Inspiration strikes at the oddest places sometimes you know – like during your second stanza of 2Baba’s “African Queen”; or between Questions 2 & 3 of your insanely tough Internal Assessment; or when you’re in the middle of early morning ministration on the ceramic ..er..throne…
Mine struck me just this past Saturday at Kwashie Tailors in Osu (yes, I may shall be doing some shameless indirect advertising here, forgive me, but ɔyɛ good o!). I was there with some friends specifically for a suit fitting to be done. I’ll confess here that this was the very first fitting I’d gone for in my life and I was impressed (but as usual, I digress).
The proprietor, Mr. Kwashie, was an interesting man with a ready smile on his face giving the first impression of a man who is satisfied with where life has brought him so far on his 60-something year long journey with no current objections on the course he’d charted so far.
Now, as I was telling someone recently, one thing that lets me know that I’m growing nowadays is how I look forward to discussions with my elders. I remember the absolute chore it seemed to me to listen to my late grandmother’s tales of her time as a girl in the Convent, and how she had little family that cared for her, and how her parents passed away, and how she planned since childhood to become a nun and…yeah, I usually blanked out somewhere about then. Sometimes now, I wish she was still around to tell me some things about life – maybe my walk would be smoother and I wouldn’t be entangling myself with unnecessary things that bind – but again, I digress. Forgive.
Now my memory gets hazy because I don’t remember what exactly started it but I remember him going “Those days, with just 1 cedi in my pocket, my whole weekend was sorted out.”
There I was, standing in front of the mirror getting fitted and already feeling good about the suit that was forming before my eyes when he casually passed another comment that got me thinking.
“In our time, we actually got to know the person we were dating before we got married to them – that’s why there wasn’t much divorce those days, unlike now that so many young people are divorcing.”
You see, my first instinct was to deny the fact outright – we do get to know each other before we get married nowadays, don’t we?? After all, virtually nobody gets into arranged marriages nowadays, and we go to either school, church or work with the person we start to date in most circumstances so we know them some, don’t we? But before I could voice my objection, one of my friends added his own comment that gave me some pause.
“I think it’s true. We have phones, the internet and Whatsapp all now but we hardly really spend time together.”
I found myself nodding at the new information as Mr. Kwashie went on.
“We used to go out for Pop Chain and it was where you got to meet friends and have some fun while you got to know your girlfriend too. With that 1 cedi I could charter a taxi from Tema to Accra and have some money still left over to spend there and get a ride home after everything was done.”
He recounted an incident between a guy’s girlfriend and his own friend on the dancefloor which caused him to break up with her because he wasn’t ‘comfortable’ with the racy gymnastics between them which got us guys laughing.
Trust my inquisitive mind to try poking holes in his assertions though.
“But Mr. Kwashie, we’re not that bad o. We try, but it’s not as easy with us nowadays”
“Ah well, I understand but –“
“It’s not easy o, and the women are there too!,” another friend of mine interjected almost exasperatedly.
That’s when I burst into laughter because I remembered a saying I’d had at the back of my mind for years now and decided to share with them.
“You know what they say: Women are like fruits – there are apples, bananas, pineapples, pears, watermelons, peaches, mangos, et cetera, each with its own flavour. The problem with men however, is that we like fruit salad!”
After joining us in laughing, Mr Kwashie shook his head good-naturedly and said something I hope I’ll never forget.
“All women are the same.” My right eyebrow shot up as his secretary who had been busying herself with other duties also lifted her head to look at her boss with a ‘Huh?!’ look on her face.
“All women are the same. If a man isn’t getting something from his wife, he can go to another woman and get it, but when he gets it from his wife he isn’t even interested in whatever is out there. If they were all different in that regard, no man could ever be satisfied with just one woman.”
Suffice it to say that I left there not just with the expectation of a great 3-piece suit but a lot to think about.
First of all, I kept thinking of what it meant to be in love with someone vs. being in a relationship with them vs. being friends with them. I bounced a few ideas off my sister shortly afterwards until I stumbled upon something that was so obviously essential but totally obscured in our lives today:
All things being equal, boy meets girl, boy likes girl and after a while falls in love with her (and hopefully vice versa). They date for a while, have the odd fight every now and then, get disappointed from time to time and after a year or so start making calculations to solidify things ‘à la pampanaa’. A few months to a year or 2 after marriage, either one or (God forbid) both wake up one morning to realise that they might have made a grave mistake marrying the other – either it’s that unshakeable habit or just a gradual feeling of falling out that creates a chasm between them that just widens daily. They become strangers to each other and no matter what the overlying problem – other women, work, money issues, trust issues, extended family, etc (it doesn’t really matter) – they each go a little crazy giving in to their baser instincts to break free because they now feel trapped.
With just a few variations here and there, that’s basically the framework of every marriage between young people that fails nowadays. It’s not that they didn’t love each other enough, or that they didn’t pray enough, or that (God help us!) somebody out there is doing them.
Love is all well and good but it simply won’t pay the bills…or change annoying habits…or cure every sickness that ails your relationship. Love is a FOUNDATION: essential, but not by any means All you need for building. Nobody moves into a house with just the foundation laid, do they?? You really can’t bind your eyes with ‘Love’ and throw all caution to the wind and expect everything to go smoothly. Real love is not foolish. If you’re in love with someone and it doesn’t make sense to you when you sit down to calculate its impact on your life today and/or future tomorrow, you’ve got a serious problem in the making mehn.
Prayer, on the other hand, is communication between man and God. When you tap into the Divine, you do so with the awareness that the spiritual exerts significant influence on the physical. What most people don’t realise however is that Nothing on this earth cannot be corrupted (“to Corrupt” v.: the introduction of errors). Think for a minute of how many times you’ve heard whispered stories of anointed men of God reliving Tyson’s greatest hits at home; or of the Choirmaster playing hanky-panky with the lead Soprano… Prayer has been abused similarly to the point where it is used as another tool of Charismatic witchcraft (insert relevant “Kill my enemies!” and “Die by fire and thunder!” incidences here). In a relationship, however, it can be insidiously used as a crutch (seemingly helping you to move but in essence preventing you from learning to walk and run again) instead of an elevator (introducing the Divine into your life to elevate your relationship to God’s standards and directing your path). I’ve heard stories of people choosing to skip work for prayer meetings to get a better job; others say “God will provide” and pursue no profitable work, just praying and doing nothing for God to bless; still others ‘outsource their issues with their spouse to God and refuse to sit down and work it through with the person themselves.
*Ahem* – let me clear my throat for this one as you clean your ears so you hear me well well – No One On Earth Or Above It Or Below It Can DO YOU In Your Marriage ooo Tommm! *pausing for a drink of water* Let me step into the Scriptures for a second here:
– Ecclesiastes 10:7-8
Nobody says it better than the Good Book on this score. I don’t know about other faiths, but as a Christian all your affairs have to pass through the Head Office of Christ before approval is given, and what makes it so cool is the sheer number of guarantees and promises you operate under. Picking just 2 off-head I can assure you of one that explicitly states that you will not be tempted more than you are able to stand – i.e. an explicit promise that you Can do it, even if it seems impossible, from the High Seat itself! Courage and strength shouldn’t be a problem for you then because first of all it isn’t your strength that’s being tested, but a capacity-building exercise in your ability to rely on His Strength; and secondly it’s not your promise to keep but His – so why the worry?? Another promise clearly states that ALL things will work for your good (whether good or bad) once you’re in your right place according to him…you see sey you dey tire for nothing??
If things, however, aren’t going well, it’s probably because you don’t know enough about your person and position in his plan (like in verse 7 up there). Other than that, you’re covered under the numerous promises and guarantees outlined in His Word – read it o, read it!
Still though, you could be falling into the category of verse 8 up there and this is what I was taught once: the ‘wall’ there is divine protection afforded you by your status as a Child of God. Fortunately or unfortunately, just as the main problem with a living sacrifice is that it can move off the altar at any time, our free will affords us the ability to break that wall of protection at any time. When, not if, the snake bites us then, we really have no one to blame but ourselves.
I hope I’ve got you a-thinking today just like I’ve been doing over the past few days, but let me leave you with a single thought till we meet again:
[To be concluded next week in a Special post…]