Justin reclined in the comfortable Italian sofa, gathering his thoughts and trying to see if he could administer a single dose therapeutic pill for this badly broken girl. He was trying his best not to sound judgmental. However, he knew whatever he was going to tell her must be potent enough to knock her out and probably format her mindset. Beyond all this was his fear of losing her to herself judging from the discontinuity between her appearance and her inner workings. He still had to help her.
Do you know how to cook? Justin asked quietly?
Jessica looked quietly at Justin and shook her head resignedly. It was more of where-is-this-coming- from head shaking.
“It depends on what we are cooking.” She said taking the bait
“Anything… we are cooking; let’s say we are preparing fufu and light soup”
“Ok?” Jessica responded beginning to look intently into his face.
“Yea so how do you go about it?”
“How do we go about it?” Jessica threw back the question at him, “We go through the process as usual or? Ha. Well fufu is fufu or I am not tackling the question well?”
“Let us starts from the very moment you make the decision to prepare the meal; you do not have your ingredients yet. What do you do?”
“You get the ingredient I guess. Isn’t that obvious?”
“Sure it is, so now let’s see about the ingredients; how do you get them?”
“You can make a list if you are not used to going to the market as me, or you can go the market with a mental list. But whichever one it is you need to have an idea of what you are going to buy.” Jessica said.
“Good.” Justin agreed. “So we both agree before you get to the market you must have something in hand or in mind.”
“So I ask,” Justin went on, “why don’t we just get up and go to the market and start picking things up, but we feel it is better to go the market with a written or mental list?
“Well I think it prevents impulse buying; it also directs your purchases so you don’t waste your time on things that are not part of the ingredient. I also think that once the list is done it makes it easy to find where to get what. Yea that is about it... what I can readily bring out...yea.
“Ok,” Justin said, “so we will stick to this. We are cooking together right?”
“Sure. I am starving already; can’t wait to see the end of this meal.”
“No worries sooner than you think. But you know how chaotic the market can be? Justin spoke, carefully developing his argument.
“Tell me about it”
“Great, so tell me how the experience is like when you get to the market; tell me everything that comes to mind.”
"Well uurmmm...” Jessica reclined into the sofa burying her right leg under her thigh and taking a mental journey to the market. “Obviously there are a lot of people around; some selling at pedestrian walkways and the market entrance; some selling inside the market; some rushing to you with their merchandise. Those ones do not have any permanent shacks; if you buy from them you will not find them there the next time you get there. Some sit and watch you as if they are not there to make money. And when you approach them, they mention the price and look the other side meaning, no haggle here. Then we have those who are inside the market, in their shops; for them you must go into the market to find.
And it is amazing because mostly there is a wider variety of merchandise inside the market itself and the prices are relatively lower vis-a-vis the quality compared to those who are at the entrance. However, because we all do not have the time for the hassle, we buy the ones that are readily available and we move on. Those ones in many ways tend to be fake as well. Quality stuff always has fixed locations. I think that is just about it.
“But really I am not getting the point here.” Jessica said gradually losing the link between what they were talking about and the previous subject.
“Don’t worry you will soon discover the point.” Justin assured her. “One thing you did not mention was the great number of variety of particular products you will find there and the fact that if you are not careful, you will be confused as to which one to choose.”
“Jessica, do you know that starting a relationship is like deciding to cook?”
“Okkeeeyy” Jessica said suddenly feeling there was a light in the fog. “I am listening Sire”
Before you start a relationship, you are expected to have a mental image of the kind of relationship you want and the kind of guy you want that relationship with. You do not meet a guy and tailor what you want in a relationship around him just as you do not go to the market and decide what you want to eat by the kinds of vegetables you meet.
You must have in mind what you want before you get into the relationship. It could be a checklist or a mental impression of what you want. Once you have that down, every step you take would be directed in a certain way.
If you want a relationship leading to marriage, you know what you are going to include in your checklist; if you are looking for fun in a guy you know what to include in that list; if you are looking for romance and nothing else, you know what to include in that list. If you are looking for money in a relationship you know what to include and if you are looking for sexual gratification you must know what to include in the list as well.
Then again you must have a mental image of the guy you want. You must not say that food is food so when we get to the market, we will get something to buy out of which you can prepare something to eat. You have to decide in your list, what you must buy that will meet your specific cooking need. In the same way you cannot say romance is romance; when we fall in love everything else will follow.
You must be certain who you are giving your heart to. Don’t waste your time with musicians when you intend to marry a medical doctor. Chances are that some DJ will marry you and give you a miserable life for all time.
What kind of religious figure are you looking for? What kind of authority figure are you looking for? What kind of tribe are you looking to date from? What kind of career would you want your partner to pursue? What kind of temperament would you want your partner to have? You need to have all these in mind. And in some cases, try and look a little beyond what you want, into what would be acceptable in your family. In this case, tribe and career are major issues you cannot just get up and decide to overlook.
Once the ingredients are listed, you can go to the market with confidence. By market I mean now entering the world with a made up mind that you are ready for a relationship.
As you said yourself, once you are out there, a lot of guys will rush on you. Some are fake; you cannot trust their words, they weigh you and dupe you with flashy stuff, big talk and attractive facade. If you settle for them, in two weeks, their true nature surfaces and you start asking yourself if they were the same people you invested a lot to get them.
These people are drifters; you will not find them there the following day. They get their cuts and they are gone. They are all around you until they get what they want and their phones are off. Winston no matter how you loved him falls into this category. He took the best part of you and stayed till what he wanted elsewhere was ready, and he left you. Those people will likely not show you where they stay or introduce you to any important family member or any responsible friends of theirs. They will not want you getting involved with anything that has the tendency to make them commit to you. They are constantly on the move with you until they drop you off. In the market, they are those who carry their wares on head pans.
They live by selling what they have; you live by buying what you need. Do not let anyone pressure you to buy anything unwanted. They can weary you with their persistence, but you must remember that giving in when that is not what you need means satisfying their selfish needs to your hurt. No one can create a need for you. If you do not want it, go away from it and move on.
Then we have the Posers. They are the hard-to-gets; and when you kill yourself to get them, you find out that they are not necessarily worth the price you paid for them. They will not look at you twice, and when they do, it’s with arrogance. All the girls are running after them, so you are also just one of them. The only time you see them interested in some girl is when they see that girl has something bigger and better to offer. They choose when they pick your calls, choose when to see you, decide who you can talk to and who you can’t talk to.
There are possibilities that you will find a poser whose heart you can turn around; but mostly, something around you must have attracted them to you, and in most cases, it is because they sense in you a superior quality, or a breed they think can match them up toe-to-toe.
Every word from them has a force of a subtle blackmail...well if you won’t someone will... Just to make your heart beat faster. However, when you decide to overlook them, you soon see there are way better guys than them. But because of their attractiveness, they catch your attention and hold on to them.
“Hmmm I know that feeling. Jessica said in reflection, “Some size you up and down and think you are after them for their money or their fame or because they are fine and stuff like that. It is just like entering a shop and getting the attendant sizing you up and down and deciding, based on her own judgment, that you are just there to waste her time and not because you are there to buy something.
“Exactly.” Justin agreed.
“Then we have those who are hidden inside the market.” Jessica said getting carried away by the stark application of a common everyday experience as going to the market to something as crucial as starting a relationship.
“Yes, those inside the market.” Justin said with a sage-like attitude. “But you need to know that unlike the horde outside the market, those inside exhibit a measure of order and decency. They are grounded by locations and therefore are mindful of what they sell.
Inside the market there are zones and groups. We have where they sell meat of various kinds; where they sell tubers and all root plants; where they sell cereals and where they sell everyday vegetables as well as exotic vegetables.
If you know what you want you do not go walking the length and breadth of the market trying to locate it: you either go there yourself or ask for directions leading to the place.
Once you decide that you want a relationship with a specified type of partner, you start looking for them in that area. You don’t hang around with thugs and party animals and expect to find a respectable God fearing Engineer in their midst. Chances are that they are in the library or in some corner doing some serious academic work. If you are learning at any of the libraries at the Social Science faculty, chances are that you will never bump into an Engineering student you might want to date.
Remember I am not referring to exceptional cases; I am referring to the norm.
“Sure I get it,” Jessica said understandingly. “You might find an Engineering student to be a party animal and you might find a law student in a library at the School of Engineering; but regularly this is not the case. These are isolated cases.
“I am glad you understand; you know where I am coming from.” Justin said looking directly into her eyes.
In the market, you will soon find that there are more than one shack that sells beef and a countless number of kiosks selling the same kind of provisions. At this point what will motivate you to choose one stand over the other? Hygiene, quality and the general state of the displayed products, the quality of the haggling process or general interpersonal relationship you build with the seller, the promptness with which you are attended to, price variations among other things.
When you start bumping into people all of whom meet the general criteria you are looking for in a partner – specific careers, self-sufficiency, spirituality, physical looks; then comes in the fine details in each and every one of them to set them apart- decency in their choice of words, the general themes of his conversations, their choice of words in reference to ladies and how they generally perceive them, their comportment, their stands on pre-marital sex and fidelity – Premarital or post-marital, physical appearance among others. You look for subtle and delicate stuff that sets them apart.
You will also need insight into the people skills of each and everyone you get to meet; How accommodating he is and his reception level to criticisms and feedback; does he exhibit the traits of a good gentleman, whether alone with you or in the company of others; How honest is he to you and to other people on the telephone in front of you and stuff like that.
These are fine tunes that set the same general products apart. You do not just give in because you met a banker or a lawyer or an insurer who drives his car, lives on his own, God fearing and very fine; he could as well be a male chauvinist with the ego the size of China. He may not have the stomach for criticism and his Authority over you is divine and unquestionable.
These things you won’t easily find in a person unless you study them carefully.
Three ways you can study them are, Firstly, by going out with them. The disadvantage here is that you will only get to find out who they are after getting emotionally involved with them. This makes it difficult to break off thus tying you down to them especially where there is a measure of intimacy involved. Another disadvantage is that you get to study them one at a time. So as long as you do not find what you are looking for in the men you meet, you will keep changing them. That means you get to change a lot of men, and they will all end up leaving their residue in you and on your life. Eventually no one will understand you and you will be the final loser. The advantage here, however, is that there is focus and you get to study them more closely and personally.
Secondly, You can also study them just by being friends with them. The disadvantage in this is that you get to know a lot about them but not deeply enough. The advantage is that you get to leave them quietly if you realise you do not find a lot of the qualities you are looking out for in a man in them. There are no bonds and ties and certainly no intimacy and therefore moving on with your life become easy when they fall short of your expectations. A great advantage is that you can study a lot of guys at a time because no particular guy has a claim over you. And as you know there is variety with numbers; variety with no emotional attachment. You do not have to jump into a pool to test its temperature; by careful observation you can tell it.
Finally, you can also learn about them through friends. The disadvantage in this is you make your choice based on someone's perception of the person concerned. That perception could be biased, prejudiced or straight away influenced.
"Have you had that experience…."
“Hold that thought Mister,” Jessica interrupted Justin. “I don’t want my bladder to burst out on you…if you know what I mean."
“Oh sure. Please feel free.” Justin obliged her as she scuttled to the bathroom to take a long overdue pee.
“Yes! Now let it roll.” Jessica said, wiping her wet hands in her dress and feeling all alive again.
“I can see you feel better.” Justin commented seeing the sparks in her eyes.
Trust me! I am alive. I pulled my pants down and the first pee that came went like, “Bitch be careful! You do that next time and we popping out” She said bursting into laughter.
“No no no! That was not what I meant” Justin attempted to explain himself.
“Oh?” Jessica said confused.
“I meant you feeling better as in after Joe’s drama. I see you are smiling sparkly now.”
“Oh, Yea. I am. Of course this crush course is going well. Forgive my dirty mind wae. Charlie your gurl here touch oh. Mental koraa. Charlie boys mess me up man...mmtsseww!” Jessica said apologetically not doing much to conceal the depth of her corruption.
“So I was saying, Justin continued, “you know that feeling with you go to a shop, pick an article, make payment and suddenly your eyes are drawn to something else and you suddenly wish you had just looked a little further? You don’t want to start a relationship today and bite deep into your lips because right after you said yes to that guy, you saw your dream guy walked by.
Just a little patience and probing and comparison can save you a lot of later craves and torn emotions.
Another good thing here is that, these people are grounded; they are regulars, you know where they stay, where they work, you get to meet some of their friends or family members. These people do not just use you and run off. I am not saying that is not a possibility; but they are better than drifters and posers on the whole anytime.
And you need to ask questions. It is amazing how people meet, claim they love each other and start dating and they have absolutely no clue who their partners really are. Until you ask questions, you will never get to find those things I have mentioned above. Do not talk about Miss Ghana and the upcoming programme at the National theatre. Ask real questions, except you do not see any meaningful relationship developing. In asking questions you get feedbacks that points out whether the person you are dating is serious about you or about life in general.
Some ladies feel that when they start talking about marriage or having serious responsible conversations with guys they are dating they will freak them off.
“Yea and it is true, Justin they will.” Jessica jumped to the defense of that notion. “I know this friend of mine who told me he was breaking up with his girl because the girl is always going about on what they would do when they marry and everything is marriage; the guy is 24years doing his national service while the girl is 23 years and in her final year. The guy feels he needs about three years to settle down after his service before they can talk about marriage, yet this girl is always asking questions that will be relevant ten years into the future! Maybe I should introduce her to you. It’s scary, really.”
“Jessie it is not.” Justin corrected her, laughing at her comment on introducing her friend’s girlfriend to him. “It’s not! A guy who runs away at the sound of marriage will run away anytime at the sound of marriage. We can give them the benefit of doubt and say they react the way they do because they are not ready. If so, you do not have to run away. You just need to let your partner have an idea what your life’s timelines are; what you want to do from now till a particular point, what you want to achieve and where you want to go and where, when and how marriage fits in.
Tell them and let them see that marriage is not just about how they feel about it; it must be mutually agreed upon and beneficial to both of you. She must also be encouraged to give reasons for wanting to be married at the time she wants to be married. They have to be good reasons worthy of consideration and good enough to compel the other party to revise his timelines if necessary.
A real man does not run away at the sound of marriage whether you are 24 or 30; if you are not ready for marriage, then you have no business being in a relationship? Last time I checked sex was not the same as eating ice cream; it is a Pandora box full of issues once opened. When will you be ready if you have no idea when you are going to be ready? Can such a person date you for 5years without sex? If not, then they will sleep with you and wake up one day and tell you, you are not for them or they are not ready.
But it is not just that simple; it is a gross waste of time and the opportunity cost is that 28 year old guy who wants to marry you but will not get to date you because some commitment-phobic guy is wasting your time.
Dating must not be never-ending; there must be timelines; it is only indicative that such a person takes you and life seriously. A real man handles issues rather than desert in the heat of them.
When you meet someone who is always talking about marriage when you start dating them, it is only an indication that they are in your life to stay for a long time. In that sense if you feel you are there for the fun of it or you do not see them as your lifetime partner, just let them go; someone is going to take them in both hands. If you feel they will go when you talk about marriage, then you are aiding them to break your heart. A guy deciding to marry you must do so for better or for worse and not when he banks his hope on future convenience and positive turn of events.
The decision to marry is as crucial as the decision to stay with someone for life. If a person is not bold enough to decide how you play out in their lives when they start dating you, then in most cases they will never be sure till death. My personal opinion anyway.
Personally I do not see the essence of wasting my time in a relationship that hasn’t got marriage as the ultimate consequence. Every day you stay in that relationship is another time lost to the potential of finding a true and meaningful love somewhere else.
“I see.” Jessica said quietly.
Immature minds talk about cars and music and fashion and sex when you date them. Be wary of such. A responsible person raises conversations that seek to explore each other in a way that brings out the real substance in both of you.
Another thing you need to be mindful of is the way you appear to people. It is very important. If you appear in dressing, in speech and in attitude like one of those loose, wild and crazy girls around, you will only attract similar breeds of guys and men. If you appear to be decent, responsible and very principled, you will only attract guys of that breed.
Do not live in illusion; because you know of some decent lady who married some crazy guy or some crazy girl who dated some cool guy and had the best relationship that led to marriage does not mean it is a common place; those are the exceptions. The norm is that, how you appear will most likely influence those who approach you.
We are all humans and we have prejudices; people judge others from afar even before they get close to them. There are a lot of guys ladies let go just because of the way they appear, do you think it is any different with guys? Do not walk with the deception that those who really care will draw closer to know you. Have you ever gone out of your way to want to know someone whose appearance gave you a wrong impression about them? The only time it happens is when nature brings your paths to a point of meeting. So be very mindful how you carry yourself about. It can do or undo you.
“Ok big bro, all these lectures is too much for me. I mean, for heaven sakes, I am just 23 years looking for some good love… I mean...Seriously, why must I go thru this whole hassle?” Jessica said frustrated by Justin’s thoughts on relationship.
Sweetheart, you are here asking all these heartbreaking questions of wanting just a little bit of love and all you get is being used and dumped. Think about it; do you think it is something trivial? In close to three years or s, how many men have you been with? Three?
“Eight… officially,” Jessica embarrassingly corrected him, “Three relationships, three casuals and two accidents.”
“Ok. Well...urmmm sure. Yea.” Justin stuttered, “So you know you need to have some good relationship plan... You cannot treat something that goes to the core of humanity trivially.
Do you know the number of ladies who have lost their self-esteem because of bad relationships? Do you know the number of ladies who have had divorces because of the baggage they are carrying from their terrible past? Do you know how some people cannot love genuinely again because of some terrible times they have gone through in the hands of those into whose hands they entrusted their love? Let us not count those who have suffered different degrees of mental/emotional or psychological scars. Let us not talk about suicides and attempted suicides. Let us not talk about useless abortions and birth control pills that have left ladies unable to be pregnant before meeting their dream husbands.
Don’t waste your life in the name of love; one day you will be forced to face your past. Do not be deceived by the facade people keep; some ladies are crying inside no matter how ok or hard they look on the outside. They wish they would just snap their fingers and have different stories to tell.
Some ladies will tell you they do not regret their past, it has helped them become who they are; obviously their husbands are not keeping tabs on them neither are they having problems with trust, love, respect, fertility and other marital challenges stemming directly from their indiscreet past. But if they were, they would be cursing their past like others are doing. My dear guard your life, it is just lived once; live it well.
Would you agree with me that a lot of these ladies sounded like you are sounding now when they were cautioned to be a bit careful? Oh why all these restrictions? Why all these cautions? After all is it not love? Hmm, life is not all that rosy; it has a ruthless way of facing you with your past when you least expected it. What do they say about Kama?
“It is a bitch I guess,” Jessica replied lamely
Well said, and it will come and haunt you with claws and fangs. It will come like a monster not like a clown; it will make you scream and not giggle.
“In order to fill the gap Winston left, you have had to change a lot of guys.” Justin said.
“Well some of them were to fill the gaps but the casual and the accident were almost like a temporal unleashing of myself,” Jessica replied more like thinking aloud, “I felt I should just give it to everyone who asked for it; after all what was there to lose. What could be worse than what he had done to me? I didn’t feel I needed any self restraint.”