WHY AM I STILL SINGLE?

Why am I still single, you ask?
Sit down, let me tell you why.
It’s because I refuse to buy the lie,
I’d much rather pass by.
I’d much rather be alone,
Than let my heart turn to stone,
Because I have to harden it,
Against some fuckers bullshit.

Why am I still single, you ask?
Because I am that girl.
You know… that type of girl,
The one mothers and aunties warn you about.
The one who cannot take care of a man.
You know…the type of man they breed you to be.
Careless, clueless, helpless.

Why am I still single you ask?
Because I am bad ass.
With too much sass, too much brass.
To mess with someone as fragile as spun glass.
A man-child sitting on his lazy ass,
Too scared to take a difficult class.

So why am I still single you ask?
Stay seated, I’m not finished yet.
Because as lonely as I get,
I’ll not let myself forget,
The worst feeling of all: regret,
For all the miscalculated bets.

Image credit: Pinterest

River Call

Sailor man, think hard.
Before you set sail on my waters,
Think hard.
Chart your course, stock your supplies,
Secure your anchor, mend your sails,
Know your destination,
Before you set sail on my waters.

Know my tides, sailor.
Before you set sail on my waters,
Know my tides.
Learn my ripples, study my meanders,
Understand my rapids, my tributaries and confluences,
Know my depth, sailor.
Because heaven help you when you set sail on my waters.

Image credit: Artist Singh, http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-river-woman-artist-singh.html

Woman-Scorned

You hate me now
And I understand
No really, I do.
I’d hate me too.
But tell me something,
Was it your heart I broke?
Or did I just bruise your pride?
Because I never lied
My intention was never to be a bride
And yet you came
And came, and came…
For the fun
For the heat
From the sweetness
So why hate me now?
When you couldn’t say no?
When you couldn’t break me down
And build me to specification
When like a moth,
You flew to my flame?
Crashing into its heat
Burning yourself…

Easy

“You live in a fantasy world. One you created for yourself. One where things go according to rules that make sense only to you and you behave accordingly. To us here in the real world, your behavior makes you look crazy. Desperate. Cheap. Easy.”

Easy.

Easy.

The word ran through her mind over and over again. Its two meager syllables heavier than they should have been. Soaked with the accusation. Dripping with condemnation.

It is really strange as few people, no one she knew certainly,  would willingly choose a more difficult path if an easier path was available offering the exact same reward and no consequences. Presented with an easy and difficult exam, job, task, with the same outcome, everything being equal, most normal thinking people would choose the easy one. Even the laws of nature are biased towards easy. Atoms, after all, always seek to achieve the lowest energy state possible and will do whatever needs to be done to get there…high entropy, low energy, perfect disorder, the path of least resistance.

It really should, and could, be easy. And moreso for something like love.  What is easier than I am my beloved’s  and they are mine?

It certainly had been easy that afternoon. She’d come back from work, tired, Tired but wired with what she knew was unspent sexual energy. She’d stripped out of her clothes and lay spread eagle on her bed in nothing but her bra and panties, letting the cool breeze from her open window wash over her skin. It was hot outside, but she didn’t turn on the air conditioning. She liked the humidity – liked how it lay on her skin almost like a lover’s carelessly thrown arm. A warm weight, no less sensual for its innocuousness. Her eyes drifted shut and instead of indulging in one of her fantasies which inevitably would have led to orgasm, her mind conjured up his face. Almost instinctively, her lips curved into a smile. She couldn’t help it. The things she felt for him had come easily. And she’d let them come. Even now, the swelling in her chest, the hesitant hope, so different from the cynicism that was her hallmark had come easily, despite herself. The moistening in her loins came the same way too. Easy.

She chuckled.

Her phone had buzzed, the sound loud in her quiet room. It was an email from work. She scanned it quickly and after determining it was nothing that needed her immediate attention, she flagged it for review later. She swiped out of her email and did her customary social media check. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Nothing new. Double click, swipe up. She closed app after app which she’d left open on her phone, apps which ran down her battery. It was an old iPhone which barely could hold juice for two hours without dying. The last app was the camera. She couldn’t remember why she’d opened it but instead of swiping up to close, she clicked on it to open.

Send me a picture. 

His demand from the night before echoed in her head. She’d declined then as she had the first time he’d asked. And the next. And the next. As she’d always done.  The thought of that kind of picture of her in the hands of another person was too unsettling to contemplate. She’d told him that and he’d stopped asking eventually. But things had progressed…or so she thought. Now she wanted him to see. She wanted to share. She lifted the phone up and snapped. Once. Twice. Thrice. Then checked. She shifted position to get a better angle, then snapped again. She repeated the process till she got a catalog. Different poses. Different views. All communicating the same thing. All showing her just as she’d imagined they would. As she had feared they would.  Open. Vulnerable.

Beautiful.

7

She sent them.

It had been that easy.

The next time he’d asked, she had acquiesced. Easily.

4

As time had passed and things had become more intimate…or so she thought, the ease had grown.

1 3

“You shouldn’t have made it so easy. No man wants easy. You should have made him work for it. Made him feel like what he was getting is of high value. That is just how men from our side are. If they think it’s easy they’ll treat it as such. Easily gotten. Easily disposable.”

This line of thinking had always puzzled her. Why the need to make a man see her value, if he didn’t have eyes to see that value for himself in the way she lived her life? And if he didn’t feel like what he would be getting was of value, why would he pursue? Was she or any other woman valuable because they created the impression of being valuable? Or because of desirable intrinsic qualities whose value was not contingent on accessibility?  What was the real attraction? The unique qualities both good and bad, that made her who she was? Or the idea that she was not easy to get? Which really was a mistaken assumption. She was easy, laughably so. But to the right person – or who she believed to be.

What then if the aura of unavailability hid emptiness, boredom, vapidity, shallowness? Was the high value maintained because it was presented as valuable and hard to get?

And if that value had to be created and maintained with carefully chosen words and actions, at what point would it be fine to relax and be messy old self, without the risk of losing value? Where then, did the idea come from that love, the ultimate expression of the value you place on another, meant acceptance of that other, for who they are…not for who the make you believe they are?

And what about when, after the acquisition of the valuable was complete, and then the opportunity to pursue something else valuable – as defined as hard to get – presented itself?

What ultimately was held in high value? The creation which may not reflect reality? Or the reality, which like mother nature herself, simply might just want the lowest possible energy state?

And why treat people like objects? Possessions?

“I say these things to you because I care about you, but you will not listen to me. You are my friend and you have stuck with me through my own rough times. No one will tell you the truth about guys like I will, because I am a guy like them. I don’t want you hurt. But the path you have chosen, the way you want to live your life, the way you give yourself when you like a guy, will result in you being hurt over and over again, because most guys will just not get it. They will not get you. The society we live in will not get you and you will get hurt because of that. You will end up with the reputation of being easy and cheap even though we both know you are not.”

She heaved a heavy sigh. Resigned.

She gave freely. Always had. Probably always would, with the enduring hope, that the chosen the receiver would not only see the fancifully wrapped gift, or get lost in notions of value,  but would see the heart of the giver. Her intentions. Simple. Uncomplicated. Easy

Because she was.

Easy.

And that was OK.

Because things should be. If they could be.

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Photo Credit: bebeautifulla.tumblr.com

The Parable of the Flower in the Sun

The was once a flower, beautiful as can be. With petals big and soft and a rainbow of hues such as none had ever seen, it grew in the wild where all could see and admire its beauty. It took nutrients and water from the soil and enjoyed what sun it could get, each season  blooming and growing, shedding its petals to produce even more beautiful ones.

One day, the sun noticed this flower and marveled at its glory.

“I’ll go shine on it some more,” it said. “Surely, it could use some more of my nourishing light and warmth.”

And so the sun came and shone its light on this flower.

And the flower bloomed and grew, each season shedding its petals to produce even more beautiful ones. It loved the light, basked in the warmth and blinded all that came by with its magnificence.

Sunshine-Flower-High-Quality-Wallpaper

But then the sun grew smug.

“Look how much that flower wants my light. See how it blooms in my warmth! See how it opens its petals to my probing rays! See how thirsty it is for my focus…”

And so the sun, varied its focus. Some days shining bright on the flower, some days leaving it in the shade, some days never rising at all.

And still the flower grew, and bloomed and shed its petals just to produce even more beautiful ones.

Because that is what flowers do.

Letter to Chimamanda

Dear Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Aunty, I think I write on behalf of African women feminists everywhere when I say please, use your connections to have your husband be the first human being successfully cloned. This is an odd request I know but I have my reasons so let me explain.

You are a woman well on her way towards full self actualization. You speak your mind and you do so bravely, without much care to naysayers. You excel at your chosen career and do so with grace and power, neither overbearing nor full of that fake meekness that successful African women are expected to have. You take definite positions of controversial issues and your desire to preserve the dignity of all humans and not just some, comes through when you discuss your reasons for choosing the not so popular side.

You are a visionary. You see a better future for us Africans and you apply yourself to making this vision a reality, giving your time and resources. You are also honest about your shortcomings. Willing to lay them out so those of us who aspire to the path of empowerment have no illusions on the price we’ll have to pay.

You are formidable and intimidating and most African men will not survive the force of your personality.

And somehow, he does.

He is not bothered as far as we know by your prowess. He is content, it seems, to leave you to be the best you can be. The fact that you can be who you are and he still seems comfortable being married to you is a testament to the caliber of man he is and that caliber amongst our African brethren is rare indeed.

Some of us African women wish dearly to marry and build secure families with spouses who respect the road we’ve walked to become who we are. The paucity of that caliber of spouse leaves us frustrated.

The possibility of having him cloned gives us hope. We have dreams, that one day the fertile hills and grasslands, coasts and forests of the continent, will ring the happy sound of couples and families full of love and joy and mutual respect.

You are our brave sister, forging ahead on this path carrying the pennant of the kind of feminism that heals the wounds that patriarchy and tradition have left on our continent, so I hope you will see this request for what it is: a desperate cry for help.

Sincerely,

Find Palava Woman

Making it Happen or Taking It Too Far ?

I wasn’t going to write a blog post for Women’s Day. There is enough out there to read, see, listen to et cetera, I honestly was going to limit my contribution today to posting funny or thought-provoking memes on my Facebook page. But a conversation I have had with three different friends this week , got me thinking about something you definitely will eventually hear both men and women (especially if they are Cameroonian/African) say, if you ever were to participate in a conversation about gender roles, women’s empowerment and feminism.

“Some women take this [feminism] thing too far”

side eye

First, let me come right out and say it is all I can do not to scream when I hear these words uttered. Even worse, when they come out of the mouth of a woman. I literally want to jump up and down in frustration and don’t even dare come at me with that everyone has a right to their opinion nonsense, because in this case this opinion is organic, grass-fed, free range bullshit.

I’ll tell you why.

Often the people who say these words and their supporters, cite as the reason for their statement on the matter the “extreme feminists” – those women who for whatever reason have decided their feminism will not include men, or who have drawn some line that they will not cross. Granted there are extremists in the Feminist Movement, as there are in all other movements, but if you observe closely, however, the circumstances under which the  “taking it too far” accusation gets thrown out, especially among Cameroonian women, tend not to involve these so-called extreme, bra burning, man hating feminists. They more often than  not involve a situation where someone is demanding more from feminism, or trying to take women’s empowerment in a direction that the women saying those words are not comfortable with. In other words, someone is trying to extend feminism and empowerment beyond their comfortable little circle or idea of what feminism is or should be. What this translates to is that pretty much everything outside of education to a certain degree and employment, is “taking it too far.”  Even more so when you consider the extent to which patriarchy and its cronies – tradition and religion – are ingrained in the everyday experience of most Cameroonians.

And for that, one is taking it too far. Not making it happen. Taking it too far. Make it happen is only a catchy phrase deployed to imbue Women’s Day with the sleek coating of vision and accomplishment. In everyday life, with everyday matters, if one tried to push boundaries and run with the idea of the woman, whatever her age, tribe, culture, location or religion, as a fully empowered, realized and actualized human being, if one tried to break those barriers that hold women back from being all they can be (and note that not all barriers are the same),  that is taking it too far. The simple fact that the issue under consideration is not something the person saying “that is taking it too far”  has to deal with personally, or something that they have considered before, makes it a no go area for them.

Woman eh! Right?

Education was once taking it too far for women. I mean what did a women need education for? The kitchen and the bedroom were the only areas she needed to be seen or heard.

Then some people who were not afraid of being the kind of feminists who take it too far, pushed and pushed and women were allowed to learn ABC’s and 123’s. But just enough they could count the number of fish they had drying in the mbanda and write their name if necessary. No need to go overboard. That is taking it too far. Let them get some primary school education and that is fine.

Then some people who were not afraid of being the kind of feminists who take it too far, pushed and pushed and women were allowed to go beyond primary school to secondary and high school. But you know, so they can speak intelligently in public and not embarrass their husbands, maybe write a short letter and calculate change when they sell in the market. Nothing too complicated.University? Professional schools? Why? There are husbands to marry, children to bear, home and hearth to cater too. All that education for what? That is taking it too far….

Then some people who were not afraid of being the kind of feminists who take it too far, pushed and pushed and women were allowed access to universities, professional schools, But you know, let them be teachers and nurses and all those jobs “appropriate for a woman”. Never mind that this insults the men who have these jobs and are excellent at them, or that it cheapens what are very difficult jobs, to insinuate that they are so easy they should be left to the less able women. Advanced degrees? Doctors? Lawyers? Engineers? Those are a man’s job. And so it goes.

Same for women moving from secretaries to positions of leadership.

Same for women being able to own property.

Same for women being able to function as independent entities without the validation of fathers, brothers, husbands  or  male relatives.

Someone had to take it too far. Some one had to push the boundaries of what was known, accepted and comfortable for women. Someone had to disrupt the gender roles we so desperately cling to as if they add anything particularly valuable to our lives. What is even more maddening is the fact that a lot of the people you will see talking  about “taking it too far” are people who today benefit from the efforts of those who  were not afraid to take it as far as it could go at their time. Those women made it happen for themselves and the women to come after them and they made it happen by “taking it too far”.

So the next time you feel inclined to say a woman is taking things too far, stop and think about what it is exactly you are saying. Consider the fact that there are women very different from you, for whom what you consider “taking too far” may be baby steps in the struggle they have to face to achieve self actualization. Think about that and then for goodness sake, make it happen for them.