Dike Chukwumerije: No Straight Lines In Marriage, My Brother

Dike Chukwumerije: No Straight Lines In Marriage, My Brother

Thoughtful couple calculating their monthly expenses

The most annoying thing about Love is that it makes people feel like doing things for you. So, they will come in the morning, before you wake up, and re-arrange everything in the name of tidying up. That is how you will now get up and start asking yourself stupid questions. Where is my toothpaste? Where is my comb? Where is my pant, the one with the leopard print, that I must wear every Tuesday unfailingly, for good luck? I have been doing this for years before I met you. You cannot just come out of nowhere (by now you have forgotten the multi-million naira ceremony you organized to marry this person) and just start moving things around. No! No! (Repeated twice for emphasis.) Do not ‘honey’ me anything. Just tell me for God’s sake – WHERE IS MY PANT?

I will tell you, my brother, before you destroy that vein pulsating on your neck, Love should never really insist on straight lines. Because in the exact same period you are TOTALLY focused on chasing down eternal glory at your place of work, the little ones are growing, and Madam is acquiring the habit of hiding away Size 12 dresses in the eternal hope of returning one day to her own days of glory. Or maybe it is you, my sister, who had the ten year plan neatly filed away at the registry – how baby one will be a boy (so mother-in-law can stop scheming to replace you with Mgbeke), and baby two will be a girl (so you can finally practice your quaint thoughts of how to make the perfect shuku on somebody else’s head), and baby three will be two house-helps, a gardener, a gateman and an uninterrupted career – maybe you are the one who has now discovered that life is what happens while you’re planning how it will happen.

Not to worry. There’s always something slightly unhinged about our best friends. So it is with Life as well. Yes. And another definition of ‘boring’ can arguably be ‘knowing today what will happen tomorrow’. So, I had a jumper once, you see, with a zipper down the middle, and a really cool collar that wrapped round my neck exactly. Then Love decided one day (against my protestations) that it could do with a wash. (I can tell you now for free, it is something else that will end with commitment, the comforting habit of wearing yesterday’s socks today and tomorrow). And when I came home, my brother, it was to a devilish meal, an impish smile, a soothing stroking of my upper arm, and the trickiest words a sweetheart can ever utter (be warned) – ‘Promise me you will not be angry’. All because my jumper had shrunk. On a day like that – after you have swallowed the bait and regurgitated the promise – you can only look up to the heavens and pray this prayer, ‘At whose hands will I die, O Lord – my many enemies or this my lover?’

Because, honestly, these children will give somebody a heart attack one day, switching off the Dstv (by mistake) just at the moment Messi shifts the ball through the legs of Boateng and positions that notorious left foot for a shot. Eh? Do you know how long it takes to re-boot a Dstv? These are the sorts of foolish questions you will now find yourself shouting at a one year old. Please, how old must we grow to out-grow stupidity? Don’t be angry, for that is how she may also respond to you that morning. I say, how old must we go grow to outgrow stupidity, eh? So, because you are late for a meeting, you cannot even appreciate all these things I do for you? Then she will hiss like a gunshot and, just before slamming the door behind her, snap: Your leopard pant is in that drawer.

My people, sometimes, you will wear the tie you do not like, fix the weave-on that gives you headache, swallow the dinner you know you will regret – and do it all with a wretched smile. That too is a definition of Happiness.

Dike Chukwumerije is master of the spoken word, slam champion and winner of the maiden edition of The African Poet Nigeria (TAPng) National Poetry Slam Competition. He is also a literary advocate, dedicated social activist and part of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change in Abuja, Nigeria. One of his novels, The African American, was long listed for the 2012 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. He is on Facebook where this piece was originally published. Republished with author’s permission.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. 

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