I’ve been annoyed for about three months now, yet unwilling to vent, because the matter is a sensitive one that would need to be handled delicately. And delicacy requires so much tact and diplomacy that, sometimes, the audience is left as clueless as it began.
Anyway, you might remember me telling you about a sister who’d made a deal with God, ie, that she would remain chaste and He would find her a husband as reward. You remember? Well, she caught me on a bad day to apply for a loan, and when I said I had no cash at all, save what my husband had given me that morning for groceries, this sister declared, “Oh, you’re so lucky!”
Of course I had to inquire what luck had to do with my shopping list, and so she elaborated by telling me how fortunate I was – unlike her – to have a man to give me money to buy things.
Eeeh?! Out of decency, I didn’t tell her what I ought to have told her; so you understand why is three months I vex, right?
Now, on one hand, I genuinely would like to admire this sister for making this heavenly bargain and sticking to it. But on the other, I want to know just how she can reconcile herself to taking monetary assistance from other women who, with or without the benefit of marriage, might have had to “surrender” themselves to get it. Quite frankly, I see this woman as doing nothing better than “pimping” her friends in the name of the Lord.
I don’t know how any woman who ever sat waiting at the hairdressers, or at the nail salon, or in a clinic, could ever imagine that other women come by their money through luck. For, apart from the fact that most of us work like Negroes for what we and our children have, the money women receive from men, generally, is for hard labour, whether we are seen labouring or not.
“She lucky bad!” I know I’ve said it, and so have you, when we’ve seen or heard of a sister who has come into some material good. Or we’ll quip, “How come me nah have dem luck dey?” And while I know some of it may be born of real envy, grudgeful-ness, or pure bad mind, I also know that most of it is said in jest; flippant remarks made in the knowledge – and acceptance – that, “Good for her; but I know that it’s by the sweat of my brow that I will eat bread!” Or drive a brand new car; or move into our own house; or get our credit cards paid off.
And the reason we do not resent the sister, or wish her ill, or think that life has dealt us a bad card, is because we know – even when we do not have the details – that nothing in a relationship comes for free. That wicked sports car a woman is driving may be nothing more than her husband’s guilt: either compensation for ignoring her while he pursued his lucrative career, atonement for some horrible thing he has done, or amends for some good he has failed to do. And if we were to find out just what he is paying for with that luxury car, we would get down on our knees and give thanks for our own little chook-chook Betsy without a/c.
On the other side of the coin, sisters sometimes do not get anything at all that we can see; but what they give is without price. I know a woman whose marriage is terrible and who, owing to her job, sometimes has to travel. Every time a business trip must take her away, she makes sure she gives her husband the very best time in bed. Why? So that he won’t take out his animosity on her children – his children – while she’s gone. …
And hers is not the only story of quid pro quo. If we don’t know them personally, we would have heard of women who must open their bedroom doors to the estranged fathers of their children in order to get the maintenance money, or the school fees, to which their kids are entitled.
Other sisters, knowing that nothing is to be had from the baby-daddy, and conscious that the baby’s needs cannot wait, will lie down with someone else, anyone else, for the couple hundred dollars that will fill a prescription and, if there’s change, buy a bottle of Haliborange.
… For that sister holding herself in reserve, sex is a privilege reserved for the husband she’s waiting on God to get. But for others, sex is currency, sex is barter; and without an education, a decent job, or family support, it is all they have to get by. That is why, sometimes, it is hard to disparage a woman as “cheap” or “bad,” or to ask, offhandedly, “What? She can’t get another job, instead of keeping some man?” (As if keeping a man, husbands included, is not in and of itself a job!)
I am sure that many a reviled woman would love to come home from work, have a bath, and put her tired feet up, without the need to … well, put them up again; and she wouldn’t, either, except for the fact that her honest wage won’t cover the rent, the utilities, and the food. Or the little extra she might need to help out an unemployed church girl wanting a loan. …
Still and all, it is not uncommon for sisters who once were known for being “good for herself” – and those who were good for themselves but not known to be so – to end up being pillars of the church community. For this is what and where they aspired to be all along. But, being women and knowing they must do what they must, they had to take the indirect route there. And, fortunately, being God, and knowing that sometimes we must wander in the desert for 40 years, He welcomes all into the Promised Land. …
Though I know that all things are possible, I can’t believe that I, and the others who assist her, are part of some divine plan to keep this woman’s legs crossed at the knees. I can’t see that the Lord would want the rest of us to have to put up and put out, just so she won’t have to. I mean, suppose this husband she’s waiting on doesn’t materialise for the next 20 years? Should we be responsible for her chastity that long?
Well, I, for one, have decided that I will not be pimped any longer; that I will not, to borrow from Bob Marley, be just a stock on her shelf. Old people, out of gratitude for some favour, used to say, “Thank you, dear. I will dance at your wedding.” I hope it’s soon, because my back is tired and I need to go grocery shopping.