If I write that in this blog, will I be breaching a security whatever? Giving the enemy—whoever that is—secret communication codes? Okay, just to be on the safe side, I’ve changed the actual name I use, but it has something to do with Juliet and a romantic dance. I use it over the radio every evening, while doing the security checks. I have to keep saying words like “Roger that,” “Bravo this,” “over and out.”
Well, ever since I got the name, I’ve been wondering who Romeo Tango is. You would want to know too, for Juliet can’t tango alone, can she? I just hope that Romeo isn’t someone I have in mind, who has not given me any peace of mind since I came here (read: co-worker from hell).
And I keep wondering about it—who Romeo is in this case—because almost every day they (meaning my colleagues and some random people) keep asking me about my marital status. Talk about men and minding their own business. They are always wondering why I’m not married and have no children; they think I’m maybe too old to be staying single. Their persistence makes me to think continuously about this Romeo, especially since after a whole day of being pestered about my marital status, I have to go to the radio and say, “Romeo, do you read me? This is Juliet. Do you want to foxtrot? It takes two to tango. Romeo, come in please.” And when I say that, I imagine he is just outside the door and I’m telling him to come in: “Romeo, do you read me? This is Juliet, over.” Of course, I’m just kidding. This is what happens when you don’t have anything else to do in the evenings than mind the radio.
A few days ago, while I was doing field work, an old man from the village—he might have been 70 years old—exclaimed, upon learning I’m thirty-something without a husband, “What’s wrong with you? Do you want to get married when your teeth are falling out?” Then he gave me a toothless grin before he snickered away.
Single. Married. Wife. Spinster. The way they talk too much about these words, they probably think they can woo me to make me their second wife, because they believe once a woman is my age and isn’t married, then there is a problem with her. She may be desperate. And she won’t mind being a second wife, or a fifth wife. The thought is giving me goosebumps.
So did they give me this name “Juliet” to mock me?
|“Oh, Romeo, Romeo. Where art thou, my Romeo?”|
At least their “sexual harassment” is only limited to words, and it’s not so outright. Only wondering why I’m still single and asking it to my face. The people are otherwise polite and nice. When I go to the market, they treat me with respect.
This is a far cry from Ethiopia, where the harassment was so physical that I’m surprised I wasn’t raped in broad daylight. Don’t get me wrong. I think Ethiopians are generally nice and caring, but many times while I was there I had been subjected to outright sexual harassment even in public places like the bank or even the market.
On the contrary, I enjoy going to shop in the open markets out here. People don’t follow foreigners around, nor do they grab your arms or touch you in private places or pull your hair, nor do they try to ask for money from you. It’s heaven here. No hassling. They smile and say hi and hello, very friendly.
The only problem is the fascination with marriage and having children. A woman is not considered highly if she fails to give birth. There is a lot of pressure and honor associated with marriage. And the questions keep popping up every day. So help me, God. (4/9/2011 9:06