My father once told me that there are just about three women a man should be ‘afraid’ of – ‘afraid of’ not to mean that we must hold them in some kind of trepidation or suspicion that they are witches who should be kept at arms length or at bay. No that is not what I think he meant. I guess he was just trying to educate me concerning the strong influence that the woman who gave birth to me (my mother), my female copy (my sister) and my better half (my wife) wield either for or against me. The bottom line here is this: you stand a very good chance of getting a lot of things done better and faster if your mother, your wife and your sister(s) is/are favourably disposed towards you. I don’t see what there is any man can do to make them favourably disposed to him if he does not treat them well or is nice to them. On the contrary however, if you are not in the good books of two or all of them, you are in deep sh…t. Check out this story of how one prominent Northern leader lost his life in the first Nigerian coup. As soon as his executioners dragged him out of the comfort of his large harem to be shot, about six of his wives fell on him as a human shield. The executioners had no orders to kill the women and it was a hell of a task to get those women off that guy before he was eventually killed. A certain friend of mine had a big fight with his wife. When his sister who lived in the UK heard about the fight, she attempted to make peace between husband and wife but my guy no hear. The babe in the UK reported the matter to their mum here in Nigeria and the three successfully brought my man to his knees, even though he is millionaire kind of bread-winner to all three of them.
Not all of the women I describe here are my sisters in the biological sense of it but as I coast through the sometimes valley of life, I find that they have taken me into that warm bosom of theirs and fed me with their milk of loving-kindness. Mrs. Sam Kargbo was the first to walk into that hospital to see how I fared. This lady of mine has been my sister, my mother and friend for more than twelve years and judging from the way she spoke with me yesterday, I thank God that she will remain all of that for me for a very long timeto come. She is the General’s wife that is the General. She is my Princes and I salute you, Stella. I want to let you know that I appreciate your love and your sisterliness, your motherliness and your friendliness all through these years. I want to let you know that HE who began a good work with you will surely bring it to a surely end for you.
My sister. Hmm. Of all of my sisters, she is the one that looks like me the most and the one I look like the most but see: each time anyone mentioned that we looked alike physically it made us angry. Why it is like that I can hardly tell. But I know say the look alike thing goes beyond the physical attribute – as much as I can describe myself as a stubborn, independent fella who has a dogged determination to succeed in whatever he takes on, I describe my elder sister in exactly those same words, though hers is mostly a feminine kind of stubbornness, independence and doggedness. She brought all these to bear by my bedside for three weeks. She also left her business and family like my elder brother did and set up camp with me, hardly eating, hardly sleeping. A prayer warrior of the Deeper Life stock, she with my elder brother refused to give me up, as I said in ‘A basilica of thanks…’ even when the nurses were already weeping, thinking that I had already crossed over to the other side. I remember that day I peed a lot of blood from a mistake the doctors made from passing a catheter through there… She was upset, very upset with the doctors and was only mollified when she was assured that it was not a permanent injury and that it would not have any affect on my…you know. I hope they are right.
My sisters from Daily Independent – Florence and Agatha. When I was there as editorial assistant to the editorial board of that paper, they were my pilots. They guided me and taught me not to walk in certain areas that even the angels feared to tread. But me, as stubborn as ever, I treaded those paths almost to my undoing. Agatha could pull my ears whenever I disobeyed her. Agatha could order me to go there and come here, run there and run there, and we did those things because it was fun. Florence loves a good laugh and at Daily Independent we often conspired to topple and circumvent the big and tall orders that the ogas always gave. Florence once told me affectionately that I could never keep my mouth shut – Uncles Dakolo and Banji and Mr. Langley would ‘fine’ me this minute and the next, I opened my mouth in another gaffe and incurred another heavy ‘fine’. But the place was a lively one like a family thing, what with all of us junior staffs behaving like brothers and sisters and poking fun at our ogas. These two sisters of mine were at the hospital but they did not leave without praying for me and telling me that ‘it shall come to pass’.
Mama Chinwe too – she was always around with those intense looks on her face, as if willing me to get off that bed before and after surgery. She it was among my visitors who stayed the longest, consoling me, praying for me. Mrs. Magbegor of Uniben Liaison Office, her entire female staff, Mrs. Grace Uwatse of Uniben Alumni Association, Mrs. Elizabeth Omonya, my colleague and alumna. These sisters of mine were always by my bedside whenever I came to from those bouts of rigour and coma.
My younger sisters too( Blessing, Gift, Lovett, Julie), though very far away from where I was, were daily on the phone talking with me, blowing me kisses, telling me they loved me and that I should get well soon. From Abuja to Benin, from Lagos to Warri these sisters of mine stood their grounds in one accord for my sake in prayer and supplication to the Most High. There was one of the nurses too. She was not just doing her job when she talked with me, sit by me whenever she was free, nor was she up to any of the mischief for which nurses are known. She was just there, smiling, pretty, strong, small, nice, scared when I had my scariest bout of rigour. Would really love to mention her name but what good would that do if it had the propensity to make her fiancée mad?
My better half was not there because there is no better half, at least for now. Each day, as I ask God to guide me to identify and find the bone of my marrows and the flesh of my flesh, I give HIM certain conditions. I tell him I don’t want just anybody. I tell him I want my better half to be my best friend, my confidante, my mother, my sister and most importantly my wife. From what I saw and experienced when I was sick, I am convinced that HE made me see what sisterliness, motherhood and wifeyhood all rolled in one person really would be. HE made me to see that I could get a mother, a sister, a confidante in a wife if only I can be brotherly, fatherly, a best friend and a husband too. I cannot say that I have been anything of these to these women but I think it pays to be.