Tough love: love at its finest


Until I went over to boarding school for some realtime chiseling, I was a perfect example of mummy’s pet. Aside being her child, I was her last son, and I’m now learning that mothers are particularly into their last sons – having a younger sister, mum’s last child, didn’t reduce my preferential treatment one bit. It was so bad that mum only says ‘no’ when she couldn’t afford my request. I remember her going such extra miles like: buying the food of my taste when she’s got some food in the house; turning her last dime over to me because I needed to buy this or that. It was that bad.

However, it wasn’t really that bad. This same woman, my mother, did something that forever remains vivid on my mind. Yes, it is so vivid that I can still see the very faces of those that saved the day. On that fateful day, mum left me a simple and straightforward instruction: stay here watching over this stuff while I go over to the market with Nne (my younger sister) to get something. No sooner had she reached the market than she saw her dear son playfully following from behind. Unfortunately for me, I had an interesting cane in my hand with which I played. And that was it for me! As soon as I got close enough to her, she made for the cane in my hand and gave me that sort of beating I still vividly recall after more than 15 years. It took the intervention of really determined market women to get her to stop. Interestingly, I deserved every bit of that beating as the damage she foresaw happened back home while I was away.

I still wonder how she was able to do that; how she could beat me so mercilessly that the fear of my passing out or away didn’t cross her mind; how my ‘saviours’ almost couldn’t contain her rage. I got the answer to those puzzles in my recent visit to Lagos (I’m back to base already); someone shared the theme of ‘Tough Love’ with me. His name: Base One.

On one of my days in Lagos, I took a trip to Wazobia TV, located on 267A Etim Nyang Crescent, Victoria Island, to see Ezeugwu Chukwudi, the anchorman of the highly informative and rib-cracking As E Dey Hot. Kamikaze, as we fondly called him back in the UNN days, was Sammie’s best friend and always came around our place, and I’ve always known him to be amazing. And so I went to see him. But I had to wait for him since he was held hostage in the notorious Lagos traffic situation; it really proved to be a worthwhile wait. It was during this wait that I met Base One, a member of staff there.

The long and short of it all is that I got talking with Base One and somehow our discussion got us into the theme of love. Lest I forget, we were led into that theme by a colleague of his who expressed surprise at how the gentle Base One lashed at someone the previous day or so. Tough love he called it. Tough love is that point where you’re not so much carried away by the love you’ve for someone that you can’t insist that he/she gets certain things right. That point where my mother demonstrated to me that although she could give me as much as her ‘last card’, that does not give me the temerity to flaunt her orders; to be irresponsible, to put it lightly.

Methinks we all need elements of tough love in our various and varied relationships. It is in the very essence of love to want not just the best but the very best for the other, but we must come to grasp with the fact that it is only ‘tough love’ that can secure the very best for our lovers. Yes, it is our job to get them to be realistic, to push them to go the extra mile, to demand that they be the best of who they are, to insist that they meet minimum standards at least in the different ramifications of life…

Of course, ‘tough love’ goes with an expensive price tag. Sometimes it could even cost us the relationship itself. In this regard, Bishop T.D. Jakes instructs that our destiny is not tied to those that left; just let them go. And whoever is too blind to see that finest love is ‘tough love’, that one should probably be shown the ‘red card’.