Advice from my Grandmother
Bringing the Nigerian woman series back with some wise words from my Granny. For some reason, this memory has been at the forefront of my mind lately so I thought I’d share. On my first day of Primary school, she sat with my mother as my mum helped me into my “big girl” uniform. When my mother stepped out for a few minutes my Granny proceeded to hand me some major keys. It’s kind of funny to me how with the passing of time, her words have renewed meaning to me. Anyhow I’ll stop babbling on and get right into it.
The first thing she said to me was “neither a borrower nor a lender be”. Yes I’m aware that this is Shakespeare now but at the time I was none the wiser. At five this meant that when other kids at school would ask me to rip out paper from my notebook for their games, it was my responsibility to consider the consequences. First, my mother would have my ass if I ran out of pages in my book cause I was being the community vendor for table soccer. No friendship was really worth that. Plus the reverse of being the borrower was not safe either. Kids are mean and once you get that reputation of being the one who is always borrowing; its hard to shake the mockery. Later in life however, being discerning with borrowing and lending can save your friendships. There is nothing more uncomfortable than that feeling of debt whether you borrowed or loaned. You know that feeling when you see someone who owes you money faffing about on Snapchat or Instagram without a care or as would be the reverse, the feeling that you can’t take a breath without your debtor glaring at you. Either way, this is a philosophy I would recommend to anyone.
The second thing she said was “don’t let anybody see your pant”. This one caught me off guard to be honest but it was a lesson on avoiding pedophiles and men being scum 😛 . Okay maybe I’m reaching with that last bit but not by much I assure you. At five as you can probably imagine I took this very literally. There was nothing to suggest that this was really veiled caution against sexual predators. This lesson however came in handy a few weeks into Primary 1 when a two of my male peers at the time thought it would be cool to bring a small mirror to class and place it on the floor as a “peeping” apparatus -_-. When I found out, I stared the offender in the eye like Mowgli did Shere Khan and slapped him :). Ah the thought of my righteous retribution still makes me smile today. Fast forwarding a few years though, I feel what my Granny is saying to me now is that many people will make a case for why they are deserving of you; some convincing, some just creepy, but your vulnerability comes at a high price so act accordingly. I was raised in a society that constantly sexualizes women and like a double edged sword, shames them for indulging in anything sexual. For this reason I feel she was telling me to guard more than just my itty bitty fruit of the looms but to guard my heart as well.
Lastly, she said to me and still says to this day “be a good girl”. These are the all encompassing words of caution. If showing discernment in my dealings with others and guarding my heart weren’t enough to steer me on the right path, these were her final words to me that day. These words say to me remember where you come from, be kind and honest, honor your parents, be a blessing to all those you meet and live in peace with others.
Sometimes I wonder why she chose to tell me these things on my first day of school or if she told my mother these things as well but whatevrr it was, I’m glad she did.