, “Is this your grandchild?” Please, never ask such question again. The child might be an adopted son that came her way after several years of waiting on the Lord. Seeing a 60-year-old woman with a two-three-year-old might elicit such question, but please calm down and do not voice your thoughts. Let the mother introduce her son or grandson to you by herself. It’s really sad when people are reminded about the pain of not bearing a child in due season. Such inadvertent reminder is hurtful to them. They are and can cause unintended enmity.
One recalls how rising medical doctor who had four beautiful daughters was embarrassingly shut out from a meeting of his community was most appalling. The kinsmen resident at home and the others, who returned from other states, gathered to discuss major issues regarding money. At a critical point in the deliberation, the younger and more radical generation who returned from the other states insisted on changing the community executives. An old uncle to the doctor raised his voice and loudly said, “Doctor, this one you are giving us headache here, has your wife delivered a baby boy?” There was pin drop silence. Then the medical doctor fired back: “My having a male child or not is the reason for this meeting. I am blessed with my girls.”
Inasmuch as the doctor was quick to throw it back to his uncle, was that question appropriate even at any given time? He stylishly told the whole gathering that the doctor had no male child. The uncle was apparently one of the executive members who felt he could use that ruse to destabilize the intention to remove the executives.
Now, some colleagues, friends and acquaintances are in the habit of asking others what they have achieved so far. Haba! This is unacceptable. No one knows what other people go through in their private moment. All achievements must not be rated in terms of finance, landed property, etc. People devote time to study and know God better, go into academics, poetry, artefact, soul rendering music and other stuff that make them happy and fulfilled.
Again, do not embarrass others with weight control issues. Telling somebody that he/she is adding or losing weight is offensive because one would not know the effort that is being applied to either lose or add weight. Leave people to live their lives especially when your opinion is not sought after for such suggestions.
A certain uninformed son-in-law, who belongs to a Pentecostal Christian denomination, asked his father-in-law, an ardent knight of the Catholic Church whether Jesus Christ exists in the Catholic Church. The awkward question made the old man leave and returned to his own home. Effort to resolve the rift is still ongoing.
Dear Nigerians, please this is a brand new year; do not embarrass others with unnecessary questions. Some of life’s challenges and the manner they are handled are the reasons people commit suicide. Do not remind others about their low moments while claiming to be a superstar.