Mrs. Adedara sat on the long settee chewing some ground nuts that was inside a white bottle, the television was reduced to its lowest volume and it was apparent that her mind was not on the drama showing on the screen, while chewing on the nuts, she mused “Will he accept my suggestion, will he not go into a rage”, she thought as she rehearse what she was going to say to her son. “I hope his not going to come here with that stupid woman ‘though”, she said aloud. She stood up brazed her self as if waiting for an imaginary opponent to show up. I have never been a coward, she muttered ’,and l wll not start now. Mrs Adedara smiled to herself as she recollects her high school days. She remember her nick-name ‘Tiger’. She earn the name because no one has ever put her back on the floor in any fight among her peers even some of her seniors are afraid of her and try as much as possible to avoid her so that she would not disgrace them should a fight occur . Judith smiled at herself as she remembered a particular day when she went into a fight with one particular notorious senior whom the juniors called ‘madam bully’. This senior beat her up quite well but being one who never succumb to defeat, she went on pestering that senior until that one beg for her forgiveness and for a truce because she will always way lay the senior throwing muds or anything she happens to lay her hands on at her, dirtying the other’s uniform, despite the beatings she receives she will go back again and again until the other one got tried of beating her and started getting glittering of and encounter with her. Even some of her teachers who got to know about the incident initially ask the other to beat her very well because of her stubborness calling her a stubborn goat that deserve thorough beating were also apprehensive of the out come of their stand since she refuse to be deterred nor put off by the beating she receives as she kept going back truly like goat asking for more beating until the other got fed up, disgusted and even afraid, thinking what kind of a weird girl is this. Judith Adedara smiled ruefully as she remember that since this incident know senior dares to punish her again. Back to the present however she wondered as another thought flashes through her mind making her to brake into hot sweat despite the cool breeze coming from the air-conditioner. Then she shrugged and squared her shoulder like a prize fighter waiting for the opponent’s next move. Judith Adedara shook herself vigorously trying hard to snap out of the fear that clutched at her throat, ‘Cowards die many times before their death” she said. She finally concluded that for her to gain the upper hand in the problem at hand now she must face the reality of the fact that her son loved the woman in question, so she has to be tactful if she is to succeed in her scheme of getting rid of her daughter in law. “I need to thread softly, and apply great wisdom”, she cautioned her self . One of the things that you can credit Bolaji’s mother for is that she knows when to tread softly and woo her opponent and when to apply force, she has no qualms in applying brutal force if the occasion demands in having her way. Having concluded that she must bid her time of action very well and mask her feelings towards her daughter in law from her son so as to get him on her side she has therefore sent first a cartoon of apple fruit to him and his wife before asking him to come and see her while praying silently that Yomade would not be stupid enough to follow her husband to her house.” I just hope that that old cargo will not be daft enough to accompany Bolaji here sha, she should have realized by now that there is no love lost between us anyway, Mrs Adedara said to the air. Bolaji was happy when he saw the cartoon of fresh apple sent from his mother, delighted that his mother was having a change of heart towards his wife and he secretly prayed that the two would eventually get along together and so he on his part would have gone to see her in company of his wife if not for the fact that she had an urgent matter to attend to even though his mother has made it clear that he should come alone because what she wanted to see him about was urgent and private, he has quickly on his part insistent that whatever his and his wife can not share together or know about is not worth his attention because they are now one but then Yomade could not go with him because of an urgent matter she has to attend to at her place of work and he has been forced to go alone at her insistence After packing his car he went inside the house with that boyish gait with which he has always entered this familiar house before he got married and has to move out, “Good evening, mama,” he said with his disarming smile as he prostrated for his mother “You are looking so good,” he added teasing her by saying My sweet sixteen, ever so gorgeous and where is Abeni? He asked after their young house help, who was usually the one that opens the door for visitors. Instead of answering his question his mother said “I hope you did not bring her? Despite her earlier conviction to be diplomatic Judith Adedara could not control her vehement hatred for her daughter in law. She tried to quickly control her self as she realized her mistake but the cat had been let out of the sack so she tried bold-face instead as she squared her shoulder and look her son straight in the face. “If you mean, my wife”, Boaji tried to restrain himself from getting angry with her so he replied quietly, she has some business to attend to so she could not make it. He forced himself to relax the fist he has clenched together “Thank God”, said has mother, I am so glad you could make it alone without her being tied to your belt all the time. “ Ah! ma-maa”, Bolaji cried out “Why did you hate my wife’ so much that you can not even pretend for a second!. Mrs. Adedara replied “Mee hate your wife oh no o h”, why should I ? You are not serious “You had better not be! Bolaji said trying to change the subject he asked again “Where is Abeni? Referring to his mother’s house maid. “She has gone out”, quipped Mrs. Adedara with a tight lip. “Gone out, to where”, queried Bolaji. His mother who knew that he has always objected to her ill-treatment of the maid and has always be at log ahead with her for her refusal to send the girl to school kept mute gluing her eyes to the television set pretending to be absolved in the programme going on “Where did she goo”, Bolaji insisted refusing to let his mother off the hook I have not call you here’ to question me on where I have sent my maid “ She said evasively. So please sit down and don’t lawyer me, she flared up “ Mama “he said “I’ve always warned you that what you are doing is unfair, that girl ought to be in school or some where learning a trade or something “instead of her being at your beck and call 24/7,Bolaji said, I told you that if you can not afford it Ill be sending you the money“. “So if her parents did not see the reason to make their child gainfully employed than to be a maid for that matter”, she blotted out I should be the one to shoulder their responsibility eh, tell me now” She asked her son, looking at him as if he was out of his mind to have suggested such a thing to, her. Bolaji shook his head before adding, Look, mama, he replied “the evil people do will automatically live with them” not after them not after them”, he added “God blesses us to be a blessing to ‘others and if we refused, know of a surety that all those young people that comes our way, that we have refused responsibility to are the ones who in the near future will be a pain in the neck to both you and I, think about it even now some has become terroris to you and me, making life unbearable and unsafe for us all, they are the one’s who turns out to be rogues, thugs, the armed robbers and the prostitutes. Mother remember that all this miscreants, thugs and rogues came from a family that may be if we have been sympathetic towards may have turn out to be good citizens “P-lea-see spare me the lecture,” shouted his mother feeling irritated and angry at his rhetoric, she retorted “Every parent should train their own children not saddle others with their responsibilities, even the scripture says that a man ought to provide for his house-hold To this Bolaji replied that fingers are not equal, more so mama,” he added not many of this people can afford to cater for……” “Then let everyone learn to sow their cloth according to the cloth they have and not their size “she retorted “Meaning what?, asked Bolaji. She replied “that’s why there is plan parenthood, family planning is available for everyone to make sure that you have the number of children that you can conveniently cater for”, she added to justifying herself. Bolaji seeing no point in arguing with her anymore tried to change the subject by asking her if there is anything to eat in the house?” “Doesn’t your wife feed you at home? The mother asked giving him a look that says she knows that his wife is not a woman that can manage a home very well or take care of a man for that matter. With her nose in the air, and looking defiantly at her son she asked,” Is that woman looking after you …..” “She does”, he answered defensively before he added “I ask out of old habit”, “old habit die hard, you know mama”, he tried to make light of the matter, ‘’ after all it isn’t that I am actually hungry but just to make you feel good and for you not to complain that since I’ve been married I’ve been avoiding your food” because that is now your slogan mama” His mother afraid that he may not want to eat her food anymore quickly replied “I’ve prepared your favorite dish that is if you still find my food tasting enough compare to the junks she fed you with” Allowing that to ride, Bolaji said trying to placate his mother “Mama your food is still the best” he then added with his mischievous grin “mama don’t forget that you are the best cooker in the entire universe”, as I’ve always told you. Being an only child Bolaji loves his mother and he would not want to hurt her if he could, they have always gotten along very well together until this issue of delay in child bearing crops up. His mother refused to see reason and blame his wife for the delay. Bolaji shook his head at this Africa mentality that delay in child bearing is always the fault of the woman alone, the painful part is that it’s even the female folk who ought to stand by one of their own that are usually the first to cast aspartion on the victim of such delays “And your daddy is the best cylinder” his mother smiled at his last statement, she followed him to the kitchen and joyfully served him his favorite meal, she felt so happy watching him as he eat the food with the old relish she was used to smirking and licking his lips Her loneliness was momentarily forgotten as she reflected on how he used to boast to his friends that his mother was the best cooker in the whole word. She smiled as she remember her sister trying to correct him that it is cook and not cooker but Bolaji who was then about seven years old has insisted that since the person who bakes is called a baker and the person who makers shoe a shoe-maker so also a person that cooks is a cooker, since that time Mrs Adedare has been fondly called cooker by relatives and friends alike. After the food Bolaji settled himself on his favorite couch facing his mother with a can of fruit juice in his hand, he has always loved to drink straight from the can, he thinks it a waste of time having to pour the juice into a glass. For a little while both mother and son started jisting about the political situation in the country and the forth coming general election. But after a while Mrs. Adedara suddenly asked “I understand you wanted to set up a juice canning factory for Yomade” Bolaji corrected her, please mama it’s going to be a joint venture, since everyone is talking about dysifying, we too thought that it will be good for us to use this to supplement our income Mama Bolaji shook her head at her son and asked “is that wise? left to me, I don’t buy the idea of you keeping joint account with your wife, use your head now any thing can hap…. Bolaji retorted, “ Mama nothing dey happen”, you are only being paranoid so please relax. Okay o, she added “As for me I don’t think that girl is even alrigh..- “ Bolaji flared up this time, he hates it anytime his mother referred to his wife as ‘that girl’ Look mama Yomade is a fine, gentle cultured woman and I love her, do you hear! I love her, love her with my whole being and the moment you realized that the better for all of us “I know, I know”, she replied scornfully “she is always fine, just fine”, when is she going to graduate from just being fine to - - ) she shouted, Her voice marching her son’s in tempo and anger. “Look mama” Bolaji replied “My wife is in perfect condition and if you had nothing important to say order than criticizing my wife, I think I ‘ll better go” His mother rise instantly to her feet pointing at him with anger blazing in her eyes “Look here” young man! She said to him “If everybody is afraid to confront you and tell you the truth! “I, Judith Orelope, I am not, I am your mother I gave birth to you, gave you suck my----- “ “Nobody is disputing that mama”, Bolaji replied. His mother continued as if he has not spoken “I will not stand by and allow that girl to make a mess of your life, you are my only child, is it too much to expect my grand children! Let her give me my own grandchildren, that’s all I am asking for and she can have you but without that she will never know any pea - - “ “Mama, you are cursing my wife! Bolaji screamed at his mother, I am not” mama Bolaji screamed back, I am only telling you my stand on this matter!, because it seems you are out of your senses at present to realize that you are bewitched,” the mother continued, “If she has blinded you from seeing that all your mates are now fathers, she can not boo- boo me too, money is not all there is to marriage”, if she think her parents have money , I’ve never go cup in hand to beg them for food, do you hear Bolaji, money is not every…” “Neither are children”, replied Bolaji shouted back at her . At his statement his mother sat down abruptly “Ehe eh, come again”, what did you just say, I say what did you just say now”, she continued to screamed at him, putting her two hands on her wailing loudly, that her son has killed her. Oh, “y- -e - s-, I’ve been told that that girl is an evil genus, she has bewitched you, she added beating her chest “But let me tell you, she will meet her match in me”! Go and tell her that I Judith Orelope said that she is too small for what she has started, I will match her fire for fire”, she vowed. Bolaji did not like this sudden turn their conversation have taken so he tries to calm his mother down by pacifying her with a gentle tone he pleaded with her to give them time “ Please mama”, he pleaded gently “It is only God alone that gives children and ours will come at the appropriate time”. But when” when is that time going to come, asked his mother sobbing gently. Look Bolaji time is going you are not getting younger neither I’m I. She can never bear being angry with her only son for long. “God knows mama”, Said Bolaji “But don’t let us blame Yomade, it’s not her fault’, hearing his statement, she instantly dry her eyes and stood up Going near her son she placed a hand on his shoulder pleadingly “Please tell me if the fault lies with you so I can know how to seek for help”. I have people who can help me “It is nobody’s fault mama”, Bolaji replied, we’ve had medical check ups and all is fine “At least so says the doctors”. “Both of us are fine, mama His mother said in a low tone “Has it ever cross your mind that it’s likely the girl, I mean your wife has perform an abortion before”. That may be the cause of the delay you know “Ma – a – ma” Bolaji cried his temper rising to the surface again, He however managed to speak gently “Mama I am telling you as I have often told you that my wife was not promiscuous, she was a virgin when I met her and we got married out of love for each other and nothing else” “Calm down, please calm down”, said his mother knowing that getting angry will never solve the matter . She therefore change her tactics “May be she or her family may have done something wrong and this barrenness’ is the repercaution . “She asked tentatively, adding, “Look with so much money, may be something is as the bottom of her parents wealth, you never can tell with some of this so called rich peo…” “M-other”, what are you insinuating! Bolaji shouted at her. Mama Bolaji said “It is rude to say an older person is insinuating something”, that’s tantamount to calling her a liar” “I am sorry mama”, Bolaji replied “But I don’t think so “neither did I buy your idea”. His mother suddenly changed gear and with a sweet smile she said “Look Bolaji let’s talk about why I ask you here” “Okay mama”, Bolaji concurred going back to the couch, he sat cross legged waiting for his mother. Both of them sat pensively for some minutes. Then his mother started to explain to him how she had met Tulu who then told her about how she once had a relationship with Bolaji. She stood up abruptly I went into her room and brought out a picture of Bolaji in his NYSC uniform with Tulu standing by his side smiling. As Bolaji turned the picture over in his hand his mother continued her story “The girl told me how she got pregnant for you and you gave her money to procure abortion Bolaji was jotted to a stand still at her word. He was not only dazed but shocked as well She went on to tell him that Tutu did not abort the pregnancy, “Look Bolaji, “She said with joy written all over her face “You have a son, nothing is wrong with you, I am now a proud grandmother”. Finally she went down on her kneel in front of her son pleading that he should accept Tutu and the boy. She kneel there begging him Bolaji quickly prostrated as his mother kneel down in front of him. He begged his mother to please standup but she would not. The woman was bent on remaining on her kneels until Bolaji promised her that he would take Tutu as his second wife so that she can bear him more children. Bolaji flare-up “ I know that you will one day ask me to take anther wife but mama it’s not possible because I am married under ordinance.” “What ordinance”, his mother asked him “How many of these your ordinances people has two or three wife’s out side wedlock’ she laughed scornfully “My son please don’t deceive your self” If you don’t want Tutu to live with you she can remain here with me and you can come and visit her anytime you wanted”, she suggested “ No one needs to know anything about the arrangement”, she concluded. Bolaji replied “Mama I am sorry to disappoint you because I can’t live a life of deceit”, he added,” even though some people may be doing such disgraceful things but I tell you such a distasteful and sinful action does not befit me. I Omobolaji will never join them, never, mama never.” He vowed Mama Bolaji like all callous women knew immediately that force could not settle this matter so she calmly rose to her feet and sat down “So you have made up your mind to remain glued to that thing all the rest of your life, “ She said . “Mama my wife is not a thing she is a full flesh blooded woman, he retorted ’do you hear!!” His mother hissed not saying a word she was already thinking about how to get help to untie the knot she believed Yomade has used to tie her son down. “Mama how could you have thought that you can get a wife for me”, It’s not possible”, His mother muttered gently “we shall see, the battle line is now drawn between that witch Yomade and myself and we shall soon know who is the stronger power”. “Mama please I would like to go if you have nothing more to say”, Bolaji said rising up “You can go”, his mother replied “But tell that witch that she will meet her match in me ” she added with venom in her voice Bolaji stormed out without a word.