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I left my mom, my husband, and our one-year-old son behind to attend a three-day workshop in Accra only to come back to meet a mother who doesn’t talk to my husband and a husband who doesn’t want to have anything to do with my mother. As to what really happened, each of them has different versions of the story. According to my mother, the day I left, she spent all day cooking for my husband. My husband came home very late and went straight to bed without touching the food. My mom said, “When he went inside, I went to tell him about the food and he said he’ll come and eat. He never came. The next day when I asked him why, he behaved as if I cooked poison and invited him to eat.”

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My husband simply said, “I didn’t know about the food until the next morning when she asked me about it. I told her I didn’t know she cooked for me and she started ranting, saying I behaved like what she cooked was poison. Even when I apologized, she kept talking and talking accusing me of things I didn’t know about.” I told my husband to ignore her; “You know my mom and her menopause. Just ignore her.” My mom kept the rage on asking my husband to apologize. My husband didn’t see why he has to apologize and that was the beginning of our troubles.

My mom came to live with us when I resumed work after maternity. She was with us so she could take care of our child while we were away. She took on other responsibilities like cleaning, washing and cooking for the family. My husband had no problems with that until their fight began. My husband stopped eating the food mom has cooked. The order was specific; “Your mom should not cook the food I will eat. I married you and not her.” Alright. So one late afternoon, my husband wanted to eat Fufu. It was the only food he felt for and asked me to prepare some for him. I checked the fridge and saw a bowl of soup. I picked it and put it in the microwave. I put cassava on fire, finished pounding the fufu and went back to the microwave to pick the soup.

My husband was already seated, waiting for the soup so he could begin eating his fufu. I went to the microwave and the soup wasn’t there. I looked everywhere for the soup and couldn’t find it. I asked my mom, “I put a soup in the microwave, did you take it?” She answered, “Yeah, I did.” I asked her, “Where did you put it?” She answered, “It’s here in my room.” I was confused. “That’s the soup Steven is going to use to eat his fufu.” She said, “Tell Steven to cook new soup because I cooked this one.” I thought she was joking. I turned the doorknob and the door was locked. She said, “Your husband said he wouldn’t eat what I have cooked so please you two should cook something new.”

It was late. I didn’t know where I was going to get ingredients to cook new soup. When Steve waited for so long and I wasn’t coming, he came to ask what was happening. I told him, “Mom has ceased the soup. She said she cooked it.” He stood there for a while, shook his head, and walked away. In the night when we were about to sleep, he said, “When is your mom leaving this house?” I told him, “If you have someone to replace her, she’ll be gone tomorrow.”

I was seated at the hall one day when Steve walked to the hall covered with soap lather, with only a towel around his waist. He was angry about something. He screamed, “Talk to your mother. Doesn’t she know how to knock? The next time she does that again, she wouldn’t like me.” My mom was in the kitchen. I went there to ask her what happened. She said, “Trust me, I didn’t know he was there. I needed the baby’s bucket to fetch water.” I said, “But when you opened and he was there, why didn’t you turn away?” She answered, “There was no point turning away. I had already seen what he was hiding so I just picked the bucket and left.” She had no remorse for anything she did to my husband. In fact, whatever made my husband angry made her smiled. One afternoon, I was in the hall with her watching TV. She said, “Let me be honest with. If what I saw between your husband’s legs is all that he has, then my daughter you’re suffering. Didn’t you see it before marrying him? The thing is too small. Small things like that produce ugly kids, don’t you know?”

It was annoying the way she said it but I laughed. I asked, “So you’re telling me our kid is ugly?” She said, “Don’t you see his crooked head.” We both burst out laughing. She said, “Please I’m joking ooo. Don’t go and tell him. Before I know, he’ll be sacking me from his house. And it doesn’t also mean what I said about the size was a joke. That one is true.” So whenever my mom came face to face with my husband, she’ll laugh mischievously. My husband didn’t get it. He came to ask me why and I told him, “She’s your in-law. You can ask her too.

One early morning, I was on top of Steve doing our own thing when our baby started crying out loud. Where I’d gotten to there was no way I was going to get down and pick a baby so we ignored him and continued doing our thing. Suddenly our door flung opened. I fell off from Steve like a dead chicken and shouted, “No no no don’t come in…” She was already inside the room and picking the baby out of the cot. She said, “Sorry, I came for my grandson.” My husband turned to face the wall as if he wanted to become part of the wall. When my mom left the room, he said, “If this woman is not a witch I don’t know what she is. Please tell her to get ready, she’s leaving this house.” I said, “Yes she has to leave. Enough is enough.”

When I came out, I didn’t talk to her. I wanted her to know how angry I was. Steve bathed and left for church. We were alone in the kitchen putting things together. She came to tap me; “Why are you showing me attitude? Is it because of what happened in the morning? It wasn’t intentional. The baby cried for so long I thought you needed a helping hand.” I said, “But mom you should have knocked.” She said, “Yeah I should have but I thought you guys were already up. Forgive me. It won’t happen again.” I told her, “Apologize to Steve when he returns from church.” She said, “He’s gone to church. His pastor will preach to him to forgive. If he doesn’t forgive me, he’ll be blocking his own way to heaven.”

He didn’t apologize to him but I didn’t care. We were already looking for her replacement. For a whole week, I wasn’t free with her but she didn’t care. One day she saw my face and started laughing just like she used to do to Steve. She said, “I’ve been wondering since the day I walked into you guys. You mean you can sit on that thing and still feel good about it or you’re lying to him just so he’ll feel good about his disability? Which is which?” She laughed teasingly and clapped while I stood there thinking of the right emotions to show her. I swear I wanted to laugh so hard but at the same time, I wanted to hit her with something that would shut her up forever.

What came into my mouth was, “Mom, you’re going to leave our house.” She laughed and asked, “When am I supposed to go, tomorrow? Tell me I’m ready.”

One week later we brought in a girl from my husband’s family to live with us. The morning when my mom was leaving, she tapped the cheeks of my boy and said, “I’m leaving. I hope I see you again before you grow up.” She picked her bag and began walking away. I said, “Mom, you didn’t collect your money.” She kept going, got to the door and said, “Buy him a bigger ‘joystick’ if you have to. I don’t need your money.”

When she got home she never called. I thought she was angry. I called her one day and she said, “I haven’t been gone for too long but you miss me already. If you need me, I’ll come.” Knowing she wasn’t angry with us helped calm my troubling heart. She might not like my husband a lot but she was all I got. She’s one funny woman but she’ll never hurt anyone no matter what. When the lady we brought started messing things around and stealing from us, my husband said, “You shouldn’t have sent your mother way. She did a great job around here.”

We miss her a lot but nothing will make me bring her back to live with us. She’s trouble—trouble I’d vowed to live without.

—Ogray

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