—To my daughter in-law, Zaynab, whose flowers has refused to glow.
If only I had known that my son would marry a woman from another tribe, I wouldn’t have allowed him step his foot out of the village just to acquire western education. And for this reason I curse the day I let him go, the day he met you, got you pregnant and made you his wife. Hatred was the only thing left in me when Dehinde, the apple in my eyes, had insisted that it was only you befitting in his eyes to marry; what more can a mother do? Watch her son marry the woman he claims to love. It’s almost ten years now, and ‘m still waiting for my grandchild, waiting for that legitimate grandchild of mine, a warrior, lion, and prince of my life. Whenever I see Seye, the woman I had always wanted Dehinde to marry many years ago, chasing each of her five little handsome boys to her husband farm, “this would have been Dehindes five sons” I would say to myself wishing time could go back and I could fix things.
You may be wondering why I am ranting; it’s just to remind you that you have never been a part of this family. Dehindes older cousin has five sons, and two daughters; Dehindes younger sister has three kids, a set of male twins and a girl. What do you have? Six girls! Six weaklings that can never be equal to one male child. What a waste of my son’s time! My Everyone in the family is blessed with male children, but in your own case, you are barren! And a barren woman has no place in my son’s home. When I heard you had given birth again for the sixth time, deep down I hoped you had bore a son, and it still wasn’t a surprise that a female child had the nerves to struggle through that hole of yours, the one you had accused me of causing to bleed during my last visit when you had your fifth child, a useless baby daughter. Remember the last time you came to the village, having told you to look down in the bowl of water; you were shocked to see the reflection of your children you had kept in your neighbour’s house at the city. Wherever you hide under the sky, I would always find you; whatever you say at my back would always bounce back inside my ears, so you should be aware already that I know you and your friends called me a witch. Your Mother in law is a witch! The woman that allowed her educated son to marry an outsider, the daughter of a cattle rearer…the house your husband grew up in is worth your father’s savings in a life time. Many a time when you came visiting, you pounded yam at the early hour of the mornings, yet you complained and cried to your friends after I had told you to just pound some pieces of yam ten days after the delivery of your fifth child. Isn’t ten days enough for you to recover? Rather you let yourself bleed like a menstruating child, running helter skater like a fowl looking for a place to hide her chickens. Anyway, I have told you to come to the village and take something I have always reserved for you; something that would make you have a male child other than letting my son waste his precious seed on your flower that would never yield anything good.
From your mother in-law; Abike
Mother of a thousand sons yet to come
© Adichie Babz