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Girl code: The day I buried society’s book of rules

As a woman in my mid-thirties, I can confidently say I have seen them all --  the trials and temptations we go through in search of a lifetime partner.

One time, society came up with a booklet on how a woman should behave if she ever wanted to get herself a loving husband. Inside this booklet, were the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. I faithfully carried myself according to the booklet by his majesty the society but look at me now, what do I have to show of marriage? Maybe something, maybe nothing. But today. Let me tell you about the nothing.

Sometimes I think I should have spent my early 20s just being a regular 20-year-old, singing and dancing along to R Kelly’s ‘Storm is Over’ or Shaggy’s ‘Wasn’t me’. But see, I was somewhere buried in this booklet that told me how I should behave while in the dating industry.

I used to leave my sister’s house as early as 4am just so I could get to his house early enough to make him breakfast before he left for work. Seriously, what 20-year-old walks around at 4am? What if I was kidnapped by goons all because of 'love'? Then I would do his laundry, scrub his floor and wait for his clothes to dry before ironing them and preparing dinner.

I would then walk to the bus stop to go and wait for him to alight from work and walk him home telling him how proud I was about his hard work and determination -- as if I wasn’t working as hard to deserve a pat on my poor back. Then I would keep him company as he ate his dinner. I would do the dishes then start the long trip back to my sister’s house. I will not even mention the number of times I differed with my sister because of my dangerous daily routine!

Anyway, seven years down the line after scrubbing endless floors, ironing countless clothes, cooking countless meals and braving the cold and the dark, it all came to an end. The funny bit though, by the time all this was coming to an end, I was already smelling my 30s with no husband -- the same one that society had promised me 'had I played all the wifey duties during courtship'.

So I gave myself a year’s break from relationships as I restrategised, trying to figure out when exactly the rain started beating me. Again, society accused me of having been a nagging girlfriend, loud enough to chase a suitor away. I Beryl, daughter of Itindi the Great was born a noisy person. How was I supposed to keep mum even when I was itching to talk?

But then again, when society says shut up, please shut up unless you have a heart of steel. So I went back to dating with a mouth that only opened when eating. Apart from being the hard worker I was, I became a monument in the house that’s there to be seen and not be heard. That didn’t even last two months!

My people, there’s nothing as difficult as pretending to be who you aren’t, not once but twice! First of all, I wasn’t born a hard working woman, especially with house chores. But there I was breaking my back trying to please society. Secondly, even my own mother knows how powerful my lungs are. I only shut up when sleeping. But there, I was keeping quiet even when hurt.

This time round, I walked out with my head held high up and buried society in the deepest pit. I will not pretend anymore. I am not a perfectionist, don’t expect too much from me. I talk when I can, don’t gag me. Love me if you want and go away if you can’t. I regret it took me so long to realise that society will always talk no matter what you do.


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