I returned from the market tired and worn out. Thank God my husband was home. He met me at the door and took the sacks from my hands to the kitchen where we began to offload the things I had bought.
‘Imagine, I bought the onions for 2k.’
My huband’s eyes widened. ‘You don’t mean it. 2k? This small thing?’
I smiled. ‘Onions is expensive now o. Even rice too. A bag of rice is almost 20k. I’m just so happy that tomatoes is now cheap. Honey, can you take me to Oke Ado next week so I can get some baskets of tomatoes?’
When my husband didn’t respond, I raised my head and saw him staring at pieces of chicken in a nylon bag. He was grinning like a little child. I shook my head and turned out the remaining items from the sack.
Yemi washed the chicken and poured them in a pot before placing it on the gas cooker. Then he reached for the dishes in the sink and began to wash them.
As we worked, he narrated how he had won a food competition by finishing two plates of rice and one orobo fanta long before the other contestants did. I sat there laughing, plucking out ugwu leaves and then I went down memory lane to a year ago when we first got married.
Yemi didn’t know how to do anything. But that wasn’t surprising anyway. I married him straight from his father’s house and being the only son among four girls, he was never allowed to do anything.
Primary, secondary and tertiary education had been from home. When he was posted to Anambra for his youth service, his mother ensured he was deployed back home. Immediately after his service, He was drafted into the family business. His car was a gift from his mother. He could do whatever he wanted with his salary. House rent, light bills, food bills were all covered.
Mine was the opposite. I went to a rugged boarding school where we poo in black nylon and threw it over the fence, where rotten and burnt food at the refectory was a norm and every time we shifted in our chairs, we also fell off them because they were almost broken.
After my service year, my hustling began. I didn’t return home except for occasional visits and when dad married a new wife after mum’s death, I completely stopped going home.
I hustled, paid my bills, had landlord wahala to deal with, begged for rent payment to be extended..
Our differences was one of the greatest fears I had during our courtship. I remember breaking up with him twice, afraid I would end up the woman who had to work 9-5 and then do all the chores to keep the home running.
The first time we broke up was when I had gone to see his parents. We were having lunch and I was halfway into my meal when Yemi stood up and left the empty plate he had used on the table. His mother rolled her eyes at me and barked, ‘Take your husband’s plates to the kitchen!’
And in the kitchen, She frowned at me and said, ‘You have to take care of my son very well. I don’t want a woman who will fail in her responsibilities. Ask anybody, I don’t joke with my son.’
After that day, I ran. I no do again.
But God said, ‘Go back.’ The instruction was clear. I cried that night, wondering what my future would be like. I just wanted a little help. All my life I had juggled from one chore to the other. Couldn’t I just rest a little? I remember how at 11, I was trying to get some sleep because I had hawked garden egg in the hot sun and was fagged out when a slap landed on my back.
’Stand up! Are we going to sleep without eating tonight. Go into the kitchen and prepare food. When I was your age, I was very hard working. No child will be lazy in my house.’ My mother yelled.
And when I got into the kitchen and saw flies perched on the dirty dishes, I just broke down in tears. So much for being the first child.
Reluctantly, I went back to the relationship even though my heart was not in it. He smiled and said, ‘I knew you were going to come back.’
And then we talked about why I left and as I poured out my heart, I noticed he didn’t say anything for a long time.
I was still really scared…I had seen how terribly my father treated mum and how she turned her frustration on me. Around the time she came down with rheumatism, he still wanted his meals on time and his laundry done and he became even more cruel…until she died.
Fear replaced the love I had for Yemi and all kinds of negative thoughts clouded my head and it affected the free flow of communication between us. It was gradually tearing us apart.
As we sat in silence one evening, he held my hand and said, ‘Do you still love me?’
I didn’t respond. I just stared at the floor.
‘I know there are many things I can’t do. I can’t remember ever sweeping the floor or washing my clothes. Mum never allowed me enter the kitchen too. But I’m willing to learn. Can we make this work? I love you so much Nike.’
The fear returned. What if he was saying this to make me not to change my mind? What if he shows his true colour after we get married.
I ran back to God again. But this time I got no response to my questions. Instead I got a verse.
Cast your cares upon me, for I care for you.
That night, I released my fears to God. I told him I was going to trust his direction and allow him lead. I promised that my fear would never interfere with his plan for my life. As I lay down to sleep, I felt peaceful and a strong desire for Yemi returned. I called him that night.
‘I love you.’ I whispered.
He sighed. ‘Nike, I love you too. I love you so so much.’
Some days later, Yemi’s younger sister called me, laughing so hard, I could hardly hear what she was saying.
“Nike o..what did you do to my brother. The boy keeps insisting he wants to help me in the kitchen. Omo, I refused o before my mother turns my day into a nightmare. ‘
It was fascinating that after our wedding, as I did the chores, Yemi would observe for some minutes and take over and gradually, ‘Chore time’ became a time to gist and talk about what had happened during the week.
I finished cutting the vegetables and began to prepare the vegetable soup. When the chicken was ready, Yemi got ready to fry them. When the soup was ready, I left the kitchen to attend to my baby.
Brethren, leaving the kitchen to my husband that day was a big mistake because by the time I got back, my husband was sitting on the stool, his legs crossed, chewing a large piece of chicken. When I saw what pieces of chicken was left in the tray, I almost shouted. I had calculated the exact number of pieces I wanted to use for the ogbono soup and the stew
He raised his head and looked at me. ‘Ma!’
I stood there stunned as he finished eating that piece.
I flew at him and grabbed his waist. He laughed out loud.
‘Leave my kitchen o.’
‘Ehn, it’s now your kitchen abi?’
I refused to let go of his waist.
‘Your hands cannot even go round my waist properly. Quit trying.’
‘No way! Thanks for your help. You can go now. ‘
The more I tried to pull him away, the closer he moved towards the tray. When I saw that I couldn’t stop him, I rushed to stand in front of the tray, holding out my hands to prevent him from touching the tray. He began to tickle me and the struggle continued until we heard a voice.
We stopped. Right there at the entrance was his mother.
She smiled. ‘The door was opened. I let myself in.’
Yemi ran to hug his mother. She had been away from the country shortly after our wedding.
‘Nobody told me you were back.’
She smiled, ‘I told your father not to tell you. I wanted this to be a surprise. Where is my grandson?’
Yemi picked a broom and turned to me. ‘Go ahead and show mum our son. I’ll finish up here and I promise I won’t touch the chicken.’
His mother frowned. ‘Yemi, what are you doing with a broom. Leave it and let her do it!’ She looked at me disgusted. ‘How can you let this happen?’
Yemi stood in front of his mother. ‘Mum, this is how we run this home. This is our own terms and we are fine with it.’
‘But this is not proper!’ She faced her daughter-in-law ‘You married my son so you could make him a slave? I warned you.’
She turned swiftly to her son. ‘I don’t like this.’
‘I’m married now. This is my home. We are very happy.’
She looked from her son to his wife. ‘Can I see my grandson now?’
…Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church-a love marked by giving, not getting. Ephesians 5:22,28 (MSG)
When partners in a relationship walk in the exceeding grace that flows from the person of Jesus, love becomes the watchword.
Related: Don’t Fall in love with me.