The Measure Of A Man

There was something wrong about the men who came to seek her hand in marriage, Christie was convinced. It was not that some of them did not pass the superficial test of good looks, how many people would scale that anyway – especially now that pot bellies have gradually come to be regarded as sexier than ripped abs – nor was it that a good number of them were mere primary school graduates; people who had chosen to veer off the path of education in favour of their quest for the golden goose that laid eggs of diamond, gold and every other precious stone.

There was something else. Something deeply ingrained in them that troubled her. Something innate in a sense.

When she got admitted into the university, the men had come. But something in her fathers’ eyes had kept them away. It was a look that said “my daughter must be a graduate first” and then “she is underage”. Good thing it wasn’t some other part of the country, or someone would have been pregnant with her third child now. They had stayed anyway, circling like vultures waiting for the perfect moment to zero in for a piece of the kill.

Now, she is back home and months after her graduation they still wouldn’t stop coming. Calling. Stalking. Anything at all to get her attention. So her bed room had become a haven of sorts. The one place she could lay on her four-post bed, cocooned in shades of blue and gold as the light filtered in through her window, and surrounded by all her favourite things in the world displayed in clay jars and on wooden shelves.

She stared at the ceiling fan whirling overhead and wondered if this, the circling blades moving in perfect unison, never meeting, yet forming an endless, indistinguishable, interconnecting loop could be the answer to time travel after all.

And she travelled.

Edward had been sweet to her. He was also the only fully literate man who had come so far, and she’d enjoyed having actual intellectual conversations with him. With Chinedu, it had been different. All he did was stare as she picked at her salad and chicken all day with glowing eyes and a toothless grin. She had become his investment. No, that wasn’t the right term: investment; it was more like a winning ticket– the one that took you a step further ahead of your peers. He had kept bringing gifts even when they were rejected upfront, paid for her fares just as she made to open her purse, and even transferred mobile top up cards at will to her line. He appeared to be paying more attention to what he could do for her than what she wanted.

But she did not want to become like Chioma her friend who had settled down with a rich business man from the South. She seemed happy enough boasting about the latest cars he’d bought her to the other women, but everytime he opened his mouth at a public function, you could see her eyes drop to the ground and an invisible blush creep into her dark cheeks.

So she had sat with Edward when he took her on their second date. She had laughed as he spoke rather excitedly about his latest escapades with his terrorist of a boss, who gave hell for all the meager salaries he ‘dashed’ them, and when the waiter came to take their orders, she had given him leave to pick for her. The young waiter had looked at her with expectant eyes when Edward had said, “how many scoops of ice cream would you like?” And she had been unsure what the look meant.
When she had requested for just one scoop after a brief hesitation, he had regarded her with furrowed brows, written down their order and walked away with a little less gait than before.

None of that had made any sense until an old friend Kunle had asked that she accompanied him to the market. He was in need of a new sweater, but since men are colour blind, he needed a woman with good eyes to help, that was his reason.
Off to the market they had gone, poking their way through rows of fine knitted sweaters until she found a perfect navy blue one.

“How much for this one?”

“5,000 naira,” the shop owner said. “4,000 naira last.” He glanced over at Kunle who was contemplating a pair of chinos.

She had begun to bargain a reasonable market price when the man lowered his voice and said, “My sister help me sell market, your boyfriend go pay,” in her local dialect.

Christie reached for a drop of sweet from a jar and began unwrapping it. Things had become a little clearer than they had ever been. She now understood why Chinedu had accused her of chopping his money without marrying him. And why all those girls in her class preferred to marry men who had made something solid for themselves, irrespective of educational qualification and public persona.

Everyone of them spoke one common language. The men sold it to the women, who in turn sold to their children and one another. It was one endless, indistinguishable, interconnecting loop. She wondered the genesis of this scripture.

As she got out of bed to go fix supper for the rest of the family, her eyes caught sight of one of Thomas More’s finest works, Utopia, and the shadow of a smile danced upon her lips as she remembered her favorite line:

“If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?”

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43 thoughts on “The Measure Of A Man

  1. Rk king March 16, 2015 / 5:41 pm

    This post deserves like. Really good uju.

    Like

  2. cat9984 March 10, 2015 / 7:09 pm

    Great story. Reminded me once again that people are pretty much the same everywhere when it comes to money and love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju March 11, 2015 / 5:09 am

      You got that right. Same language. Different regions.

      Like

  3. Iremise February 16, 2015 / 10:30 pm

    Hmm. I loved this piece,it was like peering into the mind of a typical Nigerian girl especially in the southern parts. I wonder if these are from your own personal experiences and musings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju February 19, 2015 / 10:41 am

      I’m glad you feel that way.

      Doesn’t every work of fiction spring in part from the writer’s speculations? 🙂

      Like

  4. olisakwerah January 31, 2015 / 1:00 pm

    Better late than never 🙂 . From a guy’s point of view, I think the importance of money to a man cannot be overemphasised.
    Sincere matters of the heart however, always starts from the eyes. First, someone has to appeal to you physically to get ur attention then emotionally and possibly intellectually to keep it.
    For ladies who guage the pocket first, remember that money is a visitor. This piece reminds me of a quote that cracked me up….”Money is not everything but ensure to make plenty of it before talking that nonsense”

    Well written as always Uju. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju February 2, 2015 / 11:34 am

      “Sincere matters of the heart however, always starts from the eyes”—
      Not quite so. For some it does begin with ‘knowing’ people, but I agree that an eye feast helps to seal it.

      Cool quote 😀
      The things said about money eh…..

      Always a pleasure having you around, Olisa.

      Like

  5. livelytwist January 29, 2015 / 3:10 pm

    I enjoyed the story and the comments that followed.
    Money matters. Money is one of the leading causes of friction in relationships.
    We all have some sort of philosophy about money. I won’t go into what is the right or wrong perspective of money. But it is easier for birds of like values to flock together.
    In summary, although people change with time, look for someone who shares your core values.

    Liked by 2 people

    • uju January 30, 2015 / 9:52 am

      Thank you, Timi.
      Yes, it is always better to move with a person/people who share our values — less friction all round.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Odii February 2, 2015 / 10:17 am

      Timi! Long time. So sorry I haven’t looked in on you in ages. Please don’t be mad at me o.

      Your post is spot on. I keep seeing stories if billionaire divorces. Some billionaires go through wives like they’re going through clothes at the store. And there’s always such a fight as to who gets how much. Money abi. If if is the measure of a man, I’m King George.

      Like

  6. Kachi January 29, 2015 / 9:28 am

    This tough rubric that society has placed on men is somewhat ridiculous. This has led the average man to do anything possible (mostly illegal, because they are lazy to work) to get money. You should hear some of the conversation that happen in my room.

    Money is important. very important. But should we then lose the anchor for growth? I know countable couples that had it together when the going was okay, but lost it when finances came in astronomically.

    This is not me negating the importance of money, but can’t we FIRST fall in love based on a person’s heart and soul? (before we can then throw money in the mix. Lol)

    awesome post, Uju.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju January 29, 2015 / 12:31 pm

      Kachi, we all seem to be carrying our various script written by society. What’s more distressing is how we readily accept these things, and even attempt to rope others in too.

      Sometimes I wish people would refuse to be placed in boxes–that we’ll choose how and what we want to be defined with. That we will learn to see people first, before brandishing the money like you mentioned.

      When we anchor so much on the transient, we lose sight of what the foundations should be.

      Like

    • Odii February 2, 2015 / 10:13 am

      Well done, Kachi. Nice one.

      I think it was the emphasis on sex that the advent of moving pictures worsened. Men have for a long time been willing to pay for sex. But it is quite recently that men started to think of marrying for sex. Even in our Igbo culture, men married women for more than their physical attractiveness. Now though, you find men shelling out money merely to impress a girl because she has curves. And they do that with little thought to what else she has to offer: the content of her character, the kind of children she is likely to raise, how able she is to manage their wealth, how she will integrate with his family and integrate their own home with the extended family. All these things are lost now because TV made love a sexual question rather than an all-encompassing one.

      Like you said, money is important, but it has no place in choosing a husband, for women. A woman is not getting married to be kept. If she wants to be a kept woman all she has to do is sell her sex. Men have always paid gladly for it. Marriage is for a hell of a lot more.

      Like

  7. Obasi Chidi January 27, 2015 / 9:19 pm

    maturiry is of the mind ( heart ) not for babe

    Like

  8. Holistic Wayfarer January 26, 2015 / 11:46 pm

    Interesting way you took us into the meat of it, Uju. Wondering what made you explore this. =)

    Like

    • uju January 27, 2015 / 4:53 pm

      😀 Several things on my mind at this age. African stuff….

      Like

  9. smxclusive January 25, 2015 / 9:37 pm

    wow nyc piece you’ve there

    Like

    • uju January 25, 2015 / 6:47 pm

      Thank you 🙂

      Like

  10. Odii January 24, 2015 / 12:36 pm

    Yes, the measure of a man is in the depth of his pockets. A rich thief is more of a man than a poor farmer.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. uju January 24, 2015 / 5:53 am

    Define maturity?

    Like

  12. Obasi Chidi January 23, 2015 / 9:22 pm

    …Finally men are not measure,what is between his legs but maturity.

    Like

  13. Obasi Chidi January 23, 2015 / 6:01 pm

    Love is beyond material but forgiveness covers everything,men should learn to be open cos life is like a rolling stone!!!!!we agree to disagree

    Like

    • uju January 24, 2015 / 5:52 am

      That’s something else to consider–openness. Too many people afraid of being vulnerable with the woman they claim to love. Wonder what that’s about.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. folakemiodoaje January 23, 2015 / 12:15 pm

    Loved the cry in the air conditioned car quote 🙂 Life is hard, money does make misery a lot bearable.
    Having said that there is more to relationship than materialism especially if one is hoping for long term. There will be a time that money even if plenty in the bank will mean nothing. I would go with someone with a prospect of earning a livelihood than ‘ready soup’. ‘Ready soup’ is great but doesn’t happen to us all.

    Liked by 3 people

    • uju January 24, 2015 / 5:49 am

      There are so many smart creative people around 😀

      “Ready soup’ is great but doesn’t happen to us all”—
      This is true. I also hear that men today prefer being with women who helped put the soup together. Some men at least, except a number of my Igbo brothers in the East who would rather cook the soup and dish in expensive china wares, before serving.

      That said, how do you measure ‘prospect’?

      Liked by 1 person

      • folakemiodoaje January 24, 2015 / 6:06 am

        I think both involved in putting ‘soup’ together is the best, even many women prefer this.

        I suppose prospect here is different for individual but as Nigeria goes, many of our social issues are not unique to one person so I would not waste my time with anyone waiting for manna from heaven and men who can’t stop talking about uncles/aunties in foreign lands to set them.

        If one happens to have family support, great. If not use your hand, your certificate, get involved in something to earn you a living. Money matters and not necessarily the bucket load of it.

        Like

    • Odii January 24, 2015 / 12:38 pm

      Ma’am, you ever seen The Notebook? Mushy stuff. 🙂 Genius story too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • folakemiodoaje January 24, 2015 / 1:29 pm

        Thanks to Google, just watched the trailer. Also, thank you too for the reference. Lovely story too, true love does exist, I suppose.

        Liked by 1 person

    • uju January 23, 2015 / 9:22 am

      Ah thanks 🙂 You wanna share your thoughts?

      Like

    • uju January 23, 2015 / 7:56 am

      Heard it in a movie years ago. It stuck like glue, and has ever since explained some ‘unexplainables’.
      Now tell me, Mak, what is it like finding a wife in Kenya? Do men also think its all about the cheddah?| Are the women overly concerned about the depth of a man’s pocket?

      Like

      • makagutu January 23, 2015 / 8:56 am

        I see many of my friends are married, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a wife.
        I would be lying if I said they don’t care about the depth of a man’s pocket. I remember a girl who told me once she would rather be sad at home but be driven around in a car. She may not be representative of the majority but you get the drift

        Like

        • uju January 23, 2015 / 9:24 am

          I see. Your friend is a lot like Chioma then…and this really funny quote I saw once: Everyone cries. But it is better to do so in a fully air conditioned car 😀
          I know money matters. Money should matter. But is that how men are defined now? Is that what a person should define himself by?

          Like

      • makagutu January 23, 2015 / 7:36 pm

        Money must matter and anyone who says no probably are being dishonest.
        I don’t know what became of her though, haven’t heard from her in ages.
        Some define men by the shoes they wear, some by the questions they ask and some still by the depth of their wallets. It is a matter of to each their own

        Like

      • uju January 24, 2015 / 5:51 am

        Yes, yes money makes the world go round. But eliminate it and people would still survive, stay happy. Sometimes I think we ascribe way too much importance to money anyway.

        Should a man also define himself by this standard?

        Like

      • makagutu January 24, 2015 / 8:42 am

        Money is the number one good. With money, all other things in life are opened to you. You can have a hse/ tent, get food if you have no garden of your own, get clothes if you have no goats of your own from where to get skin to wear. You can’t eliminate money as a factor of production. You will need it in one form or another.
        Should a man define himself by the depth of their wallets. I have known people who think so.

        Like

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