© Oyindamola Oloruntobi
The silence was deafening, Hannah wished the ground would open up and swallow her but she took it back immediately, it was a stupid wish, it just meant more suffering for her children.
“Maami, you have not said anything.” She said to break the silence.
“What do you want me to say?” mummy Ruth snapped at her daughter “… you know what to do if you want any more help from me, afterall, you old enough to make decisions.” She added.
“But maami, how can you suggest such a thing when you yourself can’t do it?” Hannah cried and her mother laughed sarcastically.
“I am married to a responsible man that can take care of me and his home.” Hannah laughed a bitter laugh then shook her head in regret.
“What a pity, my own mother is advising me to leave my husband’s house…” she said to herself with her right hand on her chest whilst still shaking her head in self-pity. She looked up at her mother and spoke boldly;
“I cannot divorce my husband, I am a Christian and it is against my doctrine and you know that maami, moreover, what do you want me to tell my children? I am disappointed that you insist on this…”
“Kuku pa itan fun mi (Why don’t you tell me a story)…” mummy Ruth snapped again “… what am I even saying, shebi it is the person that you married that you will divorce and much as I know, no man has come to ask for your hand in marriage, you have only been foolish and shameless enough to spread your legs wide for a man, not just any man o, a jobless man who is too lazy to look after himself let alone a wife and two children, Hannah, you are disgrace to the Ayodele’s and I am disappointed in you to say the least.” Hannah’s heart was in shambles, it was broken into many pieces, no amount of glue would be able to put them together; she’d never heard her mother speak, about this matter, with so much venom; a reckless tear fell on her wrapper and she blinked rapidly, crying was a luxury that wouldn’t solve anything, she was in so much debt already that that she just couldn’t afford tears, it was just too expensive and very useless with respect to the situation she found herself in and she’d rather save up her energy for something more productive.
Mummy Ruth crossed the room to be with her daughter, she was sorry for all she’d said but it was needed, Hannah needed to hear the truth and confront it too; she placed a hand across Hannah’s shoulder.
“Hannah, my daughter, we are Yoruba and it is against our culture to divorce but you are not married to this man, that is the main reason why dad is angry with both of you, tell him to do the right thing and ask for your hand properly asides that, don’t you know you are living under a curse, your union is cursed because you don’t have the blessing of either of your parents, twelve years of living with a man that is not traditionally or legally your husband is a waste of time and resources.” Hannah was fed up, she wasn’t here to talk about her marriage or rather her ‘union’, neither was she here for her personal needs, she was only here because of her children, she had to make her mother understand.
“But maami, I need your help for my children, your grand-children…”
“Bring the children here, I will gladly accept them, you are a beautiful girl, you will find a man, trust me.”
“Maami, are you listening to yourself, at thirty-two, you want me to start searching for a husband or what? I’m okay like this, thank you!” Hannah stood to leave, she was angry and her mom shook her head in pity.
“Think about everything I’ve said, meanwhile, take this two thousand naira, that is all I have.” Hannah smiled, so her mom still expected her to collect her money, she’d always known had a sense of humour but she didn’t know it was this much.
“Thank you ma, you can keep your money, my husband and I will survive and bring up our children, I’ll be on my way now.” She said and left the house promising herself not to return there to ask for money or any form of help, ever again. She just needed ten thousand; five to complete the capital she’d been saving and the rest to buy foodstuff and offset some bills. She had just two hundred naira in her purse so she decided to walk the first half of her journey home which would have cost her hundred naira and then she’d board a fifty naira bike home.
P.S- the conversation between Hannah and her mother was in the Yoruba language.
When she got home, as expected, her children were home from school and were waiting in the neighbour’s room. She fetched them and was surprised to meet her husband at home.
“Ahahn, Tomiwa! What are you doing here?” she asked with a frown.
“What kind of foolish question is that? Where are your manners? So I cannot come home again? Yen yen yen yen yen, you can’t even greet.” The children quickly greeted while the woman just hissed. Tomiwa walked out of the house, he’d had a rough day already and was in no mood for a fight with his wife, he didn’t return till very late. His wife and children were asleep and the door was locked, Tomiwa let himself in and sat heavily in the armchair, he was tired, not just in his body but mentally too; he was ahamed that his wife was the breadwinner even though she didn’t have a well-paying job; he was tired of the incessant arguments he always had with his wife but she was always the cause, she constantly reminded him of his joblessness and inability to cater for the family’s needs which always made him feel less of a man, he was just tired. He emptied his trouser pockets on the stool by the chair and began straightening the crumpled naira notes before counting them then he sighed, just four thousand naira and some change, he sighed again, he had pains all over his body and hadn’t had the time to rest but how was Hannah to know, on the very few occasions when they were not arguing, he always told he his dreams and plans but she’d always used them against him during arguments. He made up his mind not to go to the market the next day, he would instead, deposit fifty thousand out of the sixty five thousand he’d saved to buy a second hand tricycle, the owner had said if he could bring fifty thousand, he would hand over the ‘keke’ and the remaining hundred thousand would be paid over the period of six months with a fifteen percent interest. He was sure Hannah would be surprised that she’d not told him all the while, it was high time he took up a more active role and tangible responsibility as the head of the home. He pocketed the money then took off his clothes, promising himself to give Hannah two thousand naira to offset her outstanding debt with mama Taiwo and collect more foodstuff; the children were growing faster than he’d imagined hence the need to feed them with bigger portions and he could not starve them. He looked round the scanty room but there was no sign of food, they most likely had drunk garri before going to bed, he helped himself to a bowl of garri and water and then went to bed.
The next morning, Tomiwa woke up, as usual, at six-thirty, his family was always up before him; Yejide was sweeping, Korede was cleaning his and Yejide’s school sandals while Hannah was most likely in the kitchen preparing the family’s breakfast/lunch or was in the bathroom.
“Yejide, where is your mother?” he asked just so the children would know he was awake.
“Good morning sir, she’s cooking.” Yejide said on her knees while Korede prostrated. He was very fond of his children and very proud of them too, despite the fact that their mates were in senior classes to theirs, they never seemed bothered, Yejide was so good that the school head mistress had promised her a double promotion when the new school year resumed.
“Good morning my children, how was your night?” Tomiwa replied.
“Daddy, I was waiting for you last night, I thought you’d buy suya for me.” Korede said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll still buy the suya, plenty suya for everybody this night when I come home.” He said then picked his bucket of bath water, that was usually placed by the door with his towel and toiletries; for this, he was grateful to his wife, at least she still accorded him some respect as the head of the home when it came to his bath.
…to be continued
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