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Not a joke

Mankhokwe Namusanya

At 30, as a man, you will need to have a few things in your life – if you are to survive in this world.

For starters, have a stable source of income. Sounds like something you have ever heard before? Yes, motivational speakers use this a lot. The difference is: here, I say, I think you should have it but, knowing our situation, I understand if at 30 – or near to it – you have no stable source of income.

And, you should have a piece of land. A lot I can say on the importance of owning a piece of land but, again, our situation makes it understandable if you do not own a piece of land.

Also, if you are planning to marry, you should have a stable relationship – or even be married, with a kid or two. Stop this running around, these one-night stands and all these breakups; that is, however, if you want to marry. Like, marry to settle down – not marry to just marry and have that big ceremony.

Last, but most important, you should have a father. An actual father. Not a father figure.

You need him, that old man, in your life. Granted, your father might be far from perfect. He might not be a role model or, if he is, then he might just be one who models you to act differently than he did. But, you need him in your life. A phone-call away.

Like, someday, when you will have strayed from your marriage – or stable relationship – and think that an office affair should be pursued seriously to replace your spouse, it will be that old man you will have to talk with. No, not your friends.

I know them, those ones. They will tell you to follow your heart.

Others, from that pack of your friends, will advise you in earnest:

“Do not leave your woman yet. Pursue this other woman for a time. Do a comparison. Then, settle.”

But, your father.

You should go to that old man. And be honest with him. Do not lie.

Do not go about saying that your wife – or fiancée – is bad. That she does not want you helping him or the family. That she is rude or arrogant. Or untrustworthy. Be open to him, like you would a priest. Tell him, there is another woman. And, you do not want to keep living a lie. You want to go to the other woman.

Your father, most likely, will not pronounce a verdict there and then. He will let you talk, and talk. With little, to no interruption.

He is a story teller, that one should have been a writer, so he will tell you a story. Of his grey hair. And his childhood. And friends.

“Do you remember Weston?”

You will have forgotten him. But, Weston will be that man who collapsed. Then, death. He will have been the one who funded most part of your education because your father had been his favourite carpenter. You will not remember what people will have said in the wake of his death:

“It was that young woman he married.”

He will remind you of another friend of his. A close one. That one whom you all watched waste away and die, after a long illness.

The intelligent narrator he is, he will ask you:

“By the way, that his first wife, the woman who used to sell fritters, do you see her around in town?”

And, you will reply:

“I do. She is a nice woman. Now, her business grew. She sells actual food, at lunch, at our workplace.”

“I hope she lets you get some on credit when the month bites,” then, he will laugh, and start coughing. He will be an old man, knocking on the door to the grave, so every little tickling thing will make him laugh slow and easy, yet cough hard.

When he recovers from that jerking cough, he will address you – man to man – in a slow tired fashion.

“Brother,” he no longer calls you son or by your baptism name; he calls you brother. “You are my son, my child, my blood. I can’t fight with you over the interests of another person. Not your wife, maybe just your children. You are the one who lives with that woman. We knew her because of you. We can’t dictate for you.”

If he is more modern with access to Nigerian movies, he will finish with ‘follow your heart’ – like those friends of yours. Also, unlike those friends of yours, he will have given you concrete advice in his narratives before asking you to make a decision.

If you are just his biological, not logical, child, then you will go ahead and follow your heart.

But, at 30, you are grown. And, at 30, I am thinking you will have been your father’s logical child, so I hope you will get to understand the things your father chooses not to say. And, you will leave for home and make a wiser decision – basing on your father’s advice.

But, for others, at 30, you might have lost your father. And, ‘lost’ sounds unkind. It is not as if you were carrying him in your pocket, were careless at a football match, and he fell out and slipped through those holes at the stadium. Let us say, life gave you a sad experience, threw you a lemon.

If, so, at 30, then you should have a family – if you fancy it – or be responsible to your family.

And, yes, you should stop driving with reckless abandon in the narrow paths we call roads in this side of the world. You would not want to have your children fatherless at 30.

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