Monday, 9 December 2013
Dear female, (DON'T READ, IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO).
I am a female. I love being a female, but does the world make our love good for us? It all depends on our answers!
I remember my mom said all 4.5 pounds of me came crying into the world like every other babies. My eyes were brown, sharp and eager to face the new world that I felt would give me my share of everything. Sooner than late I learnt I had to get everything I wanted by myself. I was told as a baby I smiled a lot. But as I grew older I found the twitch getting lesser. I sulked but then I grew used to the word: “You are a girl”.
It was as if the whole world knew that much about me than any other thing else. I was told that as a baby girl I played and shouted with glee at everything I saw around me, I was happy. This is a world free of fluid, a world not conditioned to the foetal circumstance that is all about take whatever you are given. A world free of fluid, your movement was your action and your choice. A freedom with no labour; yet as I grew up, I was told my freedom should not be taken for granted as I needed to run back home on time to wash the plates, stay with my mum in the kitchen, be a little mama, forsake my other friends on the guava tree we all love to climb so much, and start preparing myself for the ultimate achievement for my gender which is marriage. I was told that girls could sacrifice their education for boys because that is the way it’s done. I was also told that if you open your laps while sitting down your mother must be blamed for raising a slut. You must not discuss or ask why boys do not menstruate or have breast as God does not provide such answers anyway. School times were enjoyable but then the educated headmaster was illiterate because he believe the males should come before the females and constantly told us that the boys must be well trained, well disciplined as they are the pillars, yet education was free and that does not change the fact that I am a female.
I grew up. I love people and I love solving problems. Am not a doctor but I have developed that skill of mine for it comes with the gender. I listen to people and care very much, not because that is what I want to do but because I am a female. I have been trained as a female, as if it is a job, to look at the rest of the world as patients while I try to diagnose what could be wrong and how things can be made better; I look for solutions, they take it, and that is all. I am a female. I looked back at my life and though it wasn't all that rosy I really enjoyed those times when my Cinderella glass slippers were still a perfect fit. As I looked down to my feet, I found out that though I still held on to one leg of the slippers in my wardrobe the other leg was lost along my growing up years.
I never forgot those words “you are a girl”. Those words means, do not encourage tardiness, be strong when you are young and don’t expect everything on a platter, you are a girl, you are a young mother. You are second best. With those words I had to forsake my glass slippers as that would hinder my growth, quickly I succumbed to a flat for it will make the walk to woman hood brisk and should I trip I could still trudged but not wobbled, if it was glass slippers.
Well that just it ... but
I miss my childhood friend Tara, whose mother tasted the long sojourn of no return in the labour room trying to bring forth the only son and the seventh child of the family. They said she smiled when she saw the sex of her baby and finally waved the responsibility to Tara whose huge eyes were round in awe of the tiny being that shouted louder than his frail body. Her mother was tired and so went to rest. Who will tell Tara stories, where are the lullabies, who will teach her the first step into womanhood. Who will take care of her, her father and the other siblings? When her father’s sister came she exhorted mama’s attempt, and congratulated Tara’s father for having such a selfless woman who could laid herself down for the restoration of the family glory. I was told Tara’s father was sad but happy his wish had finally come through. The baby became Tara’s but Tara was not the baby. She soon learnt that she could wean at the age of 8 and by 10 years old she was an adult who has the responsibility of taking care of six other siblings. Not only did we miss her during playtime but we miss her aptitude, her laughter on the guava tree. Soon our action meant nothing to her, and our perkiness was observed with adult eyes through a small self.
Tara soon dropped out of school; her unavailability during the wee hours of the days was affecting the family productivity. So she stopped. And others continued. Soon Amina, Tara’s younger sister stopped as well. I knew it was debated if Kiti the last girl should stop school as she had repeated class two times anyway and the school head constantly complained of her dry brain. In our very eyes Tara grew more than us and the only common thing between us was just that she stay next door and every nod we received from each other was like we were never best of friends. One late afternoon, some years later on my way from school I heard the loud wail from their house. It was a bitter cry from Tara who was being escorted to her husband’s house; a friend of the family who had offered to help alleviate the family’s misery by marrying Tara who was dragged to the old room of her husband that has housed two women.
Was I shocked? No
The ceremony was short, unplanned and no one bid the girl with the large eyes farewell, no bouquet, just the tattered luggage the husband boasted was going to be replenished. Wish I could ask how she was feeling but my mother stern gaze kept my question on queue.
She came a year later with a baby strung on her back. She was sixteen. We couldn't relate for she had been to where I didn't know. She wanted to ask about some other friends but her attention was snapped by the little one behind her back that demanded her attention. She wanted to know if it was true I gained admission to higher institution and I told her yes. She longed for more time and more answers but her child wanted her too. Six years later, just about to serve my father’s land, I heard the same wail again. This time it was not Tara’s but the look alike of Tara. I came outside to see what was going on and found four helpless girls hanging around a woman who knelt down sobbing and begging the retreating figure of a man. She lifted her head and I stood shaken at who Tara had become. What happened, why all these noise? No one answered, but the little grapevine was able to divulge that Tara was returned for two reasons, she was frigid and she couldn't bear a male child.
What is frigid? They all looked at me as if I was mad. I was roughly informed that it was her inability to please her husband in bed that resulted in her not producing a male child. They said she was cut. Cut, why? This thought followed me to the NYSC camp where I met a friend, though now long forgotten, but our usual chatter in the hostel grew into a hot argument bordering on female genital mutilation. The argument grew hotter than the sun outside our badly parched provided apartment, we all came to the conclusion we should not discuss about the FGM. I Went outside to do the abolition and met my friend frigid in thinking. What gathers your thought? She roughly replied that the topic of discuss was a monumental issue for her. Her five years in higher institutions has seen her with five alphas all experiencing their disgust at her inability to feel. She said she was cut.
Cut? Why? Who would do such barbaric thing I shiver in disgust, she noted in annoyance and asked what era I was born. Nevertheless I shudder in disgust as I could not fathom the reasons for such act. Two weeks into our service of the father land, I couldn't keep the discussion from my head.
Tara was cut, my friend was cut.
Was I cut? Am I frigid? Do I have chance to love anyway. Was that the reason my boyfriend left me? I couldn't wait to be redeployed as I gave all the necessary pseudo reasons until I was redeployed. I got on the bus and it was there I met my loud mouthed friend who had been in the camp all along and I never noticed. She is experienced and I broached the subject, expecting her scathing response any way, she added salt to my injury as she added, “are you not a Nigerian, of course you are cut, but some cut are better than others depending on the disposition of the cutter, who could either be inpatient or too patient and scrape the whole thing off, leaving you with no feelings, or small passable feelings and atimes some become a psychological zombie for life. It could be a life issue, could be deadly, could turn out wrong and it is actually wrong anyway. “But don’t worry” she told me there is a way out. I listened attentively as she lowered her voice and looked around us. “Fake the passion”
I got home not minding the enthusiastic welcome accorded; I asked my mother if I was cut. Was I shocked? Oh Jeez! I am a female.
I have won the lottery of life; I couldn't be shocked any more as I have seen my fair share of female injustice and maltreatment. I have heard that one woman dies every single minute in childbirth around the world, not that they wanted to but circumstances and the facts that some are poor, they are rural and they are female. Surviving childbirth isn't without risks. Some women die as a result of neglect, fistula disease, post-postpartum depression, sexual exploitation, rape, poverty, abuse, violence, early marriage, AIDS, Heart disease, cancer, stroke, e.t.c. But yet I know I have won the lottery of life not minding the fact that I was hurt along my journey to total self -discovery by someone I loved so much, yet people believes heartache should be a condition females should grow use to. I grew. I realized I had the solution all along; I have the lottery of life, I have education and the conclusion that women and girls are not the problems, but the solution. My lottery in life has broken me out of this vicious cycle of poverty; education. It has taken me from oppression to a voice and life filled with opportunities; only if I take it. I looked at the Tara’s of this world, only if they had been educated, even if they were, only if they would realize that they have a choice. And that is why we need to lend a hand, a voice and our support and empowerment to the rights of girls and women.
For my lottery, I have trained myself to be assertive, determined, passionate, and confident to achieve whatever I want to achieve. If education has given me my lottery in life definitely my passport should be filled with determination and a strong will to survive and succeed. I am a female. To see every female have a voice, be heard be loved and respected. And this is my ambition.
Remember...Believe...Knowledge...Opportunities (Pink Ambition)