Agbeniyi exhaled slowly after listening to his daughter’s tale.
“You should have said something.” He finally said. “I would have gotten you out of that house before now.”
“He told me that he had been virile and that things would change. He said that he didn’t know about it before we got married…”
“He lied! He knew what his situation was before marrying you.”
Mowunmi wiped her eyes hastily. “He knew?”
“Yes he did.”
“How do you know this Baami?”
“Just take it from me.”
Mowunmi couldn’t believe that Adegbola could deliberately trap her in a marriage that would produce no child.
“Are his parents aware?” Agbeniyi asked.
“His …” Mowunmi began.
“Of course they are! Wicked people, they knew his…” Ibironke yelled.
“Calm down!” her husband snapped at her.
“His father just found out about it.” Mowunmi finished.
“And what did he say?”
“He said I should not worry and that there would be a solution.”
“I don’t know, he just said that I should not worry anymore.”
Agbeniyi stood up suddenly. “Go home, this will be over very soon.”
As Mowunmi turned to leave, Agbeniyi said, “Don’t let them know that we know what’s going on.”
Mowunmi was seated in the house when Adegbola came in, she looked at him scornfully, thinking about what her father had said.
“Are you not going to welcome me?” Adegbola queried, wondering at her cold response to his presence.
Adegbola stopped to look at her, there was something different about her. Her hair was the same as it had been earlier in the morning and her face looked the same, so what was it? It was her demeanor, there was a hardness to the way she sat, it was an almost daring posture. She looked ready for a fight. Mowunmi had never been the confrontational type, had something happened during the day?
“Hope there’s nothing wrong?”
“Hmmn!” Mowunmi was furious and on the brink of asking him about her father’s revelation.
“Am I not talking to you?”
Mowunmi remembered all the months of loyalty to a man who had deliberately trapped her in a traumatic relationship. She thought of the times that her friend and her mother had begged her to confess and her reluctance to do so because she wanted to cover a shame that she thought he wasn’t aware of.
Mowunmi hissed, her desire for a wealthy husband and comfortable lifestyle had made her vulnerable to him, she was too grateful to be disloyal to him and it had cost her everything.
“Are you hissing at me?” he asked.
Mowunmi could only eye him, she couldn’t trust herself to speak.
“I said are you hissing at me?” Adegbola asked again, walking menacingly towards her. “Don’t think that because I don’t beat you, I can’t.”
“Oh you want to beat me?” Mowunmi had found her voice. “So you can’t make a woman out of me but you can beat me? It’s alright, beat me! Maybe if you beat me long enough, you will recover what you lost.”
Adegbola was astonished, something had happened to his wife. She was goading him, she wanted a confrontation. Smiling sadly, he stepped back not willing to fall for her plan.
“Oh you’ve changed your mind?” she taunted.
He saw the disappointment in her eyes and knew that he had been right. She was looking for a fight.
“Bring my food.” He simply said.
A few minutes later, she dropped his food carelessly by his side and walked away. He opened the clay dishes and found an unattractive lumpy eba and okro soup. Setting the food aside he decided there and then that he would go with his father’s plan. Mowunmi had become spiteful.
Adegoke realized that he was running out of time with his plan to buy Agbeniyi’s lands, he decided that he would make his move quickly and secure his favor before Mowunmi told her parents the truth about her childlessness.
He walked into Agbeniyi’s farmland, the latter was already sweating profusely, heaping soil with his hoe.
“My in-law!” he greeted.
Agbeniyi had sighted Adegoke coming from afar and was glad to see him. He had thought hard about what Mowunmi had told him and he desperately hoped that Adegoke would initiate the conversation that would resolve the situation. As far as he was concerned, the marriage was over. There was nothing more for his daughter with Adegbola when he couldn’t consummate the marriage, talk less of give her children. In spite of his feelings about the situation however, he didn’t want to be the one to start the process of a divorce. He was concerned about what people would say about him, having received so much from Adegoke, he never wanted to be seen as a gold digger.
“My in-law!” he responded warmly. Adegoke was an honorable man after all.
“Good day to you! How is work going?” Adegoke said, immediately noting that Agbeniyi had started preparing some of the land that he wanted to purchase.
“Ah, we’re making progress every day.”
“You’re the only doing all this work?”
“No, no. there are people over beyond that bush who are assisting me.”
“That’s good. You know we’re getting older, we can’t overwork our aging bodies.”
“You’re right my in-law.” Agbeniyi nodded and pointed towards a bench beneath a guava tree. “It is good that you have come, I was just thinking of taking a break. Come and sit down.”
They sat under the tree and gazed at the stretch of land that had been prepared for the upcoming planting season.
“You have really worked hard.” Adegoke said more to himself than to his in-law. It seemed that Agbeniyi was extending the reach of his farm. Why would he do this now when the land had been lying fallow for years?
“Why are you farming more land?” he asked.
“It’s all thanks to you. With my daughter’s bride price I was able to hire extra farm hands and plant more seeds.”
“Is that so?”
“It is never too late to be successful.” Agbeniyi wanted to go on about how bountiful the previous year’s harvest was and the fact that the new farm hands were so loyal to him but he withheld the information. He didn’t want to brag and he knew that his in-law had come to discuss something serious.
“What can I entertain you with?”
“Oh don’t worry about that, I’ve come for something else.”
Agbeniyi cleared his throat self-consciously and waited for his in-law to tell him the sad news of his son’s impotence.
“There is something you have that i want to beg for.” Adegoke began. Agbeniyi was confused, he didn’t know what to make of what he had just heard but he kept a straight face. “It’s actually something that is very dear to you but I believe that since we are in-laws you can look upon me with favor in this matter and grant me my request.”
Agbeniyi couldn’t hold back his curiousity anymore. “And what is it that I have that you don’t have?”
“Land.” Adegoke replied bluntly. “You have land in a place that I desire. I want to buy the land close to those palm trees in the distance.” He finished, pointing to the east of where they sat.
Agbeniyi bowed his head and smiled sadly. “You want to buy my land?”
“But you know that this land belongs to my family. It goes from one generation to another. I can’t sell it.”
“I know how important the land is to you, and that’s why I am pleading for your favor.”
“My in-law, there’s no point pleading. I can’t sell that land, you know I am a poor man, this is all I have to give to my sons when I die. I can’t sell their heritage and inheritance.”
“But you can buy other land. I am ready to pay a lot for this one.”
“This is their heritage! They will tell their children many stories about this land like I have. I can’t sell that for any amount.”
“Agbeniyi, think about how much I have invested in you.” Adegoke said irritably, he couldn’t believe that the poor farmer had the audacity to refuse his request. “You yourself just talked about how my money has helped you to expand your farm.”
“Please don’t humiliate me. I didn’t beg for your money. I got what I deserve as a father over my child, who your son met as a virgin.”
“You’re talking about the child who is yet to give us a grandchild after over one and a half years of marriage!”
Agbeniyi was on the verge of revealing his knowledge of Adegbola’s impotence. “There is no history of barrenness in our lineage. Eledumare has not deemed it time for them to have children yet.”
Adegoke stared at Agbeniyi wondering why he was so audacious. Mowunmi couldn’t have told her parents yet or had she?
“I want that land Agbeniyi.”
“I won’t sell it. It belongs to my children.”
“You’re an ungrateful person.”
“And you are a greedy man! Don’t you have enough?”
“It is because you don’t think of more that you’re so poor. If not for the fact that I allowed my son to marry your unfortunate daughter, would I have this conversation with you? You think that I allowed my son to marry your daughter for nothing? Look into my eyes, if you do not sell that land, your daughter will suffer in my son’s house. I will see to it!”
Adegoke stomped off in fury, leaving his in-law stunned.
“Hmm! And I said it! I said you should not allow her to marry that man. Did I not say it enough?” Ibironke lamented when her husband narrated his ordeal with Adegoke later that day.
“Let us focus on the solution out of this problem, I can’t sell my sons’ inheritance because of Mowunmi!”
“Let’s go and see Baba Fakorede.”
Against his wishes, Agbeniyi agreed.
“You must do what I told you!” Adegoke said to his son as soon as he walked into his room later that day.
“I agree father. Mowunmi has started to despise me.”
Adegoke scoffed. “You must let her know who the head of the house is.”
“Who will tell Adeyimika?”
“I will, leave it to me.”
Adegoke rubbed his palms together, Agbeniyi would feel his merciless wrath if he didn’t sell the land.
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