By Yetunde Arebi
It came as a great shock to everyone when it was announced that Mr. Braimoh, also known as Daddy Bayo had taken a new wife. Well, not that he had walked another woman up the aisle or performed the traditional wedding rites on her, but he had gotten another woman pregnant. In African society, and indeed Nigerian, once a child is conceived in a relationship, it instantly takes another life of its own, regardless of the marital status of the intending parents.
A life time bond is instituted between the man and the mother of the child, regardless of their affection towards each other, even if the intimacy and desires between them burns out in future. The child, once paternity is accepted, becomes a part of the family, whether the woman holding the keys to the matrimonial legacy accepts it or not. It is this bond and the likely implications that ‘madams’ fear.
And so it was for Mummy Bayo, who after 20 years of marriage and a very closely knit bond (they are also business partners) between her and her husband had assumed that all the hurdles had been crossed and the union was now on autopilot. Considering their humble beginnings it was only natural for her and perhaps all those who know them to follow this pattern of thought. The two had met while at Secondary school, daddy Bayo was two years her senior and the first born of a local rich chief in their home town. He’d gone straight into the family business alongside his father, learning the ropes of the business as well as carving out a percentage of it for himself. Two years later while Mummy Bayo was in her final year, the relationship was consummated and Bayo was conceived. Her family did not take kindly to the development but considering the local setting, especially financially and the willingness and readiness of the other family to take on the responsibility of both mother and child, the union was a done deal. So, she moved into Daddy Bayo’s family house and together, they began their life’s journey.
Daddy Bayo soon clung to his wife, left the family business and they branched out on their own, building their business to become even bigger than their father’s and the envy of many in the community. Like many wives’ Mummy Bayo was the last to know about her husband’s intimacy with another woman and by the time she did, the worst had already taken place. It was only natural that she ran to her own safe haven, her family.
This was where we came into the picture as extended family members. Most considered it a great betrayal and did not fail to give Daddy Bayo a piece of caustic tongue lashing. After five lovely children who were doing well in their educational pursuit and a thriving joint business venture, why look for trouble? But many did not stop at the verbal intervention, they took their crusade to a much higher level. Mummy Bayo’s mother and siblings led the battle. They claimed responsibility for what had happened, it was obvious that they had become too relaxed about certain things. Daddy Bayo’s gentle mien, almost to the point of stupidity had fooled them so much that they thought him incapable of taking such a bold and daring step against his wife and children. They concluded that he must have been charmed by this other woman, otherwise, he would have thought twice about the implications of his amorous desires towards this strange woman. The situation was worsened especially after discovering that the new ‘wife’ was a divorcee with two children from a previous marriage. The ‘witch’, no matter how powerful her backers might be must not be allowed to sink her paws any deeper into Daddy Bayo’s heart and pocket.
It was a battle to be fought by any means possible by all willing stakeholders, mummy Bayo’s mother cried out to her kinsmen. And together, they fought. From one spiritualist to another, both far and near was consulted. Prophets, Wollis, and Olushos of various coloured garments, white, blue and possibly red were consulted, Alfas and herbalists did not escape the list, nothing must be left to chance. Baths were taken, concoctions were eaten and drank, incantations were recited, substances were sprayed and sprinkled anywhere and everywhere recommended. Daddy Bayo’s project must fail.
His affair with the strange woman must be stopped. His love affection for her must turn to repel and hatred. They must become like day and night, incompatible, never to meet again. The lady and her backers had obviously jumped the fence without scrutinising and ensuring a safe landing for themselves. Many of us were surprised that she was even able to deliver the child safely. They must have done some consultation of their own too, we concluded. But in this game of deception, the one with the more tentacles and superior arsenals wins. She lost and so did Daddy Bayo, if indeed he was truly in love with the woman. As if under a spell, Daddy Bayo returned home one night with the little girl, barely a year old, slung across his shoulders and handed her over to Mummy Bayo, to be raised along with their five other children. We were informed that he even prostrated and swore never to cross his bounds ever again. Eight years after, Daddy Bayo has retired even further into his old shell, a thoroughly subdued spirit.
Fast track to six years after, same family, but now, the main gladiator is a male sibling of Mummy Bayo. Mr. Badmus, also fondly called Daddy Sewa has travelled down the same ignoble road that Daddy Bayo once tread. He has betrayed his wife and marriage of over 12 years, and this time, in a more dastardly manner. The shocking news left many perplexed and confused about how such a cold and inhumane act can be perpetuated by someone who professed love and promised to care for his wife. The gist was that Daddy Sewa had impregnated a married family friend of theirs. Naturally, it was obvious that the two morally corrupt lovers had sunken deep into the cesspit of their repulsive and scandalous affair and finding no way out of their ignominy, decided to take the walk of shame hand in hand, pretending to the world that they were truly in love. Narrating her plight to the family, Mummy Sewa said she had no idea such a thing was going on behind her back because it was not something that she ever thought was possible. As far as she was concerned, she and her husband had an almost perfect relationship until her husband started finding faults with whatever she did, including their lovemaking. He told her point blank that he no longer found her sexually stimulating, plus all the usual excuses men give when they decide to ‘move on’. By the time she realised what had happened, it was too late.
But she had always had a very beautiful relationship with her mother-in-law, or so she thought. So she decided to seek refuge and comfort in her arms, believing that after hearing the whole sordid story, her mother-in-law and others will take sides with her and get rid of the other woman for her. But Mummy Sewa would later confide in many who cared to listen that she never knew she was been living in fool’s paradise. Daddy Sewa’s new bride had already been sold as the epitome of womanhood to the family. The only point she could score at the end of the day was her revelation that the new Miss Goody Two-Shoes, was actually a mother and wife of a family friend. While her in-laws did find this a dishonourable development, they concluded that it made it all the more compelling for Mummy Sewa to control her temper and keep the matter as much a secret as possible, if indeed she was a good wife and had the best interest of her husband and home at heart. The deed had already been done and there was not much they could do for her, she was informed.
Her mother in-law told her she would be fighting a futile battle as a child was already involved. “Nkan eni kii di meji ka ma binu”, (do you get angry when your token becomes double? My translations, please)she warned her. Has your husband driven you from your matrimonial home, she asked. Has he not been paying the children’s school fees and taking care of your needs? What else do you want from a man other than these? Only a bad woman goes about complaining about her husband’s affairs, if you remain calm, everything will sort itself out” Mama told her. This was obviously not the reaction that Mummy Sewa had expected as she could recall all that happened when Daddy Bayo had done the same thing in the family. But Mama’s response said to that question said it all. “That is my daughter and you are my son’s wife. Your people are free to take you anywhere to seek help for your problems, just don’t kill my son oh!”
While we all condemned what had happened, there was absolutely nothing we could do but offer advice to both parties (husband and wife). Dejected with nowhere to turn to, Mummy Sewa has gradually become a shadow of old herself as she sits back and watch her once loving husband gallivanting shamelessly around town with another man’s wife. Sometimes, when we meet at family gatherings and this pathetic situation comes up in discussions, there is always a divide in opinions.
While some are of the view that there must be more to the story, some of us are convinced it is just our way of life as a people. We lack standards for everything we do. Most of the time, Nigerians love to put their mouths where their money is. We support people and issues not entirely because they are on the right or because it is the truth, but what we stand to benefit from the events. Most of the time, what is good for the goose may not necessarily be same for the gander. Many Nigerians speak from both sides of their mouths depending on whose ox is being gored at that period. Truth and trust worthy people have become very expensive and rare to find in our midst and it has affected every aspect of our lives. Just take a look around you! Do have a wonderful weekend!