Friends, wives and bad books
LISTENING to this mind-blowing song has just as much calming effect, on the soul, as that which a swimmer has with a life jacket or lifebuoy on, while in the deep – end. And this is no exaggeration. Truth is, apart from the soothing and sonorous voice of the singer (who sadly departed this world barely three years ago), the profound lyrics of the song are not likely to be forgotten in a hurry. But, most importantly, however, it is the value of reliable friendship — which the song puts an unmistakable emphasis on — that strikes a great chord with me.
Really, you need not look too far to see why some people treasure friends beyond a house full of rubies. Indeed, so attached are these people to their friends that they relate like members of the same family. Ironically, it is even argued, oftentimes, that there are friends who are far more reliable than members of a family. What this means is that those who have reached that elevated level of friendship, which can be called ‘bosom’ are, literally, inseparable. Where you find one, there the other must be.
Yet, friendship bears a level of distinction and qualification. Like the colours of the rainbow, friends come in different categories and classes. There are friends who have been at it from childhood. What one does, another must also accomplish, all in the spirit of friendship. This kind of friends may even go as far buying parcels of land near each other and even proceed to design and build their houses the same way. Friends.
There are certain friends who can swear by each other’s loyalty, in thunder, lightning or rain. Yet, there are others who are ‘friends’ only by its mere superficial definition. Whereas, in actuality, they are worse than demonic. There are others still who are mere fair-weather, latter-day friends ,who met in one social club ,at a party or on a professional circuit. Also, there are friends who are apt to come close to you only for what you have and what they can get from you. Some friends!
But, the amazing thing, however, is that everyone has a friend. Even those we consider the worst of human beings! It would seem a safe assumption to make, therefore, that that person has not been born, who has no friend. But, the concern of this piece, in the main, is this: To what point should any friendship go, especially where there is that mandatory transition in the lives of either or both friends like marriage? Indeed, it would appear that some friends get so carried away that they forget that once a wife or husband comes into the picture, the tone and dimension of friendship must be reviewed. And this is not to diminish the worth of that friendship. Except that like the Yoruba say: “Twenty children cannot play together for twenty years.” So, no matter how strong the friendship, there comes a time when a line must be drawn.
There is no denying the fact some wives and a few of their husbands’ friends (and here I refer to very close friends) enjoy nothing less than mutual respect. It is these friends who are welcome in the home, if not all the time, certainly most of the time. And a friend who enjoys Madam’s unreserved goodwill and respect, most certainly, has a visa into the home. Little wonder that most men – apart from the decidedly patriarchal and provincial ones- will agree that the home belongs to the wife. And I can’t agree more.
Yet, women are like that dog, in the proverb, which bares its teeth in playfulness, just as it bites with the same teeth, when it is in a sour mood. Simply put, the same woman who can be such a hospitable hostess, can also be terribly unwelcoming to her husband’s friends.
But, what is it that can happen between a wife and her husband’s friends that will make them end up in her bad books? A million Naira question? Before your mind begins to run riot, I only ask this question with the best and most honest of intentions. Now, examining some possibilities behind this question may not be out of place.
I know, for certain, that most wives – no matter how broad minded and accommodating – will ever look kindly at those friends, who take their husbands out on late-night binges, all the time. Oh yes, once a friend is tarred with the brush of ‘bad influence’, there is nothing that can wash him clean before any wife. Similarly, there are men who end up incurring the wrath of their friends’ wives because they are seen as serial womanisers. God help that man who goes out with a husband who returns home smelling of a female perfume and perhaps, with an accompanying tell-tale of a lip-stick stain on his shirt. Who can then blame the wives when they begin a process of ‘’strategic unbundling’’ of these two friends?
Anyone who knows that ‘hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned’ can only begin to imagine how lethal those we refer to as the ‘ fairer sex’ can be, at warfare with any friend seen as ‘leading their husbands into temptation’. Yet, it is not every friend that is, necessarily, a ‘partner in crime’. But, some men are just plain unlucky with their friends’ wives. Or what do we say about wives who simply say: “I just do not like that guy. Seriously, from the first time I set my eyes on him, I just knew he can’t be up to any good.”
I agree that, most of the time, when men do not heed their wives’ admonition, a few things can go wrong. Indeed, women are often credited with the special gift of ‘seeing’ and ‘knowing’ what men cannot. Yet, I make bold to reiterate to all women, on behalf of and in the interest of most misunderstood (or oft-misperceived) men that in most cases, appearance may not equal reality.
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