This past summer, I went back to Togo for a visit with my mom, my aunt and my uncle after having lived in the United States for almost fifteen years. I was, of course, excited to see members of my extended family and old friends again. I couldn’t wait to be in a place where everyone spoke the same language (Ewe…mixed with French if the occasion called for it) and ate the same foods (Fufu, Jollof rice, Garri, etc). The return visit to Togo with my mother was packed with delicious food and surprise revelations for both of us.
My trip home came with expectations. I expected a warm welcome from my extended family. I expected to be grilled about my education and professional status. I even expected to be looked over and to receive comments on how much fatter I had gotten since the last time everyone saw me. My family, and native culture to a certain extent, is not known for mincing words. However, I did not expect how many times I would be questioned about marital status. That phase of life that only briefly crossed my mind when an old classmate posts an engagement photo on Facebook. The first time I was asked these questions, my answer was direct and matter of fact .
Well Meaning Friend: “So… let’s talk for a moment. Are you married? Do you have children?”
Well Meaning Friend: “Why not? Don’t you want to make your parents happy by giving them grandchildren?”
I almost spit out my food. I did not have a script ready for this kind of question.