Tony is approaching his late thirties. This is the stage where depending on how high or low you are in socioeconomic ladder; it can be both a pleasant, as well as a horrifying age to be. For some it is where life begins, considering what people say that life begins at forty. For others it is the beginning of midlife crisis. The latter applies to Tony, who has not been able to talk a girl into leaving her parents and joining him in his house, in order to propagate the genes of the clan. Since marriage is a communal matter in his society, pressure has been mounting, both from his parents and also from the concerned members of the society at large. His mother has been bitterly reminding him, “Son, don’t let me retire to my grave without seeing my grandchildren.” This always hurts him very much, to see his own mother sad.
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Most of the ladies his age are already taken and have already done their part in filling the world. They are now busy discussing about the approaching menopause, so that is a no go zone. Besides, going after them is like trying to collect spilled milk. If he had been sharp enough, he would have captured one of them, but all he can do now is watch them progress in life, while he marks time in one spot. Neither can he go for those older than him, the society is against it. People have this belief that an older woman is likely to 'sit' on a man. No one will give respect to some henpecked man. Who can bear the shame of a man who cannot even cough in his own house, because the lady of the house is capable of unleashing uncontainable terror?
The remaining candidates are therefore those who are far much younger than Tony, the ones who are yet to differentiate between a national identity card and a voter’s card. This lot has given him much trouble. Apart from claiming that he is too old for and out fashioned for them, they are also very expensive to maintain. They want men who have vehicles, big houses and money, just like the ones found in Mexican soap operas. Men who are moneyed, are handsome, bring them flowers, men who can cry and kiss their feet. They want to enjoy themselves in clubs and expensive hotels. In other words, they have set their standards too high. Of course their standards will drop in the near future, but can Tony wait?
But what caused this delay in getting married? Tony blames his failure to work hard in school. He was among those who claimed that education is not a pair of shorts. This only meant that getting a job was not easy, because today’s employers are obsessed with quality academic papers. Those academic papers which assert that you have a very healthy brain, inside the object placed strategically above your neck, popularly called the head. Apart from that, he had wasted his early, mid and late twenties, overindulging in alcohol, at the expense of developing himself. Thanks to his love for the local brew he earned himself the name ‘mkebe’ derived from the local name of the tins used to serve ‘busaa.’ He only recovered in his early thirties and started gathering himself together, to indulge in economically viable activities. By then, most of his peers had moved on in life. Sometimes one of his classmates offers him a lift in his car and he feels very embarrassed.
He has been approaching a number of socially connected women and men to help him find a wife, but he has not been successful. This is because he cannot promise the potential wife a secure future. Call it maternal instincts, thanks to the process of evolution, because even though love is the foundation of most marriages, most women cannot bear the thought of going through life with a very loving husband and starving children.
Immediately he stopped taking alcohol, Tony joined one of the local churches and became very active. He even became a member of the choir and would be seen arriving punctually on Sundays and singing himself hoarse, during the church service. This was meant to hoodwink potential sisters in church into falling for him, but his tricks did not bear fruit. His presence in church lasted only six months, and then he went back to his worldly ways. I guess the sisters in church were not all that co-operative, because their maternal instincts were still strong; hence they wanted the best father for their off springs.
Recently, he brought a girl into his house. No one knew where she came from, but no one dared to question him. May be it was because they did not want to scare her away. The girl fetched water from the river and washed his clothes. She also swept the house. Most villagers were happy for him. His mother was also very delighted. At least she would now subtract the number of mouths to feed by one, since Tony would now be eating in his own house. A pastor was heard shouting ‘hallelujah.’ He even tried coaxing him into going back to church and hinted on a holy wedding to take place in church. We held our breaths in anticipation, waiting for the day the ‘big announcement’ will be made. Then one morning we woke up, only to discover that she had disappeared. What a disappointment! We can only wait and see.