See, women are wicked!
Ok, let me amend my statement, some of you women can be very wicked.
A few years ago, my wife and I had serious issues. Now, we both come from different parts of the country, she is from here in Lagos and I am from the east.
When we got married, she was the one who had a good job at one of these multinationals, while I was struggling as a bank Teller. I had got my HND, done a few ICAN years but at that time, hadn’t completed the levels, so promotion wasn’t coming my way but you know, we were generally getting by.
We had just one car which my wife drove, and yes, she bought the car but I also used it weekends. We were happy, young in love couple just starting out.
Then our first child came, a boy and I called my mother from the east to come and do omugo. That was my first mistake.
But you see, I actually sought my wife’s opinion first; I asked her if she wanted her mother to come instead of my mum. She said she would prefer my mum. Her own mother though living in Lagos, was quite old. She was already in her late 70s.
My wife is the last born in her family and she said her mother would be too old to care for a new born, my mum on the other hand was in her early 60s; she was still agile, very eager to see her first grand child. Ypu see, I am my mother’s only child, so you know how excited my mother was over all of these; marriage, new wife and now a grandchild…Mma was happy.
You know mothers, now?
Ok, my mum came o.
Kata kata began.
My wife and my mother never had any opportunity to bond before we got married. When I took her to my hometown in the East during our courtship days, we spent just three days. After that, she only got to meet my mum once or twice before our wedding and because my mother didn’t speak much pidgin, phone conversations were difficult. But I saw that the two women tried to get along, at least for my sake.
Ok, back to the Omugo. Mma came.
And me, since two women were already fussing over a baby, I took several steps back to allow them love the baby to nonsense.
The first sign of trouble that I noted happened on the second day when mama finished bathing the baby. She was singing in our language as she cleaned him up; the baby was crying. Isn’t that what babies do best?
I heard my wife raise her voice at Mma. My wife said Mma should not use anything but methylated spirit to clean the baby’s umbilical cord, Mma said it must be paraffin oil in a cloth put over a hot iron.
It didn’t help because both of them didn’t truly understand each other’s language but their raised voices only frightened the baby more and that one was crying wen wen wen, that was when I went to inquire what the problem was.
I asked Mma what the trouble was, she said in our language, ‘This girl will put me in trouble!’
When I found out the cause, I asked my wife to chill, that Mma means well that she raised me and see me today but my wife said she didn’t want Mma to touch her child again that since she came the day before, she had been doing everything wrong.
I asked my darling wife, you sef, you have no prior experience with babies, how can you say Mma is doing it wrong? She told me that Mma has just one child and she is not an expert on babies either.
You women and your sharp mouths!
I was angry o. I was very angry but I told Mma to be calm and go to her room.
Later I saw my mother crying, saying I married a woman who wanted to deny her of the joys of motherhood. Since that day my sister, it was one day, one trouble.
Like I said, I wasn’t earning much; my salary went to pampers, (pampers are expensive and these babies can poo) baby food, (very expensive, my baby ate a lot) electricity and a few sundry items and transportation. I was earning about N120k then, after tax with all the other deductibles. So basically, it was my wife taking care of most of the other things needed at home, food, fuel for gen and car, dstv etc. Many times, I found myself asking for ‘help’ before the end of the month, sometimes, ‘help’ to give something extra to my mum. I thought we were family, my wife helping me…you know.
Things between my wife and mother were getting bad because they couldn’t agree on how to care for the baby; over time it moved to other things, my wife complained that my mother wanted to start cooking her own food by herself because she said she couldn’t eat her food. For me, I wanted to say, biko let her, so we can have peace because at this time, it was my wife doing everything for the baby, she didn’t want my mother to bath or clean the baby but she had to go to work. Who else would care for the baby when she was gone? Isn’t it my mum? This same woman you refused to let touch your son? Crazy, right?
And at that time, we couldn’t get a house help that would stay. So, it was better my mum than strangers.
Hummn. I tried to make peace but they didn’t listen to me, so I tanda one side.
After that time when Mma said she wanted to start cooking her own food, I begged my wife to please be reasonable. This woman had been looking forward to a grandchild, she wants to go back to the village to boast that she was useful to us helping us care for her first grandchild, please just allow her, las, las, she would stay for three months and go back, no bi so?
Na lie, o. My wife said if Mma wants to go, she should!
So, I asked her, if Mma goes, who will stay home to care for a two months old baby?
She said she would put him in a crèche.
Ok, so you want to start spending money in crèche when we have a free grandma to help us watch him?
I told her, ‘Remember, o. I am her only child, this is her first grandchild, babe, please chill.
She didn’t say anything.
Hummn, when a man wears trousers that has no belt to hold it, he should be careful not to fight in the market place because his nakedness would be exposed to the world.
I also begged my mother to chill, telling her that this misunderstanding arose because they both didn’t understand each other well. Mma said oh ho. That she wants to be with us to care for her first grandchild but if my wife refuses, she has no choice but to go back home.
A few days later, my mother called me at work to say there was light but our TV was not working. You know when we go to work, mama has nothing to do but watch Igbo channel on dstv.
So, when she called about TV not showing, I thought maybe a cable had gone bad, maybe disconnection, maybe one thing. I told her she shouldn’t worry that I would fix it when I got home. I got home, fiddled with the tv and dstv cable, only to realise the smart card was missing.
Nne, my wife had removed it and taken it to work, why? To prevent Mma from watching TV!
Chai! Man don suffer!
That very day, my mother said my wife had carried the pot of egusi soup she cooked to the office as well! Mma didn’t want to tell me on the phone!
I was mad!
I waited for my wife to come back.
You know, I really don’t know but I think maybe she regretted doing what she did because when I asked her, ‘Aunty, why did you go to the office with our pot of soup knowing my mother was in the house and would want to eat?’
She was stammering, ‘Eehhn, it was because there was no light’, she didn’t want the egusi soup to go bad, eehhn, it was because the gen had no fuel and even sef, mama would not be able to put it on…ehen, the smart card was making one noise and she took it out to show a colleague…
Story! Those were just stupid excuses. Stupid!
I warned her, I warned her severely that day, one more nonsense and she will pack her load and go to her parents’ house. Baby or not, I won’t tolerate this from her again! Because I no get money for pocket no mean say I no get blood for body, na!
We had a big fight that day but I never laid a finger on her! There are many ways to discipline a wife, no bi by beating her.
Well, since we are telling stories, that’s why I said let me chip in my own story, o. That incident hurt me, it hurt me badly but today my wife and Mma are friends, not the best of friends but they are tolerating each other and that’s all I ask for. I love both of them – my wife is my wife and my mother is my mother, no crossing!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)