Behind Mud Walls S01 E07: “The Last Straw.”
Adebisi was unaware of her son’s condition and Fadare’s counsel, she had reached the end of her patience with Mowunmi. One morning after breakfast, when she thought that her son would be out, she summoned three of her slaves and headed for his house.
Mowunmi was spreading out chunks of yam and singing a childhood song.
“Well done!” Her mother-in-law said sarcastically, approaching her.
“Ah! My mother.” She replied, kneeling before her.
“I’m not your mother. Stand up!”
Mowunmi got up slowly, realizing that this was a confrontation and not a visit.
“I hope there’s no problem my mother?”
“I’ve not come here to engage in a long discussion with you. Your time is up in my son’s house. They will help you to take your things out of my son’s house and escort you to your father’s house.” She turned towards the slaves behind her. “Go inside and get her things.”
To her surprise, Mowunmi did not plead. She simply walked away and sat on a nearby bench.
“What do you think you’re doing? Will you get out of here?!” Adegbola yelled from inside the house.
“Oh! That’s why you didn’t plead!” Adebisi said to Mowunmi. “You think that my son will save you?!”
Adegbola walked towards his mother with a frown. “Maami, what is going on here?”
“This woman is leaving this place today!”
“My wife is not going anywhere Maami. Please go back home, I will come and see you.”
Adebisi was stunned. “You’re asking me to leave?”
“Maami… please, leave.”
Adebisi looked back at Mowunmi who was staring at her hands and walked away with her slaves behind her.
“How could you go and make trouble in your son’s house?” Adegoke demanded, charging into his wife’s room later that day.
“So you’ve heard of how your son disgraced me in front of his wife?”
“I told you not to meddle in their affairs…”
Adegoke shook his head, tired of his wife’s overbearing nature. “There’s a lot you don’t understand.”
“Is that so?” she retorted sarcastically. “Alright then, explain everything.”
“In due time I will explain…”
“I want an explanation now! After all he is my son too!”
“Don’t go back to that house to cause any trouble, do you hear me? The day you do so will be your last in this house!”
“Ah ah!” she looked at him in confusion. “You must tell me what is going on!”
Adegoke simply walked away and left her yelling.
Mowunmi’s chin was in her palm as she stared into space.
“Please do not be offended! I have spoken to her and it will never happen again.” Her father-in-law said to her later in the day.
Mowunmi shook her head. “What are we doing about this problem Baba? I have been patient enough.”
“I know you have, and I commend your patience. You are a good wife.”
Adegbola nodded his head in consent, and Adegoke could see that his words of commendation had softened the hard look on his daughter-in-law’s face.
“So does she know that it’s not my fault?”
Adegoke sighed. “Not yet. We’ve decided not to tell her yet.”
Mowunmi looked at him. “That means that she can do it again!”
“Believe me when I tell you that she will not bother you again. Just hold on, now that I am aware of the matter, we will find a way out. You will carry your own children. Don’t worry.”
Mowunmi was relieved, help was coming.
Adegbola was dissatisfied with Fakorede’s counsel. To think that someone else would have intercourse with his wife was annoying and unacceptable. His ego was bruised enough already, having someone else do the job of impregnating his wife would completely shatter his self-esteem.
“But you have to think of what will happen if you don’t do It.” his father said. They had decided to meet at the plantain farm the next morning.
“What your mother did is just the beginning. What if Mowunmi had left?”
“My own younger brother, sleep with my wife?”
“There is nothing new under the sun.” The father urged.
“Hmm.” Adegbola sighed and held his head in hands.
“This woman will stay with you if you give her a child.”
“How can my own younger brother sleep with my wife? Deflower my wife! He will never respect me again!”
“You’re only thinking of what will happen if you do this, you’re not thinking of what will happen if you don’t. How will you raise your head in the community? Will your friends still respect your opinion? Will you be considered for chieftaincy if you don’t have children? Will all the women whose hearts you’ve broken not mock you? Will you not become a laughing stock? And what of your brothers? Will they not also be considered impotent? Who will marry them?”
Adegbola sighed again.
“Do this! Forget your pride and let’s do what needs to be done. This is not just for your own good but also the good of our family. No one will know!”
Adegbola sighed. “Can’t my friend Oni do it?”
Adegoke smiled. “Oni is not part of our family, we’re doing this because of our family. If he fathers your children, they will belong to his family. Oni cannot do it, it has to be Adeyimika…”
“Baami it can’t be Adeyimika!” he replied exasperatedly. “He will no longer respect me!”
“He will, I will make sure that he does …”
“No!” Adegbola shook his head, “It can’t be my younger brother.”
Adegoke was getting angry with his son. This was hard enough as it was without Adegbola compounding the situation with his pride.
“You’re letting your pride get in the way, let’s do what needs to be done as soon as possible so that people can stop talking!”
Adegbola had already begun to shed tears, he had never imagined that this could happen to him.
“Stop crying and be a man!” Adegoke snapped.
Adegbola didn’t hear his father, he was consumed with shame and sorrow.
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“Carry it properly!” one teenage girl said to another.
“Wait, let me adjust my pad.” the other replied, replacing the cloth on her head which she had used as a pad to carry her pot of water.
“I don’t know why you usually wait until the last minute before you do it right.”
“Are you my mother? Please don’t give me unsolicited advice!”
“I shouldn’t give you unsolicited advice? Then carry your pot yourself!” the other said angrily and let the pot go.
The pot fell to the ground and smashed into pieces. The owner of the pot dashed at the other girl and clawed at her face.
“You broke my pot! You broke my pot!” she shrieked.
The other girl fought back, clamping her hands down on the aggrieved girl’s shoulders and pinching them hard. The girl screamed and weakened her grip, then she charged at her and began to slap her face.
Mowunmi and Ireti were on the other side of the Olanbe stream and had seen the whole exchange. As soon as the fighting began Mowunmi had headed over to them.
“Stop fighting!” she pleaded, pulling the attacker away from the aggrieved girl. “Stop fighting! Ah ah, why are you fighting with her when you are at fault? Why did you break her pot?”
“Didn’t you hear her insulting me?” she retorted.
“She didn’t insult you, I saw and heard everything that happened between you two. You shouldn’t have broken her pot.”
“So do you now want to beat me?”
Mowunmi was taken aback by this, the girl in question was much younger than she and knew better than to speak to an older married woman like that.
“Are you talking to me like that?”
“You should have minded your own business, nobody asked you to settle anything.”
“Ah ah are you out of your mind?” Ireti asked, staring in disbelief at the younger girl’s insolence. “Is she your mate?”
“She’s the one who started it, putting her mouth in what doesn’t concern her when she should be begging God for her own child.”
Mowunmi staggered back in shock and embarrassment. Ireti was furious, she charged at the girl and slapped her twice on both cheeks.
“I will teach you a lesson you will never forget today!”
Swiftly, she broke a stem from a nearby tree and began to whip the girl with it.
“So you have a big mouth right? Kneel down there!”
The other girls began to laugh discreetly at the now crying girl, someone had eventually dealt with her big mouth. Ireti continued to beat her until she realized that Mowunmi had left the stream with her empty pot of water. She threw the cane down and followed her promptly.
“Mowunmi! Mowunmi!” she called after her. “Stop! Do you not hear me calling you?”
Mowunmi did not stop, she had to see her mother.
Ibironke was sweeping the floor of her kitchen hut when she saw her daughter walking towards the house dejectedly. Promptly, she dropped the broom and came out of the hut towards her.
“Mowunmi, what happened? Did someone die?” she asked, shocked at her daughter’s sorrow and tears.
“Maami, I have to tell you the truth!” she replied, leaning into her mother.
Ibironke led her to the hut and sat her down on a stool. She dragged the mortar close to the stool and sat down too.
“I’m listening. What happened?”
“Maami, Adegbola is impotent. I’m still a virgin.”
Ibironke stared at her daughter, unable to believe her ears.
“It’s true, I’m still a virgin…”
Ibironke’s mouth was agape, she wanted to scream but she couldn’t.
“But the white cloth was stained…” she managed to say.
“He cut himself.”
“Mowunmi… why did you keep quiet all this time?”
“I wanted to be a good wife.” she replied, breaking down into more tears as her mother held her. “Ireti is pregnant, she couldn’t even tell me! I can’t take it anymore Maami, I can’t!”
“Ireti is pregnant?”
The women were unaware of Agbeniyi’s presence, he watched them in wonder.
“What is going on?” he asked, putting down his hoe and cutlass.
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