Baby Steps

One of the biggest mistakes you can make approaching a problem is to assume you know all about it. Life in general is a problem, with no unique solution. Even if the plate of beans is in front of you and the spoon is in your hand, you cannot put it in your mouth the exact same way with the exact number of beans in it and the exact same angle two times. You solve the easiest problem in the world by different means, all of which are unique and some of which are effective.

I think the same is true for marriage. When people tell me they are not ready for marriage, I wonder if they think marriage is bigger than the life they are living. The thing is you are never ready for anything until you see the end result. People used to ask me about my exams before I entered the hall: “Are you ready for this exam?” I would answer, “If you’re asking if I prepared for it, yes. But as to whether I’m ready for the exam I won’t be able to say that until the results are out.”

Yup I’m still awaiting results in my marriage. One year ago on this very day, my lovely wife Ima and I took our vows in the presence of God and family and friends and the government of Nigeria. I can’t tell you if I was ready for marriage or if I’m ready even now. But I can tell you how the journey has been.

It’s been fun. I’ve never had as much fun in one year of my life as I have this last one year. Travelled so much (almost too much) and watched so much TV together. It’s also been a lot of talking. We are in each other’s heads but still, words have to be used for the avoidance of doubt and loopholes that could be exploited by the sand storms of life.

I have had to learn vulnerability and trust. Giving your body to someone is a level of trust. Giving your heart to someone is downright scary. What if they use it to play? What if they sit on it “by mistake”? What if they use it and cook egusi soup? What if you could never get it back? What if it goes horribly wrong? This thing called trust… (I’m sure you know that chilling feeling that engulfs your heart when someone says, Trust me)

Anyways we are all children in this school of life. I’m happy and grateful to God to have the best of seatmates in Ima. And I hope we can learn and grow together and have fun while we’re at it.

Here’s to forever *raises glass*


Ada stumbled and regained her balance as she hurried along the deserted, cobbled street. It wasn’t really because she was eager to get to her event, but because she really didn’t want to grant any peeping eyes from upstair windows the opportunity to notice the disparity between her face and her ceremonial dress.

Congratulations on your big day, they had said in their whatsapp messages and BBM chats. The messages were not as many as they could have been. It wasn’t just that she was out of the country; the resentment in the silence of the majority of her friends was enough to tell her the path she’d chosen was not the democratic choice. She couldn’t even be sure any of the messages coming in were genuine or sincere but she replied with perfunctory thanks for each one.

Mother would not call. Father had stopped talking to her six months ago. Ezinne had called in a last ditch attempt to change her mind last night, hinting that the general mood in the house was softening towards the prodigal daughter. But Ada had committed when she stepped on the plane two weeks ago.

It had been no easy decision from the beginning, but the enormity of it all dawned on her at the check in counter when the attendant casually mentioned it was a one way ticket, as if trying to alert her in case she was unaware. In actual fact, she was unaware. She hadn’t bothered scrutinizing the ticket when Segun mailed it to her. She hadn’t made up her mind to use it or not up till two days before the flight, when she had to make a decision to book her local connecting flight for the next day.

Canada was far from home. Segun was not planning for her to return anytime soon. He assumed she thought the same way too. She wasn’t sure about that about him sometimes. He did the thinking for her a lot. He forgot that as the first daughter in a family of five, she was used to doing the thinking for her siblings and even her parents sometimes. He’d always said he wanted to pamper and protect the girl that pampered and protected everyone. But then sometimes it just felt so oppressive and assuming and possessive.

Still, she had to trust him. She had to trust that his intentions were unselfish. She had to trust her upkeep for the next six months at least to him. She had to trust that this decision to trust him was the best decision under the circumstances.

Under the circumstances. She let out a small bitter laugh that went unheard in the howling snow. These were not circumstances. These were pressures, constraining considerations, degrees of freedom far below the domain of personal choice. These were forcing, extenuating circumstances. She slowed down to stop bouncing the baby growing in her too hard as her thoughts went in its direction.

For the last two months, home had been hell. Mother refused to wash up after her or lift a finger to help her with her burdens or advise her on the changes her body was going through. Father was more concerned about saving face. He would never be able to throw the lavish party for his first daughter as she got married. She was with child, and out of wedlock. Why he cared so much about it she had no idea. A child was always welcome in their tradition. Perhaps it was because he was a deacon in the church and had presided over many other such family cases, rendering judgements as he saw fit with the prevailing male opinion of the church board. Perhaps in his mind, his righteousness was at stake now that the proverbial vulture driven from the market place had come to nest on his roof.

Just before she got to the stairs of the church, her bouquet fell from her hand. Segun had been too busy writing his exams and juggling his job to go buy them so she had to buy the flowers and bring them to the ceremony. This was not the picture of her wedding. This was never the plan. Nothing was perfect about today. She could not bring herself to run after the flowers as the harsh wind blew them further away from her reach. Tears filled her eyes involuntarily. Was this how her marriage would start? Chasing after the little that remained of her grand dreams while the wind teased her by pausing only till she got within reach to blow them away again? People fell out of love months after getting married but at least they had the small pleasure of the naive self deception on the wedding day. Couldn’t she have even that much even if that was all she ever had?

It was ironic how metaphoric this moment was. Should she climb into the warmth and security of the building and go back into the warm and familiar though unloving arms of her family? Or should she insist on chasing her dreams through the cold and snow with little chance of success?

She didn’t have to answer for herself. A little further down the road, a little girl stopped to catch the bouquet as it was tossed against her ankles. She had to pull away from her guardian mother to hold them firmly with both hands. Looking up, she saw Ada standing in the direction the flowers came from and knew they were hers. Leaving her mother, she ran shakily on her tiny legs until she got to where Ada was and handed them over to her.

This was all Ada needed to be encouraged. What she had failed to do as an adult she would succeed in with the simple childlike trust in someone she really didn’t know that well. She would not run so easily at first, but at least she would walk. And perhaps some day, she would learn to fly.

Baby steps.


Point your kids in the right direction––
when they’re old they won’t be lost.
(Prov. 22 vs. 6, The Message)


I love to learn. I love to teach. For me the two are the same.


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