What does it feel like to be a woman in the army? Enduring sounds of bullets in the morning and late at night, cries of ambush and pain. Watching the little friendships created washed away by death, death at dawn, midday and at dusk. Being miles away from the people closer to your heart, having a sense of uncertainty looming over you because you are unaware whether you will make that trip back home. Are these women fighting for the nation? Is national peace and solidarity all they stand for? Is it the salary they want out of this job? Is it that they didn’t complete school or did all jobs desert them?
What does it feel like to be a woman ensuring law and order as regards proper traffic? Having to endure assault and insults from drivers in the wrong? Having to stand the entire day without rest under the scorching sun and endlessly rising dust? How do they manage swerve away from the car whose driver’s intention was to cause them harm? Don’t their heads ache? Doesn’t their hair smell a day after their visit to the salon? How do they manage to maintain their shirts plain white with that dust?
What does it feel like to be in a relationship with a man whose anger displaces the house roof, ignited quicker than a tingle from a caress, whose presence unnerves the wife because once his mouth is opened, glasses will be broken, slaps and fists effected and all she will be left to do is cry the night away in heart break, How does it feel like to want out of a relationship but be stuck at the exit door because you can’t imagine your babies crying in your absence or them being raised by a strange woman, you can’t imagine being welcomed by condolence messages about them because he has threatened you with a panga in hand several times.
How does it feel like maintaining a cool persona when it is evident he is cheating on you not only with your best friend, Jane and several other girls. To continue to serve his supper, press his trouser, freeze his favorite salad, wash shirts covered with the newest lipstick around town, to ask and be brushed away as irrational? How does it feel like to learn that he has children out of wedlock? Or that on your marital bed, he has extravagantly lavished other women including the maid with fiery lovemaking? How does it feel to know that you now have to share his attention? Or that he never pays attention to you because someone else has become the apple of his eye?
What does it feel like to have it all and one day lose it in a glimpse? To have an envious relationship, all the latest cars in the deportation market and just like that, it becomes no more?, To have to raise children single-handedly. How does it feel like to watch your husband lose a battle to some besotted disease only to leave a bunch of responsibilities to be taken care of alone while enduring neglect from family and friends?
What does it feel like to be wife to a soldier that has been posted to Somalia? Waking up to news like “50 soldiers deployed to Somalia killed”, having to check through the lists of the enlisted dead soldiers, making calls on end to find out if he is safe. What is it like to be a wife to a doctor whose life is unintentionally centred around the hospital? When to spend time together is like once in a million years, what does it feel like?
What does it feel like to watch your child succumb to death because of a drug administration gone wrong, or because you can’t afford the medical bill or food to change the state of starvation at home? What does it feel like for a child to wail through the night of a pain you can not take away?
What does it feel like to be subjected to ritual acts of female genital mutilation? To not only endure the pain in childhood but every other time you visit the washrooms or bring forth life? How does it feel like to feel ugly because the latest breed of men likes their ladies slim and slender? How does it feel like to be pressured into marriage? To be visited by a senga who will go on and on about how to treat a man, only to do as she advises but still be disrespected in marriage? How does it feel like when society jeers at a career woman because she has no children or family of her own?
How does it feel like to hear a woman passed away in labor? How does it feel like to know that on a daily, women lose their lives because of sexual abuse? How does it feel like if you learnt that because your father could not forego his cheating ways, your mother’s face suffered the acid attack? How would you feel if your daughter loved so hard, but a ruthless boy dumped her for another after he had deflowered her? How does it feel to learn that majority women are still being battered but still manage to put on a strong front?
All this and more is what women face on a daily, have you taken time to respect them? Accord them their full dignity not because you expect to bed her but to genuinely stop her in her tracks with something extraordinarily different? Have you taken the interim position to ensure their stand in society isn’t one of absurd inferiority? Are you treating the women in your life differently?
Okay now, imagine you are a woman,
How would you feel like if for all your efforts, you weren’t appreciated by your spouse? Family, relatives and even your own children?