“Discrimination among citizens on account of their religious convictions is wholly intolerable. Even the bare mention of a citizen’s religion in official documents should unquestionably be eliminated” – Vladimir Lenin
“Difference of religion breeds more quarrels than difference of politics” – Wendell Phillips
“Each of us is a book waiting to be written and that book, if written, results in a person explained” – Thomas M. Cirignano
I celebrated my birthday on the 2nd day of May. Now don’t ask me how old I am because I would obviously tell a lie. But you gotta know for sure that presently, I have just about 10months left to hit the dreaded number 30. So my good folks, y’all do the math!
Personally, I believe birthdays are not phuck-worthy events. So what did I do basically on my birthday? Well, I woke up and said a prayer to my ancestors, did a few pushups, crunches and my training routine for a lean body. Afterwards, I spent the whole day hustling at the clinic and at the end of the day, I pounced on my plates of cucumbers, carrots, celery and protein sources. I must get in shape by fire and by force before my wedding day…Insha Allah. There was no alcohol or weed to celebrate the day with, as my Dietician advised against taking any of them in my dreadful journey towards getting a ripped body. Cakes and chocolates were definitely out of the question. White rice nko? Nah, No, Nei…said my Dietician. Now that is the true meaning of Living in Bondage.
But on my birthday, it was really a time to reflect on my life: how far I’ve gone in this journey, the pursuit of happiness, the ups and downs, family, friends, foes, shawty, my dead pet dog, the hippy pastor living on my street, and every single freaking thing my life revolved around. In the end, I had to be grateful to the Almighty for still keeping a brother alive. A couple of my homeboys are dead and gone…but I am still here living. So I poured some of the water I was drinking on the floor. That’s the least I could do in the memory of the lost ones since there was no alcohol to perform the deed.
Very late at night, Mumsie’s younger sister called to wish me a happy birthday and also remind me that I wasn’t getting any younger and had to start a family ASAP.
“Baruu, kedu? How are you? Happy birthday o. So hope you are fine and you had fun today?” she asked.
“I am fine Aunty. Yes o…I did my best. How is the family?” I inquired with a lazy voice.
“We are fine o. Bia, Baruu…what is holding you na? Why haven’t you invited us to your wedding? Or aren’t you going to marry her again?” she asked, her voice piercing into my soul more than a double-edged sword. She had asked the question I dreaded so much.
“No Aunty, it is not like that o. We have finished the plans. In two weeks time, I would go to visit her parents in the company of Dee Mgbidi and my brothers. Just to perform the first rites of getting to know her people. Afterwards, we’d fix a date for the Igba Nkwu”, I replied while wishing to my ancestors that her inquiry would end at that point.
“Ok, do quick quick o. Because I can’t wait to rock my Aso Ebi on that day. I hope you will dance well on that day o?” she asked while laughing.
“No worries Aunty, I will do my best”, I replied while pretending to laugh.
“Ok, nwa mu…ka o di. We will talk later. Bye Bye”, she said and hung up.
Phewww! Phucking Monitoring Spirit!
The journey to her parent’s country home was one of the scariest journeys I’ve ever embarked on. Throughout the journey, I had butterflies in my tummy. The crazy voice in my head didn’t help matters at all. It kept telling me her parents would reject me outrightly without even batting an eyelid.
“C’mon, ma niggguurrr…itz gon’ be the end of ya fling with her. You don’t even look like a doctor in the first instance. Ohhh, and how you gon’ explain to them folks that you don’t attend no church…ma niggguurr? They’z gon’ think you’z lyin’ bra. They’z gon’ mistake ya for a thug and a kidnapper…fo’ real ma niggguurr. They’z gon’ label you the devil’s advocate…ma niggguurr. They’z gon’……”
Mscheeww! There was no need to reply this crazy voice on this day because I was scared to the marrow. I looked into the side mirror for a second. For real, I definitely looked like a thug and a kidnapper. Dammmnnn!!!
When we arrived, the parents were in front of the brown mahogany door to welcome us. Dee Mgbidi greeted them like a titled man that he was. He had his red cap fitted perfectly on his head, mpi efi in his right hand and a small bag on the left that housed the kola nuts and alligator peppers. He looked like a dibia going to prepare medicine for the Igwe’s sick wife.
We were ushered into the living room. I saw her across the hallway and winked at her. She smiled and walked towards the kitchen. It wasn’t customary for her to greet the visitors until she was called upon to do so by her parents. We sat down as her mother kept telling us ‘welcome’ for the umpteenth time.
Kola nuts, garden eggs and ose oji were presented before us. She was the one that brought the contents in a metallic tray. As she walked graciously into the living room, my elder brother beckoned on me to come closer. He whispered into my right ear how lucky I was to find this awesome beauty. I said a quick ‘Thank You’, taking care not to betray my anxiety and apprehension. She greeted us after keeping the tray on the center table and walked away. After her father had presented the kola before Dee Mgbidi, he took a piece from the metallic tray and proceeded to give thanks to our Chi for bringing us safely to our destination. Afterwards, he took a bite from the kola he was holding and nodded in approval for my younger brother to pass the tray around so that everyone would partake in the ceremonial eating of the oji.
After everyone had taken kola and garden eggs, Dee Mgbidi decided it was time to tell our hosts the reason for the visit. He spoke at length about how important it is for a young man to seek for a soul mate when his time is ripe. He told tales of mbe, the tortoise and awo, the frog. He told other proverbs before finally saying we came to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage.
Her mother smiled gleefully and looked in the direction of her husband. My prospective father-in-law cleared his throat and after thanking us and telling a few more proverbs, decided it was time to quiz me, like a sergeant interrogating a street urchin.
“So my son, you say your name is Baruu? May I know what that means?” he asked.
“Sir, it is just a nickname. It is nothing serious”, I replied still folding my hands like a Christian faithful about to receive the Holy Communion for the first time.
“Ok, I was just wondering though. So what do you do for a living?” he asked.
“I am a hus-tle—r. Sor—r—yyy, I do a lot of things, Sir. Bu—t my main job i—s that I I I work as a medi–cal doctor at a spe—cia—list hos—pi—tal, Sir”, I stammered as a quick rush of bile regurgitated in my stomach.
“So how did you meet my daughter”, he quizzed further. Kai, this man no dey tire o!
“We met at a medical outreach organized in a rural community, Sir”, I replied.
“Ok. So are you a Christian? And if you are, what church do you attend?” he asked
Chai, this man has finally gotten me by the balls.
“Well, to be honest Sir. I don’t attend any church. But I believe in God. Actually, I am an Agnostic”, I replied while looking at his changing mien.
“So you are not a Christian then?” he asked, this time leaning forward in my direction. Maybe the short distance between us would make him hear me clearly.
“I am a Christian but not just the overtly religious and church-going type. In short Sir, I believe in an Almighty and a Divine being. But as for attending church, I wouldn’t lie to you that I do so”, I replied while leaning forward also.
I saw the puzzled look of dejection on his wife’s face. I turned around to behold Dee Mgbidi looking at me with his big pomo lips wide open as if saying “this boy, so you have betrayed the family and left church, okwaya”. My brothers were indifferent, still nibbling on their garden eggs.
“OK, my son. We would have to consult our spiritual father in this matter. That is our pastor, if you know what I mean. Let us all seek the face of the Lord in this matter. And whatever the Lord tells us to do, that is what we would do. OK?” he said bluntly.
Afterwards, we talked about other things amidst drinks and chicken wings. In the next couple of minutes, Dee Mgbidi decided it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes and promised to return after the Lord must have spoken. I saw her father’s mean face as they waved at us. He even refused to shake my hands when we said our goodbyes. I quickly realized my mission was all but over.
The battle between love/marriage and religion is a never-ending one. Nowadays, people don’t care what ‘true love’ is as long as it is not associated with the two people involved sharing the same faith, creed, doctrinal and religious beliefs. True love is difficult to find; therefore, it doesn’t make any sense throwing it all away because of religious or doctrinal differences.
The young single man or woman who is so religious would spend years seeking to meet that partner that attends the same place of worship as him/her. They’d keep searching and hoping and eventually spend many more years attending Shiloh and other similar religious programmes. Eventually, they get frustrated and have to settle for someone whom they share no feelings with but for the mere fact that he/she attends the same house of God. They’d spend their lives in pretense and misery, believing that a miracle would happen suddenly and they’d start loving themselves affectionately. Does the Lord look like Harry Houdini to you? Who told you this thing called love is magic? For Pete’s sakes, it is not rocket science. True love has to flow effortlessly.
It is a pity that religion has become the only source of hope to many people so they have placed it above every other thing, including love and matrimony. Religion would always win the battle between love and religion for such pious and devout folks. I believe that you don’t have to share the same faith with your spouse to know how he/she feels about their spiritual association. After all, it is the same universal feeling that comes from faith, even if the faiths are different.
People should learn to have the liberty to marry whom they choose to, irrespective of doctrinal differences. There would be challenges obviously in such marriages; therefore it is pertinent to learn to make concessions and sacrifices in such relationships. The place where the matrimony takes place is irrelevant; whether it is in a mosque, a church, under a tree, at the babalawo’s shrine, beside the lagoon…it is no big deal. The ultimate thing is that the two of you consummate the relationship and start living together as husband and wife, doing your best to make the relationship grow stronger as the days go by.
In marriage, each partner brings the best and the worst parts of themselves and together, they learn to embrace these aspects of their lives. They learn to respect their differences and willingly meet each other’s needs, whether they fully understand them or not. In the end, true love conquers all irrespective of the doctrinal differences.
So here I am, waiting patiently for my prospective father-in-law to bring the news from his pastor. I hope the pastor doesn’t phuck up. I hope his wife doesn’t annoy him on the day he decides to seek the face of the Lord. I hope she makes him his favorite Nsala soup filled with numerous pieces of stock fish, so that the vision he would see about me would be a good one. But if peradventure he decides to behold a vision of my inglorious past – the excessive booze, the reefer, the late night grooves…and all other ignoble deeds I’ve done, then I would have no other option but to unleash my vengeance on him.
So my good people, is there anything we could do to enable love win this battle against religion? Or should we continue keeping a blind eye each time the battle goes on?
Now Playing: The Matrimony by Wale ft. Usher
Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!