Travelling to her hometown for Christmas had lost its appeal for Chidimma. What used to be a fun experience during childhood had metamorphosed into a traumatic one. She was pushing thirty-five and still no one had come to “pluck the flower” from her father’s compound.
At first, being single proved to be adventure-laden. She had gone on a journey of self-discovery and had learnt how to be more independent than the 4th of July but when all four of your kid sisters get married and you watch all your friends get hitched every blessed Saturday while you keep making asoebi and bridesmaids clothes and combining accessories, being unmarried becomes worrisome.
Most nights, Chidimma cried herself to sleep. The taunts and snide comments were enough to do her in. In this part of the world, you were only as good as your husband was. A husband was like an identity card which every married woman wore with astonishing pride and it showed in the name “Oyiridiya” (Her husband’s reflection) which most Igbo women take as titles. Little wonder why unmarried women are social pariahs in their respective communities
“Nma, make sure your makeup is light, inugo? I read somewhere that men are intimidated by women wearing vibrant makeup” advised Chidimma’s mum. Tears welled up in Chidimma’s eyes while her mum continued innocently quite oblivious to her daughter’s pain, “Don’t worry by Easter, it will be your turn. Okay? Don’t stress about it.”
The scathing comments did not hurt as much as the compassionate and patronizing ones. Those were the ones that stung the most because they made you feel like be unmarried was a sickness.
We all know a Chidimma; either in our neighborhood, church or community. An unmarried lady whose biological clock is ticking away but still she has not completed anyone’s ribcage. Most times, we assume she is a choosy woman waiting for Mr Perfect to complete her happily ever after or laughably assume she’s a mermaid princess whose jealous marine lover prevents from getting married.
Her friends get married each festive season and she stands there smiling bravely and genuinely happy for them but inside, she is falling apart. Her wardrobe is filled with different colours of bridesmaid gowns but a white one, the only one she truly wants to wear, is no where to be found.
Her married friends avoid her like a bullet because they feel she might snatch their husbands, their crowning glory, in a desperate bid to be a “Mrs”. We assume she’s one of those jet-setting ladies that do not want to be slowed down by a man not knowing how much she yearns for a better half. We never truly understand the torments she goes through and the things she misses out on because she is a “Miss” not a “Mrs”.
I may not know how you feel or the pain you go through but what I can honestly tell you, my dear Miss unmarried is: Good things come to those who wait and though it might come at the eleventh hour, it’s worth the wait.