January, 1957

Before long, Bisi accepted her fate but it was very glaring that she was unhappy with the child. She took caring for the child with kid’s glove; her mother visited from time to time to take care of the baby just in a bid to ensure the child had adequate care. 

“Bisi, I don’t know why you are punishing this child for the offence she did not commit. It is  God that gives children and this child is the gift you have been given” her mother said to her one of the days she came visiting.

Bisi only nodded as she sat at one corner of the room sulking while the child was crying. Her mother carried the crying child, sat on a wooden stool nearby and started to rock the child. Eventually, she stopped crying and was soon longing for her mother’s breasts. Bisi’s mother handed the child to her and gave her a chastening glare. She collected the baby and started to breastfeed her. 

“Mama, I don’t know what purpose I am serving in this house, I was coerced into marrying this man so that I would bare him a male child and now; I gave birth to a girl. I want to leave and marry Adefemi – the man I really loved.”

Lailai! God forbid.  Her mother shrugged her shoulders, and let out a loud hiss. You have just one child and you are already thinking of giving up. At least have like two or three more before you begin to even nurse that evil idea” her mother said with so much disdain on her face. 

Bisi ignored the rest of what her mother was saying and laid the sleeping baby on a mat. She went about her daily chores but kept coming into the room to look at the sleeping child and each time, she hissed. Her mother decided to greet the women in the neighbouring houses and may not be back till night fall. 

“I really don’t know what to make of my life, marrying an older man and hoping to give him a male child, now it is a girl. Mama is saying I should make some more tries before giving up. But what if they are all girls? It means chief Ojo will have nine girls and will start looking for another wife again.” She kept soliloquising as she carried on her duties.  The other wives passed-by and exchanged greetings with her. She greeted them and continued washing her baby’s clothes. 

All of a sudden, she stood up, put her hands on her hips and said to herself, “I knew it, right from when I was chosen to marry this man that it was a bad idea”. She placed one hand on her waist and the other on her lower lip, lost in thought “If only I had been stubborn enough to resist all the compelling and coercing, I would have been with my very own Adefemi”.

 “Oh, Femi!” she said as she wrapped both hands around herself, “he was shocked that I left him to marry chief, he was embittered and kept telling me never to agree to marry someone I did not love, that I should be patient with him and allow another yam harvest season to pass before he begins all the marriage rites. But mama and papa kept telling me to marry chief, that he was older and would know how to better take care of a wife. I wanted to please my parents that had already been blinded by the gifts chief had given them, now see where I am”.

“What is the matter ololufe mi, you have been talking to yourself for over five minutes now. Her husband said as he cautiously walked up to her. He put his left hand on the small of her back, looked into her eyes and held her gaze for thirty seconds. He could read the message there, “Bisi, don’t worry, everything will be fine. I still love you despite not giving me a male child that I strongly desire and I promise you that I will love the child as if she was a male. I will give her the best of everything. Just treat the child well and let her have all the love a mother can give. Do not blame yourself, it is God that gives children and not us so whatever He decides to give us, we should be grateful. After all, there are some who do not have any children at all and would do anything to have”. Bisi relaxed into his arms and kept starring into the space.  He was right, she thought.

“Now, let me help my youngest wife finish her washing” he said as he sat on the stool and started rinsing the clothes. “Ah, no please! Do not let people see you – a whole chief washing baby clothes, they will say I used juju on you.” she tried to resist

He smiled and looked at her “stubborn as usual, leave me alone, let them say what they want. After all, it is my child’s clothes not the child of a strange woman. That is how I did for my other wives”

Bisi relented her struggle and looked at him with much admiration. He continued to rinse the clothes while she sat some distance from him. 

Chief Ojo looked up suddenly and caught her staring admiringly at him.

“Yes, I caught you” her husband said excitedly, his face slowly forming a huge smile

Feigning ignorance “doing what?” Bisi said keeping a straight face

“Staring at me” he responded with a tinge of excitement

“Am I not supposed to look at my husband again?”

“Of course, you are, but that look is different”

“How is it different?”

“You know, it says I have missed you, my sweet husband”

Bisi busted into a loud laughter 

“The gods be thanked that she can still laugh after a long time, I am getting my wife back.” He said inwardly.

“But seriously, Aya mi, it has been a very long we did those things husband and wife do and I have missed my wife, I must confess”. Chief Ojo said with a wink and slight smile

Bisi blushed 

His heart melted

“Is today a good day?” He asked as he stood up from the already rinsed clothes 

She blushed the more and nodded.  She had missed him too but had been distant since she gave birth to her child. Hopefully, the next child will be a boy. She thought

He gently led her into her hut as he called on another child to spread the clean clothes.

*******

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