Whenever I see the 'surprise' proposal spewed on social media, I cannot help but shake my head at the level to which romance has been blown. It reminds me of a story of one of my grandmother’s (God bless her soul) marriage story.
One sunny morning she was left in the disorganized hearth of her husband-to-be with nothing but her luggage. She started sweeping the house and the compound before washing the utensils. When the poor man came home, he found the woman in the kitchen bent-over blowing into the fire.
I doubt whether there was hugging involved. They were married for forty years. It is such stories that sometimes debunk the whole charade of romance and the glitz and pomp that accompany it.
I digressed so early.
Westernization and the internet have opened a novel can of worms and out came the expectation that a man must go down on one knee- of course holding the opened wedding ring- and propose. I get the proposing part for posterity's sake. What evades me is the intricacies of planning for the 'grandest' way of surprising the bride-to-be.
The man, after some time, once there is no doubt about where the relationship is headed, has to embark on an elaborate plan to surprise his beloved. It would have been easier had it not been for the fact that it has to be captured digitally.
Ideally, I would have just chosen a good restaurant and a spot at the corner. Give a small speech, and watch the tears well up, pull out the case ring from the pocket and 'officially' ask her to marry me. No script. No drama. No camera. No hype, just two people having a moment. Simple minimalism, I know.
But no. Tutaambia nini watu? (what will we tell people?). There is a need to hustle for a fancy restaurant, hire a professional photographer, involve some 'witness' who will 'hype' her as she burst into those tears of joy? Surprise? Horror?
Everything before this proposal is tentative, I gather. How should he prove that he is serious if he doesn't- in some way- propose marriage? How does he declare her exclusive attention to a relationship for which he has done nothing to tickle her fancy? Only and only when he proposes can it become a sign that the train has left the station.
This should be done before the engagement party, the pre-wedding, and the wedding. What if- as a man- I do not want to do it? I will be damned if she does not- as we approach the D-day- ask whether I am going to propose or not.
So, for a young, modern (maybe broke) guy, he has three rituals he must perform before being considered to have 'properly,' married. These he must use as a preparation for taking care of the wife and the family.
Any contrary view must be from the irresponsible broke man who wants easy things. One of the proofs of a REAL MAN is in his ability to flawlessly and satisfactorily execute these rituals. But why should he propose after he has already made plans for a wedding? It is just the way things are done nowadays: date-propose-wed-marry.