Did I see that smirk? I think I did…
Let’s face it, the 21st century did some pretty good things for this generation, like alienating the importance of marriage and smothering the effects of divorce. However, African parents would argue against these new liberating developments. While the world seems to be moving along with technological advancements, economic developments, and political bewilderment (that was on purpose because I wonder how some presidents are still presidents—names withheld intentionally so I don’t get arrested). The new wave of “woke” came along with the normalization of nudity, self-indulgence, and a need to be validated on social media platforms by strangers who have no understanding of who you are or what you represent.
We can’t but praise and condemn the evolution of the new media, that, however, has its fair share of gains and losses. The fetishization of 30 being the new 20 has helped young ladies around the globe take a break to re-align themselves with purpose and evaluate the importance of marriage if at all it is still important. Women, over 35, still debate the efficacy of the glorified union between man and woman, leaving their parent house to become one. It’s okay to normalize these new trends of ‘Living my best life’, ‘I’m a strong independent woman who is discovering herself before finding a man’, ‘I’m loving myself before I can love someone else no matter how long it takes me’. However, it is seen as gross cowardice when women over 35 whose wet pillows send them to sleep each lonely night when the pinnacle of success they have attained can’t give them comfort either the men they refused to allow grace their hearts, preach openly and with confidence against finding love and allowing love in your early 20’s.
I know, Feminists would pick up their placards proclaiming revolution to this ideology and requesting that I take several seats. Hear my story…
It was the summer of 2018, my Mentor had just returned from the states where she usually goes to vacation, live her best life, away from the hustle-bustle of being one of the most successful C.E.Os in Lagos, Nigeria. Her Vacation had taken longer than usual, she had spent five (5) months away contrary to the initial two months she had planned for. While she was away, I met Femi accidentally whilst waiting on a BRT queue after work. I certainly wasn’t looking for love, I wanted a successful career like my Mentor—For the sake of this article, I would refer to her as Dr.M.
Dr.M had told me several times to focus on building my career and working tirelessly wherever I found myself. Femi was the type of guy to sweep you off your feet at first glance, he was the tall, dark, handsome type of Chocolate caramel with a little dimple to add as a topping. He slid to my front from nowhere, winking at me to allow him to stand before me as the queue was a long one. I allowed him only because I was engrossed in the fried yam and fish I was eating. He turned around and asked if he could join me, with anger in my eyes and voice, I retorted asking how he would like to go to the end of the queue if he doesn’t leave me alone.
‘I see you are very hungry “pele”(sorry), He said while smiling revealing a set of white teeth. I could no longer be angry, his baby eyes pierced my soul, pleading for entrance into my heart, seeking a place of refuge.
‘Do you need water? Don’t choke here, I won’t like to write a statement”
I laughed at Femi’s joke, marveling at the audacity but wanting more of mystery from this stranger who seems to get me. I drank the water he bought whilst we moved gradually to enter the BRT that had arrived to pick passengers. I get the chance to sit after standing for hours. I was going to plug my phone and sleep all through the ride until I got to my stop.
‘You didn’t think I was going to let you off the hook that easily’ I recognized the voice immediately. Femi was taking a seat beside me. I acted as though I was disgusted by his presence but secretly, I wished Femi would sit beside me. I wanted more jokes and the dimples, I needed them to be mine.
“So, who is this young man, I leave you for 5 months and you are already talking about marriage” Dr.M doesn’t sound happy that Femi and I are in a relationship, she isn’t the very least excited that He helped me to pay for my entrance exams to study a masters programs at Lagos Business School and also promised half of the total tuition. She is the least excited about his meeting with my mother. I had gone visit her at her office after she arrived from vacation to fill her in on what’s been happening to me. After telling her about my career, I decided to fill her in on my relationship with Femi and how it looks like we were serious together. Call it Naivety or honesty, I never expected that she would project her failures onto me, I thought she would advise me objectively.
Dr.M has been my Mentor since my very first day at the university, I had idolized her, obeyed, and listened to her advice on everything life and career. My relationship with Femi was just starting. I could end it and focus on building my career, ensuring that I don’t lose focus, these were her words and advice. I had grown to like Femi a lot, the thoughts of marriage and having children had crossed my mind from the first day I saw him at the BRT station. He didn’t make it any easier as he was a keeper, the type of man that would wash you up when you are dealing with chronic Dysmenorrhea. He would cook, clean, and care. He was also a prayer warrior, Femi would pray for 4 hours straight, I had to ask God to give me the strength to keep up with this man. I had thought the name Femi is attributed to being a Yoruba Demon, but he was an exception.
I left Femi three months after I talked with Dr.M, He had playfully asked me, “how many people would I have to settle to take you off Mile 2 market?”. Femi’s question did not come as a shock to me, He had told me on the first night I slept over at his place that I was the one. It didn’t sound as exciting now as the first time. I knew it was time to leave, I couldn’t allow marriage and childbearing truncate my career trajectory.
I left Femi.
Before you write me off as foolish, naïve, and whatnot. Some of you fall prey to Twitter feminists who preach against the importance of men in an attempt to proclaim, ‘Gender Equality’, ‘Right for Women’. I’m an ardent supporter of these movement, however, I posit that there is a huge difference between Feminism and Misandry, let’s all be crystal clear on that message.
The joy of being 30, single and unmarried should be normalized, however, it shouldn’t be imposed on the younger generation.
Afolabi Bodunrin is a freelance writer, book lover and travel enthusiast. She is the founder of SistersHive – a community of sisters coming together to empower each other, also the convener of the B.T.S (Breaking The Silence) campaign. Her writings are intended to question the status quo.