My passion for words is legendary. Go ask my girlfriend, most of our quarrels starts and ends with her choice of words. I have a deep seated aversion for improper word usage. And I have little tolerance for poor diction.
One word that I dislike the most is the word: ‘Single’ in the marriage context.
Now, don’t go thinking it has anything to do with the fact that I a jobless 29-going-to-30-years-old-mateless individual. Rather, think of my revulsion as a result of its negative effects in our community.
It is ungrammatical
The designation of an unmated person as ‘Single’ is a big grammatical blunder; funny enough, it has escaped the British throne for this long. Question, what is the opposite of Single? Is it Double, Couple or married?
Now, people will answer me, depending on their age, level of desperation and occupation (Pastors seem to operate a different corpus of grammar than the laity). Single takes the antonym Double; Couple goes with One; Married is simply Unmarried. However,some mischief makers decided to make Single the opposite of couple—for god knows why? Pastors proclaim that the two shall become one, but still refer to them as couple.
There’s something about the singlehood. It creeps in on you. Every age has a milestone and we cheerfully look forward, to attaining them. Children look forward to teenage years, as teenagers look forward to adulthood; even fools look forward to age forty to affirm their foolishness. Somewhere along the timeline comes the word ‘Single’ without a milestone! Is that not fraudulent?
Mother used to drop me off, at the children’s church until I became thirteen and the church took me to the teenagers’ class. Father proudly ushered me into the adult cathedral when I turned twenty-one, and introduced me as his son, now in the university.
The pastor asked me to wait after service on a certain Sunday after my graduation from college, I was to start attending singles’ fellowship—just like that?! ‘Who are they?!’ ‘People, just like you!’
It is conspiratorial
At this imaginary status, the society gangs up against you, even your immediate family are in the game. Their aim: to get you married. Your mother suddenly starts asking about the pact between you and a certain girl, your father drops off names of random individuals who are doing well and well mannered—as if that affects the price of shoelaces.
Your neighbours, those ones?! They become emergency matchmakers. Some funny thing is how Mama Bukola, the grocery seller down the street, loans out her daughter to help carry your purchases to the house, and other random antics of other neighbours’ children.
Mama Ngozi, the igbo food restaurant, will conveniently allow Ngozi, a new graduate like you, take your order for Garri and Ofe-onugbu and she graciously fill your portion to the brim.
It is left to you to fall into their antics—experience says a lot have fallen that way.
It’s not Representational
The height of discrimination is when an official document requests you to fill either “Single/Married”. My brain cells cry out in desperation. The fact that I am not married doesn’t make me a “Singular being.”
As a matter of belief, every being is at least three-in-one—spirit, body and soul; of course, with the exception of those who are said to have murdered their souls. Curiously, marriage does not connote any notion of twoness. If every being is at least 3-in-1, then there are at least 6 people in a marriage. That’s why, it aims at oneness: the process of becoming one or at most two—coupling!
I am just an Individual
The truth of the matter is those people were just unlike me—in so many ways! I don’t crave the pitiable desire to mingle; I have enough confusion in my head than to worry about how some people think of me. Everyone wants to tag you with some prefixes to your name and every girl trips on her heels to get your attention.
The men are straining their necks to catch a glimpse at the ring-finger of the ladies—okay, I am hopelessly guilty here, too. For some unexplainable reasons, I spy at ladies’ ring-fingers during worship sessions in the church. A particular chorister has a trademark ‘lift up your hands as we worship the lord, this morning.’ It’s not surprising most unmated men enjoy his sessions better.
A story is told of a passenger who got into a scuffle with another passenger at a Lagos bus-stop.
The said man had wanted to join another at the front seats beside the driver, but the first passenger on board had simply alighted and asked the new man to go in, which Mr. Somebody took exceptions to. He felt, by some rights, entitled to the vacant seat and started ranting like a typical Nigerian does:
‘Do you know who I am? I will deal with you…’
‘Who are you? You’re just an individual!’
‘What, did you just call me an individual?
That’s where the crisis started!
But, in all honesty, I am just an individual. I feel comfortable in my skin.