I had thought the following months would see a better light. The writing course I applied for while we were dating was finally approved in a mail sent to me one day. Awaiting his arrival in delight that day, I prepared his favourite meal. I was delighted for two reasons, my writing career which I would finally have the opportunity to continue pursuing and the fact that it was ‘pay day’ so he would have no financial excuses to give me. On getting home, he ate the food hungrily, and as usual, the very next thing was sex. He didn’t even notice my new outlook, and the little too much make up I applied. Who was I to resist? On nights when I tried to, he would leave the house and not come back for days. That night, I just wasn’t in the mood for such.
When he was done exciting himself, I informed him about the mail I received from the university. He said I couldn’t go because there would be no one to take care of him. Seriously? Could he have been any more selfish?
A month after, his father died of a heart attack. That was when things worsened, as his mother decided that since the father of the house was gone, the only son of the house had to come back to the house to keep the family together. That was the most disgusting thing I had ever heard! Having no choice than to accept, if I wasn’t to be tagged a ‘witch’, we moved in with his mum and the rest of his family in September. Ever since, I have lost my fair share of sleep. Mama would feign the mourning mood, and so would her children, while I would be made to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. The tedious part of it was they never requested for simple meals.
The first day I made ‘poundo- yam’ for mama, she ordered me never in my life to bring such for her again. She had said in Yoruba ‘ni ile Ekiti ti awa ti wa, a maa n gun iyan ni. Eyin omode isiyii, alapa roba ni e fe ya!’. Each time I made stew, she would have one complaint or the other. Her words always reached deep into my bone marrow, and then I would remember home. On the few times when I was on good terms with my parents, dad would tease saying I was a better cook than my mum, and my mum would proudly say that means she taught me well. With mama and her girls however, it seemed they had a different taste bud.
On some days, everyone would ask to eat different things. Simisola the youngest would ask for moin- moin, Tope the older one would request for rice, and Mama would say ‘bo se Iyan, ki e ro fun emi ati omo mi’ referring to her son.
Anytime she saw me sleeping, she would wake me up with a loud tap on my butt saying her house was not for lazy lots. ‘Don’t you sleep at night?’ She would ask. Who was I to say her sons requests never gave me time for that?
You know I made up my mind to cope with all of this before, especially when I got pregnant with Raymond’s son in January, the event of this years February 14th however changed my mind completely. That day, I made up my mind to be happy, because for as long as I could remember my face hadn’t known the curve of a smile. I needed to feel some love, or at least get out of the bondage I had put myself in. I prepared the various meals mama and her children would eat, stored them in the warmer and made to dress myself up in anything that could fit as all my clothes seemed to be way off my new size. I intended to tell mama I would be going out but she was asleep so I left a note and set out. I had intended to visit my parents as I hadn’t seen them in a long while but I first stopped at a store to shop for some baby clothes and valentine gifts with the little cash I had in hand. Feeling the baby form in my stomach as I picked out one cloth after the other brought me my first smile in a long while.
While shopping for the gifts I needed, I met Victor, one of my old time boyfriends whom I loved but couldn’t date for too long. He asked to take me to lunch but I refused so as not to ignite any unnecessary feelings. We however exchanged digits and from there I made to my parents house with some gifts for them too. I had purposely switched off my phones because I wasn’t ready to let mama and her son, or any of her children for that matter get in my way. That day was fulfilling, but not for too long. Leaving my parents house for mama’s place around five, I got home by six in good time to prepare dinner. On getting home, mama and her children pounced on me like three witches starved of human blood. Mama started ‘ibo ni o lo ti o kun oju bii egun bayii?’ She grabbed the bags I had in my hand and poured them on the ground. On seeing the clothes and gifts, she lamented ‘Jesu! Omo yii pa mi. Ase agbere ni Fisayo gbe wa le?!’ concluding I had gone to see another man who bought all those things for me, as she didn’t think I could have enough cash to shop since I wasn’t working. Immediately Raymond arrived, she told the tale to him in perfectly chosen words, painting a picture even myself had not painted as a writer in any one story before. As my husband, what did he do? His insecurity and insensitivity got the best of him and he hit me so hard against the wall that I crashed on the ground. That night, I lost my baby.
Tell me, have I not tried? What you think doesn’t even matter. ‘Iya oniya ko le wa pa omo olomo’. I have done my best. I no longer have a reason to stay. I have to find happiness on my own. I need to go back HOME. I have issued him the divorce papers, but he has refused to sign, pleading with me to come back. For what? So he can kill me? I never signed a contract of death. I signed a contract of marriage, and where I come from, as against the usual ‘for better, for worse’ vows; we would say ‘for better for stay; for worse, le walk away’. This is over. I’m done.
A fat battered housewife.