Here’s the first part of what started out as a short story but may go on just a bit longer.
“This is a waste of time,” my husband’s mother said, as my unimpressed 7 month-old daughter spat out the butternut squash and potato puree I spooned into her mouth.
“Jo, give her some amala and ewedu instead of this concoction.”
I almost retched at the thought of feeding my child the thick brown paste made from blended yam skins and the accompanying thick slimy green sauce. I silently counted to ten while trying to steady my breath.
“She usually likes this combination; she must be having an off day,” I replied evenly, wiping my baby’s chin with a wet dishcloth.
“’Off day’ ko, ‘off day’ ni,” she cackled, kissing her teeth in disapproval. “The child does not like this oyinbo, western food. I fed all my six children amala from 3 months and I never had a problem feeding them.”
“I’ll just give her some fromage frais for now, we’ll try again later, won’t we now, Munchkin?” I replied, tickling my little girl’s feet and delighting in her giggles.
“Fromage -kini? What is that one again? Another concoction she will spit out? No wonder she is all skin and bones, when you won’t feed her something she can eat.”
I stood in front of the fridge holding the door ajar a few seconds longer than needed to grab a pot of yogurt, gritting my teething while letting the cold air soothe my frayed nerves.
My mother-in-law is consistent. She seems to take perverse pleasure in putting down everything I did but never in Ade’s presence. She would only drop subtle hints when he was there. Ade never picked up on the hints.
I was tired of her constant put-downs. I couldn’t do anything right, she criticised pretty much everything I did. Even when I did exactly as she insinuated, she would still have something nasty to say about it. If it wasn’t what I was feeding the children, then it was the way I kept home or the fact that I was a stay-at-home mum.
“I was back on the plantation two weeks after having each of my six children. I used to carry them on my back with rappa, wrapper. What is with it you young women nowadays? You don’t want to work and help your husband with the upkeep of the home. You are so lazy!”
Why didn’t she take it up with her son? She wouldn’t dare challenge his opinion instead she took it out on me as soon as he went to work and then would be all sweetness and light whenever he was home.
On the other hand, her son was a saint. He could do no wrong. I tried my best to make sure we didn’t argue in her presence because if we ever disagreed, she would blindly take his side.
“It’s a pity you have little or no influence with your husband.” She’d said to me time and time again, gloating over the fact that I couldn’t sway Ade to my way of seeing things while she could. It was like we were in competition for his affection and attention and she seemed to be winning.
I couldn’t live like this much longer. She was driving a wedge between us unfortunately Ade couldn’t see it. He would jump to her defence if I so much as alluded to her being wrong saying she wasn’t the person I accused her of being after all he’d known her to be loving and caring all his life. I guess that was a side of her personality reserved for her precious son only.
He would say “Sweetheart, be patient with her. You married her only son and she is just having a hard time adjusting to not being the only woman in my life but she means well.”
‘Hard time’, I’d think, ‘I’m the one having a hard time but you’re too blinded by your loyalties to her to see.’
I tried! Oh God knows I tried to be patient but the woman would try the patience of Saint Peter himself!
Why did I bother trying to be kind to her? At best, she would ignore me, at worst, she would rain down insults on me and my ancestors, cursing the day her son married me. The woman paid lip-service to any form of civility with me and that was only when her son was about.
What had started out as a 2-month visit had now extended to an indefinite stay and with no plans to leave anytime soon, she’d been here for 9 months!
Ade would never ask her to leave. He was enjoying having her around. Whenever I broached the subject of her departure, he would tell me she was lonely and missing his dad who died a few years ago. It was up to me to get her out and fast too. So I’ve been thinking long and hard and I think I’ve come up with a really cunning plan, even if I do say so myself. We’ll just have to see how this pans out.
To be continued.
Thanks for stopping by and tara for now