My Mum, Iya Segun, can be too frank. If she had something to say, she said it without any recourse to who might be listening to her [who probably shouldn’t hear what she had to say in the first place]. If she felt a need to correct you or tell you something, she did so anywhere, anytime, most times, without thinking she might be embarrassing you. As a young boy, I had to put up with a lot of ‘verbal abuse’, that as some point I used to doubt if my Mum loved me. But as I grew up I began to understand that it wasn’t that she didn’t love me, she just wanted me to change some of my ways and she felt that saying all those things she used to say would make me listen to her more.
While growing up, I was fond of leaving my mouth opened while watching TV or listening to someone talk. I wasn’t doing it intentionally but I just couldn’t help it. That used to get to my Mum a lot. She would tap my lower lip to tell me to close my mouth. Although that used to be so painful, but it was nothing compared to her calling names because of it. I can remember those names clearly even now. Her favorite was ‘elete momorimomo’ [mammoth lips] and I don’t have big lips, at least I think so ;)
There were times when she would say ‘Broda yo l’oke, eyin la ko ri’ [I am finding it difficult to translate that but I think it means that my teeth is what you first notice when you see me approaching]. That used to be painful too.
As I grew up though, those words didn’t matter anymore; in fact, my Mum and I used to joke about it all the time as I got older and more matured and gained better control of my mouth muscles.
But nothing Maami said in the open can be compared in gravity to what she discussed with you in the ‘closet’. If Maami woke you up at 12 midnight to discuss an issue, then you knew there was something really serious happening and she wanted your full attention and subsequent quick action on that matter. Those midnight conversations usually started with:
Se emi ni iya e [Am I your mother?]
Once she started like that, you knew you were in big trouble.
I had one such conversation with her one fateful day, although this conversation didn’t happen at the stroke of midnight, I knew it was as important as any other that Maami had called for in the past.
Let me give you some background into that conversation. A few weeks before then, my Mum had complained, openly, that I was receiving too many female visitors at home. She went on and on about how I disappear into my room with these ladies and never come out until hours later and she didn’t know what we were always doing in my room and that at my age I shouldn’t make ‘chasing’ women my priority.
Obviously that didn’t seem to have worked. How could it? I was on a roll [so I thought].
When my Maami noticed that the initial approach didn’t work, she resorted to a different method- the ‘Am I your Mother’ type.
Maami: Ablackjamesbond, sit down; I want to talk to you.
Me: Yes, Maami
Maami, Am I your mother?
Me: Yes Ma
Maami: I don’t think so. Because, if that were so, when I talk to you, you would listen.
Me: I listen to you Maami
Maami: Really? Ok, if you do, then how come I hear these girls still come to visit you whenever I am out of the house? Are you ready to father a child?
Me: Maami, they have stopped coming o. Nothing like what you are thinking is happening. Moreover, they are just my friends.
Maami: Gbe’nu dake! O tun paro fun mi [Keep quiet! How dare you lie to me?],
Are you the only male friend they have? Are you the only boy in this neighborhood?
Se iwo nikan ni o’loko ni adugbo yi ni? [Are you the only one with a penis in this neighborhood?]
Me: [At a loss for words, and shocked to hear Maami’s last statement]…rara Ma [no Ma]
While she was talking, we heard someone knock the gate.
Maami: Who is that?
Female Voices: Good afternoon Ma, please we are here to see Ablackjamesbond.
Maami rolled her eyes at me, sighed deeply and walked into her room.