Personality Traits: Do I Really Want To Be Like My Parents?

Have you ever had that moment- when the preacher in church says something that made you feel really guilty? I had one of those moments last week, well, maybe not exactly but the concept is the same. The thing is, I was working on a school assignment – my Organizational Behaviour course, the topic was on Personality determinants and structure. I was busy enjoying my lesson when I came across this line;

Contrary to many beliefs, heredity factors are indeed major determinants of personality.

The moment I came across that line, every brain activity in my head stopped for what felt like a century. I felt scared…extremely scared. Despite my brain seeming to have logged off, I could smell and taste a strange bitterness in my mouth. Something felt wrong.

And something was definitely wrong. I tried to reboot my brain but it didn’t help that the next topic I came across was one covering Sigmund Freud. That man had deep psychological issues that no psychologist in his or this era could diagnose. The fact that I instantly connected to one of his theories scared the red out of my blood cells immediately.

I wondered to myself; did I really want to be like my mother and father. The first response I gave myself was a resounding NO. At that particular moment, I felt like I did not wish to have any of my parent’s traits. But before you think that I had very bad parents, let me tell you that I had the best mom in the world! So what about my father?  You ask. Believe me I am asking myself the same question too.

It is no secret for both my family and friends that my father and I weren’t close. But that is not to say he was a bad father. We just never saw eye to eye due to a whole other bunch of reasons. However, my mother was in-love with him and she stayed by his side until such a time he decided forever had run its course with her. She still stayed faithful to him to the very end, God bless her soul.

The things that make me not want to be like my father are things he did that I never liked. I do not know if it makes sense but generally speaking, my father was a good man, he loved a good laugh, he was jovial, extremely intelligent to the point of madness, he was good looking (I think?), tall… and whenever I watched him with my big sister, I could feel and see his fatherly love. To that extent he was a good father, very loving. But then again who wouldn’t love my sister? It could also be that she made it easy for him to love her and I built walls around me to completely shut him out. The evidence seems to support that assertion.

The other good thing I remember about my father is that he was a good spender. After his retirement, he broke all possible world records by dancing on all his benefits during the time it took him to actually receive them and get home to celebrate with his wife of over 20 years.

Even still, despite driving himself into bankruptcy, he was still able to have money and for years I watched him try one business after another. I still do not know where he kept finding the capital. Even if it was debt, I think he had some great skills on him to convince whoever it was that kept giving him money to keep giving it to him! He was a genius like that, my father.

He spent on his children excessively whenever he had the opportunity. Most of the time the opportunities where hard to come but whenever they did, it totally rained! Unfortunately, my father’s good qualities where like a curse on themselves…like a double edged sword. And it is because of this that I felt I did not wish to be like him.

His intelligence allowed him to come up with brilliant business ideas that would sometimes send him to the brink of insanity. He was a man out of control. A man who would not be swayed from his unrighteous path even if Jezebel herself stood naked in front of him holding a Bible. Whereas he had begun as a good husband when he married my beautiful mother, with time he turned into a very scary human being.

If I am to have my father’s traits, which ones would I really want to have? And do I even have a choice in the matter? Heredity is such a…..(there’s a word am tempted to use, but I will let your minds fill it in for me, thank you.)

I have had many people tell me to think about all the good that my father did for me and the family. Finding the answer to that task is like asking me to either; mathematically prove that 1 + 1 is actually 2 or, to immediately take the bar exam. I could tell you why I think 1 + 1= 2, but I cannot prove it to you mathematically. I would rather take the bar exam!

But let me try both;

He gave life to me.

For a while he gave me a home.

By marrying my mother, he gave me the best supporter of all time.

He gave me my siblings.

Am told my brain functions on the same wave length as did his….I am not yet sure whether that is a good thing or not but let us not think too much shall we.

Then we move on to my mother…why I felt I did not wish to be like her.

Margaret, a woman with unfailing faith in God; she held on to it even when the walls around her where crumbling onto her head, breaking her into pieces bit by bit. Once I asked her why she stayed in marriage and her solemn answer was, “because of you my kids.”

I do not know if she expected me to be pleased with her response but because of that very response, I had for many years erased any idea of marriage from my head. I was grateful for her sacrifices, and I still am. Had my mother left the man that contributed biologically to my being, my siblings and I would not be where we are today. Any other woman would have left…but she stayed.

Yet…that fact is exactly what makes me not want to be like her. I have seen her pain. I have lived through her pain. I dried her tears numerous times. I picked her bloodied body from the floor many times than I care to remember. I watched her beauty fade from the hardness of life. I watched her smile through the pain, always pretending to be happy. I watched her read her Bible faithfully even when her eyes where failing her. I watched her hold on to dear life just so she could see me graduate and get married. And then all her pain became mine.

She lost the fight.

I should die trying to be like her…but I don’t.

I do not want to have her personality. That kind of personality could drive me crazy. Therein lies too much pain with endurance as the only hope. Her pain was so much that she ended up naming one of her own kids Endurance! Seriously Mum???

I am not patient enough to wait for Paradise. I might desire to live there, but I keep hoping my journey isn’t as rough as my mothers. Her life was a tsunami.

The behavioural scientists believe that human beings respond to stimuli or vice versa, or that our behaviour can be conditioned or reinforced. They believe that every person has a different personality which is influenced by factors such as environment, situation, heredity, and physical. Even before we are born, we have no choice in who are parents will be.

But it gets worse!

We have no choice in the way we will look once we are born. We could try surgery but we will always remember how we were before. Those images never go away. Even cloud servers have nothing on them. Then we have no choice in the environment or situation we will be raised. If anything Sigmund Freud says about the structure of the mind is true, then I have a reason to worry.

At present, my personality is a result of how I wish it to be. Whether it is natural or not is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, it is something that has developed as a result of my experiences through life…the life that I have thanks to my parents. Growing up, I obviously had no choice in the experiences I went through but it is those same experiences that have stayed in my subconscious, always threatening to emerge thereby influencing the way in which I respond to different situations.

Even though I wish to believe that I am responsible for who I am, I know for a fact that who I was born from and how I was raised has much to do with everything I say or do. I can convince myself that I do not wish to be like my parents, but the things I learnt from them are the things I use to better myself in life; good or bad experiences, they’ve been most helpful.

I have lived most of my life hating a man who probably wasn’t even aware of his wrong doings and by doing so allowed him to still have a negative control over my life. I hated everyone who told me to forgive. I even hated God for allowing my mother to go through all that. My faith has been shaken numerous times and it is still fragile…but seriously, my mother should have seen something in it to keep holding on to it to the very end, right?

I want to see what my mother saw.

I want to know why she believed so much.

But the truth is, I don’t have the courage to start looking.

If I do start my mother’s journey, will I end up living the kind of life she did…always holding on even when it was humanly impossible? Is that what they mean by faith? Do I really want that? Do I really need to suffer like her to prove myself faithful? Dear Lord.

The answers scare my stomach enzymes into constipation itself.

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Her Glowing Shades of Temptation

stripper

Even before she appeared, he could smell her.

She dared awaken all his senses.

The little vixen.

Desire….he thought.

When she finally appeared, it felt like magic.

He had never seen sin look so beautiful.

Effortlessly, she carried herself…or so it seemed.

He was captivated by her every step,

Her legs must have made a deal with gravity,

She was a force to reckon with.

Shaken…his heart flattered.

Her hips swayed from side to side,

Her waist suggesting all evils forbidden to mortal man,

Her lips a deep shade of trouble.

She was dangerous.

And she knew it.

Seduce…she was on a mission.

When she smiled, he knew the universe had betrayed him.

Enchanted by her voice,

Taken in by her domineering presence,

He could do nothing but stare.

He swallowed hard.

Lust…his jeans became tighter.

When she touched him,

It was not with her hand.

For a moment he could not tell their bodies apart.

And when she sat in front of him,

One leg over the other,

There were more parts of her undressed than dressed.

He could see her red blood cells at work through her lace top.

Imagination had nothing on her.

She was the reality he had ever dreamt of.

Without touching, he felt her every caress.

Without realising it, he was responding.

Pleasure…he fed his eyes.

Her lips…or dear God,

Like two gates from behind which pleasure resided,

They glowed.

He thirsted for the juices that dripped from his imagination.

Every time she breathed, it was his heart that stopped.

Her presence was in itself pleasure to behold,

An epitome of things unclean and things most tasteful.

Lust…this dame lust.

That night when he lay awake in bed,

The snoring sounds of his wife gravely pronouncing

The contrast between night and day.

The woman beside him was nothing like the one he had earlier encountered

That one had pushed his soul to the very corners of hell

And made him wish he had stayed there.

She was a temptation even to the devil himself.

Whereas the beautiful devil had made the foundations of his loins hot with desire,

The woman softly snoring away beside him was warm and cuddly.

He watched her chest rise and fall,

Slowly, he moved her head to help her breath properly.

She felt his hand on her.

She opened her eyes and smiled at him,

Planted a kiss on his forehead and sealed the distance between them,

Attaching her naked body to his.

It was a body he knew all too well.

He knew he was home.

Content….he remembered his mother’s words.

When the Woman is the Breadwinner: A Shift in Power Dynamics

women in power

There is this beautiful woman I know. I will call her Mary.

Mary is a vivacious 30 year old lawyer who recently made partner at one of the most respected local law firms. Her salary is fatter than the waist size of her 10 year old overweight daughter and she drives one of those fancy vehicles with a name she can hardly pronounce. Mary is the ultimate working woman.

Unfortunately, Mary’s husband Joe has been jobless for over three years now, a fact that has caused a dramatic shift in the power dynamics in her marriage.

He still expects me to treat him like a man when he hasn’t been able to act like one for over two years now.” I have heard Mary say this many times.

Mary has even gone further to withdraw sex from her relationship because she feels her husband does not deserve it; a move that she’s paid for in more ways than the obvious. Ever since Joe lost his job, he has come to hate the word ‘man’ because his wife tends to use it quite a lot in most of their conversations…and it always carries with it a negative connotation.

These words: Man….Woman

I have always been of the belief that people are born either male or female… (or sometimes both) not by choice but because a group of chromosomes somewhere decided that it was best for this particular individual to be born that way. However, one does not become either a woman or man by default; this one is a conscious decision that one makes and to do so, they need to meet certain requirements. It is never just a matter of what lies below the belt and I think this is what Mary is always referring to.

Nevertheless, Mary’s attitude towards her husband left me thinking; why are the relationship dynamics so different when the woman is the breadwinner and the man isn’t? Isn’t Mary just being an ungrateful and disrespectful woman now that she has become such a hot shot lawyer? Human nature…eh? Always quick to judge. But as I listened to Mary’s reasoning, I couldn’t help feeling a little sympathetic towards her.

When women get married, they are meant to believe – directly or indirectly that the man will take care of them, provide for them financially whether he likes it or not, protect them, and love them eternally. Men too enter marriage with their own set of expectations from the woman; she will care for him, tend to his every need whether she likes it or not, take care of their kids, make a home for the family and love him eternally. These expectations are not necessarily written in print but they are there. And once these expectations are not met, problems will surely arise. Let’s for a moment put issues of gender equality and feminism in a little box we will open later. For now, let’s focus on what happens when there is a shift in expectations and the woman takes up the role of the man and becomes the breadwinner of the family.

I have heard people say that a man does not stop being a man just because he cannot provide for his family. What they should be staying instead is that a male does not stop being a male just because he is not in a position to be the kind of man that his woman expects him to be. A wise King will feel uncomfortable wearing the crown when he has found himself in a position where he cannot be the kind of King that his people want – when he cannot deliver. He might still wear the crown yes, but that won’t change the fact that he has failed somewhere. However, irrespective of all these issues, it is commonly accepted and rightly so that a man shall be the head of the house. Now I don’t know if that statement still applies when the man is incapable of providing for his family over a prolonged period of time or not. I am guessing issues of religion will have a lot to say about the answer to that.

But here’s what am thinking:

The vows – for better or worse, through thick and thin. What do these words actually mean?

Naturally, it is expected that when a man is down on his luck, the woman will be patient enough and trust that he will soon rise again and be the kind of man she expects him to be. But what if that never happens for say, two, three, four, and sometimes even five years or more? What happens to the power dynamics in the relationship? Because I am woman, I tend to see things clearly from the point of view of a woman…but I can try to imagine that of a man’s.

When two people get married, they become equals…well, not necessarily since the man we are told is the head of the house. But whatever either of them does, it should be for the interest of the family and should never be about “I, me, myself, you…” If the man is not in a position to provide for his family, what is wrong with a woman taking up that role? Why should it be a big deal when she is the one holding the financial realms of the family and not when it is the man? Why is it that women are so selfish with their money – the money they make is theirs but the money the man makes is for the family? I have heard most of my male friends ask that question quite often!

My answer to that question usually is that because we were socialized to believe that the man is the financial provider of the family. The woman is simply a helper. Just like a man expects that his wife will wash his dirty boxers, clean the house, carter to the children and to his every need, cook for him, iron…the list is endless, a woman has only one expectation – that the man will provide for the family financially. To use words that might lead to my crucification, I will say, the woman agrees to act like his maid with benefits and the man lives to pay his dues.

It is hard for women like Mary to continue playing both roles of the sexes and it is foolish of men to believe the power dynamics will remain unshaken if such a development occurs. While the woman works to earn an income for the family and then gets back home to play the role of the dotting wife and mother, what is the man doing to seal his role as head of the family? Just because it is written somewhere that by virtue of him being a man he is head of the house does not mean he should expect to be treated as such even when he has not done much to earn that title. And don’t get me wrong, it is not always a matter of financial responsibilities. There are other responsibilities that men have towards their families that make them head of the family. But right now I am mostly interested in the financial aspect.

Additionally, I feel I should mention that I am not assuming that jobless men are in that position by choice or that they are not doing enough to change that situation. I know of a number of men that strive every day to make ends meet because they know exactly who they ought to be for their families. However, the reason I found myself sympathizing with Mary is because her situation was quite peculiar.

During the first month of her husband’s joblessness, Mary understood his position and what he must have been going through. Here was a man who was once used to being on top of his game career wise and now he had no job. They both kept hoping for the best as days went by and the applications kept being written. However, after eight months or so, Joe became frustrated and depression slowly kicked in. Joe began to change. To Mary, he became nothing like the man she had married. The late nights, the rude responses, the phone calls from different women during the early hours of the morning…how his ever sombre face would suddenly light up when he received calls from those women. Why was he treating her like that? Was it her fault that things had turned out like that for him? Why was he taking it out on her?

Mary had done her best to become both man and woman of the house. Initially, Joe would try his best to help out his wife but as time went by; he completely gave up and stopped trying. Mary was human enough to understand his frustrations but just because she understood does not mean it made everything okay. Being human also meant she could get frustrated at times too. And the stress was killing her. She would come back home to find a dirty house, dirty kids, dirty plates, no cooked food, a drunk husband dead asleep on the living room floor…a complete mess. Here’s a woman who had just spend the whole day in a verbal war trying to convince a group of corporate giants to surrender their money and she comes home to this mess. Of course she was not pleased and she made that fact known in very precise terms.

What was worse for Mary is that on several occasions, she had to deal with confrontations from her in-laws who naturally assumed that she had lost respect for her husband now that he was jobless when all the while she had been ‘chewing’ his money with impunity. Mary had not changed except her husband’s family had gone into defensive mode thinking she was going to leave him. They were expecting her to leave him. At some point their frustrations towards her had become a matter of her not living up to their expectations of leaving.

Mary believes it was not her fault that her husband changed but it’s his guilt over his failure to get back to being the man he used to be that led to him turning out this way. And I agree with her. The trouble with such a development is that the one that has to deal with all of this is Mary and I find that very unfair. Love is based on feelings and feelings as we all know are fickle. If they are not nurtured, they tend to die. While Mary insists she is still in-love with her husband, it is very clear her perception of him has greatly changed over the past few years. He is no longer the man she married and whether that has something to do with him being jobless or not is still a matter of debate. What is clear however is that she cannot look at Joe the same way she used to.

Always, people will assume women are ‘unloyal’ especially towards a husband who is jobless. A man being jobless for a year or so isn’t a matter to cry over. Women understand that the world of employment is unfriendly. The problem most women have is if for over a prolonged period of time, a man is still jobless yet he does not help out around the house. He still expects his wife to do the home work and to work a job at the same time. What’s worse, he expects her to give it to him in bed with as much vigour as she used to when he used to have a job. Unlike men, women tend to associate sex with feelings. They don’t just respond just because something naked is standing in front of them. This means that if she is feeling tired, stressed, frustrated and very pissed, she won’t give it to you the way you want it. It is not that she doesn’t love you anymore; it is because you have done enough to consider her feelings.

Yes there are certain types of women who will lose interest in their men once they become jobless and those women are what we call gold diggers. But not every woman who gets frustrated over her husband’s joblessness is a gold digger. It is the circumstances that arise from such a development that might lead one to change completely. I wish we would not be quick to judge.

career women

Now to open the Feminism and Gender Equality box, I think it is only fair that if a husband or man is jobless and the woman is the breadwinner, let him at least take up certain responsibilities around the home to ease the wife’s work load. And I think it is because this is rarely done that women get frustrated. Do you think a working woman would complain about her husband’s joblessness if he did his best to meet her half-way despite his situation instead of leading himself into a depressive state and trying to rediscover his fading masculinity by sleeping around with any woman that can scream his name in ecstasy?

Not every woman who can take care of herself financially wants a rich or working man. They just want a man who can meet them half-way. Personally I think it’s unfair for such a man to expect his hard working woman to still carter to his every need and do all the chores around the house while he does nothing. He was the first to cause the power shift in the home whether by his own doing or by nature’s doing. And once that happens, other things around the home will change too.

This excuse of ‘I was out all day hustling and trying to find a job so am tired too,’ does not cut it. Just don’t let the woman do both your job and hers at the same time and still expect her to treat you the same way. Just because she understands your predicament does not mean she will not feel frustrated every now and then. If she is doing your role as provider of the family, why can’t you do her role as home maker instead? If she is man enough to step up to the challenge, what can’t you?

Chronicles of my Mother: Chapter One – The Unexpected

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

blog profile picMy name is Stella. Yes, you can just call me Stella. I have changed all the names and places in all these stories I am about to share with you, including mine for reasons that will become obvious soon enough. You see, I lost my mother in a terrible accident two years ago. Her death was sudden and very unexpected. My mother was a very healthy and lively woman who was respected by everyone…well, almost everyone in society.

If not for her character, she was mostly known as a counsellor although her work was just shy off that of a professional marriage counsellor with a fancy certificate hanging on the wall. Before I forget, my mother’s name was Beatrice. That is what we will call her. She had been married to my father for over thirty years before he died from Malaria years ago. My parents where the happiest and most suited couple I have ever known which is why it was no surprise that everyone treated her with so much respect and came to her for marital advice before they got married and/or after they got married.

Unfortunately, or fortunately (I haven’t yet decided), in her will, my mother left me the house which we lived in and with this house came the huge room she had used all these years to conduct her ‘sessions.’ It was while I was going through her office to try and get a feel of her for the last time before clearing the room to be used for something else that I came across her diaries…diaries that have a record of every little detail of what transpired inside the walls of this office. The first time I found the diaries, my conscious told me not to open them but instead to go straight in the backyard and burn all of them to ashes. And I did exactly that!…well, maybe not exactly, but I did go all the way to the backyard and stood there contemplating whether to burn them or not until I eventually convinced myself that I would need more time to think about it.

And so I took the diaries back to that room and locked it behind me. For the weeks and months that followed, I kept thinking and thinking; to burn or not to burn? Before I realised it, a year had passed and I still had not decided what to do with them.  Fortunately, the decision came to me like a thief in broad daylight, unexpected. A married friend of mine was having problems in her marriage and she came to my place to “get some fresh air,” was what she first claimed. But the truth of the matter was that she needed someone to talk to and me being a very single woman, she did not think it was a good idea to share her marital problems with me. I had seen her on different occasions having deep conversations with my mother whenever she visited me but I never bothered to inquire the details of those conversations.

You see, despite having such a brilliant and wise mother, I knew that there was a huge part of my mother that was disappointed in me because at thirty-five, I was still not thinking about marriage. Who would want to get married after seeing all those millions of people coming in and going out of our home all with their own set of marital drama, seeking guidance from a stranger who had not even been there when they were throwing vows of everlasting love at each other? When I was a kid I used to wonder why my mother used to take longer than the rest of us in confession but as I grew older and saw all those people coming and going, I had an idea of what sort of demons she was fighting with. I wanted no part of that circus and I preferred living my life free from all the drama. But that was two years ago.

I had been on the phone for what felt like forever flirting with some idiot I was hoping would give me a deal on renting some spaces on the soon-to-be opened shopping mall when I heard a knock on my door. It was my friend Nomsa, the very married friend I mentioned earlier. For the next thirty minutes or so, I sat there and listened to her complain about how much life sucked and how she wished my mother was still alive so she could tell her what to do. Thinking back, we were like a twosome of fools, crying and hugging each other and both praying a miracle would happen. But my mother never showed up that day or any other day after.

That day as I watched Nomsa leave my house, I made up my mind to open every one of those diaries to look for the answer that my friend was in desperate need of. I hang on to the hope that there might be someone who might have had a similar problem who came to my mother and got the advice that she was looking for. What if from her grave, my mother could still help out all these people? That night I searched for the diary that was dated the oldest from among them all and from that day forward, my life has never been the same. I went in those archives looking for answers but I found way more than what I bargained for. I found love, hate, temptation, scandal, sorrow, happiness, humour, laughter, tears, complications, secrets, lies, betrayal…and everything else that you can think of that is made up of life!

Over the next months, I will steal a glimpse from a page in my mother’s mind and hopefully, like Nomsa and I, you can also learn one or two things. But, instead of keeping you waiting, here’s a snippet from the story of Brenda and Richard as seen from the eyes of my mother:

Excerpt from Chronicles of my Mother: Chapter Two: The Case of Brenda and Richard

I sat there studying the two of them. I knew that one of them was to blame for how things turned out but of course I could not tell them that. The last thing they needed was for one of them to be handed the weapon to attack the other. What these two needed was time…time to heal all the wounds and erase all the bad memories. Looking at them looking at me with eyes filled with expectation, I feared I was not the right person to give them the miracle that they were hoping for. I am after all only…a mere mortal.

Every part of my body wanted to jump up and tear at something but there I sat, smiling at them as if I had the password to opening heaven’s doors. “I want it to go away,” Brenda said. I found it amazing that she still had any form of liquid left in her system after all that crying she had faithfully committed herself to. I poured her another glass of water. Oooh, the poor soul.

“Nalema,” she buried her face in her palms. “Nalema amai…” she said, slowly raising her head to look up at me. “If she says she’s tired, what do you think I am feeling after going through all of this?” Richard asked. I could see him clearly fighting off the tears threating to pour. Now here was a true representation of his species.

“Brenda my dear,” I moved closer to her and took her hand in mine. “Can you tell me again why you did it? I know that somewhere at the back of your mind, you must have a reason. I need you to stop crying for a moment and just think….think back to that time when you felt it…think my dear…just think….”

As if waiting for forever to come, we waited and waited. When Brenda next spoke, it was to rudely waken me to the fact that even at my age, there were still people that could surprise me.  

Watch out for Chapter Two of the Chronicles…coming next!

Spousal Rape: The Blurred Lines

 

violence

My attention today was caught by this headline in today’s Post Newspaper, ‘Woman, 24 Denies Raping Husband.’

“The 28 year old husband reported to the police that he was asleep when his wife undressed him and started performing sexual acts with him….” The report read.

You see, with me, every time I read a report of this kind, I am forced to take a side or to assess the facts by putting myself in either the man’s position, the wife’s position, or the judge’s position. I will be the first to admit that I do not have enough knowledge and  experience in Criminal law or Civil law, but maybe it’s that little aspect of law that’s still in my head from my studies in Labour Law…because I am ever assessing things!

Or perhaps I am just human.

At first, I was just curious.

But then as I continued reading and found the above caption, my mind went all wild on me! “Seriously,” I said to myself, “if this is what they call spousal or marital rape then believe me all women in this world have been thoroughly raped before and are still gonna get raped in future!” However, the moment I finished telling myself that, another thought occurred to me; “Why am I being so biased, it can happen to men too judging by the standards above. ” unfortunately, because the report did not give much detail about the event, I could not come up with a convincing conclusion just for my own personal satisfaction. But the article still managed to raise a lot of questions in my head.

I have always been of the belief that marital or spousal rape occurs when one spouse demands or takes sexual pleasure from their spouse who has not given consent, who has been forced, or is not in a position to give consent.” I don’t know how valid or legal my assumptions are but based on that understanding….and this is where the lines become blurry…on the standards of, “not in a position to give consent,” then I guess the wife in the paper is absolutely guilty of rape! But tell me, would the charge still hold if it was the other way round; if the woman was the accuser and the man the offender? And where exactly does the law, customs and religion fit into the picture?

Like I said, I don’t know much about Law so I will stick to things I am most familiar with; Religion. I bet you know the verse I’m driving at…I’m thinking Colossians 3:18, Ephesians 5:22, 1Peter 3:1… All these verses have one thing in common, “Wives, be submissive to your husbands!” Oh dear, someone must have really had it in for the poor woman neh. But then again we have this Bible Verse that seems to reverse all the above verses; “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church…” Ephesians 5:25.

From the time we were able to loudly say the words ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’, we knew how sexual mechanisms worked. And from that time forward, Biology has kept insisting that men think about sex way more than women do. Some psychologists have even gone further to argue that this is a likely reason why more women get raped than men! Unbloodylievable I tell you…

Now let’s talk tradition and culture. How many African women (I don’t know about women from the rest of the world) have been told before getting married that if your husband demands sex from you, whether you are tired, not in the mood, on your menses, and all those other disturbing possibilities you can think of, they’ll tell you, “Never should you say NO to him. He can have you whenever he wants and wherever he wants.” Dame they’ll even tell you not to sleep with your back to him because he needs to have access to you at any time in the night! Oh hell, didn’t anyone ever tell these people that a woman can provide access even from the back??? But that’s just me thinking out loud.

So, given this scenario, if an African man, without waking his wife from her sleep gets sexual pleasure from her…can we still say its rape? And what if it was the other way round? And to take this a little further, does the law make exceptions for cultural and traditional beliefs? I understand in Zambia we have customary, statutory as well as common law, and we even have specific courts trying specific cases. But is it possible that all these types of laws take into account the local customs and religious beliefs? And if so, I would love to understand how. Could it also be possible that they might be conflicting at some level? If so, what happens then?

And what’s up with all those reports of spouses suing each other when one withdraws sex from them? “My wife sleeps in leggings to keep me from touching her at night,” “My husband hasn’t made love to me in four years…” so on and so forth. In every weekend newspaper I read all these crazy reports and it’s starting to get confusing. Where do you draw the line? And today we have “My wife performed sexual acts on me without my consent….” Could it be possible she assumed he would be aroused and then respond to her? Could it be something that would have been resolved through communication? Just what exactly did she do to him to force him to report her to the police?  Oh hell, I don’t know. Anyway, what’s going to happen to being a little spontaneous, innovative, imaginative, and all those not-so-decent words we use to describe our sex lives?

I dare not say that this is a gender issue because belief me, I also want to be given the opportunity to make moves on my husband in the middle of the night without having to worry about being sued! Sex should never be a one way street for anyone. If anything, the world (and especially Africans) should be wary of sexually starved women. They can be quite lethal too!

IN A MAZE OF LOVE

maze

Excited.

Joyful.

Happy.

Loved….

I am all of these things most of the times.

Tears.

Sorrow.

Despair.

Fear….

I get to feel these every once in a while.

Friday evening, I was standing by the balcony. All alone.

I remember everything.

I raised my head up to let the cool breeze caress every inch of my face. A few minutes ago I could hear the most melancholic melody playing, tantalizing every buried memory in my head. I could hear the hooting and honking of cars as the drivers negotiated their way through the evening traffic rash.

In the distance, I could see kids shouting and jumping in excitement…seeming all unaware of their surroundings. I could even hear the cries of a baby, mercilessly announcing its displeasure over something. And then…and then came the sweetest sounds of a lullaby, seductively gracing my eardrums and slowly…slowly…slowly…the cries began fading away.

But so did everything else.

Suddenly…and I mean very so suddenly, I heard the first drop hit the floor… and then the second. I moved my feet back a little and looked down. I had seen seasons come and go. I saw leaves dry and weather, I had seen the greens and the fruits in their most beautiful form. I got rained on a few times, hell I felt so hot at times I had to walk around the house naked.

But it was still winter.

I quickly reasoned. This was no rain.

My hand instinctively went straight to my face.

Teardrops.

Was that me?

I jump.

I fall.

I run.

I walk….

These are the little things I do every now and then.

Feeling.

Feelings.

Feelings.

Feelings.

Why do I feel so much?

I took a walk a few days ago.

I kept walking and walking and walking.

I was lost.

My mind is a beautiful maze of things unknown and words spoken very so lightly.

Sometimes I even scream.

Oh no, he does not hear me.

But clearly, something was on my mind.

I stopped and sat on the bench by the side of the road.

Somehow, I got a deep feeling that for quite a while I had not been thinking of anything at all.

He smiles at me.

My heart skips a beat.

I blink.

I blush.

I look away.

He still doesn’t understand.

Love?

I heard him ask.

I laughed, ever so softly.

Love, you ask?

I replied.

Love to me is all these things and more.

I do not cry because I am sad.

I do not walk alone because am lonely.

Love??

I do not only see roses.

Or kisses.

Or hugs.

Or happiness.

And all those bright and colourful things that you are thinking about.

I have loved even before I knew the concept of love existed and I have fallen in love at least a couple of times growing up. Love to me also means sadness, worry, stress, anxiety, tears, pain and all those dark things that come to mind. Sometimes it even means loneliness. I cannot say I have loved if I have not experienced the good and the bad together. I am always hoping for the best but I also expect the bad to happen along the way. Just like the night gives way to the day and vice versa to make a complete day so does sadness and happiness combine to bring about love.

I get scared.

I get afraid.

I get jealous too.

And then there are those tiny moments when I feel a little insecure.

There have been times I have even gotten mad at God.

It was July. I remember.

In the wee hours of the morning.

I watched a woman who to me was the epitome of everything good die. I stood on the side, my hands tightly clenching hers, and she too holding on to me as if for dear life. I watched slowly as every drop of life got drained from her…bit by bit. I have seen a lot of pain before in my life but never before had I felt it to such a degree.

I could smell it.

I could feel it rip my insides to pieces.

That night I even touched pain.

I had been transported to the darkest and deepest parts of hell and came back smelling blue.

I was mad.

I was angry.

I could barely contain it.

I had a lot of questions back then and I still do.

Why her??

Faith.

Faith, you ask?

Do not ask me why I felt like that.

Instead, ask me how it feels to be human.

And if you do,

I will tell you that this too is Love to me.

Love can bruise you every now and then.

You will cry.

You will fall.

And you will get disappointed.

But Love will not let you suffer alone.

It will not leave you in despair.

Love will also give you the antidote.

This too is what love means to me.

Every now and then I worry about the safety of my loved ones.

Why is she late?

Why didn’t he answer his phone?

Is her seatbelt on?

Sometimes I even get a little foolish in-love.

I cry when I wake up in the middle of the night and watch you sleep peacefully beside me; how can anyone so beautiful inside and out be mine? Sometimes I still cry just thinking about all the blessings I have been granted over the years.

You have told me that I look more beautiful when I smile.

That you do not like the sight of my tears.

But do you know that at times,

The glitter in my tears is because I love you too much?

Do you know that sometimes…

I get upset only because I want you to hold me?

I can see he understands me now.

He hugs me from behind.

My heart skips.

I can smell his love.

Here’s me wishing that you never stop loving me.

Can we make it so that we never have to make wishes….

Instead of wishing, how about…we just do.

Can we not look back at the good old times….

How about we just make every memory past, present and future…

Can you love me for that long? And as you love me…

Can we strive to have more of the good than the bad?

Now here’s me wishing that you never stop loving me.