The Joys of Motherhood
The Joys of Motherhood Chapter 17 Summary
A Daughter's Honour
- As Nnaife gets older, he realizes that it's time for him to return to Ibuza, so he is near home when he dies. He is looking forward to the time when Oshia leaves school and takes care of him, so he can live a life of ease as he grows old.
- Oshia is offered a job at the Technical Institute, doing research in science. He's excited.
- Nnaife celebrates Oshia's success by inviting friends over for palm wine. Nwakusor tells him that he will be able to retire soon, with Oshia to take care of him. He says that Nnu Ego done him proud all these years with sons to take care of him.
- It wasn't easy living with her, Nnaife admits. Not every man could have done that. But she did give him clever children.
- Ubani points out that things are changing, and that they say Nigeria would have independence someday soon.
- Nnu Ego asks if that means they'd have a black district officer in Ibuza and black doctors and black priests. They assure her that that is what it means.
- When she wonders whether they'll do a good job, Oshia assures her with "exaggerated patience" (17.12) that they'll do a fine job.
- Nnaife says he never understood what they were doing in Burma, but one thing is for sure – palm wine stays the same.
- Ubani agrees, and tells Oshia that they will look forward to an invitation from him to celebrate his job when he starts. But Oshia never invites them because he does so well on his examinations, he wins a scholarship to go to university in America.
- When he tells his mother, she tells him not to tell Nnaife, who is growing impatient that Oshia isn't helping his family.
- In fact, Nnaife does call Oshia a few weeks later, and chides him for not taking on his responsibilities to his family. Oshia wonders what responsibilities. Nnaife grows angry and tells Oshia he should hit him. Oshia tells him that he can't do what Nnaife asks because he's going to America and he hopes that Nnaife and Nnu Ego will help him.
- Adim, standing nearby, sees that things are getting out of control and reassures his father that he will help Nnamdio (the third living son) get his education until Oshia is done with school. But Nnamdio says he just wants to be a hunter.
- Nnaife tells Oshia that he wishes he had died instead of Ngozi (the first son who died when he was a baby).
- Nnu Ego is shocked by what he's saying. Nnaife continues that Oshia is no longer his son.
- Oshia, angry, says that's just fine with him. He leaves immediately.
- When he is gone, Nnaife says that he plans to retire. He will get his small pension and go to live in Ibuza.
- Nnaife doesn't go see Oshia off to America, though Nnu Ego and others go to the airport when he leaves.
- People are surprised that Nnu Ego doesn't cry when Oshia leaves, but they think it's because she knows when Oshia returns, she will be driven around in a big car. Nnu Ego knows that will never be the case. That will never be her reward.
- Nnaife, however, wants whatever reward is coming his way now and in cash. He is terribly angry with Oshia.
- Nnu Ego demands to know why Nnaife didn't go to see Oshia off. Nnaife counters that they are her children. Why should he remember a child who has spurned him?
- Nnu Ego says that he was expecting something from them up until the last minute before he departed. Seeing how disappointed Nnaife was hurt her.
- Nnu Ego thinks to herself that she wishes she hadn't had so many children. She no longer thinks it was worth it. Another one of her children is causing trouble.
- Ibo girls in Lagos weren't supposed to get married to Yoruba men. Girls from Ibuza weren't even supposed to look at young Ibo men who were from outside Ibuza.
- The twins are beautiful young women, and are now fifteen years old.
- Taiwo had already had bride price fixed for her with a young man from Ibuza, a clerk.
- Nnaife was glad to settle Taiwo's marriage. But when he called Kehinde to ask her what she thought of a certain young man who worked at the railway, Kehinde flatly refused to marry him.
- Nnaife gently tries to coax the reason from her.
- Kehinde says that the young man grew up in Ibuza and that she doesn't like him.
- Nnaife tells her she doesn't need to like her husband, she just has to marry him. Nnaife also points out that nothing is wrong with coming from Ibuza – Kehinde comes from Ibuza.
- Kehinde doesn't know how to express it but finally she admits that she wants to marry the butcher's son (Aremu). Then she runs away.
- Nnaife is furious. Ladipo, the butcher, is a Yoruba man from a Muslim family. He decides to "have it out" (17.60) with Nnu Ego, whose children are becoming a curse to him rather than a blessing. He starts to get drunk before she comes home.
- When she comes home, he is angry. He looks at her, remembering how beautiful she had been when she first came, and how he would have done anything for her. But now he feels used. All she wanted from him were children. He curses her out loud, telling her he wishes he had never met her.
- Nnu Ego drops the food she's carrying.
- Okpo, following Nnu Ego inside, is aghast and asks what's wrong.
- But Nnaife is in no mood to offer an explanation. He simply says he might ask them and their children to leave the house.
- Nnu Ego begins to understand and gets angry herself. She's tired of being blamed for everything wrong the children do, and not getting any of the credit for the good they do. She lights into Nnaife and threatens to go back to her people.
- Okpo begs her to stop.
- Nnaife and Nnu Ego are too angry to talk about it. As they sulk in separate rooms, Kehinde makes her escape.
- Taiwo is the first to notice that she's gone, but doesn't sound the alarm until everyone is ready to go to bed. Everybody starts to search for Kehinde.
- Eventually, they tell Nnu Ego. She's surprised because her girls had never caused her any trouble. She knows she will be blamed for Kehinde's misbehavior.
- Knowing that people will gossip, Nnu Ego tells everybody to keep quiet, but suggests they look for Kehinde at neighboring Yoruba homes. They had to keep Kehinde's reputation intact for any Ibo men that might want to marry her.
- At 2am Nnu Ego finally decides to tell Nnaife. She wakes him up and tells him that Kehinde is missing. He is so angry that he exclaims, "The butcher! I'll butcher him!" He reaches for a big sword he keeps under the bed.
- Nnu Ego screams while he dashes outside and down the street.
- Adim guesses where he's going and follows after them. He runs fast to the butcher's house and warns them that somebody is coming to kill their father.
- The family wakes up. The young men sleeping on the veranda get up and make it to safety. Nnaife rushes in with his cutlass (sword).
- Adim screams at them to hold him while Nnaife yells that his daughter would be better off dead than marrying a Yoruba.
- One of the Yoruba men jumps on Nnaife from behind. Nnaife strikes out and hits the man on the shoulder with his cutlass. Adim rushes from behind, and hits Nnaife's hand with a stick until he drops the cutlass.
- Then the men come out and hold Nnaife, while the mother of the young man who had been cut starts to cry.
- One of the men asks what his son has done that Nnaife would come and abuse him this way.
- Nnaife threatens to kill him. He can't believe that a tribe that looks down on his tribe would marry one of his daughters.
- One of the men tells Nnaife that he can't prevent his daughter from marrying who she likes.
- Nnaife says that's not the way it's done in Ibuza, and the man reminds him that he's in Lagos.
- Nnaife threatens once again to kill the man if his daughter has been touched.
- Nnaife is used to things being settled by force, and is surprised when the police cart him away. He threatens them again in front of the police.
- Kehinde comes out when the police ask where the daughter is. She'd been hiding behind the group of men. Now she's crying and she begs them to let her father go, but the police can't do that. He almost killed one man and threatened to kill another in front of them.
- The police ask if she was abducted and she admits that she has not been. She states that she is going to marry Aremu, the butcher's son.
- Okpo and Nnu Ego begin to cry. Nnaife can't believe that his own daughter would betray him like this.
- As the police put Nnaife in the back of the police van, his night cloth starts to come off. Nnu Ego shouts at the police to stop, and requests that she tie her lappa around him. Nnu Ego explains that Nnaife is the father of my children, and that she wants him to have his dignity.
- She ties it tightly and tells him that "we" will always hide his nakedness.
- The police van drives away.
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