Iyawo Tuntun (New Wife).
You stare blankly at your mother in law as she throws herself on the floor in between heavy sobs. You attempt blocking out her Won ti pa omo mi chants . You remain still as you watch her sisters’ try to keep her calm.
She’s wearing the same scarf she had on when she visited last month. The same one she had used to hit your face when you knelt to greet her. She told you women who could not have male children had no business speaking to her. She brought along a girl from the village.
Adetutu, Iyawo tuntun re.
The girl was much younger than you were and like your grandmother, she was gap toothed. Her brown skin was freshly oiled with Shea butter. You knew it was Shea butter because your 7 year old daughters’ skinned glowed that way too. You’d give her a warm bath every night before bed & bask her arms and legs in its thickness.
You observed quietly as Adetutu walked in after your mother in law and say comfortably on your favourite couch. You don’t speak because your mind is a child lost in a new city. You tell your mother in law that your husband is at work and won’t be back till much later. She shuts you up saying she would wait for her son.
Your heart is hurting. You want to tell your mother in law that only God grants male children. That your daughter is not inferior because of her gender. You want to remind her that she is intruding in your marital life, but you swallow your tongue instead. You hold in the tears and offer to prepare something for them to eat.
Your mother in law tells you not to cook so you don’t ‘poison’ the new wife. She walks into your kitchen dragging her. You overhear her telling her to make Amala, that it was now her home too.
You run into your room and console yourself. Your arms hugging your knees as you weep, you tell yourself that your husband is too enlightened to agree to such an arrangement.
You come out only when you hear your husband’s car horn. You watch him eat the meal Adetutu prepared with joy. You stare in disbelief when he agrees to the arrangement and asks that Adetutu sleeps in his room for the night .
You beg him to rethink his decision, you cry despite knowing you’re not at fault. He tells you he doesn’t love you any less, that he has to obey his mother because she birthed him. He tells you that you and your daughter will get used to it.
Your mother in law is still crying, she has not stopped throwing herself on the floor. Adetutu is by your side, red eyed and tired from crying. Asking God why she turned a widow barely a month after her marriage, as if God was a fellow mortal obliged to respond to her rants.
You don’t reply when the other women around ask you what killed your husband. You don’t tell them that you were annoyed when the news of Adetutu’s pregnancy hit you. You don’t mention how you slipped sleeping pills in the meal Adetutu prepared for him that day or how you threw a pillow over his face and held on tight when the drowsiness hit him.
You close your eyes as his pleading voice echoes in your head. You replay it till you mentally blocked out the crowd crying and yelling in your living room.