I started off writing this article with the intention to share the link between the love I have for Nigeria and the one shared between couples of arranged marriages; love characterized by patience, tolerance and hope. But as things sometimes happen, I lost the write-up and my train of thought departed to another destination. Given that the original thought is struggling to return to its origin, I choose no longer to focus on the arranged marriage love link. I will instead draw from the experience of ex childhood sweethearts. So, at the risk of sounding like a played out Nollywood movie, the title should speak for itself.
For a country that holds my childhood memories, Nigeria is very much like a childhood sweetheart. We met under controlled circumstances (for me, birth) and like children our love was innocent. With hardly any demand from either party, we simply enjoyed each other’s company. When our circumstances changed, we were physically apart but tried to keep in touch. We eventually drifted apart, wondering at times, what the other person was up to. So that when circumstance once again brought us back together, we raced with arms wide open, anticipating our embrace.
Our reunion had its shares of Oohs & Aahs because our memories were still intact. However after all the catching up, we stepped back to examine ourselves: one person looked better, the other worse. One person spoke of new experiences, the other grunted about the same old problems. It ended up being a disappointment. But how so? This reunion was supposed to reaffirm my decision to put aside any form of love that developed between me and the other countries in exchange for a labor of love with the one that nurtured me. Instead it left me with the reality of a faded glory, lost love on the brink of becoming obligation.
So what do you with a childhood sweetheart who has changed so much and looks nothing like they use to? Who refuses to move on, worsening instead? After your awkward reunion you begin to question their ability to keep you fulfilled. Do you give in and adopt their bad habits? Do you move on to others who will develop you or do you wait, tolerate and hope. It’s not a black or white situation but in the words of Onyeka Onwenu & King Sunny Ade if you love them, you’ll wait.