This past week has been a gloomy one for me, and I hate not being my happy bubbly self. One of my best friends is currently not speaking to me, and I am going crazy about it! Zinny and I have been friends for donkey years. She was there when I met Kenny, all through our relationship and eventual break up. She was one of the few people that helped me get out of the terrible state I was in when I left Kenny. And all through these years, our friendship has remained solid. I thought I had earned the right to candid advice and tough love when need be. I mean, they did it for me! Their tough love helped me get out of self-pity and ensured that I took responsibility for my life, and my daughter’s.
Last week Friday, Zinny, Tolu and I met for drinks after work, and I was shocked when I looked through the glass at the bar and saw Zinny getting out of a cab! And she was dressed in Iro and buba! I blinked in quick succession as I pinched Tolu to look in my direction. Tolu spilled her drink out of shock! “Was she robbed?” she asked. I was too confused to answer coherently. Luckily, Zinny had found us and was already making her way to our table.
As soon as Zinny reached our table, we started bombarding her with questions. “Were you robbed?” Tolu asked again. “What happened to your car?” I quipped. “Is everything okay?” we asked in unison. Zinny, smiling mischievously, sat down, took a sip from Tolu’s champagne, closed her eyes to savour the taste, opened her eyes, called the waiter, placed an order for a bottle of red wine, before looking at us and answering “This is the new Zinny, girls!”. Haha! I said “Madam, please who are you and what have you done with my friend?” She fell into a fit of laughter, allowing me and Tolu to exchange confused, angry glances. It was like the girl was out to make a fool of us that night. We had to beg her to tell us what the matter was, so we could stage an intervention.
Finally, she started on about meeting this great guy in church during a Singles & Married program. They got talking and exchanged numbers after the program. They started to chat constantly on BBM and during their conversations, Zinny discovered that Xavier likes very churchy girls who are submissive and blah blah blah. My girl then decided that if she didn’t want. age 30 to catch her without a wedding band, she had to conform to the guy’s spec.
Tolu and I kept quiet all through her narration, sipping our drinks to help us with our comportment, and exchanging glances that mostly said “this girl don craze finish”. My darling friend decided going to work in cabs was a good idea, so Xavier would not find out that she drives a FJ Cruiser. That was not bad enough! She mentioned making plans to sell the SUV and buy a 2008 Toyota Corolla. I think she took the matter really lightly, because she had nerves to joke about being loyal to the Toyota brand. At this point, I knew Zinny needed an intervention. She saved for about ten months before she could buy the FJ cruiser and she treats the car like a baby; no-one is allowed to drive her SUV but her. Zinny that always complained about Lagos male drivers treating women who drive with disrespect, and who totally enjoyed the levels that her FJ Cruiser gave her, suddenly wanted a 2008 Toyota Corolla . My head was still swooning when I heard Tolu ask “So what’s with the iro and buba?” She had an explanation for that too. Xavier told her, he didn’t fancy ladies that wore trousers or any gown or skirt above the knee, and since they attended evening prayer meeting together, she went to her sister’s place to borrow the attire. Chei! I would have exclaimed in a native tongue at this point, but luckily we were in a posh bar, and I couldn’t disgrace myself.
Tolu started off by telling her that even if she wanted to adjust because of her new love interest, she shouldn’t change herself too much, so other people can at least recognize her. She shouldn’t change herself too much? That was the bit that unleashed my acid tongue! I told Zinny she didn’t need to be changing herself at all for any man! We haven’t come this far and gotten to where we are, only to fall back into the dependent needy girls that we were years ago! I told her, it’s okay if she, of her own volition wanted to change some aspects of life; after all, as we grow, we drop some childish habits and pick up more mature ones.
What I wasn’t cool with was the fact that a guy was the catalyst for change, and not in a good way. I told her that if she continued this way, she would sacrifice even more of herself to this guy and come up short, or things would go well for a while, and she would get tired of pretending (maybe after marriage) and revert back to her old ways, then the dude would cry blue murder and sing Darey’s song ‘You are not the girl I used to know’. Either ways, the path she was treading was catastrophic and I told her not to be too desperate to settle down.
Next thing, Zinny says “First off, you have no right to offer unsolicited advice. Secondly, I am a big girl and I can take care of myself, so get your nose out of my business!” With that, she drops enough money to cover for her drink and walks away, without saying a word to Tolu. When she left, Tolu told me I was too harsh, and that I should apologize to her, but I was still smarting from the “you have no right to offer unsolicited advice” bit. I sent her a text that night that said “Sorry I offered advice when you didn’t ask for it. I was only trying to be a friend. Sorry if I hurt your feelings. Goodnight”. As I pen this, I am yet to receive a reply.
Okay, maybe I was a bit too harsh but really, I do not think the point would have been driven home with sugar-coated words. You shouldn’t have to hide your sun just because someone feels more comfortable with dim light! You should shine in all your glory and watch the ones who love to bask in the sun come to you. Our society teaches girls to dream, but not to dream too much. I do not want my daughter’s generation to grow up with that mindset. I want my daughter to aspire to the highest levels in her career, and not hold back her awesomeness because she is scared of frightening men. Only a great man would appreciate a great woman. I am a queen, waiting for a king, and I would not reduce myself to a commoner just so I can get married. I would rather find true love at forty, than alter myself and get trapped in a union that stifles my bloom. I hope you live by the mantra too, because I know, I know that someday the men that deserve us, would find us.
Of course, I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I have no interest in.-Chimamanda Adichie