“The Baby is Mine”: King Solomon of the pandemic -Peju Akande

Oyinkan Braithwaite, Narrative Landscape Press, 2021

 Written in the first person, The Baby is Mine reminds me of the oft repeated Bible story of King Solomon’s wisdom in 1King 3:16-28.

King Solomon once  sat in judgement about splitting a baby between two warring mothers fighting over him. But I’ll will let you go check out the story in the bible yourself.

Braithwaite’s story, though in many ways similar to this bible story is a page turner situated in modern times, in fact in pandemic times.

So what is it about a baby?

The Baby is Mine is a story of two unlikely women, Bidemi and Esohe, who’ve found themselves in a situation they didn’t bargain for. One is the wife, the other a concubine respectively; both got pregnant and had babies at about the same time for the same man. The man at the centre of all this ruckus has conveniently died, leaving the two women to either find a common ground for survival or tear each other apart.

But it doesn’t just tell us about their precarious situation, it makes it even complex because they are both forced to live together during a lockdown then add into the volatile mix the man’s nephew, Bambi, a modern King Solomon of sorts, one who changes women like undies. Caught in his shenanigans he has been kicked out of his cozy pad by his current amore.

So who is Bambi, who is Bidemi, who is Esohe and who truly owns the baby?

That’s the beauty of the story Braithwaite spins; first we meet Bambi, aka King Solomon; a sweet talker, not necessarily smart but has his ways with girls and changes them at will. Bambi is soon caught cheating by his current girlfriend and kicked out of her home. That’s perhaps where the similarity with Solomon ends; Bambi is a lay about, who needs to grow up instead of sponging off women. But the lockdown is on, he has nowhere to go except to his uncle’s home somewhere in Ikoyi. He makes it there and encounters his uncle’s wife, Bidemi and his girlfriend, Esohe grudgingly co-habiting because of the lockdown…and there’s a baby in the middle of it all.

So who’s baby is it?

That’s where the story gets interesting.

Between Bidemi and Esohe’s bitchiness on one hand and Bambi’s naiveté, on the other, the reader discovers a new Bambi as a mature man emerges, one sensible enough to understand that the safety of the living child is of more importance than the two warring lionesses on his hands.

On the flip side, the story doesn’t do much to explain how come the two women were fighting for the same baby. Yes we eventually found out one of the babies died but did the other woman “roll over her baby and he died” as in the Bible?

The reader has to check again to be sure nothing is missed as the book doesn’t build enough evidence to support the basis for the women fighting over the child. Rather it reads like a juxtaposed thought to explain a long tale.

However, The Baby is Mine is a lovely read and a page turner as the reader is anxious to know who will eventually have the baby; Bidemi or Esohe and how Bambi, would resolve the fight between the two women and if indeed the baby will survive.

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