I remembered the first time I took Karen to see my mother. Knowing how quick mama’s tongue is, I’d briefed her on the right things to say and do. As soon as mama came into the living room, Karen fell to her knees and greeted her like a good servant would greet his master. I was impressed. When mama went into the kitchen to serve lunch, she trailed her offering to help. Not wanting to be left on my own, I followed them into the kitchen but one sharp look from mama told me I wasn’t welcome. I groaned as I realised she intended to grill Karen. Much as I wanted to protect her from mama’s interrogation, I realised it would have to happen at some point so I conceded and left them to it.
Half an hour later when they both surfaced with smiles on their faces, I breathed a sigh of relief. All through lunch Karen wouldn’t shut up about how fantastic a cook mama was and I was certain she had passed the test when she promptly cleared the table and offered to do the dishes after lunch. I couldn’t have been more shocked when mama called me later that night and gave her verdict.
“My son, leave that girl, she is not a good woman.”
“Mama! How can you say that?! You met her today, what’s not to like?!”
“I am a woman and your mother at that. I know a good wife when I see one and I am telling that she will not make you a good wife.”
“You can’t just say that,” I groaned in frustration, “help me understand how you came to that conclusion.”
“It’s in her eyes my son, she smiles a lot but the smile doesn’t reach her eyes. She is shrewd, she is not a kind person.”
“How can you know that when you’ve only just met her? I’ve been dating her for two years and she’s never yet given me reason to agree with you.”
“Call it feminine intuition but I know what I’m saying. I’m your mother, I won’t lie to you. Oju e buru gan, her eyes are wicked.”
I was furious with the old woman. The very eyes that made me feel like a million dollars when they smiled at me, how could she call them wicked?!
“Look mama, we both know how you are. You never see the good in people, always quick to criticise. Karen is the woman I have chosen to marry. If you want to convince me otherwise, you’ll have to come up with something better than this your wicked eyes theory.”
“My son, you are not a baby. Marry whoever you want to marry but know that the day I cease to tell you the truth is the day I will join your father in the grave. I cannot sit back and watch you make a mistake without saying my piece. If you want to marry her, marry her but for your sake, I hope the blackness I see in her eyes is just her pupils.”
“I’m grateful for the advice but I think I know Karen better than you do. She is a lovely girl and I have no doubt she will make me happy. You wanted me to find a wife, I’ve found one. Please be happy for me, that’s all I ask.”
Oh mama, I wish I’d listened to you!
Karen has made my life hell the last six months. Initially I told myself I deserved her anger. I’d made a mistake and though a part of me wanted her support and understanding, on some level, I felt I deserved to be punished for being so gullible. Any fool that does business with a man that wears a white suit in this Lagos deserves to be conned! But six month of hostility from my wife was more than I deserved. I’ve begged, grovelled and worked my butt off trying to find a new job. What more does she want?
I will never forget her reaction the day I broke the news to her. It was the first time I saw what my mother saw in her eyes. Blackness.