Given that my cousin who is year younger than I got married two years ago when I was in Nigeria, and a much younger second cousin married this year, several female members of my family and one or two male members have me in mind as the next to marry. I’m the oldest grandchild on my mother’s side and the oldest girl too. My sister is the second oldest, and once the younger girls start getting married you know that all eyes start looking at us older ones, wondering what the problem is. Are we too picky? Are our expectations unrealistic? Do we think we have all the time in the world, especially now that it seems like more women are having trouble conceiving (due to having kids later in life?) and who knows if menopause will come early? These were (are?) the concerns of my loved ones, especially my mom’s aunt.
My mom’s aunt loves matchmaking: she didn’t have anything to do with my parents’ getting together, but my mom credits her aunt with helping her when she was trying to figure out if she wanted to go the distance with my dad, a man who was planning to leave their beloved country to pursue his education abroad, given the challenges of long distance relationships. My mom’s aunt introduced my sister to the guy who was the cause of so much stress for me two years ago. She also introduced me to a guy two years ago, but alas, that did not go where she was hoping. And one year ago, she introduced me to the guy who inspired Another one bites the dust and A lesson about men.
While I was in Nigeria this time around, my mom’s aunt called around 6:30am and told us to expect her around 11:00am. She was coming with guests and we (especially me) were to be ready. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that this guest would be: a) male and b) of marriageable age.
Our guests showed up and I came to the parlour to greet the guy, who came with his mom and my mom’s aunt. My mom’s aunt left the room and called me to come with her. While we were alone she quickly briefed me on the fellow: good guy, good home, the usual stuff. I then when back in for a few moments before I, the guy, his mom and my mom’s aunt went to another room so we could talk privately.
The first thing that my mom’s aunt said when the four of us were alone together is “You can see she’s fat, but it’s the food they eat over there in North America. Everyone there is fat.” His mother nodded understandingly. He didn’t say anything and I sat there for a second wondering if it was possible if I was being talked about as if I wasn’t in the room and as if I have a condition that must be excused or at least explained away. If you’ve read anything I’ve written since I started blogging as Good Naija Girl, the fact that I’m fat is nothing new, and my family, like some of yours perhaps is very blunt and they are not hesitant to let me know that I am not exactly slim. I spoke up right away, and I told her that my weight is not something that needs to be explained away, that not everyone in North America is fat and that different people have different preferences physically, and any guy who doesn’t like bigger girls poses no problem to me. The guy spoke up and said “no problem”, in that typical Dear God have I somehow found myself in the middle of a battlefield? way that men afraid of confrontation have. I think he was feeling a bit awkward. My point was that I don’t need her to market me; I know my worth.
I don’t usually speak up so I think that surprised my great-aunt, and the two ladies left soon after. When we were alone, the guy told me that he really liked the way I spoke up and despite the awkward beginning, we were able to have a very nice first conversation. We spoke on the phone regularly until I left Nigeria, and we met up again once, but though he was a nice guy, it was nothing more than that.
Despite the fact that I spoke up, I wasn’t angry that my great-aunt alluded to my weight; it was the almost apologetic tone that I took issue with. My great-aunt loves me and she always compliments my personality and my character, and she tells me that I’m like a daughter to her, so I know her intentions were good, that she was trying to make sure that this guy would not discount me on my weight alone.
I’m still hoping she’ll be instrumental in helping me make the match of a lifetime.