Mimi’s mother in-law – Mrs. Adam, had just returned from the UK and Mimi was as nervous as a terrorist in a CIA office. They had met only twice; once before the wedding and once at the wedding. Her mother in-law smiled at the right time, said the right things but she knew she wasn’t the woman’s friend at all. When her husband mentioned him picking his mother from the airport, she’d jumped on the opportunity. He’d been skeptical but she explained that it would be a good time for them to bond.
She wished he didn’t agree with her.
Mimi picked up the big box and put it in the trunk of the car. She smiled and entered the car.
“How was your trip ma?”
“It was fine.” Mrs. Adam said.
She’d asked that question almost four times and she had gotten the exact same three word answer. Maybe it was time she asked something else. She turned into the road and headed out of the airport.
“Dele wanted to pick you himself but I offered to do it.” Mimi said. She needed to prove she was a good girl who offered to pick her mother in-law when several other girls would have declined.
“Okay.” Mrs. Adam said.
Mimi had hoped for a little more than that. The woman did not even smile or look in her direction.
“Are you hungry? We could stop and get something light for you to eat.”
“Don’t you have food at home?” Mrs. Adam asked.
“Yes ma, we do. I just thought maybe we could stop at KFC or something.”
“I don’t eat fast food.”
Oh, the hypocrisy. She doesn’t eat fast food but she loves cake? Dele had already told her his mother was a chocolate cake addict and there was one waiting for her at home. It was her last card. If the road trip was a disaster, and it was shaping up to be one already, at least she had that.
“So, how long are you staying for?” Mimi asked.
Mrs. Adam looked at her with a look of disgusted surprise. “I just got here and you are already itching for me to leave?”
Oh no! “No ma, that’s not what I meant at all.” Mimi said. Maybe it was time to keep shut.
“I have to ask, what is that all about?” Mrs. Adam asked.
“You don’t want me to see my son, you don’t want me to talk to him, what is that?”
Well, everything had escalated now. Why was she even saying this? It wasn’t true at all.
“Ma, why do you think I won’t want you to see or talk to your son?”
Mrs. Adam stared straight ahead, her face blank and emotionless. Mimi knew she was in trouble now. Her mother in-law was staying with them for as long as she was staying, how were they going to cope? And this whole thing was her fault. Mrs. Adam had already said she wanted to stay in a hotel during her stay but she was trying to be good daughter in-law Mimi and she insisted she stayed with them. How stupid could a person be?
They drove in silence for about twenty minutes. Mimi thought about all the ways she could bring up a conversation but she also thought of all the ways those conversation could go wrong. Anything she said could literally be used against her.
The radio, she could turn that on. Maybe some music would break the palpable tension in the car. She turned on the radio and soft music filtered through the speakers. Finally, some calm.
The music gave way to the voice of the presenter.
“We have a message here from Adeola.” The radio presenter said. “What do you do when your mother in-law is always in your business to the point when you almost feel like killing her?”
Mimi pushed the power button quickly and the radio went off. She glanced at Mrs. Adam and she was staring at her.
“Did you send that message?” Mrs. Adam asked.
“What?” Mimi could not believe this. “No, I didn’t. That was just an unfortunate coincidence.”
Mrs. Adam shook her head and stared straight ahead again. Mimi could not take it anymore. She was a good person and she had tried her best to be a good daughter in-law to this woman.
“Ma, I think we need to talk.” Mimi said. “We are going to be spending a long time together. I am your son’s wife, you are my husband’s mother. I am not going anywhere and I hope you aren’t too.”
The woman just looked at her; face blank, not blinking.
“I have tried to be good to you so why did you say I was trying to stop your son from seeing you or talking to you?”
For a few seconds Mrs. Adam just stared at Mimi. Mimi sighed and concentrated on her driving, this was a lost cause.
“Whenever I call Dele,” Mrs. Adam said and Mimi turned to look at her. “You always pick the phone, all the time.”
Mimi smiled. “That’s it?”
“That is not enough? Now I come into the country expecting to see my son, guess who I see instead.”
Mimi laughed. “I can’t believe this.”
“Are you laughing at me?”
“No, no I’m not.” Mimi said. “Every time I answer Dele’s call, I’m just trying to talk to you. In my head, I thought I was being nice, reaching out.”
“Oh.” Mrs. Adam said.
“Now I know that was stupid. And today, I was trying to be great. I thought picking you from the airport would make you like me more. Apparently, that was stupid too.”
They drove in silence again for a couple of minutes. Mimi could not believe everything she’d done to get closer to her mother in-law were the things driving a wedge between them.
“It wasn’t stupid.” Mrs. Adam said.
“What you did today, wasn’t stupid. Now that I understand, I think I like you more.” She said and smiled.
Mimi bared her teeth in a huge smile. “That’s all I ever wanted.”
“So you are not going to kill me?” Mrs. Adam asked.
“I promise not to even try.”
Thirty minutes later and they were at home. Mimi narrated what had happened in the car to Dele, he just laughed and laughed. He could not understand what burden had been lifted up her shoulders.
“Where is she now anyway?” Dele asked.
Mimi smiled. “In the guest room, with a plate of chocolate cake.”
“Well, even if your car ride didn’t do it, that chocolate cake will do it.”
Suddenly, they heard a groan come from the guest room. They ran to the room and hurried in.
Mrs. Adam was sitting on the bed, her face swollen.
“Oh my God.” Mimi said. “What happened?”
Dele helped his mother into a sitting position.
“What is in that cake?” Mrs. Adam mumbled through swollen lips.
“Nothing,” Mimi said. “I made it myself.”
Dele pulled Mimi aside.
“Are there nuts in that cake?”
Mimi nodded. “Of course.”
“She’s allergic to nuts.” Dele rushed back to Mrs. Adam. “We need to go to the hospital.”
Mimi stood by as Dele helped Mrs. Adam to her feet. Mrs. Adam looked at her, and in spite of the swollen face, her emotion was very clear.