The Joys of Motherhood
by Buchi Emecheta
Nnu Ego Timeline and Summary
- Nnu Ego marries Amatokwu. At first, they're very happy and in love, but as months pass and Nnu Ego fails to conceive, their marriage goes downhill.
- Nnu Ego secretly nurses Amatokwu's second wife's baby, until Amatokwu catches her and beats her severely. Nnu Ego returns home to her father's compound.
- Nnu Ego travels to Lagos to join Nnaife, who has paid the bride price to be her second husband. She immediately gets pregnant but her first child dies when he is only a couple of months old.
- Nnu Ego tries to commit suicide, but Nwakusor (an Ibo man from Ibuza) talks her down.
- Nnu Ego struggles to keep her children fed and clothed after Nnaife leaves for a job on a ship.
- Nnu Ego is jealous and angry when the Nnaife's older brother dies and Nnaife inherits his wives. The brother's youngest wife, Adaku, moves in and Nnu Ego struggles to maintain a civil relationship with her.
- Nnu Ego and Adaku go on strike and refuse to cook Nnaife's food. He gives them insufficient funds for food, they say. But Nnaife refuses to give them more money.
- When Nnaife is conscripted into the military, Nnu Ego goes home to attend her father's funeral. She stays for a long time. When she finally returns to Lagos, she sees that she stayed away too long. Her own small trading business has stiff competition, and Adaku has become a wealthy woman.
- One of Adaku's relatives comes by, and Nnu Ego is so jealous of her apparent wealth that she is rude to her. Adaku reports Nnu Ego's misbehavior to the family, and Nnu Ego is chided.
- Nnu Ego continues to struggle financially even after Nnaife returns. With Nnaife's military money, they are able to pay for Oshia to go to a prestigious college.
- Nnu Ego and Adaku assume that Nnaife will help with the fees for the younger children's schooling. But when he fails to fulfill his duty, Nnu Ego counsels her son Adim to do the best he can in becoming educated.
- Nnu Ego defends Nnaife in court, but inadvertently shows the court that Nnaife is an alcoholic who has rarely helped his wife provide for the children.
- With her twin daughters safely married, her husband imprisoned, Nnu Ego decides to go home to Ibuza to live her final days.
- She dies there, and is given the second most expensive funeral that Ibuza has never seen. (The first most expensive was her father's.)
- Her children build a shrine for her so that descendents can pray and ask her to help them conceive, but Nnu Ego fails to answer all their prayers.