Men fascinate me.
I consider them a mystery.
My grounds for fascination are obvious. I am a woman, so a man’s world is alien to me. Many times, I do not understand the way they think, reason, behave or even act. It is a mystery to me that a man can claim to love a woman and yet have an affair with another and claim it is nothing. It’s amusing to me how they can be so fanatical about a sport involving 22 men running after a rubber ball.
I admire their approach to life though, their ability not to sweat the small stuff as we women are often wont to, the camaraderie between them, their self-confidence and assurance as they bestride the world, the fact that they go for what they want without apologies.
I guess I am a bit envious of them. They don’t need the permission of their women to do most things, they are Lord and master of the home and everyone defers to them.
I also pity them, it’s not easy to be a man and the societal expectations of who they are and should be is enormous. As they say uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
I, however, have a grouse to pick with some men and it’s something I have thought about a lot and I have seen it occur over and over again. It is alarming because I see men who ought to know better by reason of their backgrounds and upbringing making the same mistakes their fathers made, doing things they had sworn in their youth that they would never do. I will give an example:
When I met Mr Aisi, after the toasting period when I finally said ‘Yes’ to us dating, (in those days you didn’t immediately say Yes to a guy cos it made you look cheap ) he started crying and told me about how his mother had suffered when he was much younger over his father’s behavior and actions.
You see, my father in-law had been in the Nigerian army and rose to become a general. He once told me that a soldier’s vices are the 3 Ws – Women, Wine and War and he indulged fully in the first 2.
By the time I met him, however, he was much calmer and full of regrets about his past. Anyway, Mr Aisi was all tears when he was telling me the story and my immediate reaction was one of great concern that I was dating a mummy’s boy, closely followed by a feeling of relief that if he felt this strongly about his father’s actions he was unlikely to repeat them.
I was fully convinced with the emotions he showed on that day and subsequently that he would not repeat his father’s mistakes. However, I found out many years later that Mr Aisi was no bastard at all and was the true son of his father as he did some of the things he upbraided his father about.
So, my question today, is why do men forget their past misery and repeat their father’s mistakes? Why does a man see and experience the effects of his father’s actions and still goes to perpetuate same? What makes it easy for them to forget, do they wake up one day to discover the reasons why their fathers did what they did, do they rationalize them or do they just forget them?
It makes me wonder why a man will come into money and mistreat the wife of his youth, a woman that stood with him through thick and thin only to discard her when fortune and fame comes calling. Why a man will see how his father mistreated and abused his body, not taking care of it and follow suit.
It also makes me wonder why some men in the bid to get even with their wives use their children as cannon fodder. Why a man would refuse to pay for his children’s education or maintenance not because he can’t afford it but because he is quarreling with his wife. My parents were separated when I was 7 years old and it was a very acrimonious separation.
My mother had custody of us ( my father couldn’t have kept us though, as it would have hindered his moves) but she never stopped us from going to see him.
Incidentally they both lived off Allen Avenue. I can remember my father telling me on one occasion that he wasn’t going to give me something I had asked for because he and my mother were fighting over something at the time.
My thoughts then were why did I have to suffer for whatever my mother did. It made me very sad and for years I held it against my father. (I am aware that some women use their children to get back at their husbands but that’s not the focus of my writing today)
I hear of older men bemoaning the fact that their children are closer to their mothers and lamenting over same and I wonder if they understand or take responsibility for their part in the breakdown of the relationship they had with their children. Many times it’s not what the women have told the children but what the children have seen. We tend to forget that children are miniature adults and that they remember things, can reason and apportion blame.
I am aware that women also repeat patterns handed down to them by their mothers, in-fact all of us carry the burdens of our parentage and some women repeat their mothers mistakes but most women are more circumspect than men and take more care in avoiding stories that touch.
It is difficult to break free from established patterns and it is said that we must have a conscious understanding of self to break the patterns that have been modeled before us otherwise we would continue those patterns even though we hate them.
I don’t have the answers to the questions that I have asked but I would want our men to reflect on them, to ask themselves the hard questions, to take responsibility for their actions and to remember that little child who swore never to repeat his father’s mistakes and resolve in themselves to right their wrongs.