I was in the car with my mother one calm evening. We’d had a fantastic time outdoors and were on our way home. She drove while we both listened to a song on the music player. There were a few conversations, but a major part of the ride was spent listening to my mother’s favourite Bola Are album. Mummy sang along joyfully. I suddenly looked to my right and saw a lady in the distance. She piqued my interest. I became enthralled by the song. Even though I had almost been completely silent up until that point, I began to sing along very loudly. Also, I put in some small talk about the artist. I did all I could to engage my mother and draw her attention totally away from ”my lady”.
Before I could get away with my act, Mummy brought the car to a halt and smiled at the lady who had now approached us. “Fine girl!” she said, still giving the patronizing smile. Then she added, “You know you look beautiful; you should try to cover up a little more. This outfit you’re wearing is very revealing.” She continued, “The way you dress determines how you will be addressed.” The poor lady looked at us and walked away. First, I hung my head then I fixed my gaze on my mother. ”Again!” I exclaimed. ”Why couldn’t you just leave her alone? ”Hmmm… I’m a mother!’’ My mother retorted as if that was supposed to explain her actions.
As we drove closer to our house, I became increasingly quiet. “Mummy simply has a way of embarrassing people,” I thought to myself. “She spoke every time she saw someone inappropriately dressed. What did it matter to her what the lady wore? The lady’s parents and family had to have seen her before she left her residence.” I remembered that mummy had done something similar the day she saw some boys sagging and putting their hands down their pants. Although I had found the act disgusting, I had decided it was best to simply look away. Mummy had reached out to them, much to my dismay, and had asked if what was in their pants was going to fall and, if not, why they were pulling it.
Anyway, as time passed, I noticed that my mother stopped advising random people. I noticed she only had that conversation with people with whom she had some sort of relationship. The reason for this, I am not sure. Indecent dressing became the norm in society, or Mummy simply decided to let go. I need to remember to ask her what has changed.
I have discovered that there are options for correction. Rarely is any as effective as one done in love. In Nigeria, some elderly women, as I recall, attempt to teach young mothers how to care for their babies. For example, while some of the older women patiently correct the younger ones by assisting them in adjusting the baby’s head while the mother straps the baby to her back, others abuse, shout at, or even spank the young mother, whom they label careless. Oh, what an inexperienced and clueless young mother she can be! However, a mother who even endeavours to strap a baby to her back is not likely to be reckless. She only requires proper direction. Some people who dress carelessly may be doing so out of ignorance. Correcting them does not imply imposing one’s will on theirs if genuinely one is trying to point out what ought to be.
In this day and age of ”wokeness”, should we look away and mind our businesses? What if we correct out of love to create a better world instead of criticizing to hurt people? Yes, people perceive things differently and what one person considers as being right might be wrong for someone else. However, aren’t there basic principles, values, and disciplines that should not be compromised?
I hope our generation does not remain silent while our children go astray.