Taking your destiny into your hands!
This is actually an “early life experience” that a lady shared with me sometime back.
Her story left me in awe of the human spirit.
Read her story first…
“The story of my life has taught me that at all times…one must take his/her destiny into her own hands.
Otherwise, some backward traditional practices will define your life for you, especially if you are coming from a background such as mine.
“My father is a native doctor and I am his first daughter. Being a known native doctor also means that he enjoys patronage from the rich and influential. One man in particular grew exceptionally close to my father-who began to see him as the son he never had. He was also very generous to our family.
“I wouldn’t know if I had to be used in cementing that bond because the next thing I knew…I was being given away to that man in marriage. At a mere age 16! I was still in class 5(S.S 2). It wasn’t funny but I dared not disobey my father.
“Thus began my marital journey…to a man whose first and second sons are older than me. I also got there and realised that I was actually his third wife and naturally- the slave of the whole family. The only privilege I had was that he let me move into his own quarters with him.
“Expectedly, right? After all…it’s a young wife we are talking about here. His wives were not openly mean to me but I knew right away that I didn’t belong there. I wanted more for myself but I felt trapped. Mercifully, he allowed me to continue to go to school. A few of my school friends also visited me. It was one of them that led me to my freedom.
“It happened shortly after our senior secondary school examination and my friend said she was leaving town. I sought to know where she was going. She told me about some relatives that she was visiting in Lagos and I told her that I was coming along. She didn’t believe me but we hatched the plan anyway. I began to pick a few of my clothes one after the other and gave her to keep for me.
“On the said day, I told ‘dear husband’ that we were told to come write one more examination. He obliged and I left for the motor park. I almost died of anxiety…What if my friend didn’t show up? What if words got to ‘dear husband’ that I was sighted at a bus station? Luckily for me, she showed up and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Life in Lagos (for me) was mostly an adventure in self discovery…laced with both happy and ugly experiences. I learned the hard way that a young girl without the cover of family/guardian is simply a MEAL for a lot of men out there! Especially the ones that are quick to offer you ‘help’. But my determination kept me going. Whatever life threw at me was better than going back to where I was coming from.
“From jobs as ‘errand girl’ in offices to attaining computer proficiency, getting a better job-to sending myself to the University…I read accountancy.
“All these while my father refused to have anything to do with me, but my mum found a way to stay in touch. I only got my people to return my former husband’s bride price-when my father passed away.
“I am currently married to a wonderful man from the South West…an accountant too. We have children. I look back to my early life and shudder at how a promising life would have ended in ‘darkness’-had one not been brave enough to run with her destiny.
“A relative that ended up with an unwanted pregnancy had to be married off to a woman-who was childless. I heard that one pointedly instructed her to ‘give access’ to any man that came her way…in order to produce more children for ‘the family.’
“As soon as I found my feet, I encouraged my cousin to run away. She took her child with her. And today…she is doing well as a dressmaker in the city. We should do more to save young girls from perilous paths…that are enabled by certain cultural practices.
Such should not be anybody’s destiny.’’
When one comes across stories (such as this) that personifies uncommon bravery/courage, it becomes most tempting to wonder what the supposedly older women who should know better are still doing in unhealthy marital settings, if a young girl could take this decisive step to re-write her story.
But, since I came to the realisation that our STRENGTH OF CHARACTER differs, I stopped being angry with people who show certain weakness in their situation.
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