“Something must be wrong with your head” shouted my mother in law as she stood up shaking like a bull dog about to pounce on an intruder. She was so angry one would think that I was the cause of all her problems in life. Well, technically, to her, I was. I had bewitched her son and used his head for rituals, that’s why he listens to me and not her. Secondly, I had used my womb uselessly and aborted all my children so now I cannot conceive anymore. Therefore, she can’t have grandchildren and if she can’t have grandchildren, her world has come to an end and she would make my life a living hell as a result of that.
“Mama please calm down” my husband said to her but it seemed like he only just poured petrol to a burning bush, as my mother in law started wailing and pouring insults on me, my mom, my grand mom, even my ancestors. I mean in my whole life, I don’t think all the previous insults I have gotten combined can measure up to the one she meted out on me in that single minute.
Unable to take it anymore, I quietly took my car key and left to my friends house. Even as I was leaving, mama was busy shouting and clapping after me, calling me all sorts of derogatory names that I never believed could come out of an old woman’s lips, let alone mama.
The truth is, I wasn’t really bothered about it because I know that everything she said was a lie. I and my husband had planned (or better still my husband had a plan which I also agreed on after much persuasion) on how we would live our life after we got married and we are just sticking to that plan. We knew that his mother might oppose to us not wanting to have children immediately we got married, but we didn’t know that it would be like this. It had only been two years and she was already acting like this. I was not barren and my husband was not infertile, we just don’t want kids now. I don’t know why people would not mind their business and let us live our lives. Its frustrating sometimes.
When I returned, I noticed that the house was peaceful. That means, the old witch aka my mother in-law law was gone. “Finally” I said, leaving behind a sigh. I can be at peace. You might think I am overreacting but you don’t know what it feels like to have to walk on tiptoes in your own house so that your mother in-law doesn’t see you and start another round of insults. I swear that woman doesn’t get tired.
“Hey babe” I said to my husband who was sitting down on the sofa drinking. Mama’s rants must have taken its toll on him too.
“Hey” he said to me without even looking my way.
“Where is your mother?” I asked, knowing the obvious.
“Isn’t it obvious?
“Is it? I mean who knows with your mother anything is possible, I mean when you first introduced me to her, she was the most loving person I had ever met in my life, but now, she is like the devil tormenting my life day in day out, insulting the living day light out of me. Hope she stays in the village and doesn’t come back to this house oh, because I’m fed up.”
“Watch your mouth Amanda, that’s my mum you are talking about, don’t insult her” he said.
“Oh so I should not insult her abi? But she can insult me and my family and spread lies about me to anybody who cares to listen abi? In fact what do you even mean by don’t insult her, did I insult her? Have I ever raised my voice at your mother?, have I ever told lies about her? What do you mean by that? Is it my fault that I haven’t bore a child yet? Was it my idea to wait? ” I was beginning to get angry now. All the while I’ve kept quiet was now taking its toll on me and it looked like my husband was about to get it from me.
“Amanda” he said in a menacing tone, “just shut up okay?, I’m tired of all this shouting today, I want to rest so just shut up that sharp mouth of yours” he said standing up.
And that was the last straw, I got up slowly looking at him like a bride would look at an annoying bridesmaid that just splashed orange juice on her wedding gown as she was about to walk down the aisle. Hurt and anger filled me as I did not know whether to cry or to slap him. Guess what I did. Before I could compose myself, my palm made contact with his left cheek. It must have hurt a lot because I could feel the sting on my palm; it was as if I slapped a metal rod, hard. And then I started to cry. Part of it was because of the hurt I felt in my heart and the other part was because my palm really hurt.
Shocked, he stood there looking at me, with his hands to his cheek. I think his brain was trying to register if what just happened was a dream or not. He looked around the house then turned at me crying on the floor. And then he quietly walked out of the house.
One year later
“Amanda my dear, please let me help clean that for you” my mother in law said to me smiling, collecting the mop from my hand as I was about to clean water that splashed on the floor.
“Thank you mama” I said and let her collect the mop from my hand. Now some of you may say “no thank you mama for the nice gesture. I can do it, just go and rest”. But not me. If she wants to mop, let her mop. And then I went to sit down on the sofa watching Ebony life TV.
Most of you would be surprised at the sudden change of attitude of my mother in law and why she was acting this way but let me tell you, with people like her the only thing that would happen for her to change her attitude, is if only she gets what she wants. And in this case, it means I just gave birth three months ago.
After the incident that almost cost my marriage, I and my husband had decided that it was time to have a child and that the insults were too much to bear. Although we had taken the decision to have a kid and I was already pregnant. we decided not to tell mama. Well we didn’t just decide, I told my husband not to tell his mother because I think she might be too overbearing and would want me to quit my job and if I quit my job, it means less money for us. Now one thing to note is that my husband likes money too much and anything that would hinder the flow of money to our house would be cut off. so, he agreed. Meanwhile the real reason I didn’t want mama to know was because I wanted to gloat in her face. I wanted her to be ashamed and embarrassed when she finds out that I was pregnant. I had this evil scheme in mind and I was envisioning how her face would be like when she finds out that I’m capable of bearing children and I was already perhaps six months pregnant and all the time she had been insulting me, I had been carrying her precious grandchild. I wanted her to feel guilty and beg for me to make her part of her grand child’s life.
And so it happened, it was seven months after I conceived and I had at all cost avoided my mother in law. my husband had told her not to come to our house if the only thing she does was to come and insult me and since that was the only thing in her mind whenever she visited, she decided not to show up.
So it was surprising after months of peacefulness, I heard banging and shouting at the gate. When I listened carefully, I noticed it was mama shouting to everybody on the street to come and see the woman who had destroyed her womb so she cannot bear children and had used juju to tie her son down. She said that I had aborted all my children and I was now barren. So guess her reaction when I walked out wearing a very tight gown with a puzzled look on my face asking her what the problem was and why she was shouting. I should have been given an Oscar for my performance as I tried not to laugh at the expression on her face. She looked like someone who had just eaten a one month old rotten tomato and could not spit it out. To say she was dumbfounded is an understatement. She was so ashamed of herself as a man standing by gestured to her that how come I was pregnant if I had no womb.
Mama could not say anything as she stood there about to die of embarrassment. Fortunately for her, I took pity and drove all the bystanders away, ushering her to come in and rest. The guilt on her face was priceless, and since then, she had bought me gifts and always volunteered to help me whichever way she can, so, who am I to stop her.
About the Author
Jennifer Addy is a graduate of English and Literary Studies from Niger Delta University. She is currently a teacher, an avid reader, lover of culture and foreign languages . She creates her own world in her stories with the hope of touching a life or two and making the world a little bit more livable.