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By Somorin Kemi

Nigeria is a very tough place. I have heard friendscomplain bitterly about having to wake up at 4:am just so they could get to the office on time. And even so, they are still made to face tremendous amount of pressure at the work place. For them, life is tough.

My other friends who, years after graduation, have not been able to find jobs easily disagree.

“You don’t know how painful it is to be jobless,”one often said. “If I have to wake up by 1am provided I’m able to earn some income, I will be just fine.”

Each time I hear them complain, I smile. I smile because I know they might never understand what tough life is. They are men who have no idea, not one bit, what life is for a lady who is single at 32. Life can be a living hell.

My name is Favour, I’m 32, and I’m not married. Now everyone thinks it’s my fault and I’m no longer able to sleep and wake up in peace in my own father’s house. Each day, my parents fall short of telling me I’m not longer welcome here. Nothing I ever do is right.

On Saturday morning I was fast asleep while the clock was striking 5:30am. Then suddenly my phone began to ring. It was my mum calling. “How come she is calling me this early?” I wondered as I battled sleep which was still heavy on my eyes, to pick the call.

“You are still sleeping by this time of the day!” came her thunderous voice. The sleep in my eyes vanished in a instant.

“But you know it’s Saturday, mum, and I need sleep,” I said.

“You do fast and go to gym. You must work hard to stay fit so you can attract good men!”

“Here we go again,” I thought to myself. “Mummy,” I called.”I’m not going to the gym to attract any man; I’m doing it for myself.”

“Favour, do you remember Blessing who was staying with mama Chigozie? Today is her wedding day. In fact, I suspect she is already pregnant.”

Since I turned 28, mum has taken up the job of announcing to me every wedding taking place in our neighbourhood. It’s perhaps her way of asking me to go and marry, too.

But am I supposed to carry a placard around advertising my availability for marriage?

“Ok, mum,” I told her. “Collect her number when next you see her so I can call and congratulate her.”

She let it out finally. “I will,” she said. “But I’m also expecting you to bring a man to me soon.”

I had no answer to give her. Was I to promise her a man? Am I going to force one to follow me home?

I knew I had one thing to do. I had to leave the house. Although it was still quite early, I dressed up and left for the gym just to avoid the conversation. So I thought.

I had only taken a few steps out of the house when I ran into a neighbour. After a few pleasantries, she asked me: “Is it because you are looking for a man to marry that you want to kill yourself all in the name of keeping fit?”

I wanted the ground to open and swallow me. But it didn’t. I managed to smile.

“Even after my wedding, I would still continue to keep fit”.

Life as a single lady is a real torment. And it is rather striking that it’s the women folk who abuse you the most for not being married. I wanted to ask Mama Amara the other day whether it was her that found herself a husband. But I didn’t.

Mama Amara was beating up her son, Ebuka. I felt the beating had become too much and went to plead with her to stop. I had barely said three words when she started abusing me.

“You won’t go and marry, stay here and be answering those who didn’t call you.”

I bowed my head and left. It’s been like that. It’s even worse in our church. There, I see girls of yesterday shout instructions to me as though I was a child, just because they are married and are now “women” and I’m a “girl.” Imagine that!

Evelyn, the very girl I took care of when she first had her period is the most painful….

To be continued.