Saturday, 2 November 2013

A Handkerchief maketh a lady

When it comes to issues relating to being a proper lady, my mother's disciplinarian hands and mouth  never failed. She taught my sister and I how to look, talk and act like a lady. Her main reason was that she didn't want to be insulted by other people when we eventually grew up and got married. Apparently she was most likely to be blamed for any action or inaction on our part. Growing up, I remember anytime I did something wrong she would always say to me in anger, "African Chic, I would not allow you to let people insult me that I didn't bring you up well, never!!"

My mother tried to enforce several habits on us, like not eating loudly, not chewing gum and making bubbles, walking and dressing well, always wearing slacks under our clothes, making sure our hair was always neat and so on.

Naturally, I liked to rebel against conventional things, and as such I did not have a rosy relationship with my mother in my teenage years. There was however one of such enforcements that caught on with me: A lady must always have two handkerchiefs on her. Every time, before I stepped out, my mother would always ask me if I had handkerchiefs. I couldn't even deceive her because she would go on to ask me to show to her, and just one handkerchief was not enough. According to her, you would need one for your make up, sneezes and sweats, and the other one would be for show, because that one would be very neatly folded with no stains. If I didn't have any handkerchief(s), she would make sure to either give me one of hers or buy a new one for me.

Eventually, I had no option but to start getting used to carrying handkerchiefs. I liked that they made life somewhat convenient. The handkerchiefs did a good cleaning job after a sneeze, they also wiped off any unwanted sweat from your face.

Due to the change in weather, I caught the flu when I moved to America, and I was glad that my mother had packed a dozen handkerchiefs for me. So that was what I was using until I noticed that anytime I sneezed and  put the handkerchief back into my bag/pocket, people would give me very strange stares. It was after one such sneeze that the wife of my husbands friend asked me why I was using the same tissue over again and even keeping it, with all the germs that was on it. I told her it was a handkerchief and she explained to me that people used tissue paper instead.

So I had come to a crossroad; to abandon years of ladylike upbringing or change to the tissue culture.

I chose the tissue basically because I didn't even know where to get more handkerchiefs. My mother would be very disappointed.


  1. Hahaha,how ones life changes

  2. Lol.....adapting with change I call it, ur mom wouldn't be disappointed. :)

  3. Paper towel is better than tissue and it's almost like handkerchief.

  4. Funny piece. I agree with the paper towel idea mainly cos of germs n all.

  5. lol...u know i love your writing...u made my afternoon

  6. I can relate to this post about the handkerchiefs so much. My mother alos brought me up to be such a Lady(how to sit properly, speak properly, eat, talk.......) It was annoying growing up for all the corrections because sometimes you just wanted to be free. But today I'm thankful for that training.