I entered the bank with a flourish that cool Monday morning and was met with a loud “Good morning Mrs Aisida” by the beaming bank official and immediately the good feelings I had disappeared.
No, the bank official didn’t say anything wrong, it was just that the thought that popped in my mind was “there is no Mr to the Mrs.”
It was the same when I announced my appearance in court some days afterwards and the judge politely asked Mrs or Miss and the thought popped up again “a Mrs without a Mr.”
You see – a Mrs. exists because of a Mr. and since Mr. Aisi now resides in another realm there was no Mr I for me to Mrs.
Now both the bank official and Judge did absolutely no wrong, I needed to be addressed and they couldn’t call me Tara (because they weren’t familiar with me) or Aisida without a prefix (because that would have been rude) and anyways, both were official occasions and settings.
I thought about the feelings these separate incidents aroused within me (how a title I had aspired to and proudly bore was now a reminder of my loss) and I came to a realization of the subtle ways our titles reinforce our situations and cause damage to our psyche. It’s amazing how a title can speak to one of dreams unfulfilled, of hopes dashed and of unanswered prayers.
Again, It struck me that this is mostly a phenomenon experienced mostly by women cimpared to men. A man’s surname never changes unless he changes it and he bears MR right throughout his lifetime whether or not he is single, married, divorced or widowed.
I understood in part, what the title “Miss” could mean to an unmarried lady and how it could cause such pain that she does everything possible to change the Miss to a Mrs even if a glorified one. I realized the stigma the word “divorcee” conveys and how a lot of people will rather die in a joyless marriage than bear that title.
I recognize that at times we have no choice in using titles to address people and that’s okay but I venture to wonder why we have all those forms at registration tables at almost all events (religious, official and sometimes social) that ask us what our titles are and with a tick of a box announce our circumstances.
So I ask today why I have to fill copious forms that ask me about stuff that no one needs, cares or wants to know especially when the events have absolutely nothing to do with those titles. I don’t ever think anyone has contacted me after those events based on my status so why do we print those forms and remind each other of our secret pains.
It also brings to mind the question why we categorize people. I was at my church’s annual women thanksgiving recently and normally we’d have a procession of women in several groups dance to the altar with their thanksgiving. It’s a joyous time that heralds our end of year festivities one l always enjoy and look forward to and truly God has always shown up there.
This year even though the experience remained the same for me, I however, saw things from a different perspective (reinforces the fact that we don’t know how people feel until we are in their shoes). I joined the young widows group and a beloved sis of mine on seeing me broke down in tears because she couldn’t reconcile seeing me in that group.
It made me think about who could be crying secretly about being in that group and had to woman-up and attend so people wouldn’t talk or those who didn’t attend the programme just because they didn’t want to be put in the class of widows, matured singles, single parents, waiting to conceive mothers etc or those who attended but declined to join any group because they didn’t know where they stood in any of the groups or those who were in more than one group and were afraid to advertise their circumstances to all and sundry.
I guess we need these titles, categories etc for administrative purposes and also to cater specifically for the needs of a particular group of people.
I don’t know the answers to most of these questions but I think we must rethink why we do some things in order that we may not end up driving away those whom we want to reach.