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Knowing Men: Not By The Books!

I have never been sold on the argument that Nigerians do not read. Indeed, ventilating that view, to me, will not only be an unforgivable error of judgment but also an insult on our collective intelligence. Just in case somebody is wondering why I am ‘making a mountain out of a mole hill’, I will be quick to attest to the fact that, even as our educational standards have fallen, to an all-time low, I see how voraciously a lot of Nigerians still read, particularly books which they consider life-changing.

In the league of these books will be motivational materials, by notable foreign and local authors, as well as those, which seek to improve the quality of relationships between the sexes. In fact, you will be economical with the truth to say you have not come across both men and women, clutching such books at different points in time. And why is this so true of us? Well, Nigerians, I believe, are very good at seeking alternative routes to knowledge-acquisition. Or put in another way, some of us are self-starters, who prefer the ‘do –it –yourself’ approach. To such people, if you can grab a book, which spells out the ABC of achieving a goal, why not go for it? So, books of this hue will continue to sell while the tribe of their captive readers will continue to swell. See?

The same fervour, which has made avid readers of most Nigerians, I guess, is also responsible for most people being so enamoured of attending various short courses, seminars, workshops, vocational training etc. (even on fields which do not have the slightest bearing on their present professions or occupations).

Yet, this is the point at which I pick a lot of bones with many Nigerians. To be sure, there is a lot of merit and benefits to voluntary reading. It enriches the mind and expands the world-view of the reader. Ditto acquiring additional potable skills, in the hope that they will be useful sometime in a person’s career progression. But when reading certain books, which – to all intents and purposes- are seen as possessing the ‘talisman’, which creates ‘instant success’, then the result can only be self-delusion. This, clearly, reminds me of women who think being armed with a cookery book can make them instant cooks of any gourmet’s delight. Oh, not quite.

By the same token, the point needs to be made to any woman, who indulges in reading books to understand men, as vociferously as possible, that no single book can contain wholesome and cover-all nuggets of wisdom, on a particular man. And there can be no ‘one- book- fits -all’ on any man, since no two men are wired the same way, not to talk about all men. Truth is, if a woman fails to come to terms with her man, with particular reference to his peculiar and individual character make-up, she is only scratching the surface by expecting that she can ‘know’ him by subterfuge or proxy.

Every woman reserves the right to seek and meet a man, who qualifies to be dated first, before he is considered as one deserving of transmuting into a husband. This is why whatever any suitor does, to win a woman’s hand in marriage, her parents are always careful to leave the decision of agreeing to or disagreeing with the marriage proposal, to their daughter. After all, she is the one who will live with the man and the consequences of her decision. So, to expect that the answer to a man’s character flaw may be found in any book is to act in ignorance. Living with a man and studying him, night and day, may be half the way to Nirvana. But, even that offers no guarantees.

While I do not canvass for a complete discountenancing of books, in any marriage, I believe that they can only remain a guide to any man or woman. Just as countless marriage counselling sessions have, sometimes, come to nought, books cannot be the end-all and be-all in resolving marital conflicts. And as experience has shown, the relationship between a man and a woman should, largely, be experiential and hardly run by the book.

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