And the story goes on…
I wished I had grown up in that period, to understand if patriarchy was always such a let down to the second sex or it was meant for pure good, before an evil villain twisted the plot for selfich reasons. I remember talking to SweBhule and she made very strong points on how the system was not at fault. She used an example of a time before now in Zimbabwe, were roles had been subdivided into two, the father who would go out and hunt, day or night, to put food on the table and the mother who raised the kids from home, took care of the homestead, of the father, his kids, and their small scale farming activities. To my surprise even the man got permission from his first wife on who to marry next. If that is not team work I do not know what is!
It really made sense, for the father to be away from home for such a long time. It also made great sense during the era of physical strength for the tougher one to maximise on what he knew best as a contribution to the marriage. Sadly with time, patriarchy was misinterpreted as giving power to the ‘stronger’ sex . And because men were renown for being tough, being emotional or sensitive was discouraged. What defines a man was boxed in a hard core definiton that stifled their individuality to the extent of his relations with females other than his mother.
The system was not at fault here, it had to be the people to whom it was made for that were manipulating it unjustly. Just as Chimamanda put it, culture is not made for people, but people make culture. I didn’t want to be an ancient woman in modern times, in the information age were both him and me could exercise our intellectual capabilities towards our individual interests and still make sizeable contributions to the family set up. I didn’t want to compete with him, neither did I want him to feel like so.
Experience, however, would show me otherwise. Where partnerships cannot be easily built in a work area because they have no faith in a female who is bound to be married off and pledge a lifetime to bearing children. You see, you only begin to feel as though you are intimidating or a threat when you are in one room with a man who is not your own, but a potential help or partner that you realise for some people you are not their callibar of a woman, the ‘true’ definition of it. You know the kind of people that measure women by what their own mothers lived up to or achieved. I didn’t give anyone the satisfaction of moving me to anything other than that which I had resolved to become, to change and pretend to become somebody that I was not. That came with its own consequences, of course. Before I knew it, rebellion came to me naturally, and I have never thought of it as a concious choice I made, but rather a survival skill to keep myself up.
Unlike me, my mother had put on a pretense show long enough. This could just be how I feel about her function in our lives. Each time she had to tell me to wait for my father so that a decision could be passed. All the times she covered up for him, not just to us her children, but out there to the people who knew us. When things were going to go south, but she showed up and saved the day! To be honest, I didn’t think I had the capacity to do all this. For anyone, for whatever the reason. Not to say that would stop me from trying. For when I fell in love, it is the only thing I dreamt for being for him. To give him the kind of love that couldn’t be bought or asked for. I didn’t question the manual I was accustomed to then, I worshipped it.
Like every couple out there we had our own cute little traditions and we drew our own personal rules, my favourite being, ‘Give and Take’ However, nomatter how much we talked or altered, I never realised then we could never compromise or represent future feelings. So during the time, I loved him, his strengths, his looks, his smile. I wanted to surrender to him, so he could be my lord, protecting me and representing my interest. To be proud of me, show me off and blind spot my weaknesses. To teach me stuff- anything really. To always be the one that made my day. It didn’t seem to be too much to me, considering what I wanted to give in return. Oh gosh, I remember wanting to do his laundry, clean up after him, baby him and mother his offspring. I wanted to cook for him so bad I would learn what he ate throughout the day and secretly vow to learn how to prepare the meals before he came to take me.
Looking back at it, it seems pretty strange, yet I feel my inability to replicate or feel anything close to that is slowly demeaning my value as a woman and reducing me to a low life inhuman bitter woman. That kind of life was merely forgetting the self and adopting the next. Somehow, I feel as though I still want it and would repeat process over and over again. Love him again, give myself to him again, conditioned in such a way as to prevent us from getting us caught in an endless take and take and never giving. Opening my life to someone who would then lock himself out taught me a hard lesson, that he wouldn’t listen because he didn’t want to talk, he didn’t want to look because he didn’t want to be spotted, he couldn’t love not because he didn’t know how, he just never witnessed it.