By Francis Ewherido
Stories of rags to riches are abound in our midst. For instance, a family is very poor, but God leaves no one empty-handed, and so gives them a very brilliant eldest son. Even in the harshest conditions, the son strives academically. The family invests its non-existent resources in the son’s education. Mother luck smiles on him and at some point, he gets a scholarship to study in the university and comes out with an outstanding first degree.
Luck smiles on him again and he gets another scholarship for his postgraduate studies. In his post graduate school in Europe, he meets Jane. Jane is a silver spoon daughter of a very rich Nigerian, who did her undergraduate studies and is doing her post graduate studies in the same university.
As they say, when a young man washes his hands clean, he dines with kings. They fall in love and start dating. They get back to Nigeria and the young man gets a well-paying job. As a result of his brilliance and hard work, his rise is very fast…
The young man represents the children of Abel, those with rags to riches story, while Jane represents the children of Cain, successful silver spoon kids. I got the inspiration for the captions from the novel, Cain and Abel.
As a result of the new status of Abel’s children, they inevitably meet, court and marry children of Cain. No problem, but there are things they must do if they want to enjoy a happy marriage. First, children of Abel must come to terms with their lowly backgrounds. There is no need running away from your shadows. Their background is part of their constitution; there is nothing to be ashamed of.
But I have seen some children of Abel who live a lie. Some even deny their poor parents and adopt some rich relatives as parents. When you see the CVs of some children of Abel, all you see under educational background are: Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford, where they did post graduate studies or attended some three-month courses. They never include the local universities where they got their first degrees.
Also, if you are child of Abel and all the family resources were poured into giving you a sound education, you are under an obligation to join hands with your parents to also give your siblings a sound education. It is advisable you delay your gratification a little to help lift your family from poverty. But what we see with some children of Abel is that once they graduate, get a good job and achieve a little financial stability, the next thing on their mind is marriage. They want to marry and start their own family. In my opinion, that is selfish.
But some of them feel they have their own lives to live. No problem, but now that you have decided to marry a daughter of Cain, remember that her background and life experiences are different from yours. You owe her a duty to let her know your background and circumstances; your responsibilities to your parents and younger siblings.
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It is a world she does not know and you must explain to her that, whereas her father is responsible for her siblings’ education, you will be responsible for your siblings’ education; whereas her parents still give her money, you have to send money to your parents.
The issue of support for your family must be sorted out before marriage so that your wife will not be a stumbling block later. Supporting your family is for your good and everybody’s. If you do not support them, it will come back to haunt you in future. You might end up with siblings who are perpetual dependents, or siblings you are ashamed to be associated with, or siblings who will be of no help if there is external aggression and you need family support.
You have to learn how to do the balancing act between your nuclear and extended families. This problem is self-inflicted. Marriage should not have been top priority in the first place. And there is nothing like I have my own life to live in this matter. You must support the extended family and your wife should understand that.
Getting your wife to understand your background will also help to avoid unnecessary tension and conflicts later. Your family members will like to visit or stay with you at some points. Their ways might look crude by modern standards. Things you and your wife take for granted will be novel to them. For instance, your sibling visits you from the village; all he has used all his life is pit latrine, or open defecation in the bush.
He needs to use the toilet on arrival and you direct him to a sparkling modern toilet. Trust me, he would not know where to start from. If he is the type who is too shy to ask and he is heavily pressed, he might even defecate on himself because he looks around the sparkling toilet and cannot imagine pooing anywhere. I have heard a story like that. Also, some relatives from the village pooh and they do not know how to flush or have not cultivated the habit of flushing the toilet after use.
The mother of a son of Abel visits his son and she is wondering why there is “harmattan” inside the house and in the car, but outside is hot. She wakes up in the morning and goes to sit in the balcony with her chewing stick to get some warmth because there is “harmattan” inside the house. You serve her tea and bread and she dips her bread in the teacup. She puts cutlery aside during lunch and eats her rice with her hands.
She is an absolute nightmare at the dining table. Even her grandchildren, who are under 10, watch in absolute horror or amusement. How does a daughter of Cain cope with these experiences unless the husband prepared her mind for them ab initio? When her mind is prepared for them, she will laugh them off or tolerate them.
If not, these are the scenarios that make daughters of Cain to call their in-laws, “barbarians,” “uncivilized,” “uncultured” among other hurting wordings. We all know the outcomes: divorce, separation, fights and sometimes homicides. All these are avoidable if sons of Abel do their homework well.
All children of Abel must realize that they were like their parents and siblings until the world opened up for them. They must now open up the world for their parents and siblings. When should this start? From your early beginnings. There is nothing like I want to get an accommodation first. From your first income, if it N5,000 or N10,000 you can spare, start sending money home to your poor parents and siblings.
Remember the bible says that he who is not faithful in little things will not be faithful when the stakes are high. Giving is a habit; it is either you have it or you don’t. If you cannot give out of little, you cannot give even in abundance. Take care of your parents who gave their all for you.