Don’t get it twisted; I love my husband. I have known this man for twenty perfect years and I have been married to him for ten rocky years. We have weathered the storm of life together, swallowed the bitter and sweet pills of life, and even survived neck-deep quagmires.
We practically grew together. I must confess, he is an amazing soul. However, the first day she showed up at our home, I had reasons to question my choice of husband.
Our courtship wasn’t an easy one. It was plagued, majorly but not exclusively, by socio-cultural differences. So we dedicated years to build bridges and make room to accommodate my north-central upbringing and his southwest background; at least, for the sake of our mental health or sanity. We took five years, post wedding, to neatly carve out family traditions to help us remain true to each other and to adjust/ adapt easily to each other’s dynamic needs. I can say, we have had a nearly smooth ride.
It was Deji’s turn to cook that fateful day. I have never had any cause for my nerves to shift in fear anytime he was in the kitchen. So, he was at it that day when the door bell rang. I heard it but since we were not expecting any visitors that day, I effortlessly allowed myself to be engrossed in the task of fixing our laundry, upstairs. I mentally transferred the job of getting the door to my husband who was downstairs, in the kitchen.
He got the door. Boom! It was his mother. She had never visited and my
countless inquiries in the past didn’t amount to any good. So I got comfortable with us visiting once in a while. Showing up unannounced left his lips wide open and heart expectant of a dark- grey discomforting
The apron on him got a striking disapproval from her which she wasn’t hesitant to voice. “ Deji, where is your wife? Who wears the pant in this house? Shebi she has turned you into a houseboy? These questions came out of her in quick succession and in a heightened pitch of voice; my ears didn’t even miss the stress patterns and punctuations. I dashed out of the laundry room wondering why a self invited guest and quasi judge would reel off those words.
Lo! It was my mother- in- law. “Welcome mummy”, my now shaky lips, begging for calmness, uttered. I was expecting her to urge me to stand to my feet after
kneeling down to welcome her, a grandeur sign of good upbringing. She left me on the floor and walked straight to my kitchen. I instinctively knew hell was next door. The confusion written on my husband’s face made me look stupid all the more. There was an unnecessary carefulness smeared all over him.
The kind of carefulness that screams — I don’t want to hurt my wife or my mother.
I eventually pulled myself up and followed him to the kitchen to get a hint of my crime, at least, to help me develop strategies crucial for damage control. Her murmuring got my heart pounding for fear that I might loose my cool.
We were greeted by the sound of plates crashing to the ground. The pieces of my fine Italian dinner set were scattered all over the floor. That sight pushed hot tears down my face. Again, my husband stood there starring at her like a school boy about to be sent home because of school fees. It obviously was a mistake, but she wasn’t sorry about it. She wasn’t even remorseful, not a pinch of it was written on her forehead.
She ordered her son to clean up which he did religiously. We managed that evening by taking turns to check my temper and his confusion that was gradually turning into full blown foolishness.
My greetings the next morning fell on deaf ears. Mama wouldn’t even look at my face. I graciously didn’t allow that to sink. We ate breakfast quietly; it was so annoying to the point that a drop of pin would have been mistaken for a guitar chord. “Thank you for breakfast, babe”, Deji muttered as he gathered his plates ready to move them to the dishwasher. He was on it when the unexpected acid rain fell.
“How do you expect God to bless you with a child when you have decided to turn your husband into one?” She uttered.
Those words effortlessly made their way to our limbs and in no time got us paralyzed. Somehow, we were forced to release ourselves into their crushing weight. “Mama these are family traditions. We thank each other for chores. We clean the house together, I said amidst tears flowing down my face.
She defiantly ignored my tears. To pacify her ego, she shook her legs vigorously and chewed the side of her lip, a demeanour, to prove that she came ready for war.
At that instance, I knew there was sand in my garri.
I was convinced beyond doubt that my husband’s silence about his mother’s “rude” behavior was either an endorsement or the manifestation of mama’s boy syndrome.
As if that was not enough, mama summoned my sister- in- law, Iyabo, to our house. Her husband was kind enough to tag along. She melodramatically narrated what happened. My sister-in- law after an extended cross examination, painstakingly, led us to common ground. In no time, peace became visible. In the spirit of resolution, mama was carted away to Iyabo’s house to afford us time to heal and recover from those heart blazing words about our childlessness.
Peace Habila wrote in via email@example.com