By Chido Chirumuta

She was never good enough. She was too fat; too clumsy; too average in school for her mother to take pride in her. When chores were not done to her mother’s liking, she was promptly reprimanded and reminded how no man would want a woman who could not keep her house in order. No wonder, at the age of thirty-five, she is alone and trying to figure out where she went wrong.

From a young age, her mother told her to make the family proud by marrying a rich and accomplished man. She so desperately wanted to make them proud. She wanted them to see that she was a good daughter — obedient to a fault. Nothing and no one would get in the way of her pursuit. Before she left for university, her mother put her on birth control. Mother could not risk her daughter bringing shame to the family. What would the neighbors say? There was no talk about HIV, STDs or valuing herself, and how much she loved and believed in her. The only advice she got was, “Do Not Fall Pregnant!”. Just four empty cold words, to keep her warm when she was alone in foreign lands.

Now in university, she thought that she had finally escaped the suffocating grip of her mother. She was free. But can you really be free from the words that you were immersed in since you were a little girl? Some words wrap themselves around the soul and won’t let go without a fight. She thought the alcohol, dancing and loud music would drown the indelible voice that was lodged in her head. They did not. So she tried finding a man who would make her feel good enough, even if it was just for a night. All that did was leave her more broken and empty. As she sat in the abortion clinic, for the second time, she wished her mother could see how she would do whatever it took, to make the family proud.

On her graduation day, her mother asked her if she would be meeting her boyfriend, because the next step was walking down the aisle. Everyone back home kept asking her mother, why she chose to do her Masters instead of getting married. Once again she disappointed her mother. In an attempt to finally make her mother proud, she quickly sifted through the suitors, making sure to only entertain those who would garner her mother’s applause. She couldn’t waste time to reflect on whether the man loved her or not, or if he treated her well. There was never any time for her to consider if she actually even liked the guy. All she knew was that he had to have money and be an accomplished man. Many who actually loved her were too broke to be anything serious. Those who met the requirements smelt the desperation and figured out what they needed to say to get their way, then left. The clock was ticking and mother was running out of patience.

Female friends never stood a chance. She saw them as competition and she was willing to take their boyfriends or husbands if they measured up. Pulling down the next female to make herself look good became her modus operandi. Wherever she went, she left behind a trail of broken promises and broken friendships. She even sacrificed her career to follow men who never wanted her. They used her and she let them.

A pity she could never see how beautiful she was. She only felt worthy and visible when she was attached to the right man. This woman could have changed the world. I hope one day she will. Now aged thirty-five and alone, she is wondering where she went wrong. I blame her mother.