The sky blue so vibrant did not mirror Tooni’s feeling of dread as she meandered the drive into her Mother’s residence. There was no admiration for the beautiful cut flowers that surrounded the house or the magnificent trees that walled both sides of the drive. She had designed the house while her mother with her green thumb had done wonders to the driveway and the gardens. In an area mainly covered with cement and concrete, theirs stood out with every kind of trees, shrubs, flowers in different shades of colours that heralded a beauty so pure calling the inner you to a feeling of peace and calm the world no longer experienced freely.
Coming home was one of Tooni’s favourite things to do, but recently she was getting weighed down by her mother’s constant barging on her single state.
She has the words from their last conversation in her head for days till she thought she was going crazy. Suddenly it felt the whole world around her was conspiring to push her over the edge to the marriage cliff with little or no regard how she got there. It seemed she could marry a dog for all they care. Just bring a Mr something to change your status and complete who you are.
“Tooni, you are not growing any younger. At your age I was married and had Gbile your brother was 15, Bukky 14, Taiye and Kehinde were already 12, Bola was 11, and you were 7.”
“Mami, your time was different from ours o!” Tooni emphasised. “Did you not tell me your parents were the ones that arranged your marriage with Baami?”
“Not really, your father was a family friend, he proposed, I liked him, and my parents were happy for us to get married.
“If you want me to arrange one for you. I can.”
“Ah, mami koto be,” Tooni was quick to reply in their local language meaning, “It has not come to that. My time will come,” she went on to reassure her mother.
“My time will come, is what you have been telling me for over ten years. Do you want me to go to the grave without cuddling my grandchildren?”
“Mami you have almost twenty-one grandchildren with Bola’s fourth child on the way,” Tooni argued.
“It’s your grandchildren I want. Grandchildren can never be enough.”
Mami folded her hands across her bosom and pushed her chin forward challenging her youngest daughter.
Mami, as her children fondly called her, was the matriarch of the Adesida family. She lost her husband in her early forties and was left to take care of the children alone. A teacher then at the government local primary school in the nineties, there was not much income the profession could bring, but she traded alongside to ensure her children got the best education.
There were nights of endless tears and hunger, but she encouraged her children to be the best they could be, strive to ace their studies and dream big. The season would pass quickly. And true to her words, looking back, the years passed quickly, although it did not seem so while going through the hardship.
Toni had barely gotten to the driveway when her mum ran out of the house retying her wrapper that was threatening to fall. Dressed in navy blue leaf pattened Ankara Buba and Iro attire. She looked warm and elegant. Tooni smiled as she watched the excitement on her mother’s face forgetting every apprehension she felt as she drove into the gates.
Mrs Adesida always welcomed her children home with this same warmth and excitement. She never failed to make homecoming a big affair for her children. Whenever they arrived back from school in their younger days, her welcome always put to shame the welcome ceremony for the visit of Queen of England to Nigeria in 1956.
Mami treated her children and everyone around her with love, dignity and value. She has always been an epitome of kindness and hospitality. She was rarely seen to be offended, and you could not stay angry at her for too long.
Tooni, felt the lift in her spirit as she got out of the car and fell into her mother’s warm embrace. All worries of Mami’s nagging vanished into thin air.
“My beautiful mum. The best mum in the whole world” she eulogised.
Mami, are you growing younger? You are looking more beautiful from the last time I saw you.”
She slapped her daughter gently on the shoulder, “Tooni, you had better start talking with all your patronising, there seems to be something you want from me,” Mami joked with a twinkle in her eyes.
Should it had been possible, you would have seen her blushing through her dark skin.
Mami was a beauty queen in her younger days, not the ones ran by the National beauty pageants but the one acclaimed by her village. There had been many requests for her hand in marriage from the eligible young men at that time. However, she settled for, a friend to her cousin she met at one of the village festivals during his visit for the holidays from the university much to the chagrin of the young men in the village.
The years had not been kind to Mami with the death of her husband and the curve balls thrown her way, but she had aged with grace and beauty.
“No, Mami, I don’t need anything. It is a fact you are beautiful, inside out.”
“Let’s go inside, I have prepared pounded yam with egusi soup, stockfish and bushmeat for you.”
“Mami, my size six figure is on the verge of extinction with all that food,” Tooni protested.
“Who? You? Tooni, should you eat a whale you would remain the size you are,” Mami refuted affectionately at her youngest daughter.
Tooni might not be married the way she wanted, but the girl was a bundle of accomplishment, beauty, grace and humility.
Mami wiped the tears threatening to fall. Losing her husband almost killed her but looking at the five children they had, she knew she had to be alive and healthy for them. The children had been her motivation to move on in the face of adversity, poverty and lack.
Her labour paid off as they were all doing well in their respective fields and home. Mami could not be happier with their achievement. God had wiped away her misery.
Mami resolved not to engage in any husband talk this visit. She would enjoy their time together. Tooni’s patronising was surely working. She chuckled to herself as she linked her hands in her daughters and they walked into her home.