By Aisha Musa Auyo
Today, as a wife and mother, my definition of success is being an excellent homemaker that nourishes and nurtures my family in the best way possible. I want my topmost contribution to the world to be a set of individuals who are peaceful, loving, respectful, intelligent, honest and hardworking people. I want to be more successful as a homemaker than in school. I want to be always there for my family, not relying on others to discharge my primary responsibilities. Today, this is my priority!
In the world of academia, nothing counts better than degrees and working in the university. I was born and brought up in that world. My parents are academics, and their dream for us is to have as many degrees as possible and as early as possible. We know nothing but books. And lucky enough, the books love us.
I finish secondary school at 16 and my bachelor’s degree at 20. I wanted to be a doctor like every brilliant student, but life had it; I had a chronic ulcer in my teenage age. Thus, I was always in and out of the hospital. That ailment made my dad change his mind about letting me study medicine. He said he couldn’t stand seeing my dream and hard work being crushed by (University) Senate committees because I was sick and couldn’t write or pass medical school examinations. “I’m in the committee for years, and I know these things”, he told me.
That’s how I was advised to study education. It was not what I wanted, so I wrote exams to pass, not to fail. I graduated with a 3.46 CGPA, below almost everyone’s expectations. I’m always known for acing my exams. The least they expected from me was 2:1. I learned not to do what I didn’t want from that result, never again. It’s either “A” or nothing.
I have a passion for cooking, and it’s known to everyone around me. So, after graduation, my mom enrolled me in a catering and hospitality management program –to ‘kill’ time before the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme. I gave that program my all and finished with an excellent result.
I got married a few days after my catering program. The plan was to live in our state, but my husband was transferred to another state two weeks after marriage. So, NYSC came, and I was posted to my home state as planned. However, I was alone, and my husband had to travel to and fro every week to his place of work and his new bride. It wasn’t easy on us, and we decided to stay together after service.
But before finishing my service, my parents advised me to register for a master’s degree. So, I started lectures a few days after my POP. Unfortunately, this delayed our decision to stay together with my husband, as we are constantly travelling to meet each other whenever we have a break in school and work, respectively. Fortunately, the master’s coursework is an 8-month program. So, I left the state immediately to settle with my husband, coming to school every month to see my supervisor. But this time around, I decided to study what I wanted.
I had to convince them that I couldn’t give it my all if it were something I didn’t like. Let’s negotiate; you want master’s, huh? Let it be something I like so that I’ll bring you the “As” you always want, I said to them. My parents wanted me to major in Biology, but I wanted Psychology, as it’s the only thing that caught my interest in education. It’s the only thing close to my medical career dream. Thus, I studied it with passion and graduated with First Class honours!
At 22, I was the youngest and the only one without a job in our class. The result proves to me passion breeds excellence. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and Angela Duckworth’s Grit taught and encouraged me to make employment out of what I love. They taught me how working on one’s passion can bring money effortlessly. I learned and practised making money out of what I love – cooking. Catering allows me to work in the comfort of my home, regardless of the location. People must eat anywhere, and many of them appreciate good food. Nonetheless, this passion of mine generates controversies.
Since I was young, those who have known me always thought this girl’s future was in academia. She’s a bookworm, brilliant, etc. So, they’re disappointed; such a waste of intelligence! Some bold ones even ask why I don’t work. Won’t your husband let you work? Why are you furthering your education since he will not let you work? Why continue wasting time, energy and resources on school if you don’t want to work? This and that.
Back to my academic life, I continued travelling from where I stayed to where I schooled, and vice-versa for my thesis until another transfer came – too far away location now. At that time, I was almost done with my master’s thesis as I was waiting for external defence. I had to wait for good eight months before I was called. Travelling from the new location to the university was far and stressful, as one had to travel by air. So, there’s additional strain on travelling and financing. I had two kids then, and I travelled with them whenever school called.
We went for the viva, which was so relieving. At least now we can rest, I thought. A few weeks later, my parents advised me to register for a PhD. I tried to convince them that the distance was too much, promising them that I’d do that whenever I settled in one place, not now that I’m on the move. I also told them PhD was for those with a career in academia and that I was not working yet.
Moreover, a PhD is expensive, and I have never seen a self-sponsored unemployed candidate doing that. I even argued that at 26, I was too young for a PhD. But no, they would not hear me. I didn’t want to hurt them or make them think that I put my husband before them; I applied. They were delighted.
I went for the aptitude test, and my score was high. I was ranked the second-best; my admission number is 00001—the first to be given admission that year. But deep down, my husband and I were not comfortable with the decision. We thought it was too early to be living apart as our marriage was still young, less than ten years. Within me, I have this fear of what would happen to my marriage? Should I leave my husband and come to pursue worldly degrees? It’s not like he failed in any of his responsibilities. He is, in fact, the one sponsoring the PhD.
Being in the barracks has opened up my eyes to the realities of life. Sadly, gentlemen turned to womanisers due to a lack of family around. I have seen how northern Muslim men change or are lured and tempted by the evils of the world. I have seen many scary things that I had never thought could exist or happen. Even though living alone should not be an excuse for their behaviour, their bad behaviour couldn’t have escalated to that level. I vowed never to leave my man at the mercies of those home breakers, so I planned to go back immediately after coursework.
Aisha Musa Auyo is the CEO of Auyo’s Cuisine and wrote from Abuja. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.