Between a Mother and a Wife: Home War 1
“We are at war”
This is the two part story, you can read the concluding part here
“We are at war.” That was Adétutù’s first statement of the day.
Adétutù is one of the children in our compound and Augusta’s best friend. She had come with Augusta about two months ago to ask if I would volunteer to teach them Literature every Saturday. They said their teacher rarely comes to class and their WASSCE was just around the corner.
That day, Augusta did all the talking and Adétutù gave the nudging. They made a reasonable argument and explained that their fate depended on me. And so began our new teacher-students relationship.
Now, I have a total of 6 non-paying students of literature and Adétutù is the quietest of them all. She rarely speaks but she always pays attention. But today, she seems so far-away, lost somewhere in a world of her own. It was obvious all was not well, and I wanted to know.
So after the lesson, I told her that she needed to stay a little longer to finish some work for me, while I dismissed others.
As she sat quietly answering the questions I had given her, I asked her if she had any question to ask me, and she said no. So, I told her she could ask or tell me anything, that I am her friend and I will listen whenever she wants to talk.
She nodded slowly, yet remained quiet. And just when I thought she would not speak of whatever it was that worries her, she said “We are at war”.
After a short pause, she continued.
“Aunty, you know the literature text you asked us to read? I have not been able to complete it. There is so much noise in our house. It’s just like the noise they described in that book; the noise the narrator hears from the battleground during the war. But, this war is in my house, so the noise is always near”.
Her words were deep; it was as if she speaks in parables. I didn’t understand her, so I kept quiet, hoping she would explain or just walk away.
But she chose to continue, and thankfully with words that I could understand.
“Grandma and my Mummy always fight. They don’t like each other, and I don’t know why. I’ve asked Mummy, she said Grandma never liked her, that Grandma didn’t want my Daddy to marry her. I also asked Grandma, and she said Mummy wants to take Daddy from her.”
She sighed loudly and then continued
“You know, Mummy and Daddy taught me to be nice to people, even if they are not nice to me. They said that if I’m kind, those people will have no choice than to be kind too. That they will learn from my kindness. But when I begged my Mummy to be nice to Grandma, so Grandma can be nice to her, she said it’s complicated. That night, they fought again.”
“Does your Father know?” I asked.
“Daddy knows,” she simply said.
“But, he doesn’t know what to do. The day I asked him if he would help stop the fight, he told me not to worry, that he would handle it. He wants Mummy and Grandma to be friends, you know? And he acts like he knows how to do that, but he doesn’t. I heard him speak to my Mummy once; he told her to be nice to Grandma and he promised her he would talk to Grandma too. And then when he spoke to Grandma, he told her the same thing”
She looked at me and smiled sadly.
“I don’t like my house anymore, Aunty. It’s different now that Grandma has come to live with us. I wish she would leave and go back to her house”