My First Wife

“Dapo! Where do you think you are going? If you know what is good for you, you had better listen to the voice of reasoning” his mum shouted after him. He had stormed out angrily after a heated argument with her and went into his late father’s car to sit for a while and calm his nerves. She always wanted to have her way, but he’d be dammed if he gave in to her demands.

Dapo Obe and his mum never saw eye to eye on many issues after the demise of his father. His dad had been his rock, the backbone of the family; the one he could always count on for support. His mum also had been very supportive and caring to him and his siblings until recently. Oh, he missed having him around. Death had dealt his family a terrible blow. Life had only just begun for his dad when the cold hands of death snatched him from them all.

He relaxed the seat of his late father’s Mercedes Benz car. He closed his eyes from exasperation as his mind delved into the reason for the argument. His mum doesn’t want him to get married to Angela, the woman of his dreams.

He had met her while they were at the university. They had bumped into each other at the entrance to the library and Angela’s books got scattered all over the floor. Dapo bent down to help with the books and when he rose up to hand them over, his eyes met the most captivating eyes he had ever seen. He was awe struck by her very irresistible beauty.

She could see that he was mesmerized; she knew she had some kind of effect on the opposite sex. Some ladies also tease her for taking all the beauty God intended to hand over to ten ladies all to herself. But beyond her beauty lies a very quiet and beautiful personality. She was what one will term a complete package; beautiful, charming, kind and intelligent. No wonder men swoon over her every time.

Dapo and Angela had hit it off right from the first meeting. As their friendship progressed, she found out he was a very intelligent and smart young man, who had his head rightly fixed on his shoulders. They were both in final year and hence worked on their project research together. Theirs was more of an intellectual relationship and never got intimate. Besides, Angela would have none of that as she had consecrated herself to be touched only by the man she would be married to. Dapo told her he valued their friendship more than physical intimacy.

School ended and they were both posted to different states in Nigeria for their compulsory one year youth service. Despite the distance, Dapo visited her place of primary assignment five times before they passed out. He didn’t want any one encroaching on his “property”.

“There are not too many good ladies around nowadays” he told himself. “It is better to guard the good one jealously”.

The day Dapo got home after his youth service, his family was elated. Finally, the days of Nigerian university wahala was over and he can focus on building a career for himself. His mother had prepared his best meal of pounded yam and okro soup with fresh Tilapia fish. He had forgotten what good homemade meal tasted like and he was quick to tell his mum how much he had missed her cooking. Mum just grinned from ear to ear, happy that he got home alive and well.

Few weeks after his arrival, he had gone out to see Angela. She lived 20km from him. The distance never meant anything to him as long as he got to see her. They had both applied to lots of organizations for job placement but had not gotten lucky. They talked at length about what the future held in store and what they would do to become successful. Dapo looked at her intensely and knew he would not want to spend the rest of his life without her by his side.

He got up from the seat and held her up. Staring intently into her eyes, he called her name.

“Angela, I have known you for a few months yet it feels like forever. What I feel for you has grown beyond what my mind can fathom and it feels so peaceful that I would not want to lose it.” Angela cold no longer stay on her feet much longer, her head felt all kinds of dizziness. She heard the seriousness in his voice and she was so sure he was about to propose. What she didn’t know was if she was fully ready to take things a notch higher.

“Angela Okorie, will you please marry me?” Dapo finally asked. He searched her face to be sure she had heard him properly. Angela looked at him and all she saw were honesty in his eyes, she knew saying yes could not be a mistake.

“Yes I will” Angela replied. Dapo was ecstatic. He lifted her off the floor and swirled her around. He put her down and held her in a tight hug and planted a firm kiss on her lips. She didn’t resist him then, it was afterall a seal of their proposal.

Few minutes later, Dapo left for home; he couldn’t wait to tell his family the good news. All he needed was a good job so that he can start earning and be able to plan a proper wedding for his Angel.

************

“What!! How would you want to get married to an Igbo lady? One who doesn’t understand our language? Our cultures are different; I will not allow it, never!!”

Dapo sat mouth agape, he could not believe that his mother, who had travelled all over of the country and had schooled abroad could have uttered such words? No, she didn’t mean it.

“Mum, did I hear you say you won’t allow it?”

“Yes Son, don’t you know that most inter-tribal marriages always have problems?  What languages will your children speak? Don’t you know you will have confused children?” and she went on and on. She cited lots of marriages she had seen and heard about that had ended abruptly and she attributed all to the fact that cultural differences were the cause.

“Mum, I have heard all your concerns, but I also know that there are countless marriages out there that have survived despite coming from different cultural background. I will take my chances mum”

“Olorun maje” (Yoruba language meaning “God forbid it”)

“Over my dead body, Dapo. Oh, because your dad is no more, you want to undermine my authority as head of the family? I will not allow it” and she stormed into her room banging the door furiously behind her. And that had been the beginning of the recent feud between mother and son.

To say Dapo was shocked was an understatement. His mum had lots of Igbo women as friends and church committee members, why wouldn’t she want her son to get married to Igbos?

His younger sister, Shola, tapped on the window of the car, snapping him out of his reverie. He unlocked the central lock system and she slid onto the passenger seat. She had overheard his argument with their mum and she had come to empathize with him. They both knew that mum could be very stubborn when she chooses but that getting angry with her never solves the problem. Shola cracked a joke that got them both laughing so hard that the mother-son argument was soon forgotten.

“So big brother, when do I meet this Igbo lady that has stolen your heart?” Shola asked.

“Soon dear, I will arrange a meet between both of you and I am sure you will love her as much as I do”.

 

***********

And truly, shola loved Angela the moment they met, who wouldn’t. Dapo never mentioned his mother’s disapproval of their relationship to her. Angela liked Shola instantly and they both giggled like school girls whenever Dapo cracked a joke. It was such a beautiful hang out and they had more of it.

Dapo met Angela’s parents three months into their relationship but she hadn’t met his. She knew of his father’s demise and expected that she should have met his mother, at least. She pestered him with this information and gave him an ultimatum on arranging her meeting with his mother.

Few weeks later, Dapo brought Angela home. He had earlier begged his mother to for his sake, welcome Angela and get to know how who she truly was and not where she came from.

Mrs. Obe had done exactly as her son begged of her. She exuded such grace and kind demeanor that Dapo thought she had been finally won over by Angela’s charm, but he was in for a shock.  As soon as he returned home…

“I hoped for your sake I put up a great show back there? At least your Angela wouldn’t call your mother a wicked old woman.” She retorted.

“Mum, for once I thought you truly liked her. That you would see beyond your dislike for inter-tribal marriages and embrace the woman I love. If not for anything mum, for my sake”.

“I am sorry son; I have nothing against her personally. She is beautiful, in fact too beautiful to be a normal lady. Are you sure she might not be linked to the marine world? Such beauty!! Did you see those eyes? Mesmerizing!! Dapo, please my son, look for a normal Yoruba lady and date her, as for this Angela girl, I will not allow it. I smell trouble oo”.

Dapo looked at his mum in amazement, wondering when she changed from a loving mother to something else. He made up his mind to go ahead with his marriage plans. Luckily, he had gotten a job with a construction firm few weeks earlier and the pay was good. Angela was yet to secure one but he believed in her.

Angela finally got to know that Dapo’s mum was against their relationship and she was shocked. How could she not be in support but had received her warmly the first time they met and subsequent times she had gone visiting. It took Shola’s admittance to the truth for her to realize she had been living in dreamland. Angela told her parents about the issues and they had also kicked against the idea of getting married to a man whose mother didn’t approve. But they are liberal and told her the decision of a marriage partner was hers to make and once she stepped out, she should remember she can’t return home.

Angela’s mother pleaded with her daughter to end the relationship to Dapo. She admonished her about in-law troubles and how she was too young to be in such mess. Angela promised her mum she would consider all the factors and take a decision soon.

Dapo woke up one Saturday morning to find his mother, sitting on the only chair in his room; he hadn’t even heard the door opening. He guessed he underrated how tired he was from the previous night. He was also quite shocked to see her in his room that early.

 

 

PART 2

She leaned forward, facing him.

“Oko mi” (My husband) a ploy usually used by Yoruba mothers to get the attention of their son.

“I know you are angry with me but all I am doing is for love. I do not want you to have problems in your marriage. I can see that this Angela matter is causing a rift in this family and I cherish peace in my family than proving a point. I have consented to the union; you can go ahead with whatever plans you have. I will give my blessings”

It seemed Dapo had not heard properly, he rubbed his eyes again and sat up quickly. He was excited; he prostrated and thanked his mum profusely for granting his earnest request. He was quick to inform Angela of the new development and wedding plans started proper.

Exactly six months after Dapo’s mum gave her consent, Dapo and Angela got married. It was a beautiful ceremony and friends kept talking about it for weeks. Angela couldn’t have wished for a more glamorous wedding celebration. They travelled to Obudu cattle ranch for their honeymoon. They both couldn’t believe there were still in Nigeria, the scenery was “out of this world”. They spent a week and returned back to Lagos. It had been a week of fun and more discoveries of themselves as a couple. Dapo was glad he had not listened to his mother and gone ahead with the marriage to Angela.

They settled down to their new home quite easily and things went on fine. A week after their return from the honeymoon, Angela got a call from Doherty Consulting. She couldn’t even remember when she applied for a job there. She was to meet the Human resource manager for an interview. The interview went well and was offered a job three weeks later. It was the perfect wedding gift they got.

 

**************************************

 

Angela started working and it was such a tasking job. She leaves home before 6am to beat the early morning traffic and doesn’t return home until 7pm most times. Dapo on the other hand was so lucky his office wasn’t far from home. It takes him fifteen minutes to get to work and back. Dapo gets home most times earlier and helps to sort out dinner. Angela makes sure she cooks different soups and stews and refrigerate so that Dapo can help himself whenever he gets home before she does.

Three months after Angela started work; she fell ill and had to be rushed to the hospital when she couldn’t stand up by herself anymore as she had severe stomach pains. She was diagnosed to be pregnant and to have some time off work to rest.

Dapo also was due for a week’s leave and he took time off work to be by her side. On the third day of the bed rest, Dapo’s mum visited to see how her daughter in law was faring.

“Angela, sorry o. You just have to be strong, and must ensure you do not allow this pregnancy to stop you from performing your duties o”

In strained voice “Thank you ma, I will try my best ma”

Dapo turned to his mum “Mum, what do I offer you? I can quickly boil rice or poundo yam”

“What!! Is it that bad that Angela can no longer cook food in this house”? Turning to Angela “I hope you have no plans to turn my son into your slave all because you are pregnant? When I was pregnant with my children, I did not stop performing my duties in the house o. All these girls of nowadays…” and she hissed and got up to get water from the kitchen.

Dapo hurried to his wife and pleaded with her not to take his mother’s words seriously. Angela had already started crying and wiped a tear from her eyes.

Dapo’s mum came back into the living room and saw Dapo holding his wife as he tried to calm her down.

“I had better go back to my house as I have suddenly become the enemy for saying the truth. Angela, bye bye oo, you can turn your husband into your slave o, maybe that is how they behave in your village”

And with that said, she stormed out of the house and slammed the door behind her. She got into her car and the driver started the engine for the ride back home. She sulked all the way home, wondering how she could have birthed a son who disobeyed her wishes.

They encountered a terrible traffic situation on the way and her mind wandered to her meeting with her friend Mrs. Tola Kalejaiye. Tola had a daughter, Theresa who had just finished university and awaiting her posting for the compulsory national youth service corps. She was a well brought up lady who exuded an awesome personality. Both mothers had thought she would be the perfect wife for Dapo as it would also help strengthen the relationship between both women.

She planned to set up a meeting between Dapo and Theresa but he had never given her the opportunity. He had instead announced his interest in an Igbo lady that he eventually got married to. Ever since Angela came into the picture, Dapo had seemed more assertive and she didn’t like it one bit. She planned to do something about it, she cannot have a son she wouldn’t be able to talk some sense into.

 

PART THREE

“Angela! Angela!!” shouted Dapo’s mum on the top of her voice. Muttering to herself . “I hope she wouldn’t  say she didn’t hear me call?”

Dapo and Angela had welcomed a baby girl and for some weeks, the arrival of the baby had calmed everyone as she was such a beauty to behold. Angela’s mum had come to help in taking care of the baby and had stayed two months and gone back home to allow Dapo’s mum also the opportunity of taking care of her first grand daughter.

She had not spent a week before she started her usual routine of picking on Angela. Dapo just didn’t know what else to do to resolve the brewing trouble between his mother and wife. He loved how Angela behaved to his mother, always respectful and never spiteful even when his mother deserved to be lashed out at.

“Yes ma, I was out in the backyard spreading the clothed on the line to dry” answered Angela. She came into the house and the venom in her mother in-law’s eyes sent cold chill down her spine.

“Mama, I’m sorry, I came inside as soon as I heard your voice” Angela said as she hoped the explanation would be enough for her.

“So you had to make me shout up to three times before you decided to grace me with your presence?” Dapo’s mother replied harshly.

Barely three months as a new mother and overwhelmed by the demands of breast feeding and adapting to her new status, she couldn’t take it anymore.

“Mummy!! What have I ever done to you to deserve this unjust treatment? I am supposed to be like a daughter to you. I have loved and respected you as I would my mum but you have consistently rejected me. What have I done?” Angela started crying.

In a normal scenario, the sight of Angela crying would have melted even the coldest of hearts but not Mrs. Obe. She was just not bothered, instead lashed out at Angela to leave her son alone.

“All I want is that you leave Dapo alone!! You do not deserve my son, go find your own man elsewhere” shouted Dapo’s mum angrily.

 

******************

Angela had always kept Dapo’s mother’s unkind attitude to her to herself but on this recent one, she knew she had to let him know.

After dinner, Angela excused her husband into their room and planned to tell him all that had transpired between herself and his mother. Unknown to them, as soon as they left, Dapo’s mum crept behind them and crouched behind the door to the room and was eavesdropping on their conversation. When she felt she had heard enough, she barged into their room uninvited.

“I heard all you said Angela. Did you tell him I called you up to three times before you answered?”  Queried Dapo’s mum. “Tell him how you sleep most of the times during the day and I am the one that cares for the child” she was fuming.

“Mum, I have had enough of your tantrums in this house. You never supported my marriage to Angela in the first place. She is the woman I love and why can’t you just accept it?  Why do you hate her so?” asked Dapo. He looked about to cry.

“Dapo, in Yoruba culture, your mother is like your first wife and whoever you marry comes after. My wish should be law and you ought to hold them very dear to your heart. But since you met this girl, I have now become second fiddle. I won’t take that. If I had not brought you up well, would she like you enough to marry you?”

Angela knelt down to beg her mother inlaw. “Mum, please I’m sorry for any wrong I must have done to you. I am…” but Dapo’s mum cut her short.

“Keep shut! I do not want your apologies. You were never good enough for him. How dare you report me to my son?” she chided

Dapo had had enough. He sighed heavily and looked his mum straight in the eye.

“Mummy, thank you for your many sacrifices as you nursed me to adulthood. Thank you for your love, you are an amazing mother” His mum smiled.

“I am sorry you feel this way about Angela my wife and I apologize on her behalf for her errors. But mum, this is my life and this is my home and I alone have the rights as head of this family”

“Mum, please call your driver to get here early tomorrow morning and take you home. I also implore you to please stay out of my marriage and my home for as long as I am married to Angela. I would be visiting regularly and continuing my duties as a son to you but you do not have any right to interfere in my marriage”

His mum could not believe her ears, she was beyond shocked. “You mean you are choosing your wife over me your mother?”

“Yes mum and I will do it over and over again. I will not permit you to ruin what I have with Angela. Yes you were there before her but your job as the first ended the moment I said I do to Angela and it will remain that way for ever”

“Hmmm!! Angela, thank you for turning my son against me. As for you Dapo, I won’t wait till tomorrow, I will leave tonight. I will spare you two the agony of spending the night under the same roof as me” She looked at Dapo and expected that he would be moved by her words and reconsider but instead he turned and held his wife.

Angela started crying and pleading with Dapo not to let his mum go on her account but he sealed her mouth with a kiss.  After he let go of her, he said “It’s you I married Angela. Mum has had her share of marital bliss and now it’s your turn. I won’t let anyone deny you of that”

Dapo’s mum called her driver and he arrived in no time. Dapo and Angela were in the living room as the driver arrived. Dapo’s mum got up from the couch and didn’t utter a word as she left. She slammed the door so hard the baby woke up from her sleep crying from the impact.

 

**********************

Dapo and Angela still visit his mum regularly but she never returned the visit. She however chose to behave in a civil manner towards Angela ever since the incident.

Though Angela would have wanted things to go differently but she wouldn’t want to trade the peace she had found in her marriage for anything!! Or should she?

 

THE END.