Kofi and I sit on the bed, watching Hawa bathe the baby. She sits on a stool in the corner of her room, legs stretched out straight, feet resting on another stool. Baily is laying across her legs, screaming as his mother gives him a sponge bath, the water falling into a head pan below. We joke and laugh, with Kofi translating in between for Hawa and me. When the baby’s bath is over and he is dressed, Hawa slides down the left strap of her dress in order to breast-feed.
“You know something, Bea?” Kofi asks me.
“What’s that?” I reply.
“Once, three women went to see a mallam (spiritual healer) because they had been unable to conceive. They ask him to perform magic to please let them have children. He agrees, but tells them it comes with a condition: he will give them a child, but they will become crazed. Two of the women run away, but the third one agrees. She returns home, and soon discovers she is pregnant. When her son is born, she was very happy, but also worried about when she will turn mad. Years pass, and nothing seems to happen. The first two women feel cheated, so they all return to the mallam to ask why the woman is not crazy. The son follows behind, but becomes distracted along the way and runs out of sight. His mother begins shouting for him, running to nearby people to ask if they have seen her son. He appears in the doorway of the mallam’s house, and the mallam calls the women inside. The first two women confront him, demanding to know why he lied to them. He explains, ‘I did not lie, the woman has become mad. Before you had your son, would you have run around the village screaming? No. Love makes you do crazy things.
“So you see, Bea, motherhood makes you crazy. Before, my wife would have never shown her breasts to people. Now that the baby is here, she will just remove it anywhere, in front of anyone, just to feed the baby. She would do anything for him.”