When Ireti heard that her friend’s father had been imprisoned she broke tradition and left her five week old daughter with her mother-in-law who was secretly happy about having her grandchild all to herself. At Mowunmi’s house she met Agbeniyi’s brothers walking out with Ibironke.
“Ah ah Ireti, is your baby six weeks old yet?” the oldest of them asked in surprise.
“So you left your baby to come and check on your friend’s mother?”
He shook his head. “You are a good friend, I just wish that your friend was worth all the trouble. She has brought great shame to our family.”
Ireti decided not to argue with the older man.
“Iya Mowunmi, take care of the home. Don’t do anything that will further taint our family name. If I see you with any strange man, you’re looking for my trouble. If you need anything come and see us.”
“I have heard you.”
When the men were gone, Ibironke looked at her daughter’s friend sadly and wondered why her daughter’s journey had been so different. Ireti was a joyful mother who was making her parents proud but she didn’t know where her own daughter was.
“Mother, how are things? I heard what happened yesterday night. My mind has not been at rest since.”
“Why didn’t you come here when you heard that your friend was accused of adultery?”
“You knew what was going on with your friend. Why didn’t you advise her to tell me the truth?”
“Don’t be offended mother, but I don’t know what you’re talking about. What was going on?”
“You mean to tell me that you didn’t know that Adegbola is impotent? That your friend is still a virgin?”
Ireti held her hand on her chest and gasped. It finally all made sense, Mowunmi’s reluctance to talk about her sexual experience and her anger over not being able to conceive. She shook her head and remembered the many times that her friend had told her not to be deceived by the affluence of money. It all made sense. Her friend had ben hurting and she couldn’t tell her but the signs had been there, she just didn’t see them.
“You didn’t know?”
“No mother, she didn’t tell me anything.”
Ibironke sat on the bench in front of the house and sighed. “Mowunmi should have just told me the truth as soon as she found out. Things would never have degenerated to this point. I don’t know where my child is, will I never see her again? Will my husband survive in prison? How will I provide for these children and manage the farm?”
Ibironke watched her friend’s mother weep sadly and her heart broke. She didn’t know what she could say to pacify the woman so she sat beside her and cried along with her.
“What do you think about Ajadi?” Adunni asked Mowunmi as they made preparations for dinner.
“What about him?”
Adunni cocked her eyebrows. “What do you think of him as a man?”
“I don’t know what you want me to say… he is a man, he’s your husband’s friend.”
“Hmm… You don’t think that he’s a good man?”
“I’m sure he is a good man, if he wasn’t he wouldn’t be friends with your husband.”
“Alright Mowunmi.” Adunni stopped what she was doing and looked at her young friend intently. “What do you think of him as a suitor?”
Mowunmi looked away from her. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? Mowunmi, I am happy that you are here but you can’t live here forever. Don’t you want to get married?”
Mowunmi stopped what she was doing. “I… I don’t think of such things when my parents…”
“Life must go on Mowunmi, don’t you want to have your own children and tell them about your family? Don’t you think that you were spared for a reason? Do you think that your parents would be happy if you remain lonely…?”
Mowunmi shook her head and continued picking the ewedu leaves in the basket at her feet. “I can’t. I don’t want anything to do with any man. Ajadi is a good man but I don’t want to have anything to do with any man.”
Adunni understood Mowunmi’s hesitation from her own experience and she also knew that all she needed was time.
“Sell your land to me and go back home. Why are you so proud?” Adegoke said to Agbeniyi.
“You’ve done your worst. Why are you here again?”
“I’ve not done my worst! You don’t know what I can do, I’m not the kind of person you want to offend!”
Agbeniyi walked away from the prison entrance and went further into the cell.
“Are you walking away from me?”
“I don’t have anything to say to you. The land belongs to my family and I will not sell it.”
“You’re too stubborn for your own good.” Adegoke said, shaking his head. “I will show you what happens to a fly that wanders into a spider’s web.
Adegbola stared at his wife’s body and noticed that his manhood hardened up slightly once again. Folasade wasn’t as beautiful as Mowunmi but she was more attractive. He allowed his eyes to wander slowly all over her voluptuous body as she slept.
Feeling confident, he reached for her and began to caress her thighs. He had to know if he was whole again. Who knew if Mowunmi had been the one with the problem? Folasade started to respond to his touch and finally turned to face him.
But Adegbola knew that he couldn’t go on. It was better to stop now than to fail at having intercourse with her.
“Why did you stop?” Folasade asked.
“Nothing. I just wanted to touch you.”
“Don’t stop, let’s finish what we started.”
“I’m feeling sleepy.”
“What do you mean?” Folasade asked, fully awake. “Why is that we only make love when I’m asleep?”
“I don’t know, you’re the one who sleeps!”
“I don’t know why I sleep, who knows if you’re the one who makes me sleepy…”
“Make you sleepy? How? Why would I do that? Don’t you know that it’s more enjoyable for me if you’re awake?”
“Then let’s finish what we started! I’m awake now.”
“I told you I’m feeling sleepy. We’ll do it at night.”
“No, I want it now!”
“Alright then, jump on me!” he retorted and turned away from her. Adegbola blamed himself for being carried away. Folasade was not as understanding as Mowunmi, and he wondered if he hadn’t already aroused suspicion in her.
Folasade told her mother about her marital troubles the next day.
“You only make love when you’re asleep?”
“Yes… he starts touching me and then I start feeling sleepy. When I wake up, we’ve done it.”
“Hmm… Why do you fall asleep? Are you that tired?”
“Maami I don’t understand it too. Yesterday morning he started touching me again then he stopped. I asked him to continue but he disagreed. He said he wanted to sleep.”
“He wanted to sleep!”
“That’s what he said Maami.”
“Ah… okay, I know what to do. You can go, I’ll go and see Baba Fadare.”
“Why did you touch her when your brother wasn’t there? You have muddled everything up! She told her mother who told Fadare. I’m just coming from his house now.”
Adegbola held his head in his hands. “What do we do father?”
“Fadare pacified her and told her that Mowunmi cast a sleepy spell on her and that it would pass.”
“Did she believe it?”
“Oh yes, just wait until you get home, she’ll be very kind to you. In the meantime, Adeyimika has to follow you home tonight to reassure her.”
“To reassure her?”
“What are you so worried about? Are you capable of doing it yourself? Let others do what needs to be done!”
The next day, Adeyimika watched Folasade as she spread out clothes on the grass, she was lovely to behold. Life’s unfairness to his brother had turned out to be to his own benefit. For the first time, he had found someone who he was genuinely interested in, even though she was his brother’s wife.
Folasade came back to the house.
“Ah, my in-law! How long have you been sitting there?”
“Not long at all, I just got here.”
“My husband isn’t home.”
“No problem, I came to see you. I killed a bush rat today and I thought that you might appreciate it.”
“I do! Thank you… but…”
“Don’t worry, there’s enough meat to eat in my father’s house. You can eat this one in peace.”
“Thank you my in-law. I appreciate it.”
Later that night as Adegbola was eating he wondered about the delicious meat in his soup.
“Your brother brought it today…”
“And you collected it?”
“Should I have told him to take it back?”
Adegbola got up and walked out of the room.
Agbeniyi had been waiting patiently for his meal. He wondered why the guards hadn’t brought him anything to eat all say. Finally, at nightfall, a guard brought his meal. Wearily he got up and crawled towards it when out of nowhere, a big rat jumped into the clay bowl and ate up the food.
Slumping back to the ground, Agbeniyi wept like a child and was tempted to send a message to the king to let him know that he had changed his mind. But the vision of his sons crying beside him and tending to him while he had been sick, kept his resolve. He soon slept off, exhausted and weak.
The next morning when he woke up, Agbeniyi saw the big rat lying not far from the bowl. He poked it, it was dead.