Month: October 2011

The Abortion Series: The Memory of Pain

“You didn’t lose the baby did you?”

His eyes were like lasers, tearing through the layers of deception guarding the truth that lay buried in my heart. The lie sat heavy on my tongue, I tried to spit it out but it wouldn’t budge.

“Did you have a miscarriage or an abortion? Answer me!”

The rage was sending tremors down his spine, his eyes spewing contempt like a volcano erupting.

“I had an abortion,” I whispered, “I couldn’t have the baby Chris, not when the prenatal test was positive.”

“We agreed Angel, we agreed that whatever the outcome we would have the baby. How could you kill our child?! Where is your heart, your conscience?!”

I couldn’t bear to watch the tears fall from his eyes, couldn’t deal with his pain alongside mine. Eyes clenched, I willed him to understand.

 I was 16 when my sister Jo died. A miracle child they’d called her.  For years my parents tried for a second child. The doctors couldn’t give any explanations and neither could the pastors or native doctors they consulted. They had all but given up when Jo came along, 10 years after I had. I was so excited I asked daddy if he would let me take her to school to meet my friends. I fed , bathed and sang her to sleep. I wouldn’t let anyone near her.

“Are you her bodyguard?” daddy teased.

“No daddy, bodyguards are men! I’m her guardian angel.”

That was the last time either of my parents called me Helen.

I remember how the day started. Mummy made us breakfast, fried yam and corned beef stew. Daddy wanted more, she said no.

“Honey, look at the size of your stomach! The doctor said you have to go on a diet.”

Haba, what is wrong with my stomach? It’s evidence of good living! Jo, don’t you like daddy’s tummy?”

Hopping out of her seat, Jo ran to him and wrapped her arms as far around his midriff as she could.

“I like your tummy, it’s like a pillow.”

We all laughed and I sneakily threw a few pieces of yam under the table. If daddy didn’t want to lose weight, I did.

Mummy and daddy went out after breakfast and Jo and I stayed home with Aunty Nneka, the nanny. I was in my room trying to finish reading my M&B before my parents came home and caught me.  In typical fashion, Jo burst through the door and jumped on my bed, her skinny legs knocking over the stereo on my bedside table.

“I’ve told you to stop jumping on my bed, look what you’ve done!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to fall your stereo. I just wanted to come and play with you. I’m bored and Aunty Nneka won’t let me go out to swing because it’s raining.”

She looked set to cry and I regretted yelling at her.

Swinging back my duvet I motioned for her to lie next to me.

“Should I tell you a story?”

Her eyes lit up instantly. She loved my scary ghost stories. I held her close, tucking her head under my chin.

“One night in a boarding school in Epe, two girls went to fetch water at the taps…”

I was halfway through the story when I noticed Jo hadn’t said a word since I started. Usually, she would interrupt my tales with cries of “It’s a lie!” or “me I’m not going to boarding house o!”

I looked down at her to check if she’d fallen asleep but her eyes were open…and staring at me, yellow as the sun. 

“Jo! Jo!”

She didn’t respond, not even a blink. My heart began to beat double time. I tried to remember everything daddy had taught me to do in an emergency. Staring intently at her chest I realised it wasn’t rising and falling. I screamed.

 “Jo, wake up! Aunty Nneka!”

Grabbing her left hand, I pressed two fingers against the base of her palm. I felt nothing…and remember nothing else. The doctors say it’s my brains way of dealing with the trauma.

“She died in my arms Chris. Do you have any idea what it felt like, what it feels like? I can’t have a child with Sickle Cell Chris, I can’t watch that child suffer, die, knowing I could have done something to prevent it and didn’t. Call me selfish but I can’t live in fear of my child dying. I can’t do it!”

“Listen to yourself! You can’t live in fear of your child dying and your genius solution is to kill it yourself? How could you Angel, how could you?!”

I remembered how it felt cradling Jo’s dead body in my arms and as long as I held on to that memory, no one could convince me I’d made the wrong decision. No one.

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The Abortion Series

Abortion.

When I was younger and less God conscious, my stance on this was categorical. If I ever found myself pregnant and unmarried, I would quietly pay the doctor a visit and end the matter there and then. I wouldn’t tell anyone so as not to give them the opportunity to try and convince me otherwise…or judge me. No one would know about it, not even the father of the child. Life would carry on and I might feel a little bad initially but I’d get over it.

Now that I’m older, I realise it’s not that simple…mentally, emotionally and physically.

Now that I’m more God conscious, I better understand the spiritual gravity of the action.

Fundamentally, I am anti-abortion but I understand why it’s an option for many.  There are many reasons why people choose to have abortions, some seemingly frivolous and others, arguably justifiable. Nowadays, I’d like to think that if I was ever faced with the option, it wouldn’t be an option but every now and again I stumble on a scenario that makes me question my stance.  I can only pray that if I ever have to make a choice, God helping me, I’ll do right by Him and by association, me.

I’ve been thinking about this incessantly for the last 48hours and have decided to do another series. The first story is in the pipeline and I aim to publish it tomorrow *fingers crossed.* How many stories will make up the series? Will it be a collection of shorts or a sustained piece?  You’ll find out when I do!

Stay tuned!!!

xxx

Waila

Tales From The Underground: Death By Shortbread

Hey people!

Can you sense my excitement? Yes? I’ve never been so happy to see my office in all my working life. I’ve been off work for over a week thanks to a back injury. Thanks to God, I’m back on my feet. How did I hurt my back?

Two Thursdays ago I’d just woken up and was dragging my half asleep self to the bathroom when I missed a step, tripped and went flying head first towards the bathroom door. After bashing my head, I landed quite dramatically on my backside. I passed out. When I came back round, I picked myself up and carried on with the day’s business. My back felt a little sore but it was to be expected, I’d just fallen. It wasn’t till I got on the train and couldn’t sit without cringing, I realised there was a problem. Halfway through the day I had to leave the office, sitting upright was torture. I spent the weekend doped up on painkillers.

By the Sunday of that weekend, I felt a little better and my gentleman friend and I went shopping for a bookshelf and shoe cupboard. He was halfway through the assembly when he had to leave. He warned me to wait for him but stubborn MEE decided I didn’t need a man to do my DIY. I completed the tasks to my peril. By the time I went to bed I was in agony. I was determined to go to work on the Monday though, I had a box of toasted coconut shortbread delivered in my absence and my colleagues were threatening to attack it. Against my better judgment I hopped on the train.

I was a few stops into the journey when the pain became unbearable. I wanted to scream. Mind over matter I told myself. It didn’t work. Slowly my vision became blurred and then I passed out.

“Can you hear me?!”

“Can someone pull the passenger alarm, this lady is unconscious, she’s having a seizure!”

Seizure, who is having a seizure?!  I opened my eyes to investigate and the first thing I noticed was my handbag in the laps of the woman sitting next to me. She has my bag because? I couldn’t speak though, the pain was way too intense. Hang on, why is everyone gawking at me? Snap. I’m the one supposedly having a seizure.

They pulled the alarm, the station staff came onboard and an off duty police officer in the carriage rushed to my aid. They managed to get me up but walking was agony. Every time my feet hit the ground, it was like being electrocuted. I got to the station manager’s office and immediately lay on the ground.

“Hi, my name is Samantha, I’m a police officer. Can you tell me what your name is?”

I told her. In a bid to keep me talking, she started asking a series of questions and I told her all about the initial fall and my DIY activities.

“You’re a brave girl, attempting to go to work when you’re in so much pain!”

“You don’t understand, I have a box of Dean’s toasted coconut shortbread waiting for me on my desk!”

“Sorry?”

“Have you ever tried Dean’s toasted coconut shortbread?”

“Can’t say I have.”

“Then you won’t understand.”

I spent the next fifteen minutes explaining why Dean’s toasted coconut shortbread is the best shortbread in the world; the smoky taste of the coconut shreds, the way the biscuit crumbles and melts in your mouth.

“The biscuit is really light and doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth like that nasty stuff they sell in the supermarkets. They only sell it in novelty stores in Scotland you know, I had to order them online. £5 the delivery cost me, £5! It’s worth it if you buy in bulk though. ”

The poor officer didn’t know whether to laugh or be concerned. The paramedics finally arrived and carted me off to A&E, with the officer in tow. Throughout the journey, they kept trying to make conversation to keep me talking but I wasn’t interested. I kept mumbling the same sentence over and over again.

“Those guys had better not eat my shortbread!”

Sometimes I worry about myself.

xxx

Waila

If You Must Date A Friend’s Sibling, LET THEM KNOW!

Thankfully, I’ve never had to deal with the trauma that arises when your friend and sibling decide they want to fall in love, like, lust or whatever else takes their fancy. Good friend that I am, I though it wouldn’t be fair to let my friend CrawCraw escape the experience.

CrawCraw had a brother, Bobo, that all the girls in Lagos wanted a piece of. I’d never really paid attention to her brother till I met him at a bar. I had just finished my SSCE exams and my partner in crime, Tikka Masala and I went to A-Bar (does it still exist?) in Lagos to hang out with another friend. Just as we were leaving, we spotted this light skinned cute(ish) cheeky looking chap walking into the bar. He looked familiar but I couldn’t remember where I’d met him till Tikka Masala pointed out he was CrawCraw’s brother. Good friend that I am, I wandered over to say hello.

“Hi. Are you CrawCraw’s brother?”

“Yeah, I am. Are you her friend?”

“Yes. My name’s Waila.”

“Bobo, nice to meet you.”

Before I knew it he was asking for my number. To be honest, I’m not sure I found him attractive. I was just flattered that the guy the whole of Lagos was killing themselves over was asking for my number. Neither of us had a pen and it was before the advent of mass mobile technology in Nigeria.

“Just tell me your number, I’ll remember it.”

I thought there was no way he would so I was stunned when I got a phone call from him the following day. The phone calls carried on steadily for a week and then came the visits. I didn’t breathe a word of it to CrawCraw whom I saw every other day. We were both scouting for prom dates and shoes and spent quite a bit of time together.

One day, I found myself in the area where Bobo lives and decided to pay him a visit. I knew CrawCraw was out because I’d spoken to her earlier in the day. I’d been at theirs for a couple of hours when the door opened and in walked CrawCraw. At first she was excited to see me, thinking I’d been waiting for her. I’m not sure what gave it away but I knew when the penny dropped.  The look on her face suddenly changed. I had no clue what to say to her and she was silenced by the shock. I can’t remember what happened after that but I must have left and gone home.

We carried on being friends but didn’t speak about it till a couple of years later when we were at College together. We were having a conversation about guys we liked and relationships when she suddenly exclaimed;

“You, well done o! That’s how I came home one day and found you there with my brother!”

Thankfully we had a good laugh about it and she was gracious enough to forgive my bad behaviour. Of all the questions she could have asked me, the one thing she wanted to know was whether or not her brother was a good kisser!  Talk about embarrassing! She didn’t let up till she got an answer.

I’ll say no more.

The moral of the story?  Never do ‘under-g’ with your friend’s sibling. I got away with it but I’ve know it to destroy many a friendship. If you must fall in love, do the right thing and make your friend aware of what’s going on and do what you can to get their blessing.

xxx

Waila