Witty Writers’ corner
The agony of a mother
By Olabayo Joshua Awodirepo
Henry was barely 10 years old. He has been enjoying so much love and overpampering especially from me, his mother. He doesn’t do a single house chore not even washing his own clothes. He is being treated like a very precious stone. You know, it is not easy to be the only son out of 5 children.
Henry doesn’t have any reason to look sad as he always wears a very happy face. But, that particular day was different. Henry was looking so confused like he had a world class puzzle to solve. He was sitting at his favorite corner of the bedroom while his sisters and I were busy with other house chores.
I walked up to him and asked what was wrong. He innocently looked into my eyes and then asked a question I never expected. He asked “am I Okaruwanka, the ancestral god I read in a story book?” I was confused and tried to know why he asked such a question. Then, he said “I read from the book that he doesn’t do anything as the ladies and women in the village serve him and bring him his daily meal. Am I Okaruwanka?”.
My eyes were laid with tears underneath as I looked into his eyes and remember what I’ve passed through before having him. How should I explain to him the pains of childbirth I had to go through for 9 good times just because my society sees a woman without a male child as a cursed one? How can I tell him the number of miscarriages I had out of fear of what kind of child it was going to bring forth? Should I also tell him about how my husband’s family members loathed me because I couldn’t bring forth a male child for them? My only crime was to be married to a man who happened to be the only son of his parents and they feared having their family name go down the lane of forgetfulness if I can’t bring forth a male child.
Should I also explain to him that my husband’s family has the history of producing more female children than male but I was still being judged for not producing a male child? Or wait, can he also know about the number of concoctions I was forced to eat at very odd hours of the night because they believed I had a problem that could be cured by the different dishes of concoctions they served me?
Well, I actually enjoyed eating some of them especially the ones with stock fish or okporoko.
Or, maybe I should just tell him of the threat of my life which I received while still on my hospital bed nursing the wounds of the fifth childbirth that brought forth Henry. My in-laws warned me that if I don’t want to be thrown out of the house with my 4 witches (referring to my daughters), I should make sure I take good care of the little boy. And how they kept coming back to warn me that my boy must be well treated. He shouldn’t be allowed to do house chores no matter what otherwise, something evil might happen to him. I didn’t understand what that meant. But, I feared them as even my husband couldn’t counter them.
All I want for Henry is just to be okay and grow up to learn some truths for himself.
With tears rolling down my cheeks as my heart couldn’t unleash the whole truth on the little lad, I touched his cheeks and said “you see, you are not Okaruwanka. You are Henry, a little boy blessed with five angels in form of sisters and mother. These angels love you so much that they are ready to sacrifice their comfort just for you to be comfortable.
The people in my society believe a male child is needed for the family genealogy to continue neglecting the woman who is the real agent of continuity. If I die, it will take another woman like me with a womb to do the work of continuity. Take me and every of my kind out of the earth and there will be no womb to carry a single man. Despite all I’ve been through thanks to the society in which I’ve found myself, I embrace my being. I am a woman.
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