Thirty-one years old, five foot five with a bright smile, short tight twist, brown taut skin wedded to an always cheerful personality.
Lawyer, Howard University trained, Black experience, odd it’s not an African American experience, Nigerian, not traditional; well I’d like to think I am not traditional; doing it.
I told my ex I was doing it since I felt he wasn’t.
Yet, he may not have been really my ex per se since he never invited me to his apartment. I thought he must have lived in a hovel. He had no passion for me anyway.
Today is a brand new day, and I‘m dating a few great guys. All are within my caliber. Andrew is the backup, he’s from Atlanta, we have so much in common, he’s an artist, but at least he has a degree. He is a bit short, but I can look over that. And Marcus is quite interesting, he’s from England. I love his accent. He works as a banker. He has so much potential. I hope we work out.
Yet, today I will avoid bringing them up with my mother, Iya. She’s your typical Nigerian- Yoruba mother. Always concerned about her daughters ovaries and when they will be used and who will be using them. Our conversations have become more combative about this issue since I graduated Law school. She’s amplified the pressure for me to settle down.
Indeed, she thought it was a bad idea for me to attend Law school. She said “Why do you need another degree? No man is attracted to degrees”.
I scoffed at her of course. She was a Nurse, educated, or I thought. What was her obsession with molding her daughter to be a prize for a man? A man who would deem her worthy only to have his offspring, clean his house, and have occasional rushed sex with?
My life was worth more than being a prostitute by another name.
Suddenly, my thoughts started jumping around in different directions: clean the apartment; make sure they’re no condoms in the trash; Marcus was here the other night; don’t cook Jollof rice, Iya criticizes that it’s too mushy; I’ll tell her the stove is broken and order pizza.
There goes the building phone. I will tell the doorman to let her up. I really wish management would stop firing them.
“Hi Mama”, I said with a broad genuine smile.
“How are you Adeola?” My mother warmly replied.
“I’m fine, come and sit. You must be tired. How was your trip from Lagos?” I asked.
My mother looked around the house, began to take off her coat and strongly inhaled the surroundings.
“It was fine. I had a good book and slept for about five of the nine hours.”
As she finally stopped inspecting the apartment, a large alcove studio with high ceilings, a brand new grey and white marble bath, open kitchen, and a sun drenched view of a housing project. She took of her shoes, placed them on the doormat, gave me her coat, headed to the bathroom, and soon thereafter reappeared.
“Mother” I started to say in the child-like voice I grew to hate but my mother loved. “Can we go out for some coffee?”
“Coffee? I don’t drink coffee. I was looking forward to a home cooked meal. Have you not been practicing Adeola? You know you must practice. How will you keep a man if you can’t cook?” She said scoldingly.
I slightly pouted and retorted, “I will keep one as long as I wish to keep him”
My mother looked at me incredulously and rolled her eyes. She thought my ideas about men were absurd.
“Anyway, how is Aunt Efe? Has she recovered from her stroke?” I asked.
My mother winced, “She is doing the best she can”.
“She has no one but me to support her?” No husband, no children, no one. Be mindful not to end up like her” she said ominously.
I gestured her to sit down. She placed herself into the sofa chair I usually sat in and began to talk about my brother, Simba’s new child. As she spoke in Yoruba, her eyes lit up with joy describing how the new onyx born skin baby boy was the spitting image of the men in our family.
“He will be tall” She exclaimed with widened eyes “and he is already too smart for his age” she continued.
I brought her some water and looked intensely at her expressions. It was as if she had symptoms reflecting thought disturbances. Was this the same son who stole $20,000 dollars from her in what he called an unfortunate investment? The same son who beat a woman to a pulp because he believed she had cheated on him by talking to a stranger on the street? She was happy this man would be shaping a child’s mind?
“Your brother is doing so well. He has opened up two stores to export rice from the Delta. He soon will be the next Aliko Dangote” My mother said with a broad smile.
I could hardly hide the contempt at my brothers so called businesses, and the assumption he would be the next African billionaire anytime soon was preposterous. If anything he would be hitting my mother up for a loan so as to keep the so called businesses afloat.
“Now” my mother said abruptly changing the conversation with a serious tone. “Who are you seeing? I have friend who has a wonderful son who is a nurse, don’t worry he is not a homosexual. Well, she assures me he isn’t. Anyway, he is twenty-seven and he is living in Queens. He doesn’t have any property but if I know Nola, he is very adjustable. This may be a good man for you to meet.”
I recoiled at the idea. The last man my mother had encouraged me to date was a Nigerian by the name of Kabaka. He was a lawyer who worked for the Consulate General of Nigeria. After one month of dating and going through all the particulars, he felt it necessary to quiz me about my past.
I asked him, “How many is too many?”
He retorted, “One is too many”
Our relationship sank like an overloaded ship.
I was strong willed. I had to be. I grew up with four boys, and I was the shortest person in the family. These particulars fueled my ambition to be where I am today.
“Mother, I’m quite capable of attracting men. I will find someone I like and want to settle down with”, I said with a flare of confidence.
My mother decided not to press the issue. She was very judicious by nature and would try to persuade me at a later time.
“Well” she said emphasizing the need to change the subject. “Your father will be marrying Nandi next month, so we must prepare for the wedding.
I had almost forgotten the whole purpose for her trip to NYC. It was for me and she to plan my father’s second wedding to his second wife, her co-wife. I guess I wasn’t as independent as I wanted to be.