“It is like this, I really can’t make up my mind if she is now redundant or her second value is non existent. Years ago Dayo was ready to have a stroke if Gbemi even hinted at having a boyfriend. I didn’t mind then. I agreed with him as I did not fancy looking after an illegitimate child while her school programmes was disrupted. So I joined and made quite a few threats myself. Dayo my hsband spoilt her rotten, gave her a car when she turned twenty one, rented her an apartment a proper flat not the famous one bedroom holes her mates were renting at that time.
Gbemi to all intents and purposes did not lack anything. She did us proud too at graduation, five prizes at faculty level and best graduating from the university. I felt a bit uneasy that she did not want to have a party as she graduated, but I shrugged it off. She did her masters and went to announce she was going to Scotland for her doctorate. I smiled and asked her when she was bringing a boyfriend home for us to vet. Gbemi shrugged that the man has not turned up. Suddenly I felt something was wrong, I remembered with shock that my daughter turned thirty a few months back, then I felt chills wondering if something was wrong with her. Seriously I started playing back in my memory the suitors that had been turned down by her father and how they had gradually dried up and I became uneasy. What have I done? Is Gbemi now on the shelf?” Tinu turned very worried eyes to me.
I wondered too. Gbemi is tall elegant, a really beautiful girl who should have been married a long time ago. What could be the problem? I made comforting noises to Tinu while I promised to have a talk with Gbemi at the earliest opportunity.
I had a chance a few days later when Gbemi came to see me. I watched this very beautiful lady come down from her expensive jeep as she scooped my grand-daughter in her arms. Gbemi loves children and would spend time with her young nieces and nephews. I commented that it seems she is taking her time about having children of her own. A frown came over her beautiful face as she replied that a woman needs a man before she gets pregnant right? I said yes but that I didn’t think she was in dire need of males as I was sure they would have been banging her door down. She gave me a look and flopped down on my worn couch and grinned.
“Aunty, Dad made such a do about me waiting for the right man and kept raising the bar that I think he made men redundant to me for a long while. If I could just get pregnant I probably will forget about the idea of marrying. I don’t want to be baby mama’ Gbemi made such a sound of distaste as she said the last two words ‘baby mama’.
“Hmm I see” was my comment but I wondered.
“Marriages are not just for the faint hearted you know” I told her wondering if maybe I should recommend Lola Babalola’s book to her.
If you keep looking for Mr. Right , you must be mentally ready you know I told her and we discussed what the issue could be.
“Aunty I am an old maid, looking for the kind of man Daddy says can make me happy, and if I am not lucky soon, I might just decide to remain a lonely miss in my big lovely house and expensive cars, men keep their distance, what can they offer me? I seem to have everything already. To all intents I might be on the shelf already”
There was silence as she finished, then she gave a bright smile but the smile did not reach her sad eyes.
Is your child on the shelf? I pondered for a long time. We all made such a fuss about getting an education, getting a career started and in the crush of our crowding ambitions left out the concept of thinking of starting a family. We need company along the road of the highway of life.
You might ask the question whether it was in anyway paramount in a woman’s life to get married at all.
As parents, and African, we are beset with the doctrine that we must carry on the line and we dream of the day when we sit at the high table as parents of the bride and groom. When we link our values with another family forming new threads and links.
As a parent we look forward to that day when the baby who cried anf held our finger is helped to start his/her own family. We feel we are discharging our responsibility as we hand over the baton.
However, we need to ask ourselves as responsible and effective parents, how well have we prepared our child to handle a relationship outside the family?. Have we made our child ineligible to have a healthy relationship?. Have we spoilt them to such a level that they can’t handle challenges of relating with others? Have we given such a doctrine that they are incapable of learning tolerance and understanding of strange moral codes and ethos that may be different from ours?. Have they become marooned on our myopic island that they cannot survive? Have we bred hothouse plants that wilts from the first puff of reality?
Is your child left on the shelf?