THE SIN OF SLOTH.
The Man Who Can’t Be Moved
I’ve come to find that reality is really overrated.
Dreams are all I have left. Not the Martin Luther King type of dreams even. Those ones get you shot.
No, no. Foolish ones.
You know those types of dreams where everything happens within everything then everything gets loopy and jumbled up and then something happens to you in the dream while happening simultaneously to you in reality and forcing you awake abruptly? Yeah those ones.
In this particular one, I was balancing a humongous fried chicken thigh between the entire expanse of my forefinger and thumb while preparing to take a bite. At the same time I noticed movement behind me. Turned out the fried chicken I was holding by the thigh was also incredulously somehow behind (and now larger than) me and it was holding me; its fried mouth perilously caressing the nape of my neck – the fried chicken I was about to eat was somehow also about to eat me. Eziokwu.
I smiled. It even seemed fair to me since I knew I was dreaming. Me? Nnamdi? To do biting competition with fried chicken? Ngwanu, I say bring it on. Let’s see whose teeth will pain who more. So I took a bite. And then pain shot through my neck as the chicken bit me too and I scream-jumped awake into reality…
…to find pain still lancing through my neck. Screaming “CHIMOOO!” I instinctively reached behind me with my arms and half-felt, half-grabbed the thing that was causing me pain. I heaved with all my might and flung it from behind me into the closed wardrobe opposite my matrimonial bed.
That was when a female soprano voice harmonized my “CHIMOOO!” with “YEEEE! OLORIBURUKU HAS KILLED ME OOOOO!” as my wife’s mother crashed into the wardrobe I had apparently just launched her into. I sat up straight in the bed trying to calibrate my mind quickly and understand the madness I had just woken up into.
There, on the floor in front of the wardrobe, lay my mother-in-law. Stunned from the impact and gasping for breath as she blinked slowly and stared at the ceiling. I jumped down confusedly from the bed and rushed to assist her in getting up.
“Alhaja! Wha– how? What are you doing here, mama?” I stammered as I offered a hand at her prone figure on the floor to pull her up.
“Who is your mama?! Foolish Fool! What am I doing? What am I doing, abi? Oloriburuku is asking me what I am doii—”
Mid-speech she reached for my outstretched arm and sank her teeth into my wrist. I lifted my head to scream and that was the position we were in when my wife ran into the room from the bathroom.
Afterwards, I sat on the bed and watched as my wife tried to calm her mother down. Alhaja was having none of it. She was screaming. I didn’t say anything. Just held the back of my neck where Alhaja had bit me and watched as the drama unfolded. I was tired.
Her sentences were heavily populated with “Lazy”, “Fool”, “Imbecile” and punctuated with “Oloriburuku”, “Omo Nna”, “Nyamiri” or a myriad other demeaning, contempt-laced Yoruba adaptive words of insult. She finally pointed at the large clock hanging on top of my bedroom door.
“12:30 in the afternoon! On Monday! And you’re still in bed, Ehn? Oko jati jati? Instead looking for a job? Ehn Oloshi?”
I shook my head. Having heard the main reason for today’s episode and knowing the castigation wasn’t going to end anytime soon, I tuned her out for a bit, watching her without really listening.
See, that was not the first time that I’d woken up to find my mother-in law hurting, insulting or punishing me for one of the many offenses she kept insisting I take responsibility for.
For being lazy. (Abeg, Life is too short for wahala)
For being unemployed. (Cant she blame the government like everyone else?)
For lacking ambition. (Ambition is the mother of wahala)
For starting the wrong business. (A videogame centre in front of the house)
Then for quitting the wrong business. (Too much wahala)
For acting immature. (According to her)
For not being responsible. (Responsibility is just another word for wahala)
For being broke. (God will provide in his time)
For not taking care of her only daughter. (But I really love her and my children)
For not having a car. (My wife and I still use Alhaja’s car)
For not having a home. (We live in the BQ of my wife’s parents’ house.)
For having too many children in spite of my situation. (She threatened to cut my Penis off after our 4th child)
For liking food too much. (Doesn’t everyone?)
For my lack of communication with my own parents (My father and mother washed their hands of me the moment I insisted I was going to get married without their permission. They withheld their blessings not because I was a Christian marrying a Muslim. Not because I was Igbo and I was marrying into a Yoruba family. Not for all the normal reasons normal parents would object to their 30 year old son’s announcement of his intent to get married. They objected because they believed I was a lazy disaster waiting to happen to other people.)
Alhaja had seemed to come to a point where she would blame me for anything.
For breathing even, if she could get away with it.
I looked up at Alhaja. She was still screaming, this time at my wife. Telling her how disappointed the whole family was with her choice of life partner. Asking her why she chose to stay with me. Rebuking her timid explanations of being in love with me. It was tiring.
They went on and on their voices were beginning to sound rhythmical and weirdly soothing to me. So I tuned them out again.
Maybe I am really what Alhaja thinks of me. But I cannot help it. It’s not laziness or stupidity. Here’s what’s really wrong with me…
I was born without the ability to be bothered.
I simply don’t know how to allow myself care about anything whose outcome I cannot change or influence. So I just embrace each day exactly as I find it. I don’t put ambitious efforts into a future that is yet unwritten, which may end up giving me cause to worry. What is tomorrow if not just a sack full of unnecessary wahala? I go about each day with the understanding in my heart that when the right time comes for something to happen for me, it will happen. But however well this belief has served me or worked for me in the past, it usually seems to bring out the animosity, hatred even, in every other person I’ve met in my life.
Everyone except my wife. The only person who’s loved me for my ability to not blow an internal gasket over things I have no control over. My wife actually loves my calmness and keeps believing I will find a way out of our financial problems in my own (and God’s) time. 6 years and 4 children later and it seems even though my wife’s patience is everlasting, her mother’s had run out.
But I certainly couldn’t kill myself because someone else was dissatisfied with my existence.
I wonder sometimes if Alhaja even thinks about how I feel about all this. Did she think I would intentionally be happy about being unemployed? For God’s sake I only sleep so much because I want to shorten the hours in each day. But God forbid I tell her such. She’ll probably send me to him that same day.
For everything I’ve ever been accused of by Alhaja, I’ve always had a good rebuttal. I just couldn’t be bothered to explain myself.
One time she set up a job for me at her friend Alhaja Memunat’s office and I stopped going to the office within a month employment. If I hadn’t been the type who cannot be bothered, wouldn’t I have told her that Alhaja Memunat only gave me the job because she wanted me to service all her parts that Alhaji wasn’t servicing and hadn’t serviced in years? Like 3/4 times daily.
Or that time when I was supposed to go pick the kids up from school and I arrived at home from work at night. Only to find out my wife assumed the kids had been with me all day after school. And the kids were still in school. At night. If I could have been bothered I would have told my wife’s mother, after she poured one pot of hot egusi soup on me that night, that the reason I forgot the kids in school was because I was at the job she got for me, servicing my boss as was asked of me. But I was tired and the soup was very hot.
Or that time when I got hit by a strange car and had to be hospitalized for about 2 weeks. If I could have been bothered, would I not have told my wife AND THE POLICE that I clearly saw my wife’s mother in the driver’s seat of the vehicle that nearly ended my existence?
But I am what I am. And I know that unless a change (or a miracle) happens or I become bothered enough by this weird and abusive relationship my mother-in-law was subjecting me to in my own marriage, no one would truly be happy.
Still, even though I knew such a day must come, I couldn’t be bothered to let today be that day.
As I tuned out of my thoughts and back into the drama in my bedroom, a curious thing began to happen. The more I stared at my mother in law and my wife, the lower the volume of their conversation became. I tried to squint at them to see if that would reduce the volume of my mother in law’s heated rant even further.
IT WORKED! Now I was watching their conversation but I couldn’t hear a single thing. Then something else happened.
The fried chicken from my dream earlier appeared beside my wife’s mother, its actions and movements mirroring her speech and gesticulations.
Still surprised, I squinted harder and before my very eyes, my mother in law and the human sized chicken started merging together. Until they became one big piece of chicken. Eziokwu.
The chicken suddenly became agitated. It walked round the room and lifted the large wall clock off its hook and hefted it above its head, all the while jabbering at me without sound.
A split second before it threw the clock at my head, sound was restored in my mind and I heard my mother in law’s voice from the chicken’s mouth.
“Can you imagine? THE OLORIBURUKU HAS SLEPT OFF AGAIN!!!”
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