Marriage is a Private Affair – Four Levels | Flax Golden Tales

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Marriage in NigeriaFlax-Golden Tales
Marriage is a Private Affair – Four Levels of Interactions
For: BA / BBS First year (Business English)
Chinua Achebe, Nigeria (1930 – 2013)

Literal Comprehension
This suggestive story “Marriage is a Private Affair” is written by famous Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. In this story, he has described about one marriage relation show marriage as a private affair. The subject matter of this story is love and marriage between Nnaemeka and Nene where Nnaemeka is from Ibo tribe and Nene is from other tribe. He did engagement and started to live with at Lagos city. When they were engaged Nene was asking to send the message about their engagement to his father Okeke but Nnaemeka did not do that because he was familiar with his father’s nature and his culture. According to his culture, the son of Ibo tribe has to marry the girl of their own tribe arranged by father. If the arrangement is done by the father it will be acceptable from all the members of that community. If the arrangement is done by sons themselves with the girl of different tribe, it would make father very angry and creates the tension in family. So, he planned to tell his father when he went home on leave. But he did not tell to Nene that his father had already chosen a girl Ugoye of his own tribe.

Nnaemeka went home on leave and told his father that he could not marry Ugoye because he was engaged to marry with Nene who is a good Christian and teacher in Lagos City whom he loves. After hearing this Okeke became very angry because according him and his rituals Christian woman should not speak/teach. Then Okeke asked her name and when he knew that she was the girl of other tribe but not of Ibo tribe, he became silent which silent was more dangerous than his angry speech. Okeke tried to persuade his son Nnaemeka not to marry with Nene. But when Okeke was sure that his son would not obey him, he did not speak with his son after ordering to go away from home and gave up as a last. When Nnaemeka went to Lagos, the neighbors came to Okeke to give sympathy about his son’s behavior. Different old people and gentlemen encouraged Okeke to go against his behavior and suggested to check his son with witch doctor by saying his mind is not right. But Okeke denied that idea.

After six months Nnaemeka showed his father’s letter to Nene. Nnaemeka had sent their weeding picture to his father. His father had returned to them by damaging the picture of Nene. Nene sobbed when she found her picture damaged. He consoled her by saying that his father is a good natured man and that one day all would be right. Nene and Nnaemeka were living happier and more comfortable life in Lagos. Everybody except Nnaemeka’s father Okeke in Ibo tribe knew about that because Okeke never liked to talk about his son and never let other to talk about his son. With a great effort, he was able to forget his son because almost 8 years went by not having any contact between Okeke and his son Nnaemeka. Nene had given birth to two sons within that time. Nene wrote a serious letter to Okeke telling that his two grandsons were enthusiastic / inspiring to see their grandfather. She had requested him in letter to allow them to see him and also told that she would not come to village where Nnaemeka would come with grandsons. When Okeke read the letter of Nene, the idea of grandson melted him and he soon realized his mistake not giving invite to his son and daughter-in law for eight years in to their home. He regretted for his behavior. The sky was clouded and started to rain. He could not sleep that night. He saw vision that two grandsons were waiting outside in the rain asking to come in. tears came in his eyes. Mentally Okeke wanted to invite Nene’s family. So he had vague fear that he might die before giving them their proper right.

Interpretation
This story “Marriage is a Private Affair” might be trying to tell us that married life becomes happier and joyful if it is done privately and in accordance with personal choice. Along with it, the writer wants to say that if the society is superstitious and narrow minded, it brings us tension and problems. It is not necessary to get married within own culture like Ibo in this story to live happy married life. As Okeke did not accept his son’s private marriage with Nene, he got 8 years tension, misunderstanding, conflicts and sadness which are the result of narrow mindedness and superstitious belief/traditional belief. Here the writer wants to suggest that we should be careful, qualified and independent then personal choice of marriage can be the best example of marriage to live happily.

Critical Thinking
Thought the writer’s focus is to show private affair of marriage as the best example of marriage to live with joy and happiness, he has not described anything about the arrange marriage which has its own value too. So, some of the points which are described in this story makes me disagree. Here the private marriage life of Nene and Nnaemeka is shown as one of the happier and joyful life. Why did Nene write letter to Okeke, father-in-Law, saying that their two sons want to meet him? Can’t we say that they were not happy? Can a private marriage always create happiness? Presently, we can see that private affair of marriage is bringing lots of problem in the world rather than arranged marriage. More events of divorce are occurring in private marriage cases. In such condition, how can we regard private marriage as the best example? When Okeke could not convince his son Nnaemeka not to marry with Nene, he completely rejected his son. How can a father reject a son due to his misunderstanding of marriage?

Assimilation
After reading this story, I came to know that superstitious and back-warded societies are not only in Nepal, these people are everywhere else. This story made me to remember the incident when I wanted to have inter-cast marriage with my present wife. She belongs to Newar family and me from Brahman family. We were in private affair at that time but our both family came to know our relation. As they were superstitious, both families denied our relation saying that we have different culture but we didn’t give up and decided that convincing both family, we would get marry and enjoy the happy life. Finally, we both became independent and decided to get marry which was also accepted by both families. Now, everybody is happy seeing us that we are enjoying our private marriage life.

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