Nature must have erred in creating Chikwe as a woman because she had all the attributes of “nwoke kwụ amụ” or a full fledged man. It took six months of marriage for Chikwe to domesticate or mould her husband to behave as she wanted it. Busy body people would say that Chikwe tied her husband but the man didn’t care.
Immediately Obi, Chikwe’s first son, introduced Susan as his future wife, Madam Chikwe, now in her 60s, knew that it wouldn’t work. “Two captains cannot stay in one ship”, Chikwe murmured.
Madam Chikwe saw in Susan, a younger version of her. She feared that the younger woman would clip her wings and reduce her span of authority over her son and she was not ready to allow another woman to control her son while she was still alive.
Over her dead body!
But the son was hell bent on marry Susan. He knew the mom. He knew she would reject any lady other than the one she recommended. That was why he made sure that Susan was 4 months pregnant before he brought her home.
Obi was an only son who must marry early hence presenting Susan as pregnant kind of withered his mother’s opposition to their marriage. The mother needed a grandchild so badly. She would shift the territorial war till another day; probably after the precious child delivery. But, the bride had another plan.
Susan graduated on top of her class in the Psychology Department of Unilag. She could read a human being just as an Nnewi trader can detect a customer who has a purchasing power at Nkwo Edo market. She mentally diagnosed what the problem of her future mother-in-law was and was ready to fix it immediately.
She wanted to fix it immediately before her marriage to Obi. She and Obi were to spend a weekend in the family house before returning to their base in Lagos.
“Who is that?” Madam Chikwe asked even though she had seen her through the window before she approached the door.
“Mama, it’s me Susan. Can I come in Ma?” Susan asked with an innocent voice.
“Mama, I came to beg you for forgiveness”, Susan started in an innocuous way.
“I came to ask for your forgiveness in advance because I have decided not to continue a marital relationship with your son Obi. Not because I don’t love him but because I can reckon that you would have preferred that he married another woman of your own choosing. It is your right to pick a wife for your son. I warned him but he kept assuring me that you would like me. Never mind my pregnancy, I will give the baby to your family once he is weaned and move on with my life”, she ended and made to leave.
“My daughter sit down”, Madam Chikwe started, “you mean the baby is a boy?”
That was an era when the birth of a boy-child was an insurance that a family lineage would be sustained.
“It’s not that I have anything against you but I was annoyed by the way my son went about it.” Chikwe lied. The issue she had was that Susan looked independent and might not be subject to her manipulative tendencies.
“Mama, as a young girl I had prayed for a gift of a mother-in-law as young as you’re who will be my mother and a sister I never had. I was initially excited when I saw your pictures but the experience of meeting you was very discouraging. Your disdain and demeanour as you looked at me this afternoon was rattling; that’s why I decided to quit early. I’m even feeling dizzy now”. Susan ended knowing the effects her action would generate.
“Nnem lie down here”, Madam Chikwe said while guiding the acting Susan to lie on her bed.
“Dizzy kwa? Mbanụ! Chukwu ajụ!” (meaning ” God forbid!) Nothing will happen to this pregnancy.
She turned to a nurse overnight. She insisted that Susan would sleep with her that night to be “observed”. And the ice was broken and they became friends to the surprise of the men in the house though Obi knew what Susan was up to.
Given that many mothers-in-law are inscrutable and damn difficult, many daughters-in-law don’t understand the psychology of the woman who loves and can die to defend the man they now marry as husband. The mother is the first love of a son and cannot be pushed aside just like that.
A son’s marriage doesn’t in anywhere reduce his mother’s love and worries about his wellbeing. It is evident that a wife can divorce the husband but a son-mother relationship is eternal. Sonship is inseparably permanent while the Marriage is separable.
A cursory research on daughter-in-law and mother-in-law issues in Nnewi reveals that occurrences are more when the daughter-in-law is a housewife and is not economically engaged or is considered selfish or tight-fisted.
Many mothers-in-law tend to flow well with career or resourceful daughters-in-law who are very generous. The mothers-in-law, in some instances offer to do nanny work for grandchildren.
A daughter-in-law must spend on her mother-in-law. She must go a mile to ensure that the woman is comfortable. That was exactly what my wife did to make me a stranger to my mom. She bought her over.
A rancorous relationship between a wife and her husband’s mother can be altered by a smart and conscious daughter-in-law. It’s all about making the old woman feel special and assuring her that her son is in good hands.
Funnily, a lady who wouldn’t take nonsense from her mother-in-law and who believes that mothers-in-law are evil will sooner or later be crucified on the same cross she built for her mother-in-law.
Having a son is an investment and only a wicked wife would deny her husband’s mother the right to get her dividends or to reap from the fruits of her own labour. Unfortunately, the parents of a husband hardly reap the fruits of their investments before their sons get married.
By Anayo M. Nwosu