Choices for Young Women

By Alicy Munde

I usually thought that my friend was joking when she told me that a couple of married men run after her asking for a relationship. Yankho has been my best friend since childhood. It happened that school separated us and she went far away from me. She moved from the central region of Malawi and went to the southern region, Blantyre. I liked the way my friend was trying so hard to complete her bachelor’s degree in business management at University of Blantyre Synod. We usually chatted through WhatsApp messages and video calls. We normally used video calls for us to still feel like we were still near each other even if she was far from me.

We were childhood friends before she moved to Blantyre. We would tell each other that one day, we would all get a degree and apply for jobs together. The degree that we would earn would help us to be independent as young women. Yankho and I shared dreams and aspirations, spending hours together. Despite distance, we remained committed to our version of success and independence. Despite Fate’s relocation to Blantyre, we remained unbreakable in our shared vision. Deepest belief in a hard-earned degree reflects dedication and determination.

The day we had a long conversation is when she told me that life is a bit hard to get her daily needs, and she wants to start engaging in relationships with men for her to get a little income. I was so disappointed in my friend but I tried not to show her that I was unhappy with what she had told me. I understood that she trusts me and she can tell me anything as her best friend and that is why I never showed her my reaction towards her thinking. But to be honest, I did not support her decision because I do not believe she can do two things at once. Being in a relationship with men—for the sole reason of having more money—and then doing school sounds like a confusion to me.

I tried to pretend like I was on her side, and she became like an open book to me. She started telling me what was going on. She told me that she has been going to a certain shop near her school to buy groceries where she met the owner of the shop who liked her. She was surprised that the owner of the shop told her not to pay for the squash that she had bought. After two days, she went back to the same shop. That time, she wanted to buy fish to prepare for dinner. Again, she was told by the owner of the shop not to pay anything. When she asked the reason why the guy told him not to pay, he told him that he would like her to be his side chick and his wife should never know about it. The time Yankho was telling me this, she looked so happy that she wanted to eat this man’s money.

After hearing that the man who wanted my friend is a married man, I was not okay with the idea that my friend had in her mind. The man sounds like he is never satisfied with his wife and that is why he goes around looking for youths to sleep with them. If he was loving his wife, he would not ask my friend to be his side chick. I told my friend Yankho that I was not against her, but that she needs to think like a mature girl when it comes to such tough decisions.

In 2021, I found myself in a similar dilemma when a stranger driving a luxurious Range Rover car approached me. With a confident demeanor, he insisted that I should share my phone number, proposing that we start talking regularly. Despite the allure of his expensive car and the flattery he seemed to offer, I couldn’t shake off a feeling of discomfort and suspicion. My intuition told me that there might be ulterior motives behind his seemingly harmless request. In that moment, I had to make a decision – whether to succumb to the temptation of an extravagant lifestyle he appeared to represent or to trust my instincts and safeguard my personal boundaries. Choosing the latter, I politely declined his proposition, gently asserting my desire to keep my privacy intact.

As I reflect on that incident, I realize that such compromises to fulfill basic needs or material desires can come with hidden costs. While it might have been tempting to get swept away by the allure of luxury and material possessions, I knew deep down that compromising my principles and safety was not worth any potential gain. Through this experience, I learned the importance of staying true to myself, even in the face of enticing opportunities. It reinforced the idea that genuine happiness and contentment come from within, and no material possession or external validation can replace the peace that comes from honoring one’s values. With this in mind, I wished that my friend Yankho would consider not risking her life for small moments of pleasure from someone who already has a wife.

16 August, 2023