Isio Knows Better is an attempt to capture the shocking and highly entertaining conversation within myself. The conversations between my mind (the sharp witty one), my soul (the lover and the spiritual one) and my body (the playful one concerned with the more mundane things of life). She is the eternal referee between the caustic mind and the sensitive soul. This is Isio. So, here’s to making private conversations public.
It was one of those exasperating days I needed to just get my mind, body and soul together in order to write something halfway decent. As it were, only my soul was ready… my mind and body seemed to have other interests.
“Elena’s Ghost! Elena’s Ghost! Please don’t bother me, I want to watch Elena’s Ghost on Telemundo!” This was my mind…
Now she was back-flipping in rebellion and grinning wickedly. Of course my body agreed with this part of my consciousness and whined about not haven been to the spa in ages.
“Aw, sharrappppp you two! You are unbelievable…” I admonished those parts of my consciousness. I tried to develop what would be my first sentence when…
Gring, gringggggg, gringgggggggggggggggg!
It was my friend Kola.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind social calls and Kola is a nice guy, but he just had a way of being contrary at times, it can be quite exhausting. All I could hope for was that this wouldn’t be unpleasant. With that thought in mind, I picked up…
“Hey, I just wanted to call and say hi and to apologise for falling asleep at the movies last night.”
“That’s okay. People sleep.” I answered, relieved.
“I can’t believe you didn’t wake me!” he scolded.
What am I supposed to say to that? I scratched my chin and pondered this…
He cut into my thoughts and said, “Anyway, I saw your pics on Instagram. So you can cook? Cook me something delicious, I am hungry. I am swinging by your place in a few to come and eat.”
I had no choice but to chuckle. WHATTTTTTT? See e mouth like “cook me something delicious”.
Patiently I said, “I don’t understand…”
“Well, you cook, and I am hungry, so I want you to cook for me. I am trying to ask you out, and surely you must know that when we start dating, you will be cooking for me. It is your duty as my woman.”
At this point I had to laugh at his sense of culinary entitlement. Big, thunderous longggggggggggggggggggggg laughter -the kind that makes other people around you start laughing in confusion and alarm.
“Kola, abeg. First of all, we are neither dating, nor are you my fiancé. You didn’t even ask if I am seeing someone, you did not even consider whether or not I want to date you sef, but you don dey give me rules and regulations from your prospectus. You try. Anyway, I am not a fan of privilege without responsibilities.”
“What do you mean by privilege without responsibility? You won’t cook for ME?” he sounded agitated.
“I mean that you cannot demand the privilege of a husband without taking care of the responsibilities of one. A delicious home cooked meal is what a husband should get when he comes home every night. That privilege doesn’t even extend to a “boyfriend” ALL THE TIME. If he is sooooooooo hungry and I pity him, he will get noodles and one boiled egg. Or bread and egg. That’s it. And even that definitely does not extend to any waka-pass suitor. It is like me at this stage being entitled to your money or asking that we share a joint account”.
He replied, “Lai-lai. How can we have a joint account? Even if we were married sef, that’s impossible. But, I am serious, if we start dating you can’t make me noodles o! I want real food. Eba, amala, fufu. I can manage pondo-yam sef. What is bread and egg?” He was stuttering now. Wow… a hungry man was really an angry one.
It was my turn to speak again, so I chose my words carefully, “You’ve been eating and surviving before we met, so you will be fine. Besides, if you were REALLY, truly hungry, you will not have the energy to “select” what you want to eat. You would appreciate any thing given to you.” I responded calmly.
“It is an AFRICAN woman’s culture to cook for a man. That was what our mothers did for our fathers!”
“Exactly. And our men also hunted wild beasts, carried them on their shoulders across the forest and brought them home for dinner. They skinned these animals with primitive knives. Culturally, African men build their women houses with their bare hands, defend the village and fight off their rivals with machetes and nothing but a loin cloth strapped across their waist. Show me the antelope you killed in the forest today, or even the bow you put a quiver to, and I will cook you something delicious.”
And then there were a few moments of silence.
He mumbled something and then hung up.
That was NOT the last time we spoke, but it was the last time we spoke about that.
My mother used to tell me of a popular Urhobo saying- If you turn yourself to sugar, dem go lick you finish. The first time she said it to me I laughed and said,
“Ohhhh, that’s so funny mommy!”
But it’s true. No offence to Kola and anyone who enjoys cooking for their suitors or boyfriends (not husbands or fiancés o) three times a day. But three decades on this God’s green earth I have learnt that rewarding without accountability and giving privileges without responsibilities is a recipe for disaster and what we Nigerians like to call see-finish. Case in question; Kola. What is wrong with noodles and egg? Is it not food? He is even selecting sef. Odiegwu.
And the same goes for the male folk.
Consider this: a man who desires to be more than just a friend to a woman who clearly does not see him in the same light, decides to bestow ALL his husbandly privileges to her in spite of this. He gives her the emotional, financial and physical privilege of him without her being responsible to and for him in the way that a committed wife should be. We don’t need a soothsayer to see that he has simply placed in her hands his everlasting mumu-button. And oohhh, how thoroughly she shall press it.
It is simply human nature… If you turn yourself to sugar, dem go lick you finish.
The fascinating irony to the man’s case is that the woman may actually end up falling in love with him anyways.
But some men. Especially some of these our Nigerian men… hmmmn. Hardened somebodies like Dangote cemented floors. Their hearts are strong like waterless eba left out overnight in Harmattan season. Dem go lick you so teyyy, even your skeleton will not be complete for burial.
So, for me. No privilege without responsibility, abeg o.
But for those who will reward their waka-pass suitors anyway, please cook a BIG POT. In fact TWO BIG POTS! Then buzz me to come collect. God bless you as you do so. No noodles and egg o. As a confirmed Urhobo girl, I shall be wanting Ukodo and Starch and owo soup with periwinkle and “bush” fish. God bless you as you do so. Here is a big kiss in advance, mwaaaaah!
Happy Tuesday my beauties!