Tade stood at the entrance to my room. I pretended to be asleep. He lingered for a while, then left. I truly wasn’t up for any kind of ‘mummy talk’ at that moment. As far as I knew, he probably came to apologise on his mum’s behalf and defend her some more – same old routine. I no dey, abeg! It was momentarily enough that for once, he stood up to his mum. I could live with that for the time being. I told myself to at least enjoy the rest of the day with my daughter in my room, carefully avoiding mother-in-law; things would sort themselves out tomorrow.
Sometime later, Oyinade came to check if I had woken up. She found me looking out the window, enjoying the beauty of the external environment. Taking in the beautiful sight of the neighbourhood had been one of my escape routes all those years back.
“Mummy, you are awake!” I turned and she ran into my arms. “I thought you were still sleeping. Daddy told me not to disturb you because you are so t-i-r-e-d.”
“Yes, my love,” I kissed her cheek, “mummy was so tired before but now, mummy’s strength is back.”
We stayed in my room and ‘played’ till daddy called her to come help set table for dinner.
Tade appeared at my door again.
“Hey,” he smiled, “ready for dinner?”
“Erm…I’ll just have some fruits. Oyinade can bring me some.”
“Don’t worry,” he offered a broader smile as if to allay my fears, “you can come to the dining table, no one will disturb you.” He obviously knew I was aware his mum had returned but I pretended still.
“Actually, I’d rather go with fruits tonight…really.”
“Drop the act joor, Arinola. I know you know.”
Oyinade had returned to the room and I looked at father and daughter with a mock expression on my face. “I know?” I turned to my daughter, “Princess, do you know what daddy is talking about?”
She laughed. “I am not so sure but I think daddy is trying to tell you that grandma is back.”
“She is b-a-c-k? Oh, really!” I exaggerated my mock expression with dilated pupils, which increased her laughter.
“Yes, she’s back,” Tade interjected, “and she has turned in for the night, so let’s go have dinner, just the three of us.”
“Yes, mummy,” Oyinade bounced in excitement, “just the three of us.”
I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and followed the two of them. I didn’t trust her majesty to not suddenly appear out of nowhere and make dinner a nightmare. Tade sensed my uneasiness and whispered, “don’t worry, she’s asleep.”
“I came to your room earlier,” he went on after we sat at the dining table, “you seemed to be asleep but I sensed you were quite aware of what was going on.”
I drew a blank stare.
“Would you allow me explain? We weren’t expecting her back so soon, I…”
I coughed, to interrupt him because I didn’t find it proper to discuss that in Oyinade’s presence. I was not sure how much she knew about the saga that kept mummy away for so long but whether she knew anything or nothing, discussing ‘mummy’s surutu with grandma’ in her presence was a no-no for me.
“Err, can daddy please allow us eat this dinner in peace?” I requested jokingly.
So, we ate dinner in peace and cleaned up, just the three of us.
Tade sent Oyinade to her room for ‘night grooming’. “Mummy and I will come kiss you goodnight, okay?” he called after her.
“You’ve done a good job with her,” I smiled at him, “thank you.”
“Haba, what are daddies for?” he responded humorously and we laughed.
“Thanks also for the warm welcome you’ve both given me. It feels good on me,” I winked.
“Hmm…don’t mention o…but so wa okay sha? Are you okay with this? You didn’t allow me explain leekan…”
“Bobo yi, lo sinmi ara e, keep calm,” I tapped him playfully. “I know your mum is around, I know she came back unexpectedly. Do I like the idea? I don’t think so. Would I stick around? I guess time will tell. One thing I can tell you though, is that I am not losing any sleep over that tonight. I am here with my daughter and that’s all that matters to me now.”
“Ehen? So, I don’t matter, abi?”
“Iwo wi i, na you talk so o, no be for my mouth you hear am.” I stuck my tongue out at him in childish mockery.
“Issokay o, I will go and jejely hug my pillow tonight niyen.”
“You’re just not a nice somebody. Kai!”
We went to Oyinade’s room to say goodnight to her. She requested to sleep in my room and I would have indulged her but her daddy firmly declined.
“Mummy isn’t going anywhere, sweetie. She’ll be right here when you wake up tomorrow.” He kissed the top of her head, “now go to bed and sleep like a princess.”
I wondered how he got to be so gentle, yet firm with her. Well, the gentleness, I could relate to; but the firmness seemed a bit strange to me. Even I would probably be a bit indulgent with our daughter, if I was around. So, if he had all this firmness in him, how come he couldn’t stand up to his mum? Abi na fatherhood toughen am ni?
“Kisses, mummy. I will dream of you,” my sweet daughter murmured, half-asleep.
“I’ll dream of you too, my darling,” I responded.
“Na wah o,” Tade sighed mockingly. “Ta ni mo se gan? Who did I offend and what is my offence? Won kan yo mi ni setting sha – mother and daughter – there is God ooo.”
We both laughed as we left Oyinade’s room and bid each other goodnight.
I woke up the next morning with an uneasy feeling but quickly shook it off. If I had my way, I’d not set my eyes on Tade’s mum all through my stay but that was impossible so I made up my mind to face my fear headlong. There was nothing else she could do to me that she had not already done and if I survived that, iyoku kere. No shaking. I however prayed that her son would at least be less of a jelly fish this time around. That would come handy, thank you.?
In no time at all, Oyinade was in my room, dragging me to “come and see grandma.”
Whish kain pikin be dis sef, hian!?
I followed her to the living room. Her ‘royal highness’ was seated majestically in one of the huge sofas, all cold and disinterested as usual. That didn’t move me. Na today?
“E kaaro ma,” I greeted on bended knees.
“Bi n ba kaaro nko? What’s good about the morning? Are you just getting to know that I am in this house?”
“Ha, rara ma,” I knelt, “I was asleep when you returned ni ma and by the time Tade informed me, e ti lo sun ma. You were already asleep.”
She regarded me like she had some venom to throw at me. I stilled myself.
“O da o. Good morning.”
I waited for more and when none was forthcoming, I quickly stood and dashed to my room before she changed her mind. I caught Tade’s silhouette with the corner of my eye and wondered whether cat got her tongue because her son was lurking around. Hmm, e be like say life don dey better o.
The days went by and we managed to tolerate each other, though I practically walked on eggshells all the time. I had gotten used to her cold demeanour but her subtle jabs here and there sometimes grated my nerves. I noticed that the jabs were not as frequent when Tade was around and that pleasantly surprised me, as well as strengthened my resolve to not chicken out before my vacation was officially over. I would stay and be with my daughter this summer holiday, come rain, come snow sef!
Just as the second week of my vacation kicked off, my mother-in-law’s bottled-up emotion spilled over. That Saturday, I took out time to visit some old acquaintances, especially those who offered me social support when I was unwell. I also did some sightseeing and window shopping. I left early with Oyinade and because I had several stops to make and didn’t drive, we returned late in the evening. At every instance, Tade was aware of our whereabouts so there was no cause for alarm, or so I thought. As soon as we stepped into the house, her majesty descended the stairs and lashed at me, after she had given my daughter a warm welcome and sent her to her room.
“What type of irresponsible mother are you, ehn? So fun mi, tell me! I have never seen this kind of irresponsibility in my life. You took a little girl from the comfort of her home and walked her through all of Miami from morning till night, what is wrong with you? Are you so stupid?”
Her outburst shocked me but I managed to put myself together. “Ma, we didn’t walk, we used…”
“Gbenu soun, gbe gbogbo enu e soun ko je ki n gbo oro, shut your bucal cavity,” she spat. “Ara nkan ti mo n so re o. This is what I was telling Tade. How will a mentally stable mother put her daughter through all that trouble? You didn’t even bother about her feeding. See the time you brought her back, well past dinner time. Couldn’t you have gone alone?”
Tears stung my eyes but I still composed myself. “I’m sorry ma, I didn’t plan to come back late, e ma binu ma.”
“Sorry for yourself, ko de ko ara e kuro niwaju mi. Get out of my sight. You think my granddaughter is suffer head like you? Wo, ti anything ba se omo yen, you will see what I will…”
We were both shocked at Tade’s booming voice. We didn’t see him creep into the living room.
“Mum, you have said too much, haba! Whatever did Arinola do to deserve such harsh words? You need to apologise to her.”
She looked at her son like he had grown two horns. “Apolo-gini? Se iwo mo nkan to se ti mo fi n bawi ni? Do you know what she did?”
“First, Arinola o ki i se ikoko…she is not a child and does not need you to scold her, dear mother. Second, there’s nothing she could have done that warrants such bile from you. Did you even hear yourself, mum? The third thing is that you have no right to dictate to a mother where she takes her daughter and how she goes about it. Did Sheila complain to you? Why are you so bent on breaking the bond between Sheila and her mum? Did someone do same to you while your son was growing up? And lastly mum, I have said it before and I will say it again, I take an exception to you insulting my wife.”
To be cont’d…
© 2017 AyotundeElegbeleye
Jesus is LORD!