I was able to convince him to get me another apartment and I moved out of his duplex. The arrangement was supposed to be until after the general elections, two years at the most, before we’d be able to live our dream. The baby will definitely be born by then but it was a sacrifice we both have to make. I still objected to a secret marriage, there was no point in doing anything that could spoil Otunba’s chances. We could as well kiss good bye to each other. So, we both agreed to wait.
Yeye was pleased when we informed her we’d decided to live separately for the time being. I was happy too because we became friends again but when she discovered weeks later that I was three months pregnant, all hell was let loose. She told me she had accepted our arrangement of living separately only as a temporary solution which she meant to work upon to finally put an end to our absurd relationship. And she was very mean.
“What is this nonsense I am hearing?” She asked as she stormed into my sitting room one morning. “You don’t seem to understand my position do you? I don’t want my son to marry you and that’s the truth of the matter. I will put everything very clearly to you and if you know what is good for you, you’d better listen attentively. You are not fit to be my son’s wife, you never were, so don’t even mention the jail term now because even without that, there was no way you would have become his wife. I thought whatever was going on between you two would end automatically the moment he graduated from the university. That was the reason I tolerated you and the fact that you are now an ex-convict makes the whole thing even worse. You don’t really imagine you still have a chance now, do you?” she spat angrily.
“Mummy, why are you saying this to me?” I cried hopelessly.
“I am not your mummy and please don’t ever refer to me as one. I mean, I thought you were a smart girl. I thought you would have read the handwriting on the wall by now and spare us both this meeting. There are no hard feelings here, it is just the reality of life. You can’t be his wife for so many reasons. One, his father is running for the presidency, I won’t let the press drag my family into unnecessary scandal because of you. It will tear my family apart. I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen, you know the situation well enough to understand me.”
“We have both decided to wait until Otunba becomes the president.” I said desperately.
“No, that’s not good enough. My son needs a bride of equal breed and class. I am sorry to say this but it is the fact. You now have a criminal record and that won’t do either. I know you did it for him but I am sorry. Your prison record will haunt him for as long as he is married to you. I don’t want you two having issues over this in the future, so let’s end it right now. I am willing to pay you whatever amount of money you ask for and in return, you’ll terminate the pregnancy as well as leave my son’s life. Let’s not quarrel over this. Please be reasonable.”
“Do you realize what you are asking me to do? I love Biodun. I want to spend the rest of my life with him. We are in love. I can’t do as you’ve asked, I am sorry.”
“You’ll do us both a lot of good if you keep that nonsense out of our discussion. I don’t believe in that absurdity. Let me pay you off. You’ll find someone else to share your feelings with but not with my son.”
“He loves me too, he’ll not be able to get through this.”
“Just name your price, worry about yourself and let me worry about him. How much do you want?”
“It won’t be so easy, you are going to destroy him Ma. Please if you love your son, don’t do this to him.” I begged.
“Of course I love my son just set him free and you’ll understand that love is only an illusion that is bred in the mind of fools. Only fools allow such things to affect them and I can assure you that my son is no fool. Now, what is your price, I don’t have all day.”
“I will never leave him.” I said quietly as I realized there was no point begging her.
“Don’t be a fool. Take the opportunity while you still have it. You can’t hope to drag my son with me and win, he is my only son and I will do everything possible to get you out of the way.”
“I will do everything too, anything at all to be with him for the rest of my life and you cannot stop me. That was exactly the reason I went to jail in his place. That was the reason I willing sacrificed everything, everything including my education. Now I cannot get admitted into any higher institution of learning in this country and you sit here and tell….”
“Oh yes, yes. That’s it. Let me send you abroad then. You can continue your education anywhere in the world and I will foot the bill. I will get you admission into any higher institution in any country of your choice and I will pay for all the expenses. In addition, I will give you ten million naira as compensation for the three years you spent in jail. All on the condition that you leave my son alone and you must abort that pregnancy too.”
“I will never leave Biodun alone.” I replied softly, not caring about the consequences. “I don’t even find your offer tempting. Biodun is my life, asking me to leave him means telling me to take my own life. Suicide, if you know what I mean. How much can you possibly pay to make a person take her own life? Tell me ma’am, how much do you really think it is worth huh?” I added in disgust. What does she take me for, an idiot?
“Don’t be stupid my dear, be reasonable, such cheap blackmail won’t get you anywhere! You went to jail yes but no one forced you to. You did it willingly, knowing the implication, so stop using that as a right to lay claim to him because you have no such rights. Besides, any good lawyer could have gotten him an acquittal, so spare me that nonsense. I don’t want to sound like an ingrate but you are leaving me with no choice. You are not his match. You may think he loves you, he may also think the same thing too because you have succeeded in blind-folding him with that absurdity you call love. He is my son, my only son for that matter and I want the best for him. You are not. Be wise and take my offer and forget about this pipe dream of yours. And take my advice, there is no such thing as love my dear. I am telling you from my own personal experience. I can work on my son, I can make him jilt you but I am only being kind to you because of the past and I’d advice that you reciprocate the kind gesture. This is certainly for your own sake because at the end, you will be the loser. He will never abandon me for you. I am patient with you because of the past, don’t make me change my mind. I still remember everything and I want you to do the same.” She narrated bluntly.
“I won’t leave him for any reason. I am sorry.” I told her quietly.
“Just how do you intend to do that?”
“Anyhow, whatever it takes.”
“You think you can blackmail my son huh?”
“I really don’t care whether you call it blackmail, all I know is, I love him and I can’t live without him and I will do anything to keep him, my stand is as simple as that. Nobody is going to make my three years in prison seem like nothing, I will resist such an attempt with everything I’ve got.” I told her coldly.
“Are you daring me Betty?” she asked equally coldly.
“Not yet. For now, I understand your position. I understand your fear so I am prepared to make more sacrifices but I cannot leave him.”
“What exactly are you willing to sacrifice?”
“I am willing to stay away from him until after the elections, give us some years, after that, you must leave us alone. We can wait if we can’t get married just yet. I will convince him.”
“You speak as though you are in total control, so much confidence.” She said in a snide.
“That is the true meaning of love, I speak his mind and he speaks mine. We love each other.” I said.
“I can change all that, you just set him free.” She said
“You will ruin him. I can assure you that you will ruin your only son if you do that.” I told her.
“Leave that to me. You don’t have to worry about that. I can help him get over you, I am his mother and I am a woman of many parts.”
“No, I will not let you do that to us.”
“Don’t dare me Betty, I am warning you.”
“Let me get rid of the pregnancy. I will stop seeing him if you want until after the campaigns and elections. Until your husband is comfortably sitting on the presidential seat and you on the first lady’s, that is all I am willing to sacrifice.”
“You don’t get it do you? It isn’t your decision to make. It can never work. Times have changed and Biodun needs a befitting wife from a well-known background. To start with, no one knows your parents. You claim they are both dead but how do I know the type of people they were. They could have been criminals or very irresponsible people and all that. I don’t mean to insult you but I want to know the background of the woman my only son is going to marry. I need to make sure my grand children have the blood of respectable grandparents running in their veins. It is my duty and responsibility to Biodun as his mother to see that he doesn’t make a mistake in the choice of a life partner. Please think about my offer. I will be here in two days to finalize the matter and I hope by then you will have realized your position and made the best decision and not tell me about this love nonsense you are feeding me with. And for your own good, let this be between us, keep Biodun out of this.”
“I will never leave Biodun, I am sure I have made that very clear.” I said plainly.
“Then you will have me to contend with.” She said flatly.
“You will also have me to contend with.” I replied fearlessly but calmly.
She watched me for a moment while I returned an equal gaze at her. We both weighed each other meanly, both fairly aware that we’d both said our minds.
“Be sensible Betty, I do not want you to receive my wrath. You know nothing about my anger. Take the offer while you still have it and let’s part while we are still friends. You don’t want me for an enemy, I can assure you that,” she said at last.
“Same here, I must tell you. You surely understand nothing about me. And obviously, you have not heard of the fury of a woman scorned. Neither are you aware of the effect of a prison sojourn. I am no longer the same Betty you used to know. I have the hardness of stone now, the nerves of steel and I have spent the best of three years in prison. These are attributes you do not have and I tell you what, you cannot withstand my wrath, you do not have my resilience and fighting courage, neither do you have half of my patience to fight for what I want. You won’t defeat me easily even with all your money, power and influence.”
“Then we shall see, we shall surely see. As I leave now, you are my enemy and I shall deal with you henceforth as such.”
“It is your son who will suffer and I am making you a promise, if I cannot have him, no one will. I will ensure that with my last breath.”
We watched each other again, sizing each other, we were both convinced that we meant all we have said and there was a secret understanding between us. She suddenly got to her feet and left without another word. I watched her leave. The battle line was finally drawn and the war had only just begun, the war to win Biodun, the war to prove who was more superior, a war between two desperate women.
I was both very angry and very surprised. I was so stunned I couldn’t do anything but sit there and wonder. I just couldn’t believe it was Yeye that just said all those words to me. I couldn’t believe too that I’d just given her those replies. There was no going back now, we had both made our minds known.
Yes, she was right, times have changed, she will soon become the first lady and she now thinks I am now a nobody who was no longer fit to become her daughter-in-law. How could she even allude that I am a nobody? I am far from that. My father was a rich man in his own right. He single-handedly brought many developmental projects to my community. Developments for the sole good and benefit of my community that even after his death, the mere mention of his name commanded respect back home. I am the daughter of one of the richest men in my community. But then, how could I possibly begin to compare my father’s wealth and affluence to Otunba Adebaba Adeniyi’s worldwide influence and affluence when it would merely amount to the small riches of an ordinary local champion, known only by his local community?
Yes, I am the daughter of a man unknown to the society she belonged and my father’s financial and social standing cannot give me the position of the daughter-in-law to the president. There are so many odds against me to argue my way to victory. It was now clearly a war to be fought by wit and not tantrums and I am prepared for it.
You don’t treat a fellow human being like that. You don’t turn around and tell a person to her face that she is a scumbag after making her one. You certainly can’t get away with such a blunder. No, especially when that person has gone through so much for your sake. Or has she forgotten so quickly all that happened in the past not long gone? I mean, I took the fall for her only son. She ought to show some gratitude. She ought to worship the very ground I step my foot on. She ought to show me some respect. And you certainly can’t throw such threats at an ex-convict and expect your action not to have any repercussions. You don’t threaten anyone who has spent time in the “inside” and walk away with it without getting hurt. You don’t go on a ranting spree just like that especially when you are primarily responsible for that person being an ex-convict in the first place. She stepped way out of line and I could kill her for that, my mind told me.
I raged in anger as I considered her words to me. I couldn’t cry, I was way too angry to waste my time shedding tears. I realized tears won’t solve the problem anymore. Her threats set off a spark in my brain. And to think I let her walk away with it, appalled me. I should have strangled her while she sat in my living room. The mere fact that I did nothing to her sparked off a hardness within me, a hardness I didn’t know I possessed. I was ready for her at last, ready to battle with her. She should have thought of that before she made me take the fall for her golden son. Now she claims she never forced me. It is true that she didn’t force me but she didn’t stop me either and too bad, I am in love with him. No stupid mother of his is going to separate us. I will kill anyone that tries to stop us, including her. Perhaps if I don’t love him as much as I do, I would have even settled for half of what she was offering and cleared out of the scene. Too bad for Mrs. First-lady-to-be, I am definitely not letting go of Biodun, not even for all the oil in the Nigerian Niger Delta! I will play along with her for now. There’s no point in letting Biodun know anything about our little encounter yet. We will work out the solution between the two of us, as a woman to a woman. I am prepared to get rid of the pregnancy if that will bring a solution and I will tell Biodun I had a miscarriage. Yeye and I will both have to come to a compromise even if we both have to use force to make the other understand. That’s about the length I’ll go, I decided.
The next day I went to see her in her home. I decided there wasn’t any point fighting with her, at least, not just yet. I told her my plans and after much persuasion, she finally agreed and accepted it. We both decided my pregnancy should be terminated the following morning and we also agreed not to tell Biodun the truth. We agreed to tell him it was a miscarriage. She recommended a competent doctor and asked me to contact him as soon as I left her house. We both apologized to each other about the previous day, we even joked about the whole thing.
I felt so relaxed and happy as I left her. Everything was okay again between us and Biodun was still mine. I left her house in a very happy mood, giving thanks to fate.
I called the doctor on the phone and we booked an appointment for the next morning. When Biodun came to see me later that evening, I was still in a very happy and cheerful mood that he had to comment on my happiness.
“What’s the secret baby, did you win a lottery?” he asked.
“This is far more than winning a lottery darling, this is more or less securing a future of bliss forever more.” I replied gaily.
“Why not let me in on it, I really want to be in the same mood that you are in right now. My God, what could have changed you over night? You have been very moody and kind of desperate for a while now. What’s up?”
“Desperate?’’ I asked in surprise.
“Yeah. And kind of confused too. What have you been up to?” He asked seriously.
“I don’t think I’ve been desperate but confused? Well yes, a little though but thank God I have the solution to my worries now. Everything is just cool.”
“Suppose you feed me in on your good news?”
“Don’t worry about it honey, I don’t think you’d be interested. Besides, everything is not sorted out yet, believe me, you’ll be the first to know, just relax. By this time tomorrow, all my problems will be solved and everything will be alright again with me.” I said carelessly but I regretted the statement instantly.
“I hope you are not up to something crazy this time? Not with all your crazy ideas recently,” he said.
“Well,” I began after a long pause, careful not to use the wrong words. “I have to do what has to be done Biodun, there have been so much trials and temptations lately. I realize I have to make more sacrifices, at least for my happiness but I am sorry, I really must do this in my own way. You’ll understand it when the time comes.’’ I said as I stared blankly at him. He was looking at me, I could sense the confusion in his eyes and before he could speak, I added quickly. “Come on let’s drop the subject. How was your day at work today? Did you have a nice day?”
“I don’t want to drop the subject Betty, what’s going on? Are you okay?” He asked slowly.
“Yes, yes I am fine, can’t you see it?”
“And the baby?”
“We are great,” I lied. I certainly wasn’t fine and I couldn’t tell him the baby wasn’t either, knowing that by that same time the next day the baby will be no more. I felt really bad having to lie to him but he would never have understood or accepted that this was the only way out now. My heart pricked sharply but I waved it away determinedly, there was no going back now. If this baby is going to make me lose my Biodun, then I will gladly kiss the baby goodbye and hope for other babies when we can have them.
“Well, if you say you are both okay, then I am okay. As long as you are happy, I am happy too. You know I’ll stand firmly against anything that’ll make you unhappy. I love you Betty. We’ll be there for each other, I promise you that. Just take good care of my baby and of course you. You both are my life wire.’’
“I love you too Biodun, too much” I replied. That was the very moment I should have told him everything but I did not. I was afraid that he’d take a rash decision that’d spoil the whole thing. I just stared at him. He held me in his arms and kissed me passionately and while I was in his arms, I forgot completely the heat of the moment. I suddenly felt free.
We made passionate love that night, I was quite sure I’d never experienced such a magical sensation before. The elation that enveloped me as he made love to me that night was out of the ordinary. The feeling was so strange that it felt like an omen. I will never forget the experience too, it felt too good to be real. He kept reassuring me over and over of his undying love for me that at a point I was tempted to tell him my little secret but the urge was stopped by my resolve not to fail Yeye. I wanted to keep my part of the bargain so that she’d have no excuse not to keep her’s.
I went to the hospital to keep the appointment the next morning after he’d left for work. I was convinced I was doing the right thing and I kept telling myself that everything will be over in just a few minutes. I guess I was just a desperate fool in love. I was so blinded by the love I felt that I actually believed I was taking the right step at saving our love. I even made up my mind to tell him everything later that night, of course after the abortion. I couldn’t hope to carry the burden on me for too long. I decided to leave his mother’s role out of what I tell him. I wasn’t going to cause a rift between mother and son, for my own sake.
As I covered the distance between me and the hospital that day, I had no single doubt in my mind that I’d handled even her very well. We had an agreement we were both committed to keep. I must keep mine just like I knew she’d keep hers. I was convinced beyond doubt that I was taking the right steps as I took slow deliberate steps into the theater moments later. I didn’t feel I was betraying Biodun, we will have other babies, as many as we want, I assured myself. I concern was Otunba and Yeye, they may never have the opportunity again, so I have to make the sacrifice for them. I was very sure I could make Biodun understand why I got rid of the pregnancy. Or I could simply tell him I had a miscarriage just as Yeye suggested, depending on his mood. Most importantly, I was glad that everything was finally resolved amicably between Yeye and I. I can’t have her as an enemy if I hope to have a happy relationship with her son. With these thoughts in my mind, I laid on the operating table, ready for the doctor to carry out the D and C.