“I will kill you, kill you!” She screamed, as she tightened her grip on the knife.
It was a Saturday morning that started just like any other ordinary day but for Nike it was a special day – one that she did not look forward to. Will she like me? Won’t she think I’m too fat or too short? She thought to herself. She would have remained on the bed tossing and turning if not for the consistent vibration under her pillow. She tried to ignore it, but the vibration started to make her head buzz irritatingly. She gave up and reached for the phone under the pillow.
“Don’t tell me you’re still sleeping, I should be at your place in thirty minutes tops,” Niyi’s baritone voice cooed.
Nike placed the phone down in a flash, without ending the call. She flew into the bathroom, grabbed her toothbrush and in between brushing her teeth and running her bath water – she brought out the prospective costumes for the day. The jeans and tank top was all wrong because she felt it would make her look unserious and the skirt suit was too severe, that will make her look too formal. She settled for the ankara blouse and long skirt. From what she had heard of Niyi’s mother, she knew she was a devout Christian who prayed and fasted on most days of the week. So, Nike was going to play the part of the decent girl, at least for that day.
The journey to Ibadan was quiet and uneventful except for the sight of the two upturned trailers along the Lagos-Ibadan highway. Nike sat stiffly in the car’s front seat; she kept scribbling on her jotter even though the up and down motions caused by the car’s contact with the many potholes made her writing resemble an Arabic slate.
“What are you writing?” Niyi asked, in an effort to make conversation.
“Uhmm… just something, don’t know yet,” Nike replied.
Niyi knew her well enough to realise she was in a terse mood and did not want to talk. This was different from her usual writer’s mood – when she stared at him without seeing. In another situation he would have laughed at her anxiety but he knew some of her worries were indeed genuine ones. Nike was the fifth lady he was taking home to meet his mother – the first two had not made it past the front door. They were too yellow for Mama Niyi. “Didn’t you see the way her eyeballs were shining, I’m sure she’s possessed by a water spirit!” Mama Niyi had spat vehemently.
Niyi’s friends called him mummy’s boy and prodded him to break the apron strings she had tied around him, but Niyi could not bear to make his mother upset. The bond between them was a very strong one. It had been just mother and son, since his father died while he was still a crawling baby. His mother had never remarried, she had sung “I’m married to Jesus” ever so convincingly even when some Christian brethren from her church came to seek her hand in marriage.
“Ekaabo o, welcome my son,” Mama Niyi shouted, waving her hands in joy like an ecstatic child.
Nike watched nonplussed as Niyi jumped out of the car to hug his mother. They were both laughing, dancing and then hugging again like long-lost lovers. She did not remember ever seeing her man so happy and carefree. As she opened the car door, placed her feet on the ground and faced her lone jury, she switched off her thinking faculty. She just widened her lips smiling, smiling and again smiling.
“Welcome my daughter,” Mama Niyi said.
Niyi’s heart did a jig. She had never referred to the others as daughter. “She likes her, she likes her,” His heart sang.
“This one looks like a good wife material, she has abundant flesh on her hips not like that dry fish you brought the last time,” Mama Niyi said in a loud whisper.
It was not really meant to be a whisper since Nike was right there before her. However, the tone of the conversation showed that she was not included. It was a mother and son talk. So, Nike kept the bland smile on her face.
Mama Niyi linked her fingers through her son’s and led him into the house, Nike tagged along behind them even though no one had remembered to invite her in.
“Make yourselves comfortable while I prepare some food,” Mama Niyi said as she made to leave the sitting room.
“Let me come and help you ma,” Nike quickly offered.
“No, don’t bother. Sit down.”
The “sit down” part sounded more like an order than a request. She stole a glance at Niyi and saw his warning look. Nike quickly obeyed and flopped back into the cushiony embrace of the armchair.
Nike looked around the sitting room and marveled at its cleanliness. Even the air freshener in the room smelt like a hospital disinfectant. There were just two human photos on the walls – one was a wedding picture which showed a slimmer version of Mama Niyi and beside her stood a man that bore a striking resemblance to Niyi. The other picture was that of Niyi in his convocation gown. However, there were over fifteen pictures and illustrations of Jesus in the room. The largest was a picture of Jesus with a bleeding heart, the inscription read – Jesus died for you, repent and be saved. When Nike noticed that Jesus is Lord had been crocheted into the lace on the chair’s armrest, she removed her arms reverently and placed them in her lap.
Niyi was not talking, Nike was thinking, an eerie silence reigned.
His phone rang and he moved outside; away from her to receive it. He did not notice that she had crept up behind him.
“Yes darling, I miss you too. In fact I can’t wait to see you,” He spoke in a sexy drawl.
“…you want to invite me over to the US this summer?”
“Oh! Laura! I will love that very much!”
She could not stand it anymore. She lunged at the phone and screamed into it – “You bitch, Loro or whatever your name is, this is my fiancé and he’s not going anywhere with…”
He struggled to retrieve the phone from her, cutting off her ranting.
“So you’re this wicked, cheating on me so blatantly!” She screamed.
His mother came rushing from the kitchen – “my son what’s happening here? What’s wrong with both of you?”
In a twinkle, she saw the half-cut onion and the knife in his mother’s hand. She grabbed it and drove it deep into his belly.
“I will kill you, kill you!” She screamed, as she tightened her grip on the knife. As the blood gushed into her hand, something snapped and she came to.
“What have I done? Oh! My God!”
His mother was in a dead faint on the floor.
“Nike, Nike, come on stop daydreaming,” Niyi said in a hoarse whisper.
“Ehn… Uh… what did you say?”
Niyi was so upset! How could she spoil everything by lapsing into one of her frequent daydreaming modes especially when his mother already loved her. She must think something is wrong with her now, he fumed.
That’s the perfect ending to the Lover’s quarrel, to think I have been stuck on that story for months, Nike thought wistfully.
Then she noticed the fiery look on Niyi’s face. Oh my goodness! His mother had been talking to me. I have committed another gaffe. Mama Niyi must think I have some nuts loose in my head.
Mama Niyi’s eyebrows were raised, Niyi knew that spelt trouble.
“Do you have a hearing problem?” Mama Niyi started.
“No Ma,” Nike replied with her head bowed.
“So you have dreams?”
“Yes… hmm… I mean sometimes.”
“What do you see in those dreams?”
“I see people but they are imaginations for my stories. You know…” Nike tried to explain.
Mama Niyi cut her off, “That’s beautiful! Really wonderful! Awesome! So I finally get a daughter-in-law with the gift of prophecy! The pastor said it. He said you will come at the right time.”
Niyi was in a fix as he watched his beaming mother, clasping Nike in a tight embrace. Nike herself was befuddled and she looked askance at Niyi over his mother’s shoulder. He answered her with a shrug of his shoulders. He did not understand it too.
Who was more queer, mother or daughter-in-law?