Two years ago my parents celebrated their 35th marriage anniversary. It was a grand event. In the church that day, the pastor used them as a yardstick for all marriages and asked the youth to emulate such success in their future marriages. The choir sang for them and some elders of the church were invited to speak about the good things they know about my parents.
They all said positive things and the church clapped for them. Looking at their faces, I could see the joy and pride swelling in their hearts. 35 years of marriage was worth all the accolades they were getting and they reveled in the moment.
There was only one thing missing. Everyone was allowed to speak except me. Ironically, I was the only one who had lived with my parents throughout the 35 years so if there was one person whose opinion really mattered, that person should have been me but I wasn’t allowed to speak.
The church called my parents’ marriage a success. Everyone who came to speak that day called them a success story but to me, the marriage was nothing to write home about. It was something no woman would be proud of. My mom used me as an excuse to stay in an abusive marriage and the only reason my dad kept coming back to my mom was purely for financial reasons. My mom owned the company where my dad was the MD.
Three times my dad left the marriage after he’d abused my mom. And my mom had to send delegates over to apologize for a wrong she didn’t commit in the first place. My dad got the house-help pregnant and to avoid embarrassment and finger pointing, my mom paid the house-help to have it aborted.
She was doing everything to keep a man who didn’t deserve to be kept and she did that for 35 years just so people will call their marriage a success. When things got worse and she was crying to me, my only advise was for her to leave my dad but she will ask me “Who will then be your dad.”
When I was twenty-four my mom started having marriage conversations with me. She was asking about who I was dating and whether I had marriage intentions. Some few weeks later, I brought my boyfriend home. I told mom, “He’s Idris. He works at blah blah blah and was blah blah. Of all the good things I said about him the only question mom asked was; “Are you a Muslim?” That was all.
“You can’t marry a Muslim. Our faith does not cross” Mom told me later. I asked her, “You married dad. Both of you have shared faith but he still abuses you and treat you badly so what’s the point?” She told me I was a child and would only understand when I grew up. Dad made matters worse when he told Idris point blank that he wouldn’t allow him space in his home.
Slowly, they pushed Idris away and I was single again. They had tribal issues with the next person I brought home so they drove him away. The question was, “How could two people who are worse in keeping a relationship trying to determine what sort of relationship was better for me?
They tried pushing a church guy on me but I declined. They tried pushing me to the pastor’s son and I said no.
Finally, they both came to my room one night telling me how they wanted a good guy for me and how they didn’t want me to fall in the wrong hands. I asked mom calmly, “Are you in good hands?” She looked at my dad and then nodded her head. Then she said, We’ve been married for over 30 years, that should tell you something.”
I told them, “You’ve been together for over thirty years but trust me, I wouldn’t last a year in the same kind of marriage. I know you love me but allow me to also make my own mistakes. Don’t force people on me because you like those people. Allow me to choose.”
They thought I was hard-hearted. I thought they didn’t understand me. After all these years together, they still fight most times and they still stay together. Maybe there’s fun in there for them, I don’t know. But all I’m asking for is a chance, my own chance to choose and be chosen.
Is that too much to ask?
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