tltweek51

Multiple Choice Answer

In the land of life lies the book of the living; and in the book of the living lies a question to be answered for a name to be recorded.

“How do you live a life of purpose?”, do you a) Face the danger that comes with your choice or b) draw from deep waters for strength and courage.

You must do both and that is just one of the things you do.

 

I really love this picture, and therefore could not resist the challenge to participate in this weeks Three Line Tales. Sonya’s pick for the week is just great. Click here and participate.

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Don’t Mind Your Business: Help End Violence Against Women.

I was asked to speak about violence against women and my brain immediately shut down. This usually happens when a topic or theme seems bigger than me and encompasses the whole universe. It also happens when I am scared to death because suddenly something that is meant to come out of my mouth is suppose to make sense and provide answers.

“What will be your point of view?”

This was the next thing asked of me which fortunately started to unravel my brain and ease my fears. The question helped me narrow my focus. The suggestion of a point of view relayed to my brain that it was okay to pick one thing as a starting place for the discussion that will help end violence against women.

Lo and behold my answer to that same question when it came out was:

“My point of view will be philosophical, psychological, shared humanity, social commentary … if it makes any sense… type point of view.”

Well, needless to say the organizer took a chance which inadvertently caused me to explore the process by which I was allowed to BE and my starting place was from the question, what will be your point of view?

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What should be my point of view?

For those who know me, one of my many life philosophies is to question everything; and being asked about how I planned to explore violence against women led me to think about the questions and statements put to us daily and their effect on us.

So on the day of the talk, this was how I approached it:

I first asked the audience to help me with some insight into something that has been nagging at me for a while, which is also one of the most useless statement ever in life. I asked what brain processes would make an individual, who on seeing another individual that they are acquainted with after a long time of absence, would say to the them in amazement, YOU ARE FAT!!! 

Actually this happened to me one very great day when I was happily taking a stroll, and feeling extremely good about myself. Suddenly this Keke Napep (Rickshaw/Tuk Tuk) passes by me, then a girl screams my name followed by the “You are fat!” statement and for the next two minutes, I stood rooted to a spot not knowing what to do with myself.

After I recovered from the incident, it occurred to me that the girl called me by what my family calls my official name. This means it only appears on legal documents and most people do not even know it is my name, unless, you were in my secondary or primary school. So according to my calculations, she was most likely in my secondary school, not my friend and most likely not in my set.

I finished secondary school at fifteen, some eighteen years ago looking like a scarecrow due to health battles. And here we have some thoughtless and frankly not well-intention person expecting me to look exactly the same eighteen years later. I mean who has finished growing at fifteen?

And as I wondered at statements and questions, relating it to that experience (one of many), I immediately saw something that flies under the radar. It is not so obvious but I now consider it one of the biggest enablers of violence against women. This is the fact that from growing up to adulthood we are constantly bombarded with questions and statements that we are not allowed to engage with. We are somehow expected (without engaging with these statements and questions) to accept them as normal and therefore harmless. We are also to ignore their effect on our mental and emotional health because of that unspoken rule that as a female, you do not respond to such things in order not to be tagged as defensive, angry or aggressive.

9 out of 10 times, when “You are fat!” is said to a woman, she smiles uncomfortably and might even go the extra mile not to be ‘that’ kind of female and say thank you. Some even say, “it is good living,” even though they have been dieting and exercising for weeks to lose the weight they do not like. But God forbid they should own up to being an ordinary human; super women do not gain weight, they are naturally forever thin regardless of their station in life. I find it more amazing when I hear this same statement being said to women who have had kids, I mean what is up with that. To think we are a culture that is meant to mind our own business.

I believe the reason for making these thoughtless statements is because it absolves an individual of responding to the possible call of their words. For example, if after telling someone they are fat, they respond that it is due to depression and eating for comfort; you will have to engage further into the matter. It will be inhumane for an individual to express this to you and you nod and then walk away. This is because like it or not, the call that comes after your statement requires action and you will have to deal with the consequences of your action or inaction after hearing it. So we say thoughtless things and move on because they require nothing of us.

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When you can’t comment in a conversation about you but are forced to be a ‘smiling bystander.

 

Why are women also the main perpetrators of these thoughtless statements against other women?  These are the same people in our culture who will be reluctant or might never engage with a woman being abused because they are trying to mind their business. There is another unspoken rule, that you do not interfere in peoples issues because your interference may end up bringing shame on you. But we have no problem interfering with issues that concern peoples bodies which sometimes does things they have zero control over like expand due to age and genetics.

So why do we keep saying things to women that they cannot engage with in order to decide for themselves how they feel about it. How do we not think this has inadvertently caused women to permit abuse on themselves because when it subtly begins, even though they know it is wrong; they do nothing because they have little experience engaging with wrong done to them.

It has been told that abusers do not just begin with physical abuse. They start first with verbal abuse and then proceed to emotional abuse before they graduate to physical abuse. If women were generally used to engaging with verbally uncomfortable statements against their person will they not immediately know how to engage with it in any kind of relationship and put a stop to it. Instead we smile politely and by extension reward the bad behavior of potential abusers.

My neighbor, a man I do not really interact with, once told me i had lost weight in the same no greeting no preamble “You are fat,” way. And I immediately knew to start avoiding him because yes I had lost some weight but in opinion, it was three not so noticeable pounds. My first thought was how closely have you male neighbor, been looking at my body to notice? I didn’t smile politely but I eyed him disapprovingly and walked away,   angry because i wanted to engage but I knew how fast the script would be flipped on me and it was not worth the trouble… yet.

I am just using one of the more common statements used on women which most times forces them to be silent even though it is a violation and a cruelty to the issues going on in their lives. But there many more examples I could give.

What to do then? Well, be thoughtful and mindful about what you say in a conversation to a woman. Do not make statements that forces her to be silent. Do not ask questions she is ‘not’ allowed to answer. Say things that engage her so she can make a decision and contribute towards the discourse of life, especially her own life. And the biggest one of all, if you do not like a particular woman then please find that humanity in you and leave her alone, don’t pretend to be a friend; because like it or not that side of you will always find ammunition to use against her. We women tend to be each others worst enemies. We need to learn to honestly love each other.

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There are also other kinds of these types of statements which I can give examples of to say how we are also unkind to men and force them to be silent when it would be ten times more helpful if they could engage with these statements, questions and thoughts and this also leads to violence against men…But I will not. As big Sister Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said, we spend too much time as women talking about men.

It is time we look inward more; there is a lot of work to be done.

 

Images via Flickr: David Woo, Morgan, Ron Mader, Davide Vizzini

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Who We Were…

A time not too long ago, we lived in a place of flourish, in an evergreen house, in a sanctuary.

However, the world outside beckoned relentlessly, promising to be a vast land for the exploration of dreams and the mining of visions.

And so we prepared ourselves, we wrapped hope around us, we were fully clothed for adventure: but our first step outside had us face to face with something unfamiliar, something not quite green.

 

This picture was quite tricky but as always with Sonya’s prompt, it’s fulfilling fun. Try it!

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An Illusion of Choice

The realtor said with a smile as wide as her outstretched arms: “Look! You have so much choice and options, take your pick.”

I looked carefully, from side to side and asked, “Are they not all the same width and height? Do they not have the same functionality and number of rooms? Is there any difference between one or the other?”

She shook her head slowly in apprehension, as my steely gaze met her uncertain eyes and spoke what did not need to be said.

 

I hope you enjoyed my take on Sonya’s picture prompt, read more here.

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The Destination is The Starting Point.

My take on Sonya’s picture prompt for Three Line Tales, Week Thirty Eight . I really cracked my brain on this one but it was fun to do. Try it!

 

 

My dreams require a crawling out of the shadowy darkness of self doubt.

After which I often take a long fearful walk rife with the nagging possibility of  failure towards the light of clarity; before confidently climbing on top of obstacles with certainty that I can achieve these dreams.

It is from this height, elevated and elated that I begin my journey towards becoming, towards being.

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Try…It Will Be Worth It.

via Daily Prompt: Volunteer

It is not what you wish to do in that moment but it might make an ignored person in a crowded room feel less alone, and so you volunteer your smile.

it is not how you planned on spending your evening but your old neighbor lives alone and badly needs to connect with another human being, and so you volunteer your time.

it is not where you want to feel, your day was crappy but your friend has gotten the best news of their life, and so you volunteer your joy.

Life has been unfair, you trust nobody but someone looks deeply into your eyes and wants to make it right, and so you volunteer your love.

Most times, we really do not want to do what is expected or demanded of us, but sometimes we have to try.

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Freedom or Independence?

Another Independence day celebration and I still wonder about the same thing.

The Contained Life

I wonder what the general feeling was in Nigeria on October 1, 1960? We all know there was a huge celebration countrywide thanks to archived footage; but what did it all mean to the individuals celebrating? When they were clinking their bottles of beer, what did they say cheers to?

This year’s Independence day celebration really got me thinking about what must have happened in 1960. Maybe because it has been our cheapest Independence day yet; so it was basically no celebration. Last year, billions of Naira was spent on all the pomp but it was cur down this year to a measly 70 million. My sister who lives in the capital city, Abuja said, the difference was extremely clear; everywhere looked boring and ordinary. The previous year was colorful, noisy and all kinds of decoration were on display. I saw (yes, saw) the silence, all the way from Jos…

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Memento

Photo by Wolf Schram

 

The night after Ella’s Mum’s funeral, an inexplicable fire came to their house and consumed everything.

Except, it didn’t consume everything: hours earlier, a grieving man was seen walking away from a car he had just parked on what he thought, in the dark of night, was an empty street.

Hours later, a bewildered Ella, was pulled out of a very deep sleep, in the back seat of the grieving man’s car by many flashlights aimed at her face… this is why she will never sell the car to you.

 

My response to the picture prompt from Sonya’s Three Line Tales. if you would like to try it out, click this link

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Tingles From The Past

via Daily Prompt: Zing!

I tried it immediately after she said it would be the greatest experience of my life.

“I will do it with you,” she said with her dimpled mischievous smile.

Counting off her fingers, she outlined the procedure.

  1. We will sit on the fence for 30 minutes to an hour
  2. And then jump down to ground

And so it was after an hour of making up stories about ‘The mysterious catzilla, guardian of the dragon egg’, that I heard, “1,2, Jump!”.

Suddenly there was an explosion in my head and I could not tell if it was pain. pleasure or a combination of both.

It felt like a thousand needles were travelling from the sole of my feet to the line that is my spine and back again in rapid succession; all the way marking their trail with their sharp points.

We were both bent over, gasping, and trying to breathe through the pain. Then with the twinkle of a million stars in her eyes, she looked at me and broke out laughing in bits and pieces.

“Awesome isn’t it? So painfully delicious!”, she managed to say as she tried to get through the moment.

Only Sarah could convince me that freezing my legs out in the cold before jumping from a height was the greatest experience of my life. And we had many more “greater” ones after that before adulthood came calling.

Photo Credit Alex Holzknetch via Flickr

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Skills

via Daily Prompt: Cheat

In life, we cheat.

When telling stories, when telling the “truth”, when “smiling”

Because a little editing never hurt nobody

And skill is a very useful tool.

 

 

In death, we cannot cheat.

Because how can you

when it is no longer in your hands

And at this point, skill amounts to nothing.

 

 

Featured Image via Flickr