Head 5 – Mama’s Advice
Mama used to mention that the reason daddy left was because she barely paid attention to her looks. She’d cry whenever he compared her to the slay queens that prowled the streets, waiting for men who were too weak to fall for their alluring ruses. Mama had a habit of staring in the mirror whenever she recalled his words. I felt she was staring at her dying soul anytime she sat in front of the mirror. She never enjoyed her marriage. It was an emotionally abusive marriage and leaving her marital home did her more good than harm. Mind you, I do not support divorce, but I knew the heat mama was facing, and it was good she got out of it.
My parents separated when I was fifteen, which I probably mentioned earlier. They parted ways after my fifteenth birthday party. Isn’t that sad? Mama packed our luggage and we left for Ghana, leaving daddy in Jamaica. I was convinced that we would never go back to Jamaica!
Mama was a conventional housewife, relying exclusively on daddy for all of her needs and wants. She was the one who always kept the house squeaky clean, cooked all of the mouthwatering dishes, and then attended to her husband right after seeing to my needs. Mama barely made time for herself. And there was never an outing, vacation, or surprise from daddy to appreciate her efforts. Nothing!
Daddy’s sole purpose in life was perhaps to spend his fortune on young girls whom he admired. Unfortunately, not even a dime was given to Mama. And he would often call her names when she attempted to look her best.
‘Even in rags, you manage to look fine, huh?!’ He’d chuckle and stroll by her.
I felt enraged and from that day onwards, I lost total respect for him. I vowed never to call him ‘daddy’ again. Ever!
When my friends came to visit, they’d assume Mama as the housemaid and treat her with disdain. Trust me, I never entertained those friends again.
You see, Mama became unemployed after she gave up her job to ensure that I turn out well. When she announced her intention to quit her job, daddy agreed to meet her needs. So with that positive assurance, she resigned from her job as a land economist with a private firm. That was the beginning of her woes. She was always clad in tatters. She eventually shut herself up from the outside world for years.
After the separation, she decided to build her life again. And she did so by applying for opportunities to share the story of her failed marriage.
Months later, she scored a speaking gig with an international society. That was the dawn of a new era in her life. She hit the nail right on the head that she attracted a large audience that could relate to her marital problems, and that was it! She became a top-notch author and a public speaker. Her book sales shot up like rocket science all around the globe. She smelled like cash. Money and respect chased her in every direction.
I noticed something new. Mama took off her wedding ring and returned it to daddy. She was done! Unfortunately, daddy was wallowing in poverty. His little girls had drained him of all his energy, milked him dry, and taken French leaves.
Mama’s sense of style was unrivaled even by Tyra Banks and Kim Kardashian. She went from rags to a fashionista in no time. I was her handbag. Oh boy! From America to Paris, all the way to Venezuela! I toured the world with her. I knew I’d be at ease with this lifestyle, yet it came to an end far too quickly.
Daddy filed a lawsuit against Mama for abandoning him. It became a year-long saga that ended with Mama’s unexpected death. But there’s one thing that constantly makes me smile: she never connected with daddy again. She never willed any of her assets to him. She acknowledged his forgiveness but never accepted him back.
I sat next to her in the bedroom one time as she got ready for an event. ‘If you ever fall in love and your partner urges you to abandon your career, think twice Obianuju,’ she remarked, smiling at her reflection in the mirror. Before you say yes or no, consider the future, because your fate as a career woman will be sealed.’
I nodded. Then I asked, ‘why didn’t you ever dress up for daddy?’
She let out a sigh. ‘I used to do. After I quit my job, he vowed to see to my needs. I took his word for it, and that was the last of me. It is, after all, quite dangerous for a woman to marry without a means of income of her own. For such a woman, her husband is likely to treat her like a nobody. Every dime the man earns is likely to be spent on other women and projects, putting his wife in jeopardy. Although not all men are like this, the majority of them take their financially dependent partners for granted.’
I chipped in. ‘so in brief?’
‘Obianuju, before you fall in love, get a well-paying job. Also, never quit your job because your lover suggests it. Go a step beyond. Pose questions. Because if your man falls, you must be able to assist him to get back on his feet.’ And that was it!
Daddy is still alive, but he lives in a church mouse’s world. I’ve forgiven him, but we don’t have much in common. In my heart, he has no place. And of course, he means nothing to me!