Email from Sandra: Broh dah or Daddy

At a family gathering last weekend, an auntie-in-law succeeded in making me angry.

 I just had to exercise restraint else I’m sure my annoyance would have landed me in big trouble with some other in-laws.  Her allegation?  I wasn’t showing respect to my husband by calling him Obodai.

In her words, “a woman should show her husband respect by prefixing his name with bro dah or daddy”.  Imagine this!

She’s one particular person I had always dreaded coming into close contact with.  I had heard so much negativism spoken about her before and after getting married, and so I determined to ever keep her at an arm’s length.  But on Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t do anything but to watch her sit next to me under one canopy.

We had all attended my father-in-law’s 75th birthday Thanksgiving Service which was followed by a reception in his home.

For such a joyous occasion, all and sundry had to “represent”.  I had early on been to that home to help arrange the chairs, wash glasses and plates, help set the tables, do the décor etc.  So I was tired.

I decided therefore after church, to relax under one of the canopies which housed five large round plastic tables.

Around each table were six plastic chairs.  At the time she took her seat next to me, there were other unoccupied seats on the other tables; only five guests, were seated then.  But once she had made up her mind to sit by me, she was stopping at nothing.

I felt very uncomfortable initially because there definitely was going to be an uneasy calm in that territory.  You know that kind of feeling, don’t you?  What were we two going to talk about?

She tried to make a conversation first by saying, “ei, Naa Atswei baa na nyɛmi bee naa mli” which translates as “Naa Atswei is going to get a sibling one of these days”.  I only smiled because now I’m showing a bit so it wasn’t like she was not telling the truth.

My lips, complexion, nose and cheeks were all giving me away, so I knew a few observant ones would notice that I was in my gestation period.  In less than five minutes, I had started reacting to her strong perfume.

I suddenly felt very nauseous.  But leaving the place would be misinterpreted by her.  So I sat still whilst saliva congregated in my mouth.  With the help of a neat can in my handbag, every little while, I would spew my bucchal content in there.  I did it so discreetly, no one, except this “neighbour” noticed it.

When the MC for the occasion announced that lunch was served, I was really feeling hungry, tired and lazy, so when I saw Obodai passing by, I was quick to yell out his name mildly.  He came close, said hello to his auntie and asked if he could be of any help.

“Please can you help me get some food?  A bit of apapransa, no crabs, a bit of gari fortor, coleslaw, and the head of one tilapia”.  Smiling, he shook his head and walked away to grant my request.  He was the culprit of my present being and had to “assist me to proclaim”.  Hahaaaaa.

As soon as Obodai turned to leave, this woman went like, “ei, Ablah, so it is true”.  Surprised and not knowing what her statement meant I asked, “true that what?”  “That you don’t respect”, she said.  Frowning, I placed my right palm on my chest and asked, “me?”. “Yes you” she responded with a repulsive gaze.

“I had heard that you don’t respect but I didn’t know you would exhibit it in my presence.  Is that what you call your husband? “Can’t you call him bro dah, innuntsor or daddy? In the worst case scenario, you could have affixed a title of some sort before his name.  Obodai ta sane he pɛ!”

I was shocked!  Who had told her I didn’t respect?  In which forum had I been discussed to any extent?  And how was the plain mentioning of my husband’s name, tantamount to disrespect?

Looking at her straight in the face, I knew it was time to iron out all the creases of bias this woman had for me.

“How were you expecting me to call him?  Is he not Obodai?”  I asked.  “When he came close, did you not hear him call me Ablah?  You know what, I show respect to whom respect is due”.  Then I kept mute, turned my face towards the other side of the lawn, and placed my chin in my right palm, my saliva gathering once again.

My mannerisms therefrom made her so uncomfortable, she soon abandoned her seat.  I hear she went to tell other relatives that I had insulted her. But her complaint backfired after she picked up a quarrel with Obodai’s younger brother’s wife.

I don’t have a problem with some women calling their husbands “daddy”, “me wura”, “wofa”, “braa”, broh dah, “pastor”, the list is endless.  But I have always had my reservations in respect of that.  How can I call the man who sees my nakedness “daddy?”  How?  Will not such a relationship grow into a father-daughter type?  Eh?  And so you realise that some women who title their husbands thus, are unable to joke with them as helpmates should.  Total fear and respect!

This auntie-in-law calls her husband “Sir”.  I hear back in the day, the man used to be a teacher in Somanya and so she chose to call him “Sir”.  The title notwithstanding, you should hear her quarreling with him in public.

I keep wondering how a respectable man as him, very quiet and calm, found such a tigress for a wife. It’s true what the scientists say, that like poles repel but opposite poles attract.

I won’t call my husband broh dah, daddy or innuntsor”.  What for?  He isn’t and can never be my brother, father or Lord.  It’s true one’s husband becomes her relative by virtue of marriage, but no matter how much the Ethiopian tries, he can never change his skin; neither can the leopard do same.

My brother is my brother and my husband, my husband.  Period!

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