Read Also: Abike #3
Chapter 4 – Barren
The day my mother-in-law arrived, I wasn’t home. I had stepped out to attend to some business. Jide had handled her food and helped her settle in. I got back and quickly went to greet her.
“Mommy, Good evening. How was your trip?” I greeted, half-kneeling.
“Barren woman, you have returned from your escapade! After leaving the hard part of my arrival to your husband, ehn?” She said, without responding to my greeting.
“I went to attend to work. I didn’t know you will arrive early ma.” I replied, trying to ignore her vile comment. I wondered why Jide wasn’t fighting for me. He just watched from the corner.
“It’s always work with you. That’s why you can’t give my son a child!” She hissed at me.
“I need to wash up,” I said, excusing myself and trying to contain my anger. Jide followed closely behind.
“Baby…” he called out
“You said this wasn’t going to happen!” I was already in tears. “She clearly hates me and you won’t see it because at the end of the day you love her more than me. I will always be second as long as she is in this house. You couldn’t even defend me when she called me barren, you just stood and watched”
She slapped me, interrupting what I was saying. I didn’t realize I was even shouting till she hit my face.
“So he shouldn’t love his mother again abi? Only God knows what you have done with your womb. Ogbanje!” She shouted at me.
“My son, walk with me.” I watched them leave before angrily moving up the stairs to my room. I got to my room and sobbed angrily. I couldn’t understand why I was crying. I decided to call Uju, she would know how to calm me down. We had gotten closer over the months and it was relieving to have someone to talk to — most of my other friends were Jide’s friends too. I called her and narrated everything to her as she tried her best to get me to stop crying. We talked for close to an hour when she asked the most shocking of questions.
“Have you prayed about it?” She asked.
I was dumbfounded by the question. Thinking about it, I hadn’t really been to church in a while. I stopped going few months after this whole catastrophe started.
“I’m guessing your silence means no. You need to start praying, hand it all over to God. You can’t fight this battle alone.”
We talked a little more before I finally had to end the call since she had to rest before her night shift. I decided to take her advice. I embarked on a fast. I also tried my very best not to step on my mother-in-law’s toes for the rest of the few days she was with us. It didn’t work so well, I was that pest in the house she needed to squash and fast. She used every slight opportunity she had to remind me I was still not a mother. As if that wasn’t enough, she encouraged Jide to start searching for a new woman since I wasn’t producing. She was breaking me and all my effort to talk to Jide proved useless. I just hoped things would get back to normal after she left but it didn’t. Jide started keeping late nights and I started to lose faith. One Saturday night, I decided to stay up and wait for him, not minding that I had church service the next morning. I sat on the couch till past four in the morning when my husband strolled into the house drunk and reeking of tobacco.
“Jide, do you realize the time you are returning home?” I asked
“Hey woman, I don’t remember asking you to stay up to wait for me!” He yelled back.
“Why would you, when you were busy getting drunk and hanging around with sluts!” At this juncture, I knew my anger was speaking for me but I couldn’t care.
“Woman, don’t you push me!” He could barely even stand.
“I shouldn’t push you Jide but you allow your mother control our lives. She makes the decisions that stand in this house. You are just her witless puppy following her every command to the letter. You sit there and watch her call me barren when we both know I’m not the one with the problems. She accuses me of infidelity every opportunity she gets but you seem to be the one going out with loose women and probably sharing a bed with them.”
He slapped me but I wasn’t going to stop talking. I had to get this all out, it was killing me inside.
“You beat me like a dog because your mother told you I needed control.” The slaps continued and I fell on the floor trying to crawl away as they seemed to turn to kicks.
“I don’t need control. I need love, care, and understanding.” I don’t think he was listening to me anymore. He just wanted to beat the alleged sense into me. He just kept hitting and hitting and I was just gathered up on the floor receiving it and crying. He beat me to his satisfaction and staggered to his room. When I was finally strong enough to stand, I went to my room, called Uju to let her know I was on my way to her place. I barely gave her time to ask me why I was coming to her house by 5 in the morning. I got a few clothes and left the house. I didn’t want to face Jide anytime soon.
On getting to Chike’s house, Uju let me in. Chike was so furious when he saw how badly beaten I was. I explained to them as best as I could before Uju tended to my wounds and put me to sleep. I spent the next six days at their house trying to think about what I could possibly do. I decided to go back home Sunday morning.
After breakfast on Saturday, Chike announced: “Abike, we are taking you home.”
I and Uju looked at him shocked.
“Oh no, there will be no need for that. I will go home tomorrow” I replied
“I wasn’t giving you options. I will be ready in thirty minutes. Be ready.”
I looked at Uju and something told me she knew what was driving him but couldn’t tell me. The walk to my place was a noisy one because I kept blabbing, trying to talk Chike out of whatever it is he wanted to do. But all I said was just noise. He didn’t even look at me.
Image Art by Dempsey Osahon Eguae
I learn to live my life as everyday comes but still controlling the elements around me. I’m not perfect but the more I strive towards perfection the more things fall in place