You see, there is this conversation that we all have with ourselves, within ourselves and most times I just listen to mine. So, here’s an introduction to the Isio that is; beneath the surface.
There’s my mind: sharp, witty, caustic, 100% Realist. No nonsense. A ferocious reader; likes to acquire knowledge, highly opinionated.
And there’s my soul: soft, kind, maternal, nurturing, and forgiving. She is the lover, the spiritual one, the deep thinker, very empathic.
And there’s my body: which is where I come in, this vessel, experiencing life. The voice of the mind and soul. Likes beautiful things. Does not like driving, does not like traffic, absolutely detests saliva, sweat and yucky bodily fluids, loves laughing, exotic food and pretty much is concerned with the more mundane things of life. She is the everlasting referee between the caustic mind and the sensitive soul.
This is Isio.
Isio Knows Better is an attempt to capture the shocking and highly entertaining conversation within myself. Now I must say that these conversations happen in various languages, in any situation and underneath a poker face and a hidden smile.
I walk into my apartment and three things happen simultaneously as I slip my feet out of my stilettoes and into my comfy “house slippers”. My mind mulled and wondered vaguely for the umpteenth time what Freud would have to say about the things I “chose” to put in my apartment – white walls, low ambience light and clean crisp lines in my furniture. My mind of course thinks I’m something that I KNOW I will not like to hear, (the little tyrant), and she is waiting for some Freudian psycho-babble to justify her opinion- (Like I care what Freud thinks -no offence Freud). It’s my house, and no, I am NOT painting my walls orange, you little witch!
My soul is calm, content. She runs a message through my consciousness about the sharp edges in the modern-minimalistic furniture in this house with the white walls that I love so much. She shows me how “hazardous” this will be to a child. One second… and she manages to sell me on the merits of child-proofing, by showing me vividly the many horrific ways my enemy’s child (definitely NOT my child) could:
1. Bang their head against my coffee table.
2. Slip on my tiled floors and split their lip on my lacquered finished white TV stand and/or vomit on my white walls.
“I’m hungry!” my body tells me through hunger pangs, so I headed straight to my fridge. I reheated the moin-moin and turned on the TV. Many episodes of Suits and a few hours later I am fast asleep.
I wake up, handle a few business calls and emails then head to my parents’ house. Our housekeeper was home. She had left her son in the living room while she did the laundry outside. He was sleeping soundly. He was such a tiny beauty. I smiled at his curled little fist and chubby feet. I go to my sister’s room – convinced some of my clothes are tucked between her mountain of clothes. I am determined to find them. One of the blessing of having two sisters and a gazillion cousins is that you MUST perform “census” on yours and their clothes unexpectedly, you just might find something beautiful you never even knew was missing in the first place…
“Waaaaaah! Waaaaah! Waaaaaah!”
Waaaaaaaaaah! Waaaaaah! Waaaah! Waaaah!
Shuo, wetin be dat? No be pikin dey cry so?
Just my luck. Mother is out, and my sisters are at work. I rush to the living room. Baby Ayo is up. He is wailing and flailing. His little toothless mouth is quivering. He is a fiesty cryer, this one.
I pick him up… I bounce him gently in my arms and do the whole cooing and baby babble I have seen adults do. He likes my language and begins to calm down. I find that this comes quite naturally. I am pleased. Aha! I do have the Maternal Instinct afterall!
Baby Ayo is staring at me with round eyes. I squint at him and try to wonder what he is thinking about. Probably …
“Who is this one carrying me like wood so? See her head, amateur! Is that how to coo to a baby? Premium baby like me. Pstchewwwwwwwwww. I will just do you strong tin na. In fact, I will just vomit on your white shirt. Yeah… that top left hand corner, it looks like a great spot for regurgitated breast milk…“
“IYA AYOOOOOOOOO!” I scream with the full force of my lungs.
“Ewa gb’omo yin ooooo!” (Come and carry your child!)I wail even louder. I could hear Iya Ayo stumbling over buckets to rush to where we were. I hand him over to her gingerly. I realize that vomiting is something that babies do, and that my horror of body fluids WILL have to give way to this when my baby comes.
My mind tells me that our son will be a masterpiece. He will be so intelligent that he would do the honorable thing and angle his neck away from me and vomit on his father. Something about appreciating the glorious pains of childbirth I had to bear for his sake.
Mischievously I share this thought on my BBM, and tons of messages started pouring in. The men thought it was funny; and the women (especially new mothers) sent me alarmingly descriptive ways I shall have to do things to ensure my baby’s comfort. One said, and I quote:
“Hahahhaaaa, Isio, you never start. You go see wehnn! Wait, till your pikin nose block with cattarh and e no fit breathe. Na only you go use your mouth suck the thing commot.“
Ahhhh, Jesus! I shiver and shudder. I am close to dumping my phone in horror. What is that?
Another one said:
“Lmaooo! Isio-Isio. Wait naaaaaa, na only vomit you dey talk? looool! You never see where you go take cotton wool abi na cotton bud sef, chukk am inside Robb come chukk am inside the pikin yansh make e for fit shit. And that shit dey smell eh! Hmmmn, my sister, e no easy, but you must do am. Na you be mama na!“
GREAT GOD HAVE MERCY! My mother did not warn me about these things o. I reply that my son will be too sophisticated to shit smelly shit, and that it would smell like roses and she will beg me for the air freshner that I use to “scent” my house when she comes visiting. I shall tell her smugly that it was simply my baby’s poop. His father and I would be so proud of our “masterpiece”.
I wait at home patiently for my mother. I had questions. We had dinner together- a delicious Urhobo meal of starch and owo soup with plenty plenty mede-mede-fish-tins inside (just the way I like it). I made sure she was well fed and sated before I bombarded her with questions. I asked her if parents MUST suck catarrh from babies noses, if we MUST induce poo-poo with Robb and cotton wool (this sounds so wrong). Did she do it? (She said no). She agreed on the baby proofing thing. Especially when they become toddlers.
I ask again about the catarrh-cold thing. There MUST be another way, as me I no sure say oyinbo dey use mouth clean pikin nose o! . She said she never did that with any of her 6 kids. That my friends’ responses could simply be a cultural alternative that had been passed down from generation to generation. It wasn’t set in stone, but some do it because that is what they learnt. That the maternal instinct is such a powerful thing. You do what you must for your child. It is what it is.
As I lay down in bed to sleep that night, I mull over the events of the last 24 hours. Most people argue that the maternal Instinct is wired into every woman’s DNA. That we are genetically pre-disposed to responding to a child’s cry. Some argue that this is not the case. That some do not want kids, even if they are biologically capable of birthing them. I am reminded of the stories I have heard of women who throw away their kids or abandon them.
I am reminded of one of such cases that I had seen as a Unilag student, of another student who tried to flush an “induced foetus” down the toilet. The image of the little one stuck there upside down with his perfectly formed toes in the air is an image I wish I could wipe from my memory. I wondered what “Freud” would have to say about that. I ask my smart-mouthed mind what Freud would have to say about this.
She ignores me.
I ignore her back.
I am close to dreamland. It had been a good day. I am happy, though the memory of the “induced foetus” saddened me. I say a prayer for his soul. Generally, I am content, as I look forward to my future. I pray to God that my mother is around when I become a mother. Her experience and wisdom is a gift that I do not take for granted. At all.
Isio Wanogho is a top-model, TV Personality and entrepreneur. She is conversant in five languages and has 12 years of experience in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Isio, popularly known by her brand name Isio De-laVega, captivates audiences with her signature wide smile and relatable, quirky personality which endears her to many. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @isiodelavega