DO not ever believe it when a friend or relation or even your spouse tells you that whatever it is he or she is doing for you is for free. Or more commonly, that he or she is not expecting anything in return and that whatever favour being done to you is for God. Lies! If it is for God, is the person saying he or she is not expecting anything in return from God?
Expectations! Powerful word with consonants as loud as the batakoto percussions. Certainly not a silent sounding word or a gentle word, expectations have defined and continued to define relationships, intra-personal and inter-personal boundaries, and even the love or hate relations between father and son or mother and daughter and vice versa. Expectation is one of those words that are taken for granted and people use them so often and so harmlessly that one hardly pays attention to their import. And yet the success or failure of all marriages hangs solely on this singular word expectation or its plural form expectations.
When young men and women start out dating, the most paramount issue on their minds is expectations; expectations about how the man or woman would turn up or turn out on their first date. How the guy dresses, the pair of shoes worn, the hair style, the perfume, and even his diction are all wrapped in the imagination of the lady as she breathes restlessly to the place of their rendezvous. It is the same scenario on the man’s side: How would she appear; her shoes, her hand bag, her hair, her jewellery accessories, her make-up-too heavy, too light and ordinary or even handed- her decorum, her sense of humour and the way she shows politeness or otherwise. All these thoughts run in the minds of the would-be love birds without them realising that the mental exercise running wild in their brains is called expectations!
This is the beginning of the expectations that would eventually shape their relationship if they ever got past the first meeting or the first few weeks of their dating. A woman about to fall in love or engage in a relationship with a man would be hoping that the chain-smoker man she has met would eventually quit smoking. Or put bluntly, her expectation is that she would be able to stop him from smoking. The same expectation is extended to an uncultured man with horrible table manners. The expectation is that by and by, the lady’s good breeding would rub on the man and rub off his crude manners.
When the two young lovers eventually get married, their daily activities and relationships are determined by the responses to the expectations they have for each other. And once those expectations are not met, as they are often not met, problems start and the marriage, if care is not taken, heads to the rocks.
Friends do have expectations about their friends. And it is in fulfilment of expectations that the cliché ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ takes its root. It is in the nature of man to expect something from one another. A measure of good friendship is when a person called a friend, a true friend, stands by you through thick and thin. And when a friend runs away from you at the touch of a slight misfortune, your expectations from such a friend are dashed. Friends of that ilk are called fair-weather friends!
There is the story of a prolific mother with nine daughters. She was said to have always boasted that sooner or later when her daughters attained puberty she would be the richest woman in their neighbourhood. Her expectations were that the daughters would be her milk cows and the expected sons-in-law would be her ATM money dispensers! Her expectations from the lucrative trade she thought she was setting out with her daughters were not met. And as time went by, all the marriages contracted for her daughters with moneyed men crashed! What she did not realise, according to her neighbours was that the market for women is heavily saturated.
There are expectations between employers and employees, between the ruler and the ruled. Employers want slave labour, employees want to short-change their employers and steal as much as they can from their place of work.
There are not as many settings with high expectations as with politicians and the masses. Politicians tend to know what the electorate expect and so during campaigns, politicians promise them exactly what they want to hear. The more politicians make promises the more they raise the expectations of the electorate. And of course as soon as the votes are cast, and the politicians receive the people’s trust and mandate, they jettison all the promises and throw expectations into the dust bin!
Every one expects one thing or the other. But philosophers and psychologists have come to the conclusion that the best way to avoid disappointment is never to expect anything from anybody. Or better still; moderate your expectations of other people.
Expectations are like dreams. Sometimes expectations dwell outside the precincts of reality. Many people in most cases live in the exaggerated opinion of themselves. They expect so much based on what they erroneously perceive as their self worth. And this happens to both men and women. Some women with bulldozer buttocks as wide and bulging as the rear of luxurious buses, with voluminous hips in the imitation of hippopotamus, and bellies competing with those of Sumitomo wrestlers would nurse expectations of dashing young men to pay them any notice. It is the same with mirror-headed men hardly with any tooth left in their mouth and with eyes as bulging as scarecrow’s expecting to be kissed on a blind date by a figure 8 Miss Universe!
But the world cannot afford a life without expectations. Expectations breed hope. Expectations breed ambitions. Expectations determine the yardstick a relationship lives by. It is expectations that trigger the beginning and regrettably, the end of all relationships.
We must and do expect that something will come from our labours. We expect that in our old age our children upon whom we have invested so much love, care, and money would shower love and care on us, without asking. We expect that a man for whom we have sacrificed the beauty of our youth, the succulence we once had in cherished spots, and whose stomachs our tender cooking hands have served would not abandon us, when we are wrinkled, to the cruelty and coldness of loneliness in our old age.