By Amatesiro Dore
Eyimofe Emiko looked forward to being a mother-in-law to the bride of her only son but expectations were terminated when Femi asked a boy to his senior prom.
Before their first child went to pick up his prom king, she overheard her husband giving him the talk.
“Delay having sex for now,” Mr Jaiyeoba said. “Find your passion and fall in love with it. You will only find the right man after finding yourself. But have fun tonight and ask yourself during temptations: what would Jesus do?” and Femi laughed out of the house.
Eyimofe couldn’t believe her ears. She believed her grandfather’s company had been unfairly bullied out of the Enugu aero-car industry after the 2066 Biafra Independence Referendum and she thought she had convinced her husband to discourage Femi from dating the Biafran boy, but clearly Mr Jaiyeoba thought otherwise.
However, she felt vindicated when Femi broke up with the boy for insisting on pre-marital sex.
“Don’t mind him,” Eyimofe consoled her son. “I’ll find you a proper Yoruba boy with good home training in this Abeokuta.”
Along came Dapo of royal repute. His mum was president of the Abeokuta Stock Exchange and his dad chaired the largest Nigerian Space Estate Agency in Southeast Kepler. After the traditional betrothal was announced, space tabloids began publishing stories about her future son-in-law: only his back remained a virgin, his front has visited every willing crevice in the Goldilocks Zone; during the last winter holidays, he punched his ex-boyfriend at a resort in Kepler 438b. She became uneasy when his family insisted on having a Blood Oath Service at Sango’s Shrine as part of the wedding ceremony. The engagement broke down irretrievably when Femi tongue-kissed his Scottish-Nigerian mechanic during a live broadcast of the Warri Inter-Galaxy Grand Prix.
Yet Eyimofe forbade Femi from marrying Jeremy. She preferred “the Biafran bastard to this bloody British immigrant without naira in his veins.”
“Who are his parents?”
“His dad was my professor at the WASAD and his mum is a Warri Local Government councillor.”
Eyimofe didn’t know where to start: how to explain that marriage was a union of physical and electric powers; a vehicle to allocate and perpetuate rights. That the strongest unions were forged out of family mergers to create a distinct entity which remains a unit in a conglomerate of blood and sex.
“When you say you love this boy, do you know what that means? Are you willing to share, concede and give up power to the son of a mere professor at the Warri School of Aerodynamics?”
“When you married daddy, he was just an engineer at your father’s company!”
“When I married your father, Asaimagor wasn’t the largest aero-car company in the country. All we had was a fine engine and nowhere to put it. We built Asaimagor together!”
“When I met Jeremy, I wasn’t a Formula One champion. I was an insecure, self-hating pilot. Up in the air, dodging the clouds, through rain and thunder he’s the light in my speed.”
“I will never consent to this marriage. It’s my constitutional right and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Eyimofe played her last card.
That wasn’t true. Her son could take the matter to a magistrate court and argue that her refusal was based on ‘unreasonable grounds’.
“Our son will not do that to me, a well brought-up Nigerian man wouldn’t do that to his mother,” Eyimofe said to Jaiyeoba.
And she was right. A good Yoruba son would appeal to a greater power. And no one terrified Eyimofe more than her own mother-in-law.
“Assalam alaikum,” Alhaja announced her presence.
“Welcome, mama; how was your trip?”
“Great if I didn’t end up seeing your face.”
Eyimofe wondered what she feared the most about the diminutive, burka-shrouded woman: her nasty tongue or the fact that she was born with balls and without womb. Maybe it was because Alhaja gave birth to seven boys within seven years of marriage, and didn’t think anyone was good enough for any of them.
“I heard you have become an impediment to the happiness of my grandson.”
“I did it for Femi. He’ll thank me later.”
“That was what I thought when I didn’t want my Jaiyeoba to marry you. I did not want to have an Igbo daughter-in-law.”
“Mama, you know I’m not Igbo. My parents are Itsekiri from Warri!”
“Ha, weren’t you born and raised in Enugu? You’re omo ibo! A bona fide Biafran! But I permitted you to marry my precious son. Only for you to call Jeremy black!”
“Who said he’s Black? Have you seen him? He’s Snow White!”
“Ha, I said it! You’re racist! You want to deny me some Scottish great-grand babies!”
“Mama, marriage is much more than having babies.”
“Ha, you want to teach me about marriage? Marriage is like my burka; a protective cover against weaknesses and wickedness. It’s not by compulsion but by choice. Let them get engaged and decide if they will protect each other from others and from themselves. That you disagree about something doesn’t mean you’re right about it. Have faith!”
And Eyimofe became a mother-in-law though she wasn’t certain about their union.
Amatesiro Dore is a 2009 alumnus of the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop; former Managing Editor of Vanguard Spark, imprint of Vanguard Newspapers; and 2015 Fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. He has been published in Kwani?, Farafina, YNaija, The ScoopNG, Vanguard Newspaper, The Brittle Paper, Bakwa Magazine, The Kalahari Review, The Ofi Press; and forthcoming in Chimurenga.