Friday, February 3, 2012

EPISODE 44 – SEALING MY FATE

Macaulay Culkin, the child star of the ‘Home Alone’ fame got married in 1998 at age 17 and the marriage lasted for about two years before he and his wife separated and were eventually divorced in 2002. Shortly after, he had another relationship. They never got married but the relationship ended after about eight years. What point am I trying to make here? Why did Culkin’s marriage end at such an early stage? Could this be due to the fact that he was probably not ready at the time he got married? Why didn’t he marry the next woman he dated for eight years? Could this be due to the fact that his previous marriage had a bad effect on his outlook on life and marriage? I am not in the position to proffer definite answers but the options are surely worth considering. Statistics dating from the 1980s have shown that only one in eight early marriages actually last beyond ten years. The early marriage in this context refer to marriages at age 23 and below for men and age 21 and below for women. Well, there are exceptions of course but hey, majority always carry the vote, right?

I would not begin to condemn the fact that some people decide to get married at a rather early stage in their lives because let’s face it; age is just a number (as a lot of people conveniently say). Besides, maturity is usually not a function of age. I have seen nineteen year olds who are far more mature in thinking than thirty year olds but then again, that is one of the few exceptions. My conclusion is that before you get married, you should be emotionally ready for it. As folks would say, marriage no be beans! It is a serious issue and needs to be considered as such. God designed marriage to entail a lifetime commitment and not just something we go in and out of at will and therefore, before such a decision is taken, both parties need to be very sure they are ready. Marriage by convenience or compulsion is perhaps the greatest mistake we should never make and for those who have made it, roll with it (or get out fast!)

When Mrs Oki broached the subject of BG and I going to the marriage registry to legalize our union, I could sense the selfishness behind the idea. I was just twenty-one and obviously not at all ready to take up such responsibilities. She did not even bother to ask me if I loved her sister or if I was willing to go all the way. All she cared about was that some guy had impregnated her little sister and he must face the consequences by marrying her. Did she realize this was 2007? I wondered. We were not in the seventies or eighties any longer. Life had gotten much more sophisticated and such sentiments hardly mattered anymore. I realized I was being blackmailed into marrying BG because I had gotten her pregnant. I was glad however when I was able to tell her sister that we could not take such a step at that time.

I later related the situation to my mom on phone and her initial response did little to allay my fears.
“She’s right, Geebee,” my mom began. “You will have to marry her.”
I was stunned and unable to speak for a while. “Geebee?” she called, apparently in a bid to confirm if I was still on the line.
“Yes mom, I’m here.” I said.
“I said she has a strong point,” she added. “You got the girl pregnant and that’s the logical thing to do.”
“But ma, I am not ready for that now. I have not . . .” I defended but she cut in before I could say more.
“You should have thought about that before you went down the road of fornication.”

I was silent again. That was the first time she had condemned me ever since she learnt of the situation and at that moment, it took all in me not to break down into a sob. I could imagine how hurt she had been since she heard the news and how much it had taken for her not to get mad at me until now. By the time she spoke again, her voice had a different tone. I could sense she was struggling to hold back from weeping.
“It is well. I’ll come and see her family next week,” she said on a final note and ended the call without a farewell greeting.
I had been happy for a while since she had accepted the situation and hardly taken time to think of how she must have been feeling but at that moment as I sat, I realized yet again how much pain I had caused my mother. I broke down and wept bitterly.

True to her words, my mom traveled down the next week and accompanied me to see BG’s family. The venue of the meeting was Mrs. Oki’s house. Mrs. Oki had invited three other family members as well. I later learnt from BG that they were yet to inform her dad of the situation. Apparently, the man had been sick for some time and such news would have done more harm than good. Throughout the meeting, I sat down with my head bowed and did not utter a word. BG sat at another end of the room, striking an identical pose of sobriety. It was enough tension for us being present in the meeting where our fate was to be decided. Mrs. Oki gave a quick summary of the situation and made her stance on the matter known again. One of the women present then asked my mother what she had to say on the matter. I lifted up my head, hoping my mom would not go ahead to sell me out to this people by agreeing that I marry the girl I had impregnated.

My mom proved to be a life-saver yet again. In a most calm and respectful manner, she let the family understand that the two people in question were just kids who had made a mistake and equally shared the blame and while we deserved to be made to suffer for what we had done, there was a need for judgment to be tempered with mercy. She added that allowing us get married at that stage would do more harm than good especially considering how long we still had to go with our academics and careers.
“But he has destroyed her career already,” one of the unknown women cut in. “She has no career anymore thanks to your son but he is the man and he can continue with his life? No, he must marry her!” she added. Mrs. Oki nodded in agreement.
I wished I could slap the taste out of the unknown woman’s mouth but of course, that would probably have been the end of my career too. I wondered what my mom would say.
“I am not saying he won’t marry her,” my mom said. “All I am saying is; it is too early for that. We as their mothers need to help them.”
“I am just a school teacher and I have my own children to provide for,” Mrs. Oki said pointedly. “I don’t know what you mean by helping them.”
For the first time, I understood where the ‘marriage issue’ was coming from. These women were not ready to bear any burdens of an extra baby and wanted it out of the way as soon as possible. I sighed inwardly and decided Mrs. Oki had just added an extra coating to my loathing for her.

Eventually, it was resolved that BG would stay with her sister during the duration of the pregnancy until the baby was born and then, she and the baby would go and live with my mother where she would nurse the baby until she was able to return to her studies. I realized at that moment that my fate had been sealed. I was going to have to marry BG after all sometime in the future. Judgment day was bound to come. It had only been postponed a little further. I thought about my father and wondered if I wouldn’t have to break the news to him somehow. After all, I was going to make him a grandfather soon.

SEE YOU IN THE NEXT EPISODE OF THE GEEBEE CHRONICLES.

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