Dear Njoki Chege, please get married soon
Marriage is a beautiful thing, and you are helping no one by saying you are not contracting it any time soon
My dear Njoki Chege,
I know, if and when you see this letter, you will congratulate yourself on drawing the ire of yet another hater, and will smile to yourself on this marvelous achievement. But look, really, I have no time for that hater shit. I would as well like you if I knew you enough to have describable emotions about you.
So, please, do not congratulate yourself too long. I am writing for a different reason. I would like to voice my concern about your latest article in the Saturday Nation, published September 17th 2016. I believe you meant it to be humorous. But, like you always do, I think you went a tad too far.
For such a young liberated woman, you come out as too unhappy. Right from the title “I am not getting married anytime soon!” you seem to be as disillusioned as many a young woman of your generation, hankering after the trappings of a misguided freedom as if you have never really appreciated the value of your own life.
You proudly speak of your amusement at your friends and relatives who, for a reason “apparently” unknown to you cannot comprehend why a woman your age should still be unmarried. So proud, in fact, that you do not hesitate to denigrate them for it, bundling them all under the collective title of a bevy.
It seems you have forgotten that these are the very people most concerned about you, the only ones you will be left with when your eyes open to your present folly and you realise you have driven everybody else out of your life, and have made it as miserable as the ashes of Mordor, trampled underfoot by the most vile of the world’s creatures.
That said, you berate the modern marriage for being an elaborate swindling scheme, where women are dispossessed of their very wits and ambitions. On the surface you may seem justified in your consequent conclusion. But a deeper examination lays bare the inadequacies of your complaint.
The kind of marriage you complain about, the one whose faults you elaborately enumerate, is not marriage as it should be. You handily quote the Bible, but you seem unable to grasp the simple fact that, just because modern marriage does not seem to be going according to the Holy Writ’s prescriptions, marriage itself does not become worthless.
You say unhappily married people are so common, a random stone off your hand would likely hit one of them. First of all, as an aside, if you plan on hitting someone with a stone, you better have a viable escape plan. Because if it is a Gor Mahia follower your stone chooses, he will probably launch it back before you can hide your natural head; and if it is your charming Meru man, your entrails will decorate Kimathi Street before you ask yourself where his knife came from. Not because they are unhappily married, but because stones hurt.
But, seriously, it seems you are hanging out with the wrong crowd. It seems all the marriages around you are failing. I am sorry. It might not be your fault. But I think it is the fault of countless people who think about marriage the way you do. Because, perhaps you do not know it, there are many marvelous couples out there who are making it work.
And if, as you keep insisting in your perennial rambles, you were brought up in a stable and loving family, then you have had the experience of a beautiful marriage from the cradle. And you saw the difficulties, or at least some of them, and how they were overcome. You just decided at some point that your parents were not worth emulating and set your sights on the failures around you.
That is why you can afford proclaim at the top of your lungs (your articles make you sound like a whining siren) that marriage is where brain cells go to die. You sing a dirge to careers halted because of marriage and mock the expanding waistlines and emergent wrinkles of women who have given up all they ever had and were for their husbands and children. You seem not to understand the meaning of sacrifice. Maybe you never have.
You conclude by glorifying being single. You quote studies which say a long life can only be had at the expense of marriage. But living long does not mean living happily. Being single without a purpose, my dear Njoki, is one of the ways to waste an entire life. If you go down this path, you will live a life without meaning, a life spent running away from responsibilities, a life predicated on a negative conviction, a life built around selfish desires, with the least regard for the happiness of others.
Then you will awake one day amid the ruins of your life with your mouth filled, as Elizabeth Gilbert would say, with the bitter ash of broken dreams. And, try as you might, you will not be able to pinpoint exactly where you made the wrong turn. Because, as the venerable Alexandr Solzhenytsyn would say, you will have been wrong all along.
Marriage, my dear girl, is not a death sentence. It is a vocation. If you do not feel called to it, do not bother trying. But please do not let that be your pretext for disdaining those who give of themselves totally in it. However, if you are called to it and are just being rebellious, know that it serves you little to howl the way you do to the four winds.
But here is an honest piece of advice for you: You are 26. Happy, hippy and young. But that will not last. At 26 you should already be feeling the ominous proximity of age. The biological clock never stops ticking. It is coming to get you.
And here is what common sense (and also many studies) say: If you have your children early, they will have you longer. And they will probably be healthier and sharper than those you get at the waning end of your fertility. And if they have their father around them, they will get the same chance at being happy in this life that you had because your parents were together when they had you. Unless, of course, you are also as revolted at the prospect of having children as much of your generation seems to be.
Be that as it may, pronouncing that you aren’t getting married soon does not in any way show your genius. Rather, it lays bare your intimate insecurities for the whole world to marvel at. Putting off marriage for as long as you can might sound nice. But that long is long no longer. Have you perhaps considered reconsidering your position?
Your power to do so will not last.
Njogu Chege, the Village Boy.