“Daddy! Daddy!” Etima called as she ran into the sitting room and threw her school bag on the couch. Her father was startled and almost jumped out of his chair in fright.
“What’s that?” he barked in an angry tone.
Daddy Toyo never spoke softly. His tone of voice was always harsh and could scare a rat away.
“Good afternoon Daddy! I got my UTME form today from the school and we are asked to fill it and give it to our parents to sign before we will be allowed to register online,” she said excitedly as she handed the form over to him.
Her father adjusted his glasses and looked at the form closely.
“That’s good. So which course are you filling?”
“Medicine and surgery” Etima said jumping
“Eh?” her father said as he looked up and took off his glasses so that Etima could see his eyes.
“I want to be a medical doctor.”
“Medical doctor in whose house? Is it not a six year course? I can’t spend my money on school fees for six years only for you to get married and your husband will start reaping where he did not sow. All my money will waste if you study medicine.”
“Keep quiet. I’m still talking.”
Etima kept quiet, bowed her head and placed her hands behind her.
“You are a girl. You will get married and go to your husband’s house. Or don’t you want to get married?”
She nodded her head.
“You want to get married and you want to study medicine. What an irony. Haven’t you noticed that medical doctors don’t marry early? Don’t you go with your mother to the hospital? All those female doctors, how many are married? Before you finish 6 years in the university, plus strike, then house…house…that thing they used to do before NYSC. How many years is that?”
Etima didn’t respond because she thought it was a rhetorical question.
“Etima, how many years is that?” he asked raising his voice.
“8 years sir.”
“8 years without strike. When you add strike, it should be 10 years. 10 tears Etima before you even think of having a boyfriend. How old are you now?”
Without waiting for a reply he said, “16 years plus ten is 26 abi? Okay, so it’s when you are 26 you will start meeting boys or men. That’s too late. You should start having suitors from 23 years or so. By 26 you should be married.”
“Daddy, I don’t have to wait till I’m 26 to have a boyfriend."
“You think I’ll pay your school fees and you will go a start gallivanting up and down with men?”
“But I’ve heard of people even getting married in medical school and they had good grades. So what’s the big deal in having a boyfriend in school? Anyway, I’m not even interested in having a boyfriend anytime soon. I can wait till when I graduate if that’s your condition for me to study medicine.”
“Condition kwa? I’m not giving you any condition. You are not studying medicine in my house. Look for any 4 year course and study. When you get married, your husband can send you to medical school if he wants. But not on my money.”
She stood there frowning and her father continued talking, “If you like carry your face like shit. I’ve spent so much money on your education already. Then you want me to send you to medical school. That one, your bride price will be too high that no suitor will be able to pay it. So you better respect yourself, go and think of any 4 year course and read. When you get to your husband’s house, you can ask him to send you to study medicine. But in my house, medicine, pharmacy, law and engineering are for my sons. They are the ones who will use the degree well. But you, after all the money I will spend, you will just throw your certificate one side when you get married and start having children; just wasting my money.”
“What if I get a scholarship? Will you allow me to study medicine?”
“No. Etima, are you deaf? All these things I’ve been saying are what to you? Nonsense? Medicine is a very hard course. It needs serious reading. There will be no time to socialise. By the time you graduate, you will be how old? 26 or so. Then you will start socialising. It will take some years of socialising to find a husband. By then you may be 28 or even 30. And sometimes too, men are intimidated by women who studied professional courses in school. That’s why you see female doctors who are 30 years or even up to 35 years and they are not married. God forbid. Say God forbid.”
She was silent as she stared into her father’s eyes fiercely.
What would you advice Etima to do? How does she convince her father to allow her fill medicine in her UTME form? Does it really matter what a girl studies in school?
End Note: This is a fiction story and an excerpt from a novel I’m working on. However, your opinions will be greatly appreciated as it may help someone who is in such a situation or a similar situation. Thank you
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