Behind Mud Walls S01 E06: “The Helper.”

“Did you enjoy the food?” Adebisi asked her son.

“Oh yes I did!” he replied smacking his lips and washing his hands in a calabash. The slavegirl who had come in with his mother packed up the clay bowls.

“I’m glad you convinced me to stay. My wife doesn’t cook yam porridge the way you do.” As soon as he said the words, he knew that he shouldn’t have and he regretted it soon enough.

“Is that the only thing she doesn’t know how to do?” Adebisi asked mockingly.

Adegbola shook his head, and exhaled slowly.

“It’s almost a year and a half since you married that woman, yet there is no child. Are you waiting until you’ve been married for ten years before you realize that you need another woman?”

Adegbola sighed again.

“You’re sighing. Listen to me, let me find you another woman, a fertile one from a good home. You can’t continue to be unconcerned about your childlessness, you’re the first son and child of your father. Do you want your step-brother to get married and start having children before you?”

“Maami, things are not the way you see them…”

“How are they Adegbola? You think that love will bring a child or solve the problem at hand?”

“Things are not the way you see them…” Adegbola said again sadly.

Adebisi saw a sadness on her son’s face that she couldn’t comprehend. “Adegbola…”

“Let me be on my way my mother…”

“Did you swear an oath with her?” she asked suddenly.

“Let me be on my way my mother.”

As he walked out Adebisi became alarmed and convinced that something was going on that her son wasn’t talking about.

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**********

“Something is going on in that house that we are not aware of.” She said to her husband later that night, bringing up their son’s childlessness after she had served him a sumptuous meal.

“Adebisi! Does your constant meddling not tire you?” he replied, staring at her unbelievingly.

“I can never get tired when it concerns my children.” She replied calmly, staring right back at him. “Something is going on that we are not aware of and he won’t tell me. Call him and find out what it is so that we can sort this thing out.”

“You want me to meddle in my son’s marriage?”

“I want you to put an end to your son’s childlessness! Doesn’t it bother you that your first son has been married for almost a year and a half and there is no child to show for it? Is our wealth complete without grandchildren?” she rubbed her eyes, tired of explaining the importance of the situation to her husband. “Alright, just talk to him about it and watch his reaction.”

Adegoke reluctantly agreed.

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**********

Mowunmi and Adegbola were wide awake, both consumed with the same thought.

“I can’t do this anymore.” Mowunmi said quietly. “If we don’t tell someone about our problem, I will leave you.”

Adegbola didn’t respond, his mind was filled with thoughts of his life before Mowunmi and the accident that had happened. It was the only thing he could think of that could have affected his potency.

“Did you hear what I said?” Mowunmi said.

Adegbola cleared his throat. “I heard. So you want to leave me and expose me to the world?” he asked somberly.

“What do you want me to do? Does it even bother you that people are calling me barren? Have you thought about my own reputation? Or does it not matter because I am the woman or my father is not popular?”

Adegbola looked at her.

“You’re only thinking of yourself!” she shook her head disapprovingly. “Let us find a solution to this problem or I will leave you.”

She lay on the mat and turned her back on him.

**********

“You’re impotent!” Adegoke looked at his son sharply.

“Baami, it’s still surprising to me.”

“Why didn’t you say anything to me? It never even occurred to me that you could be the problem because I know how many of the slavegirls you’ve been with.”

“I’ve not deflowered my wife, father.”

Adegoke’s mouth was agape. “But the white cloth was…”

“I cut myself.”

“The both of you deceived all of us! What made you think of such a thing?”

“What could I have done? Should I have come out to declare in front of our guests that I couldn’t get my manhood up?”

“Wait… but you would have known about this before you married the girl, why didn’t you say anything then?”

Adegbola scratched the back of his head. “I thought that I would be cured… I thought that my body needed a fresh girl. Besides, I didn’t think it could be this bad.”

“So you married her knowing that you had this problem? Why? You didn’t think this through at all. You should have told me and we would have found a solution to the matter before you got married. Now you have complicated things!”

Adegbola exhaled. “So what do we do now?”

“Ah! We go to see my friend, Fadare. Let’s hope that he can find a solution to this matter. But I am ashamed of you, you have just put the poor girl in bondage.”

“I’m sorry father.”

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**********

Ireti had been married to Alani in a small but warm celebration and Mowunmi was genuinely happy for her. She was glowing and all smiles, she seemed very happy.

“My husband sends his regards.” She handed her a package wrapped in leaves. “He also said I should share this with you.”

“What is this?”

“Some pepper from his farm.”

Mowunmi opened it and marveled at the size of the peppers. “Did he plant this himself?” she asked in astonishment.

“Where else would he have gotten them from?” Ireti smiled. “He planted them himself, his farm produce this year is greater than the previous year.”

“This is very good!”

Ireti sighed. “Ah! Mowunmi you didn’t tell me how wonderful marriage is!”

Mowunmi smiled hesitantly.

“Alani is so good to me! Before I say what I want he’s done it! And let me tell you something unbelievable,” she said conspiratorially, moving closer to her. “He even sits with me while I’m cooking!”

“He does?” Mowunmi replied surprised. “You see what I was saying when I said that money isn’t everything? My husband can never do that.”

“Hmmn… But he can buy you nice clothes and beads. See how beautiful you’re looking in the house.”

Mowunmi smiled. “Just be grateful for what you have.”                `

Ireti couldn’t understand why her friend didn’t consider herself lucky.

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**********

“Fadare, you have to help me. Let me not be ashamed. I don’t know why he didn’t tell me about this problem before now.”

“Don’t mind him, he was just being childish.” He picked up his string of beads and tossed them on the white cloth he had spread in front of him. “Let’s see what the gods have to say about this.”

“Hmmn…” he stared at the beads.

Adegoke stared at his friend and wondered what he saw.

Fadare tossed the beads on the cloth again.

“Hmmn…”

“Baba what do you…?” Adegbola asked.

“Keep quiet!” his father snapped.

“Hmmn…” the priest said again and looked up. “I don’t see a way out.”

Adegbola’s mouth was agape.

“My friend, tell me something else please. This boy is my first child.”

“I know that my friend.”

“Can’t you refer us to a powerful herbalist?”

“There’s no guarantee. But there’s another solution. I just don’t know if you will agree to it.”

“Anything! Tell us!” Adegbola said enthusiastically.

“He has a younger brother doesn’t he?”

“Adeyimika? Yes.”

“Has he reached puberty?”

“Yes.”

“Then he is the one who will help you.” He looked at Adegbola solemnly. “This is the solution that I see, he will impregnate your wife and the child will become yours.” He looked back at his friend who was stunned. “That way, his bloodline continues through his younger brother who will swear an oath to never disclose the plan or claim the children as his.”

Adegbola let out the breath he had been holding and shook his head violently. “Never! You’re saying my brother will deflower my own wife?! Baami, let’s get out of here!” he sprang up and walked out.

Adegoke looked at his friend the priest. “Fadare, this is no solution you’ve provided and if you weren’t my friend I would have called you a homebreaker.”

“You already have.” Fadare smiled. “I know this is an unpleasant thing for you to hear, but it is the only way. Adegbola is only being childish. How long do you think that his wife will endure his condition? I’m sure that the woman is already thinking of leaving him. Give her a child and maybe she will forget about the fact that your son cannot do what a husband can do. If you do not give her a child, everyone will know about your son’s condition. And I’m sure that he cannot imagine the shame that he will feel if he is found out.”

Adegoke leaned back and sighed, his friend was right.

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*********

Mowunmi entered Ireti’s house, wondering why her friend had not come out to answer her greeting.

“Ireti!”

She found her asleep on the mat, her basket under her arm.

“Ireti!” she slapped her arm.

“Hmmn!” Ireti jumped up startled,

“Ah ah! Why are you sleeping at this time of the day? Don’t you know that we will miss the fish sellers if we don’t get to the market on time?”

“Don’t be angry.” Ireti replied, slowly getting up from the mat.

“Ah ah Ireti! You’re so sluggish! Didn’t you sleep at night?”

“I did. i just feel tired.”

“Sorry. Shrug it off, or should I get you some water for you to wash your face?”

“No, I’m fine.”

As they walked towards the market they encountered Iya Ibidunni, the village midwife and her assistants.

“Good morning our mother.” They greeted.

“Good morning my children.”

As they passed by her, Iya Ibidunni noticed Ireti’s puffy eyes, radiant skin and slightly swollen nose.

“Ireti,” she called out to her. “Let me have a word with you.”

Mowunmi watched the elderly woman take her friend’s hands and inspect hem, then she saw the wide smile on her friend’s face. Was Ireti pregnant so soon?

When the elderly woman handed Ireti some herbal leaves and some oranges, Mowunmi knew that her suspicion was right.

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13 Replies to “Behind Mud Walls S01 E06: “The Helper.””

  1. Now, Mowunmi’s anxiety would increase with the news of Ireti’s pregnancy. I hope her husband does not consent to Fadare’s suggestion. Nothing good can come out of it.

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  2. This story has a great lesson to teach. Children should listen to their parents. Unless you have concrete doubt/proof that your parent wants to harm you. If only Mowunmi and her father had listened. Also, this is set in precolonial times so we understand the cultural subjugation of women. Now, there’s more enlightenment so women must empower themselves and stand together.

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