“Good morning ma”, the children greeted cheerfully as they got up to meet Mama Savage. They had been watching a Yórúbà movie that was showing on the television.
“Salaam Alaikum”. Mama Savage had let herself in after a slight knock at the Adeniji’s residence. “How are you, my dears?” she inquired with a hearty smile.
“Fine ma”, the excited children answered.
As always, Mama Savage reached for her big bag and brought out a long string of baba dudu and Nasco wafers for the children. They thanked her so heartily. They knew she would never come visiting empty handed.
“Are your parents’ home?” Mama Savage asked the children.
“Yes ma. I’ll get máámì,” Nifemi’s older brother answered.
“Good morning ma”, Nifemi’s mother went on her knees to greet as it is customary for acknowledging the elderly. “You did not inform us of your coming today. I hope all is well”.
“All is well. How are you?” Mama Savage responded, patting her daughter’s back.
Slightly struggling to get off her knees, Nifemi’s mother responded, “I am fine, we thank God”.
“Is your husband home?”
“Yes”. Then Nifemi’s mother hesitated before she said, “I hope there is no problem”. She was alarmed by the seemingly unusual inquisition. “How is Pa Jide and his wife? I hope there is no problem”.
“Alhamdulillah. Everyone is fine”.
“I hope he is responding to treatment and getting better. Are you helping to make sure both of them take their supplements regularly? They are both very aged. I have even been considering asking Gbadun to come and stay with you and help with your chores and errands. You all are getting too old to be staying alone by yourselves”, Nifemi’s mother went on concerned for her family.
“You worry too much”, her mother scoffed. “However, it won’t be a bad idea to have a young blood around to keep us company”. Gbadun who had been eavesdropping on the conversation clinched with excitement when her mother told her that she would go and live with Mama Savage and the others. Nifemi, who used to stay with them, always came back recounting the exciting tales and times she had with Mama Savage, Pa Jide and his wife. Gbadun was next in kin Nifemi of their mother’s children. She had two other siblings between her and Nifemi, if all their father’s children are counted.
“Since we’re on the issue of inquiring about family welfare, how is Nifemi? Have you heard from her?” Mama Savage cut to the chase.
“I have not o!”, she clasped her palms together in a defeated attitude. “What can I get you to eat or drink?”
“I have not come here for your food or drink. I came for more serious issues”, Mama Savage said in a firm tone.
“I’m listening,” Nifemi’s mother said.
“Can the children excuse us?” Mama Savage hesitated. Their mother only had to look at the children who were pretending to be glued to the television and they knew better to quietly go outside while the elders speak.
“Ọkọ mi, you need to listen to me carefully. We cannot change what has been, we can only take decisions to better the future. I’m sure you do not want to be a victim of your own mistakes and be forced to realize that you could have helped a little too late. They say, once bitten, twice shy. Must it be until the third generation suffer too before we learn to walk the right path? I advise you to put aside pride and forgive your daughter. There is still time to make amends. Your daughter is your responsibility, no matter what. Fathers try to do their best … in their own way but after God, a mother is a child’s next guardian. No matter how much your husband loves Nifemi, he has other children from other women who can make up for Nifemi’s lack. Will you have another Nifemi at your age? Talk to your husband, I know you can if you want to. He will also not disregard your opinion. Give your consent to your child’s happiness wherever she is and pray for her to do well. No matter how hard she tries now, her success is limited because of your grievance toward her. Release her and yourself to a great and better life”, Mama’s Savage speech came to Nifemi’s mother a sharp sting to her heart.
“You have spoken well”, she said after a minute of reflection. No matter how disappointed she was in her daughter, it would mean more harm to cut her off from the family. “I will make amends. It does not please me to forsake my daughter but . . .”
“No buts. Call and speak to her. Support and give her your blessings. Whether you like it or not, she is now a mother too, a woman of her own, no longer your innocent little girl”. Mama Savage said with a bluntness in her eyes.
Gbemisola looked at her mother in the eye. She was right. “I will talk to my husband.”
“Please do”, Mama Savage replied. “Allah will grant you favour before him and soften his heart to do that which is right”, she added.
Gbemisola had a ghastly expression, fearful of the future judging from the past. She let out a heavy sigh and silently wished matters had not got so terrible. “You will at least have something to quench your thirst while you are here”.
“I’m not leaving anytime soon. I will sit here and wait for you to have the talk with your husband so we can resolve this lingering issue today”.
“Yes. Now!” Mama Savaged widened her eyes in fanatical sarcasm. Gbemisola took a deep breath again so that her chest rose and fell all too suddenly. Just then, her husband walked into the living room in his white singlet tucked into his blue hand-cut lace trousers.
“Good afternoon, ma”, he prostrated half-way.
“How are you, my dear? Going out?” Mama Savage asked.
“Yes but not right away. Is anything the matter?” Mr. Adeniji said.
“It’s nothing too serious that cannot be resolved. I was just having a conversation with your wife about …”
“Mama Savage was just asking about Nifemi”, Nifemi’s mother cuts in blatantly. She raised her brows to her mother in disapproval. It was her issue to discuss, not hers. Mr. Adeniji looked at his wife as though she just committed a grave offence. For some reason, he could not believe Nifemi’s issue would still come up in his house. However he was obliged to give Mama Savage due respect and full audience.
“What about Nifemi?” he asked, after he took his seat opposite the television set. He kept his irritated gaze on his wife. It was definitely a plot between mother and daughter as far as he was concerned.
“I’ve been thinking lately; we are the elders. Even if children err, we should call them back to order after a period of punishment. She can’t be estranged from us forever. God knows we tried to raise these children in the right way but whatever will be will be. Let’s finish our part as good parents notwithstanding. Please, my husband”, Nifemi’s mother pleaded.
“Whatever you decide is fine”, Mr. Adeniji said indifferently. There was no point arguing when Mama Savage was clearly behind her sudden sympathetic realization.
“Thank you. Thank you very much my husband. Oju ’o ni tiẹ”, Nifemi’s mother was elated. She got on one knee to show appreciation to her husband.
“Thank you, my dear”, Mama Savage added.
“Amin. Thank you ma,” Mr. Adeniji responded.
“Emm . . . Actually, I have them in the car outside with the baby”, Mama Savage stuttered, not particularly minding if it was all too much for them to handle in a moment. “Can they come in?” She was a bit more delicate in her tone when she asked.
Nifemi’s mother exchanged looks with her husband. She knew what he was thinking and a mixed expression of embarrassment and confusion showed on her face.
“You may call them in”, Mr. Adeniji’s said in a husky tone.
“Thank you my dear”. Mama Savage rushed out to get the lads from the car.
“You connived with your mother to embarrass me, isn’t it?” Mr. Adeniji accused cynically immediately Mama Savage was out of sight.
“Please my husband, I knew nothing of this. Believe me. Don’t be angry. Let’s just address the situation with an open mind. It’s all for the good of the family. Please believe me; I would never deceive you like this”. Nifemi’s mother begged.
“I hear you”, his tone was sarcastic.
When Mama Savage returned to the room with Nifemi and Olusegun behind her, the meeting took an emotional turn. Even her parents could not help but forgive and let bygones be bygones. Although they were not totally happy with the situation, they could only make do with what the story had become. They consented to Olusegun’s request to marry their daughter. It was rather a strained acceptance, but given the scenery, their hands were tied and destiny had already taken its course. There was no use fighting what’s done.