The other day I accompanied the Prayer Partner to an Associates Day held by her former campus Christian Union. When the time came for introductions, we were all lined up in front, at the pulpit. Associates and guests. One of the things you were supposed to say as part of your introduction was your relationship status. In fact, this was the key thing that everyone, especially the students, wanted to hear.
I saw a girl, not far from where I was standing, tense as the microphone reached her. I instinctively knew she was single. She introduced herself but left out the relationship part and handed the microphone to the next person.
The hall suddenly erupted into shouts of status! Status! Tell us your status!
The person with the microphone handed it back to her.
“I am not married and I am not dating” she said curtly, and returned the microphone.
This post has people who are single by circumstances in mind. See, there are people who are single by choice. The celibate Opus Dei for instance. Or people who look forward to getting married, or dating, just not now. Perhaps they want to nail that masters first. Or doctorate. Or whatever else. They have their own challenges with the society, but today let us focus on those who are single by circumstances. These are people who are ready now to get into stable relationships, but life keeps feeding them on bitter herbs and concentrated lemon juice. And perhaps raw onions and pepper for salad.
But perhaps, even before going there, I should also mention that even for those dating, it is not automatic that they would want to reveal that fact. Some people because they are naturally private, others because of the fluid nature of modern relationships. See, for the extroverts amongst us, when you are in love, you want to stand at the roof top and tell the world. You know, join the gazelles in doing a love dance. But these days, no sooner have you kicked your hind legs in the air, than the object of your love decides that antelopes are better than gazelles. Then you are left with an egg on your face, trying to explain to the dancing gazelles why you have suddenly lost interest in dancing.
Back to single people. I think the society gives an unhealthy attention to relationships and marriage. I agree with Chimamanda that marriage is not an achievement. It is not something you work hard until you get. Even scripture says that a good wife comes from the Lord. Why then do we pressure people over something that is totally beyond their control? People who are single by circumstances know they need to get into relationships. In fact, they want to get into relationships. And pressure from you doesn’t help in any way.
“Fungua macho ndugu. Kwa hawa wote haujaona hata kamoja?” (ka nini?)
“Dada, bado haujaonekana?” (nilikuwa nimepotea kwani?)
*Add whatever other ridiculous thing people say to single people*
It is unfortunate that these things are especially said in church. We could be exchanging testimonies about waiting upon the Lord, trusting God in all circumstances, reminding ourselves how God’s timing is the best, but when a single person shows up, we forget all that and start asking kama kuna maendeleo kwa maisha yake. Wait. Maybe single people have a special sway over God. Maybe they control His diary. But sadly they are not aware of this fact, and no Apostle feels it right to tell them about this all important fact.
Listen people. Stop pressuring single people if you are not coming up with a solution. And no, saying Sister Jemimah is such a lovely girl is not a solution. First, maybe Sister Jemimah is not interested, and there is nothing the single person can do about it. Two, maybe the single person is not interested in Sister Jemima. Just because someone is single does not mean they will take whoever comes along. There is such a word as love. And another called compatibility.
In other words, if you must pressure single people, you must show them your factory where you manufacture custom made partners. So that all they have to do is tell you the kind of partner they need and pap! You return with a breathing human being that meets all the specifications. That is acceptable. Provided of course, that you are not a witch. Because there is that possibility too.
Second thing people must stop doing is match making. A single boy and a single girl cannot walk in this city in peace? Now, if they are just friends, that is probably okay. They will just look at each other knowingly and laugh it out. But sometimes one of the parties is interested, and the other is not.
Bosco and Irene are ushers in church. Irene has a massive crush on Bosco. Maybe Bosco is not aware. He thinks they are just friends. Because he is not romantically interested in her. So when you declare how an adorable couple they look whenever you see them together, he genuinely laughs. Irene also forces laughter, but the truth is, you are hurting her. Add a twist to the plot. Maybe he knows she likes him. But what is he supposed to do? Quit the ushering team? The situation is manageable if only you can keep your thoughts about them private. At least they can pretend there is nothing until Irene moves on.
Or maybe the situation is the reverse. Bosco likes Irene. But when he made his application, it was struck out. He applied again. It was dismissed with costs. So he accepted his place in the friendzone, because he cannot avoid her in the ushering team. When you come declaring that you think they were made for each other, see what you are doing?
Point is, people who are single by circumstances are aware that that is not the ideal place to be. They do not like it either. So it is not in your place to keep reminding them. Their aunts are already doing that. But even you aunties. Come here. I have something for you too.
See, single people are smart. They understand parables. So when you tell them that their friend Joseph’s son has been enrolled at the local kindergarten, they get it. You do not have to go further down the list and inform them that their primary school classmate Peter’s wife is pregnant with the second set of twins. Tuko pamoja, aunties?