MY NAME IS NIYAH

My name is Niyah, I am 29 years old, and I come from a nice loving family made up of my parents, two sisters and one brother. I attended the best primary and secondary schools and obtained my undergraduate and graduate degrees from top Universities. I moved to the USA about 13 years ago to attend graduate school, planned to move back to Nigeria immediately after completion, but somehow Allah did not will it so, and so the USA has been my home since 2002.

I have the most wonderful job making a comfortable income as a financial expert, my tastefully furnished corner office on the top floor of one of downtown Washington DC’s luxurious high rise buildings will make some people green with envy. I am honestly too blessed to complain about anything. A lot of people will describe me as energetic and bubbly, the sort they call ‘the life of a party’, and honestly I won’t really deny the fact that Allah gave me the gift of bringing smiles to faces and always being a source of good company, but deep down inside me, I am that girl that will rather stay indoors for an entire week sleeping, reading good magazines and watching reruns of my favorite shows (Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Cosby Show and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne).

So I have told you everything about my happy life, now it’s time to let you into the big hole, the one million naira problem that is prompting me to write this column hoping that perhaps someone out there can help solve my big problem: I AM SINGLE and SEARCHING, huge sigh!! My parents, aunts and uncles are so worried about my ‘status’ at this age. I have heard it all, and these days I am beginning to hear one particular aunt’s voice in my head every time I am having a peaceful moment at home I hear her say with her thick Yoruba accent, “Niyah, you are not getting any younger; your biological clock is ticking! It is hard for a woman to have children after the age of 30!” Oh she makes 30 sound like the cursed age, and she has said these so much that it just interrupts my thoughts at odd times! Aunty is one of the major reasons I have decided not to visit Nigeria again till I find a husband, honestly, people like her make me feel like renting a man just like Kat Ellis (Debra Messing’s character in “the wedding date” movie) did when she was going to her family home for her sister’s wedding.

I am telling you, this woman has given me more ‘grief’ than my mom, I remember how she ‘cornered’ me when I went to Nigeria in 2005 for my older sister’s wedding, she kept reminding me that it was my turn to get married next and that she was not too ‘broke’ to help my parents throw another party, I could not even get the liver to tell her that I did not have a boyfriend talk less of having wedding plans. By the time my younger sister was getting married in 2008, she had become more impatient and irritated by my lack of success in the ‘marriage arena’, she actually sat me down and gave me the lecture of my life, she told me that I was wasting my time living in America, that I was better off moving back home (Nigeria) where all the good men actually live.

After carrying on a monologue for over 30 minutes, I guess she realized that I was actually capable of answering some questions and defending myself, so she asked me if my ‘failure’ to get married was due to the fact that I was not finding any suitable men, and I made the mistake of my life by saying, “Aunty, I have found some, but none of them really appeals to me”, the fury in her eyes was undeniable, she began to raise her voice, “what do you mean none of them appeal to you? Do they smell? Oh, I am sure that’s not the problem, the problem is that you are too educated%2C you are too picky”, and she just went on and on and on. I just shut up my mouth and let her continue ranting. I wondered why I had ignored my mother’s good advice not to show up for the wedding in the first place.

I had paid $2,000 for a ticket only to come and hear the “you are too picky” sermon face to face! But how could I not show up for my sister’s wedding? Apart from the fact that she means so much to me and her wedding was a perfect opportunity to show her how much I loved her, I also needed a little vacation from the hustle and bustle of Washington DC life, and I could not dream of a better place to chill out and catch my breath than Lagos. Moreover, I could not allow people to say that I did not show up for the wedding because I was jealous of the fact that my younger sister was getting married before me. But after all the stress I had been through in the two weeks I had been home, I could not help but think my wise mother knew what she was talking about when she advised me against coming for the wedding because of all the things people would be saying. And boy did they say so much! It was so bad that I felt such a huge sense of freedom and relief when I boarded my plane back to America, as soon as I took my comfortable seat on the plane, I said a prayer for a safe trip, fastened my seat belt and vowed never to torture myself by returning to Nigeria until I had a man on my arms.

As the plane took off from Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep with a smile on my face, at last I was free and going back to America, where no one really judged me or cared whether I was single or married. But some of the ‘marry marry’ pressure must have found its way into my checked in luggage because being back home in DC single suddenly took a turn for the worse……

Yours Truly, Niyah


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