Recently, my sister four years my junior got married and at 28 in a community of 19 and married, I found myself subjected to the oh’s and aww’s of every single one of my mother’s friends or ‘Aunties’ as they are known to me. They expressed such concern for my singledom, from serving advice to offering their sons and the sons of others looking for a ‘good girl’ like me. But all offerings came with warning. ‘Don’t be too picky- you’re older now.’ ‘If you just lost a few kilos, who could resist you!’, ‘He’d never let you dress like that, he’s very jealous.’ And my very favourites ‘Don’t be so ‘talkative’, he’s a quiet boy’ and ‘He earns good money so you won’t have to work anymore!’ Yay me!
I smile and nod graciously and tell them I’m fine, only to their disbelief and silent ‘yeah right’s’. But with my being so expressive and having opinions and all, much to the dismay of all my potential suitors, I decided to write an open letter to all my worrying Aunties from myself and on behalf of all my sisters subjected to the same crock of shit. This is not directed at my beautiful aunties who take my hand and make a little prayer from the kindness of their hearts so that I may find my soulmate, no. This is to the whispering, the side-glancing, the judgemental aunties. The ‘change yourself or perish alone’ aunties…
I’m tired. Of all the sighing aunties who say ’28 and single, oh my!’ And the thoughtless girls asking me ‘Not him? No? but why!?’ I’m sick of being looked at like I’ve lost a limb or lost my mind when I tell them I’m happy and just fine.
Aunty, is he really that wondrous, this boy you speak of? ‘He owns a house!’ ‘He owns a car!’ ‘He was chosen at birth!’ Oh what a charmer! He prays to a god and gives his alms, doesn’t gamble oh and how well he treats his mother! That’s great, I get it, he’s unlike any other… He’s nothing like ‘N’ who promised me the world. Nothing like ‘D’ who ‘cherished’ my every word. Nothing like ‘M’ who took my heart and soul and nothing like the rest of them who leave women weak and cold.
This boy of yours, Aunty, he’s rich! Smart! A ‘something’ engineer! How dare I not throw my hands up and give him a cheer. Oh boy, be my One Direction, my Bieber, my Sheeran, my Drake. I’ll have your babies, sure, how dare I make you wait.
I’m tired. Of being told I’m fussy or too picky because I refuse to be whelmed, neither over nor under, by the simpletons I am presented. I’m tired of being called weird or odd because I don’t fit their mould. You see, I am the brights in a sea of fashioned nudes. I am the bookworm who’s heard it all before you’ve said a word. I am the know-it-all who knows it all before you have a clue. Do you dare try pulling the wool over my eyes, to try and block my soul? By God there is more life there than you could ever hold.
I refuse to be taken or kept, by neither man nor woman. I refuse to shy away from being unapologetically human. I refuse to pretend I need him, this boy, this man, this son of yours. Is he art? Is he music? Is he the whisper of my soul? Is his the voice I’ve heard, over and over, in the stillness of my core? Telling me ‘I’m here, always have been, it’s just not time for me to be your all.’
I get it. I’m older now. My body ain’t as tight. The twinkle in my eye ain’t as bright. The crows are landing on the sides of my eyes, a little more love hugging my thighs. My hands a little tougher now, my voice a little deeper. A girl like me could never compete or be considered a keeper.
Aunty, you want me to find a husband, but are you not the one who deemed me bygone? Put me in your pickle jar and placed me on a shelf, now a little too bitter, a little too tart, a little too sharp to be your precious boys wife?
Aunty, is it not you who fed your boy like a prince and washed his feet like a king? Telling him he’s the best looking boy whilst keeping him under your wing? Did you not laugh it off as he broke toys at three and played rough at four; chanted ‘boys will be boys!’ as he flashed the girls at school his pee-pee and threw tantrums on the floor?
Now he breaks hearts like he did toys and expects applause when he whips out his member. Expects to be showered with praise for every anniversary he happens to remember. Expects reward for existing and all the cheating he’s resisting and a pat on the back for not committing whatever heinous act he is thinking and foregoing all the horrible things he didn’t end up saying.
Oh Aunty, don’t cry for me in my lonesome state for I am more than enough for me. I’ve learnt to heal my wounds and guard my heart without a Mr. I’ve learnt to earn my keep, work for my bread and build my little empire. I’ve learnt to sleep humble and sound with a smile and peace of mind. I’ve learnt to carry my weight and worth in a world patriarchal and unkind. I’ve learnt to ease my mind and bide my time without a guide, oh Aunty, I’m just fine.
Cry for the betrothed yet lonely, the oh so phoney, the cheated on, the beat, the voiceless but so sweet. Cry for the aged and never loved, never travelled, never romanced, never hugged. Cry for the tired, the withered, the weathered, the unappreciated wife, the with-child and retired from passion and from life.
Don’t cry for me, Aunty. My bed is sacred, my pillow my throne. This is where a queen rests and heals alone. No one undeserving found in these sheets, no man deemed by paper has a right to mine own. My bed, my body, my soul, my heart; unclaimed and unused are better than depleted and ravaged by vultures, leaving me bare to the bone.
He knows not my roar, my power, my strength, my hunger or the passion for life I’ve drawn. I was crafted upon the Lord’s example; I am no bite, no tester, no sample. I am the mouthful of words he could never conjure, the strength he could never muster, the earth that grounds me, whole, complete and wonderfully full of wonder.
If he is to be my half, then let him be full. Let him place his glass beside mine and we can sing and dine and share our breath and our time. We can dance in the aether, sing in the rain, and when our time is up, we can go at it again.
So Aunty when you see me head high and happy, think not I am too fussy or too picky. Cry not for my state at 28 or for my sisters at 39. We refuse to settle for your sons car, his house, his ride, his unillustrated mind. Don’t judge me for not accepting his expenses at the expense of all of mine.
Oh Aunty, perhaps in me you see the woman you could never be. Look in the mirror and ask yourself when the last time was you were happy? With all your hopes and dreams placed in the pocket of a man at 19, perhaps unkind, unloving, narcissistic and perhaps blind? Perhaps I choose every day to be happy, hopes and dreams not left behind. I live. Day by day, I live. I create, I play, I grow. And with every day passed, I need him less and less, less than you’ll ever know.
I’m sorry I haven’t joined your club of married bliss, I’m doing all I can. I’m sorry you think this bothers me and that it’s a reflection of who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I truly hope one day I do; I’d love to find my man. But he won’t come until I’m whole as I know I wouldn’t accept or have him broken and only when I’m absolute will our ‘I love you’s and I do’s’ be spoken.
Please don’t sell me short, dear Aunty, with offerings of half-baked men. Their half-assed will and half-cast minds aren’t worth my life well spent. I’ve learnt that some meat is best served well-done and when he is good and ready, I’ll sharpen my knives and feast as he will upon me, a relationship soulful, a relationship carved in God’s name, a relationship true and healthy.
But thank you for your concern, I’ll take it and keep smiling. I just wish for just one second, you’d see what your focus on my life is hiding. How about you do you and I do me and we wish each other well. Let’s celebrate my wins, my career, my successes and the crazy in my whims. I’m more than just my surname. More than that ring. Look me in my eyes, read between my lines, tell me now if I really need that bling. Don’t cry for me, don’t sigh for me, don’t pitch your easy buy for me. I won’t rummage through your clearance sale bin so keep it far away from me. I’ll travel the earth far and wide to find my treasure; well-polished, well-kept, slightly rugged and most importantly, free.