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#Opinion: Hey, It’s Okay – By Ucheoma Onwutuebe

#Opinion: Hey, It’s Okay – By Ucheoma Onwutuebe


This is for quiet women.

It’s okay that you do not have a feisty blood in your vein. All the blood in you is poetic. You belong to the class of women who show a different kind of strength. The steel in your eyes and silence in your mien, they warn off abusers . You sublimate your innate desire to carry knives through poetry.

Your strengths are in choices you have made. Like going for broke and sticking to your dream. Like knowing when to walk away in time when love starts to tilt towards awry. To have no drop of foolish endurance coursing through you.

It’s okay that you wait for people. The African upbringing doesn’t seem to leave your psyche: the genuflecting, the making way for you because you’re older, the’I-am-not-talking-back-at-you-because-you-are-older’. It is what you have when you have lived in a place like this for so long.

If life is like a stampede, a protest march, you not the ones carrying the placards above your heads, neither are you the docile ones who would be trampled on. No. You are the women behind surge, the ones bearing relief materials. The ones quietly holed up in a corner, writing about happenings, making fire with their pens.

This is for timid women.

It’s not okay that in your lack of confidence, you have always loved men who smelt of dampness and lack of sunshine, men who the white bands of their briefs always collect dust. You have fled polished men because you always think: This is way too good for me, what do I know to offer him?

Repeat this to yourself while you wear your make up this morning : Nothing is too good for me. No one is too good for me.

This is for women who quit everything for the sake of appearing proper to society, who for the sake of lovers give up their sources of livelihood, who win back their lovers through pyrrhic wars. Women who throw the baby with the bath water.

Let me tell you a bedtime story.

Once upon a time, in a quiet city, a woman fried akara by the roadside. She often sold to her customers on credit and would go from door to door each Saturday evening to collect that which was owed her. She had a husband who was the town’s mechanic. They seemed content in their marriage except for occasional wranglings which was common sight among many a couple.

One Saturday as she was beating down doors to claim her debts by unwillingly debtors, her neighbours ran to her, alarm written all over theirs faces.

“Come this very moment, and you shall catch your husband in bed with your cousin.”

She paid them no heed as she kept at the doors of her debtors. “Would you not come and see for yourself what your husband is up to? what a husband snatcher your cousin is?” they pressed on.

When she deigned to reply them she said,” You expect me to leave my debtors and my source of livelihood and shame my husband in the middle of an act? No way. You can snatch my husband, but you cannot snatch my money.”

This is for abused women.

No, it is not okay that you are hiding away bruises beneath make up. That the soundtrack of your children’s childhood memories are your midnight whimpers. It’s not okay that you’re not tired of being trifled with like a slab of meat on the butcher’s table that everyone fingers and haggles without buying. It’s not okay that you have spread yourself too thin like blue band on bread, that you are on the verge of disappearing.

This is for desperate women.

It’s okay that he brought out the possessive lover in you. The bitch. The fish wife. It’s okay that you have loved men who are lovers of your body alone but not of your mind. Men who say you think too much; men who ask you to settle and live within the dictates of security. Men who say your dreams are wild goose chases.

But it’s not okay to still stay, revolving round the dictates of their perception of you. It’s not okay that you always ignore your sixth sense. It’s not okay that you are so full of “faith” that you keep pressing, hoping to effect a change and in your faithful pursuit, you make a fool of yourself.

For I have come to know that there is a sheer line between doggedness and desperation; between the persistence of faith and the acts of folly. Sometimes I get drunk on my own sense of self-acceptance that I assume that I would never suffer rejection. But I learn daily that not everyone would find me beautiful; not everyone would find me clever or fun to be with.

I have learnt that desperation makes a puny out of you; that punctuality in arrival isn’t enough. There’s a beauty in wrapping up tactfully, in closing a chapter without tearing the pages of the book, of walking away from that door that has chosen not to open and saving your knuckles that perpetual pain of knocking. There’s a grace in slipping away quietly, without dramas, without creating scenes.

And this is for fearful women: women yet to find their bearing, women afraid of making bold choices, women lying to theirselves that they would rather stay amid the trauma and life-ending threats. I won’t judge you. I wrote this poem for you to get by while you decide on what to do with your predicament :

You are not a lost cause

I wrote this poem
For your blackened eye and missing teeth
Your midnight whimpers and lonely fears
Your shuddering shoulders and weak choices.
May these words put some heart in you
Be your lamp at midnight
As you sit in the dark
Devising your exit.

You are not a lost cause
This poem is for your quirks and bad hair days
Your shy gait and your stutter
For your never-looking-life-in-the-eye
Let these words remind you
That we were not all made
On sunny days when God felt high and brazen
Some of us were moulded on winter nights
With shivery hands
Yet with wonder
Yet with fear

You are not a lost cause
This poem is for your feet
Dangling in the cliff of indecision
For your misplaced priorities
For the missed chances
Let these words remind you
That we all at diverse times
Have dwelt in the cusp of uncertainty

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