When I met Kofi, he was living with the parents. He was working and could afford to rent a place of his own and be his own man but according to him, his parents, especially his mother kicked against his moving out of the house.
They wanted him close, he told me.
I was also living with my parents. I was only waiting to get married and move out to live with my husband.
When things started looking like we were eventually going to get married, I suggested we got our own place but Kofi insisted we focused on the marriage and think about a place later.
We got married and for several months, both of us were living separately in our parents home. That didn’t sit well with me. My parents also started complaining. Kofi wasn’t in a rush to get us a place of our own so I took the lead. I told him, “If you are not ready to leave your parents’ house, that’s OK. I’m getting a new place and I’ll move there. Whenever you’re ready, come live with me.”
A month or two later, I found myself a decent accommodation— a two bedroom self-contained, and I moved in. He was coming around every now and then. I wasn’t perturbed. I wasn’t complaining because I knew he would eventually settle with me.
He finally decided to move in but on condition that his mom comes to live with us for a while. “For a while?” I asked. He answered, “Only for a while.”
He came in with his mother and that was when my problems started. I’m the wife but the mother wanted to do everything for her son. She would wake up early in the morning, knock on our door and ask her son what he would eat.
By the time we returned from work, my mother-in-law had already cooked and served. She would then go to our bedroom, sweep there and lay our bed.
On weekends, she would manually do Kofi’s laundry though we had a washing machine. She would then try to do the ironing for him too.
At first, I thought that was her way of teaching me how to take care of her son so I had no qualms with it until she overstayed her welcome. She was barely talking to me and mostly declined when I went over to help her do the chores.
I started complaining about her stay with us but Kofi barely did anything about it. She had lived with us for close to a year and there was still no sign of her leaving.
Then one dawn, at around 2am we heard a knock on our door. The knock was incessant. We both woke up looking puzzled. “Is that your mom?” Just before he could answer, the knock came again.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“Is anything the matter?”
“Your windows are opened too wide and the fan is too high. You might wake up with cold. Lower the fan and close the windows a little bit.”
I was stunned! Even when we were asleep, this woman stayed awake to check all these?
I couldn’t sleep again. I thought enough was enough. I told my husband, “Your mom has to leave us alone. She has a husband and you’re mine. She should leave us to make our own mistakes and learn. You need to send her away as soon as possible.”
Kofi was quiet. He said nothing. Just some minutes later I heard him snoring away. I stayed up all night not knowing what to do.
The next morning I took matters into my own hands. I knew Kofi wasn’t going to do it so I had to do it on my own.
I asked my In-law; “Kofi tells me you’ll be leaving by the end of the weekend. Kindly let me know when you’re ready. I have something for you.” She responded, “End of the weekend? Nooo, I’m not leaving anytime soon.”
“You have to leave us,” I said. “I’ve learned a lot from you since you’ve been here. I think we’ll need to be alone to practice what you’ve taught us. You can come around as and when but we need to be alone.”
Then she snapped! “Are you trying to sack me because you’re the one who rented the place? Are you the one who takes care of me? Am I eating your food? You don’t even know how to take care of a home, you should be thankful I’m helping out.”
I didn’t say a word. I was expecting Kofi to take it up from there but he didn’t. He only sat there scratching his head as if he was conjuring some answers. Then the mother continued, “If I leave here, I’m leaving with my son so you take your miserable house.”
I still didn’t say a word. I got ready and left for work. All day I couldn’t work. I was so angry I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I called Kofi in the afternoon to tell him I wasn’t coming home after work if the mother was still there. He said, “Don’t worry, you won’t come and meet us in your house.”
And truly when I got home, they’ve packed out. I was happy for one thing, that at long last I was going to live free without a mother-in-law breathing down my neck. But I was sad about my marriage. It was only just about two years ago that I married a man—so I thought. Not knowing he was just a boy.
I cooked my favorite food, had some drink and slept. I was expecting to wake up to missed calls from Kofi but not a single call was found.
I called and asked him; “Now, what happens to us? We are supposed to stay married, remember?” He answered, “She’s my mom and I have to support her…” “Support her how? Isn’t your dad around to do that?” I questioned.
He blamed me for not understanding him. He blamed me for hating on his mom. He blamed me for her mom’s hypertension. He blamed me for everything then he said, “I don’t know what to do now but I’ll think of something and tell you later.”
It’s been six months since he said that but nothing had happened. He still lives with his parents and I live here all alone but very soon things will change.
I’ll call for a divorce so his mom can keep him for good. I can’t watch as the years of my life waste away just for him to be at the beck and call of his mom.
-Patricia, Kumasi, Ghana