• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ditch the shame and rise again

FG  worries over high mother to child transmission of HIV
  • “You should be ashamed of yourself. You have let us all down and we’re being dragged on social media because of your foolishness. What were you doing when others were having sense and taking good decisions? This is how you pay us for all the investment we made in your education, right?”

Evelyn hung her head down and listened to her mother go on and on. Tears streamed down her cheeks as waves of shame washed over her. She had just returned from her Master’s Degree programme at Imperial College London and just one look at her had gotten her mother into full detective mode. She was pregnant and very unmarried, and had no relationship that was known to her family.

It was a terrible situation, being the only child and heir apparent to Otunba Wilson. The expectations were sky-high and it was assumed that her marriage and wedding would be the talk of the town. Her mother had often daydreamed about how grand the wedding would be, and instead she was presented with a pregnancy of unknown origin.

Evelyn’s father sat quietly and watched his daughter with a blank look on his face. She couldn’t tell what was going on in his mind and she felt even worse. The tabloids and gossip columns had taken her father to the cleaners on her account, and she just wished the ground would swallow her. She knew her family was hurting and she wished she could make it better.

Over the next couple of months, Evelyn barely left her room not to talk of her home. She had been one of the top 3 graduating students in her class and she had received several job offers and requests for collaborative work but she responded to none of them. She avoided her parents as much as possible; her mother would typically forward any news on social media to her that mentioned her situation.

One day Otunba, her father, summoned a family meeting and said the dress code was party wear. What could they be celebrating, she wondered, as she went to Instagram to look for a nice maternity outfit. Whenever her father said the dress code was party wear, you had to show up in your best attire.

The day of the meeting arrived and she saw that her father had invited their closest family and friends, and had arranged for her to sit by his side. Gosh! Things couldn’t possibly get worse than this, she thought.

As she went round greeting and mingling, she could hear the whispers and feel the looks of their guests on her even though nobody dared ask her any question. The meeting started right after dinner and Otunba went straight to business.

“I thank you all for honouring my invitation to be here on very short notice. As you all are now aware, my darling daughter is pregnant with my first grandchild and I realised that we have so much to celebrate. This excellent daughter of mine has made this family proud from the day of her birth. We have celebrated all her achievements up until when she returned from her Master’s programme where she also graduated top of her class.”

Turning to face her he continued, “Evelyn, your mother and I want you to publicly let you know that we will always be proud of you no matter the mistakes you make and we want you to ditch the shame and rise again. I know the grandchild is coming before the wedding but I want you to hold your head up high and get on with your life. We love you and are so proud of you.”

The entire courtyard erupted in applause and tears as Otunba’s words wiped away shame and clothed his daughter in honour.

A year after the baby was born, Evelyn resumed at a Fortune 500 company and was the very definition of radiance.

Shame breaks the human spirit, makes us hide and underperform because of the mistakes and wrong turns we have made. When we learn and apply the lessons from our mistakes to improve our lives, we can ditch the fear, rise again and enter into a glorious future.