I was talking with my mother recently over the phone. Considering I’ve been away for awhile, she was updating me on the various goings on back at home – who was doing what, when, how and why – the usual. At a particular point, she commented on how it was that my room over there had transformed. The laugh that followed made it hard to determine if the transformation was indeed a downstream flow from ‘cute’ to ‘chaotic’, or if it looked even better than I remembered leaving it and so, being a lover of the proper maintenance of my personal space, this vague announcement got my interest piqued. I probed for details only to find that my sister had – among other things – improvised and effected certain changes (in response to the exuberant rains and at the suggestion of my mother) that were to facilitate the execution of domestic chores such as drying washed clothes and… drying washed clothes.
In simple English, there was a clothesline running through my bedroom.
I made a thoroughly amused albeit pointless fuss and exclaimed that my sister was a ‘village woman’. Upon confessing to her role as an accomplice, I let my mom in on the title as well. Then we both laughed – agreeing the room would be restored to its former glory in the near future – and that was that.
A day later, my thoughts waved the memory of the phone call before me and I questioned my choice of words in that conversation. Why ‘village’ woman? What did they do to spur the comparison? Had several women from a village once raided the city I live in, making clotheslines in all the bedrooms in every private residence? What is the perceived and expected norm of a village woman? I sat and mulled over these questions for a few minutes, reluctant to be lumped in with the many present day folk who fall into the habit of making norms out of things and perceptions prior to thorough consideration. Favorably, I happened to be in a village (in every sense of the word) at that particular time so I sat in my temporary stay and gazed distractedly through the window at one of the housewives who lived opposite me. She was a woman who’d been born and brought up in a village setting, who was now married to a man who’d been raised in the same environment and with whom she now raised children – in like manner. What made her perceptions, aspirations, values and lifestyle patterns that much different from the ‘city’ woman’s? What was it about her that necessitated her descriptor to be her habitat?
A list of things immediately came to mind and a slightly startled smile sprung up on my face. In truth, a lot of the points first raised internally were so positive, it almost started to seem like I was unconsciously snubbing ‘my kind’ (city breeds) with each comparison. However, as always is the case, balance is key. Therefore, it is advised that you kindly read this with the understanding that:
- There exists within the writer, a positive bias towards village life and its humble trimmings.
- There is the advantageous and the disadvantageous in almost everything – one may just choose to focus more on one than the other.
- This is hardly from a widely exposed or thoroughly researched standpoint but is majorly based on direct observation through rose-tinted lens.
- Acknowledging the presence of a trait in one, is neither directly nor indirectly hinting at a correlative absence in another.
- This list of traits is not comprehensive. However, in all honesty, if I shared every single one of my thoughts, I’d likely be the only one who ever read/reads this post.
That being said, here are a few I came up with:
THE VILLAGE WOMAN IS –
- Strong: and when I say strong, I mean strong. Over here, a significant percentage of the popular foods and snacks require pounding and grinding. A woman can do the pounding of a large quantity of food (say, half a bag of beans for example) and if she is unable to access a grinding machine then that would be tackled manually too – maybe with a large stone or rock after pounding some. But, have you tried lifting a large sized local pestle before? No seriously, try it a few times. You might reconsider next month’s gym membership payment. And note, she isn’t just lifting it to take a picture or to test its weight – she’s pounding things until they’re smooth enough to be made into drinks or lump less enough to be molded and fried or something. And let’s not forget that she just may be lifting this heavy thing and making it land exactly where she wants with the necessary amount of force – using only one arm! Why? Because her infant is crying and so she needs to grip the child under one arm and breastfeed while she works.
Yeah, picture that.
- Resourceful: now when you’re averagely comfortable financially and are equipped with both knowledge and relatively easy access to modern social amenities, you’re not likely to be worrying about what the various shrubs and weird looking plants at your backyard can help cure (not unless you’re a biology major – or something related – and are working on a project that necessitates such activities). But ask anyone you know who was either raised in a rural community or had a very close relationship with their grandmother or mother who was and they’ll probably tell you of the various herbs that are just nifty for addressing one minor ailment or the other (I say ‘minor’ because if there were a cancer-curing leaf that grew on some tree in some random village, I’m pretty sure this world and society we live in would not let the inhabitants of that village know peace ever ever again). My point is, they’re less likely to sit waiting on the cavalry for their rescue and may instead, opt to slug it out with whatever they can gain access to. And if at first they don’t succeed, you can be sure ‘another try’ is exactly where they’ll be heading.
And that’s pretty cool in my opinion.
- Generous: at least those I’ve met (and I’ve met quite a number) have basically made a habit of giving. Back track to the poem ‘I Hope She Knows’ that I posted a few weeks back and you’ll get a description that’s a little fleshier. Now I’m not about to go into a debate on whether or not they’re doing it with expectations of reciprocity because that really isn’t the point, but I just perceive a basic disposition to be hospitable – regardless of how scarce or limited the resources may be – that may not be as big a norm in more modernized societies. It reminds me of Proverbs 15:17-
“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”
As at now, I’ve tried almost all the local foods here…and no, I didn’t pay.
To be continued…
P.s: I’d love for you to throw in your perspective on what characterizes the ‘village woman’ in the comment section. 😀