A PASSAGE FOR NNENNE

4

It was the stuff of a satire, were it not painfully true. Nnenne sat silently on a black-spotted Ankara patterned sofa surrounded by chattering friends and coworkers. She and a handful of friends at Lolo’s urging – her childhood friend and workmate, had gathered at her residence to celebrate a hard-fought promotion greeted with the sort of joy reserved for the winner of a national election. It was inevitable given that the cooperate culture at O-Town’s medical centers placed women in subservient roles. It was deserving of applaud, worthy of a party.

She gulped a bottle of Heineken over joffof rice, fried chicken served with sliced vegetables, and baked beans mixed with mayonnaise. In addition to the sitting-room doors, the dining area windows were flung wide open due to March’s dry season’s heat that rendered the overworking air conditioners ineffective. Had she been right to honor this invitation? She accosted herself in self-scrutiny. Maybe, she’s one too – Okë Mgborto*. Ladies who go around broadcasting how fine they are without a family to care for, a husband to order or supervise them. They enjoy sizable disposable incomes and lots of free time, unhindered travels to London and Dubai on shopping sprees, adopt expensive hobbies like collecting pieces of jewelry and posh automobiles, and throwing lavish weekend pool parties – all the while obsessing about getting a Mr. Right to marry.
As she was ruminating over this, two loud ladies in their early 50s, dressed not so sensibly for their age and not yet on overdrive with the Jack Daniel’s cocktail they were sipping, caught her attention.

“Adanee, you’re still with the bureau of Statistics?”
“Yeah!”
“I ran into your boss – Nze Ngozi Amadi, at a conference in Ibadan last week.”
“Mtchew, that parrot, she thinks a woman’s God-given purpose is to get hitched and breed.”
“Even in this modern day and age such a progressive mind still thinks so?”
“She’s not alone. Society still considers unmarried women failures and misfits.”
“Does she tell you that?”
“No, she knows better than to say so to my face, but occasionally her foot-soldiers deduce am not a ‘Full woman’ as if I’m a mutant.”
“A middle finger for those half-ass men”
“You mean the John Benson husbands of this world.”
Both ladies laughed while jovially shoving each other, definitely the whiskey was kicking in.
“It’s a brave new world. The thin line between being a husband and a wife is getting blurrier by the day.”
“I better get me a willing male and pay his dowry the John Benson way like your boss.”
“That will be lit.”
One of the ladies raised her glass as if proposing a toast.

Common sense is the most important sense of all. Listening in, Nnenne resolved to call Arinze to let him know she’s in her first trimester. Singleness can be hard work, so also grinding marriage and parenting. Can you have your cake and eat it? If Arinze can’t live up to what society expects of him, then the impossible will become a reality. She hopes custom wouldn’t be stiff-necked to this truism.
It’s about time I meet my in-laws for an introduction, Nnenne decided.

*Okë Mgborto: Ibo expression for unmarried ladies that have passed their prime.

(To be continued)

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© Ugo Nkwoala | Spilledwoords.org | 2020

Photo credit: Michael Discenza for Unsplash

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