Nothing beats the mid-week whisky as you wait for traffic to die off. Last Wednesday, you had one at your local and around 9pm you walked home, hoping to find the folks asleep, so that you can sneak into the kitchen, eat and sleep.
Only to get home to find your mother-in-law awake watching prime-time news. Something about the 2022 elections. Soon, as you entered, she rose and told you to wash your hands so that you could hold your son.
When you washed and came back, she was rather inquisitive such that when you approached her, the cheap whisky you had indulged in was smelling from here to Timbuktu. You saw disapproval on her face.
“Mwathani! My son, you drink?”
You drew a blank.
“Alcohol has ruined so many homes. Jehova!!!”
She started to get preachy, but you gave her that look that reminded her of an uncle who used to discipline her when she was young. She realised she was way out of order to lecture you on alcohol drinking and gave you your son, as she resigned.
How do mothers-in-law get too familiar?
You sensed she was nearly crying.
“I don’t drink as such, we had this party at the office and I was with the boss…”
“You don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t drink because you had a party. It is a personal choice…”
There is a way she makes you feel like a sinner. Like you are worse than all politicians who steal from the public. Like a murderer. Like all people on death row.
Caroline, recently arrived from the bathroom, comes and realised the knife-cutting tension, so palpable the heatwaves are rising and she takes the baby to change diapers and she calls for prayers so that people can go sleep.
The mother prays. It is a long prayer. And you are the subject of the prayer, although she makes it so circuitous without mentioning you. When done, embarrassed and humiliated, you walk slowly to the bedroom and the whisky has gotten the better of you, and you slump in bed.
After a long time, when you have slept through the drunken stupor, and dreamt your mother-in-law hovering your head as a dragon, Carol comes to bed, almost sobbing.
“How could you?”
You hear her ask from your slumber.
“Won’t somebody get some sleep in this house?” You thunder with intentions to scare her into leaving you alone. But she calls your bluff by taking the duvet away.
“You know my mum hates alcohol. She is only here for a week and you go drinking, you have annoyed me so much,” Carol says, nearly sobbing.
“Carol, we are adults, we should be left to spend our lives however we want. No need to prete…”
She cuts you in.
“Respect. Some respect. You always tell me how to dress around your parents… I obey, why can’t you just respect my wish, for the short time,” she throws her hands in desperation.
The following morning, the mother-in-law leaves without as much as by-your-leave.