Fiction

19 Bush Street : Part 2 of 2

For eight years we pleaded with God to bless us with a child. I prayed fervently, cried diligently and fasted religiously, starving myself until my pot belly deflated, my cheeks became hollow and my collar bone threatened to break free.

“Eat my darling, please eat!” she would cry, fearing for my life. Eat? Was food going to improve the quality of my sperm?  How could I eat, knowing I was the reason we were childless? Every night we knelt to pray, I asked God to forgive me for not telling her the truth; for not telling my wife that my non-existent sperm count was the reason we were childless.

My fast was a signal to God; I needed Him to feel my desperation, needed Him to see how much I was willing to sacrifice if He would only make a real man out of me.

“It is God that gives children,” they said, but that was no encouragement to me. Had I done something wrong, something that deserved such a severe punishment? I gave to the poor, fed the hungry and looked after widows hoping that God would see what a good person I was and have mercy on me.  I clung to hope, to the belief that the God I believed in would end my misery.

And then one day, the very thing I had been praying for, we had been praying for, finally happened.

That day, the day she told me she was pregnant, everything changed. Hope turned to the darkest form of despair, sorrow to a blinding rage. I knew then that I had surely offended God. After everything I had done for him, given up for him, how could he sit back and let this happen to me?

I saw fear in her eyes as she stood before me, silently begging for my understanding.

Shame embraced me tightly as the reality sunk in; another man had given her what I couldn’t. A better man, a real man, had stepped in and excelled where I had failed so miserably.

Shame turned to anger and I struck her across the face; twice. She stood still, tacitly urging me to carry on if it would make me feel better. It didn’t but I slapped her a third time for good measure. Still she said nothing, gave no explanation and in that moment, I knew that she never would.

There was no miracle about her pregnancy; no divine intervention or immaculate conception. Someone had impregnated my wife and neither I nor God was responsible. I knew it, God knew it and she sure as hell knew it. For months I had been unable to handle matters in the bedroom. The pressure to father a child and the guilt of the secret I was carrying had taken its toll on my libido.

Anger coursed through my veins as I imagined another man flooding her womb.

Did she love him? Did he love her? Was it a one night stand or were emotions involved? Who was he; someone I knew or a stranger she just met? Did she even know or were there a number of potential candidates?

Months went by and the bigger her belly grew, the hotter my anger burned. I wanted to tell the world she was no better than a common prostitute, selling herself for the seed of a man. I wanted the world to hate her for betraying me in the worst possible way but to do that would be to admit that I, the same man who cruised the streets of Lagos in cars ten times the size of my flowing agbadas, could not impregnate his own wife.  So I smiled when people congratulated me and sang praises to God on my behalf. And the more I had to smile the more I loathed her for making a fool of me.

I gave him my name but even before he was born, I knew I could never love him. I watched him as he grew to see if he resembled anyone I knew but he was the spitting image of his mother. I saw how her eyes would light up when she looked at him and hated him with every fibre of my being. He was a constant reminder of my inadequacy as a man and yet I had to feed and clothe him and pretend he wasn’t some faceless man’s bastard son. I prayed she would go and take her trash with her, but I should have known better. If my prayers didn’t work when I was giving away my wealth and starving myself, it certainly wouldn’t work now that I was at war with God.

I pummelled her, hoping she would pack her bags and leave, but she didn’t. I beat the crap out of him hoping the so called love of a mother would compel her to whisk her bastard to safety, and still she stayed. No matter how mean I was, how monstrously I behaved, she wouldn’t leave me.

I knew what she wanted, what she craved more than anything, but over my dead body would I give it to her. She would have to turn to God to absolve her of her guilt because I would never forgive her for defiling our marriage, for taking what was left of my pride and burning it to ashes.

19 Bush Street : Part 1 of 2

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His face was redder than I’d ever seen it, eyes bloodshot and spilling hot tears, scalding tracks along his cheeks. I’d see him cry many a time, usually in silence, but this, the state he was in, was new territory. I heard the cracks as his heart splintered, the sharp edges piercing his lungs, drawing blood and cutting off his air supply. I caught him in my arms as his knees gave way. It was then I felt the throbbing welts peppered across his back. Anger burned within me.

How could he do this to him?!

Yet I was powerless to act. I lowered myself to the ground, taking him down with me, gently rocking him as he cried out in agony, silence, no longer an option.

“It’s okay Baba, it’s okay,” I whispered over and over again as I continued to rock him in my arms.

“Why does he hate me so much, Tega?! What have I done to him?! I want to die Tega, I want to die! God please let me die, I am tired of living!”

I wanted to tell him everything would be alright but knew I’d be lying. If the things I had witnessed in the two weeks I had been living with them were anything to go by, it was only a matter of time before Baba’s wish would be granted.

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I’d met Big Uncle once before I came to live with him; when he came to Warri for Papa’s funeral. He was the golden boy of the family, the only one for generations to break free from the clutches of poverty. His hands fed many mouths, mouths that multiplied as poverty continued to breed poverty. He was a demi god, the saviour of the family. When he mentioned in passing that he was in need of domestic help, Mama latched on to his words like a baby suckling its mother’s breast. She offered me up speedily, eager to please her saviour. With Papa gone, life was about to get even tougher for her. Being in our benefactor’s good books was of the utmost importance.

I was excited, eager to see Lagos, the land of opportunity and the birth place of Big Uncle’s fortunes. The schools they said, were better and to Mama’s horror, Big Uncle had agreed to fund my education when I cheekily asked. The only reason she didn’t beat me black and blue was because He seemed pleased with the idea. I would go to school during the day and cook and do chores at night. I had dreams of going to University and the thought that I could potentially be the second ever graduate in the family, a student of Unilag, made me giddy with excitement. My chest thrust itself outwards and I walked around the family compound like a peacock about to take flight.

The day I told Papa I wanted to go to University, he laughed so hard, Mama had to pat his back furiously to stop him from choking. To prove a point, I sat JAMB and passed with flying colours. Not that anyone cared. I wasn’t going anywhere when Mama needed a hand frying akara in the market. Yet, here I was, packing my meager belongings, getting ready to leave the smell of stale oil and soaking beans behind.

When I arrived at 19 Bush Street and realised I would have a bedroom all to myself, I danced in circles till I became unsteady. I would no longer have to share a room with all three of my siblings. After years of dodging my younger sister’s fists as her subconscious dealt blow after blow in the midnight hour, I would have a bed all to myself. A proper bed complete with a mattress and bed sheet! Collapsing on the bed, I stared at the ceiling in awe. A fan stared back at me. A fan, a ceiling fan in my bedroom?! Heaven was finally smiling down on me.

The first time I saw Big Uncle beat Baba, I knew for sure that heaven had tricked me. I had traded in a lesser form of hell for the ultimate damnation. I had seen many parents beat their children, received many beatings from Papa myself, but this beating, was like nothing I had seen before. He unbuckled his belt, backed him up against the wall and flogged him till he collapsed to the ground. But for the sound of the leather slapping against Baba’s skin, the room was silent.

The speed with which Big Uncle’s hand contracted and relaxed as he swung blow after blow, left me speechless. Tears pricked the backs of my eyelids but I didn’t think I had the right to indulge in tears. If Baba could lie in silence while Big Uncle beat him for dead, who was I to cry?!

I stood motionless till satisfied with his handiwork, Big Uncle left the room. A part of me feared the blood stained body lying still against the wall, was a corpse. Staring intently, I willed it to come alive. What would people say if they heard that a man had used his hands to kill his own son?!
And then I saw his chest heave. Tears of relief streamed down my face.

Everything would be alright.

The Trust Series: Daddy’s Little Girl

              

               He always knew the right things to say to turn my tears to laughter. He was the one I went to when I wanted to unburden my often burdened mind. He teased me, said I took life too seriously, and called me an old woman in a young girl’s body.  He taught me how to ride a bike and kick a football. It was him I clung to on my first day at school while my mother looked on helplessly. Daddy’s girl, that’s what she called me.

               Everyone thought I would grow out of but they were wrong. The older I grew, the more attached I became to him, and he to me. When mummy suggested I go to an all boarding high school, he was furious. I burst into tears, begging him not to send me away and he held me close and said he would never let anyone separate us.

               My friends didn’t understand why I loved my Daddy so much, they were happier when their fathers were out of the house. Only Daddy and I understood the bond we shared. Mummy is manic depressive. They say she couldn’t bear to look at me after I was born and the first time she touched me was when I turned one and daddy made her hold me to pose for a picture. Changing diapers, midnight feeds, rocking me to sleep…daddy did it all.

               When I was a little girl I would cry all the time, asking daddy why mummy didn’t love me and he would tell me that she did but because of her illness, didn’t know how to show it. He loved me so completely and showed me so much affection that he became enough for me. He became my world and I, his.

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               I had become used to silence in the house, save for daddy and I’s occasional giggles, so I found the loud arguments distressing. Overnight, mummy became a different person; confrontational where she was once cowardly, aggressive where she was once docile. Whenever I tried to talk to Daddy about it he would smile vacantly, give me a hug and tell me everything would be alright. He’d never given me reason to doubt him so I took his word for it. Weeks turned to months, still it carried on and still he assured me things would be fine. Many nights I cried myself to sleep, praying that the old mummy would return and things would be as they once were. Daddy’s smiles no longer reached his eyes and his clothes now hung from his once stocky frame.
               On the morning of my sixteenth birthday I woke up to find Daddy sitting at the foot of my bed. He smiled at me and I lunged into his arms. It was the first genuine smile I’d seen on his face in months. He carried me down to the breakfast room where I found a plate of pancakes, bacon and sausages waiting for me. He gave me an hour to eat and get myself ready to go out. I asked if mummy was coming too and he said she wasn’t. We went shopping for a new dress as he said we were going out to dinner that night. He took me to the salon to get my hair and nails done and then to an ice-cream bar for dessert. I begged him to tell me where we were going to dinner but he said it was a surprise.
               As soon as we got home, I rushed up to my room to get ready. I loved my new dress! It was a shimmery gold knee length fitted dress with a plunging neckline. Daddy let me have it because I promised to wear a camisole under it so I turned out my drawers looking for my black vest. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the dress was and all dressed up, I ran into mummy’s room to show it to her.
               “Mummy look what daddy bought me!”
She was lying in bed with her back to the door and didn’t turn around to look at me.
               “Mummy, see my new dress!”
She pulled the blanket over her head. My heart shattered, landing like shards of glass around my feet. Silently, I shut the door and made my way downstairs to meet Daddy. That was the mummy I knew, the mummy I’d prayed would return, but still, I couldn’t help but be hurt. As soon as he looked at me, he knew something was wrong. He held me and I broke down in tears. I told him what happened and his eyes glazed over. I’d never seen him look that way before. Dragging me up the stairs, he kicked her door open.
               “Look her dammit, look at her! I’m sick of this pity part you’ve been having the last sixteen years. Look at her!”
The new mummy returned and this time, the screaming reached unprecedented volumes and went on for hours. I tried in vain to calm them both down and when I couldn’t stand it anymore, returned to my room, crawled under my duvet and cried myself to sleep.
               As soon as I woke up the following morning, I went hunting for Daddy, I needed to check that he was okay. I walked into his room to find his bed made. That was unusual, I usually made his bed. There was an envelope sitting on his pillow and curious I inched closer to see what it was. It had my name on it. I recognised the hand writing, it was daddy’s. Tearing it open, I pulled out a single sheet of paper.

“I Love You Darling, I’m Sorry.”

               It didn’t make sense at first. Why would he leave me a note? I looked around the room, confused and it was then I noticed the open doors revealing his empty wardrobe. I looked up and the suitcases that once lay gathering dust at the top of his wardrobe were gone. I pulled open the drawers of his bedside table where he kept important documents, empty. I raced down the stairs, out of the house and into the garage where he parked his car. It too was empty. I stood in shock as reality sank in. He was gone.

Let’s Talk About…TRUST

Trust: The firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing -free online dictionary

Some things come naturally to me but trusting my fellow man, isn’t one of them. Like many, I have seen too often, displays of the the desperate wickedness that lies in the heart of man and it terrifies me no end. It’s one of the things I’m working on changing though because to live life unable or unwilling to trust people is to live life crawling on your belly, afraid your feet will fail you.

You know me, I like to think I’m a hard nut to crack but truth be told , my unwillingness to dole out certificates of trust is an unwitting admission of my vulnerability. After all, I should have no qualms trusting if I’m really that unaffected by people’s opinions and actions, no? 

This being human thing sucks eh?! *wink*

I know you’re waiting for my sob story but I’ll spare you, this isn’t reality TV and there’s no million pound prize awaiting me post public therapy.

Alright alright, relax those twitching ears. I’ll share some stories with you and yours too if you’re willing to write them up and email them to me. Let’s have group therapy, it’ll be fun!

By the by, have you decoded the message behind all this waffle? Well done Sherlock, you’re right; it’s time for a new series! *whoop whoop*

We’ll be exploring all things trust; the lack, the loss, the restoration, the beauty.

If you’ve got any stories you’d like to share, I’d love to read and publish them! Please email them to wailacaan@gmail.com and as always, you can remain anonymous if you’d prefer. Your identity is safe with me.

Hopefully at the end of this new series we would have exorcised some of our demons and freed ourselves of some of the baggage we carry around.

Stay tuned!

xXx

Waila

In My Skin

Hey guys,

Just stumbled on this short story I wrote a while ago and thought I’d share it. No explanation needed, it speaks for itself…I think.

xxx
Waila

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Evening turned to night and night to morning. I still hadn’t managed to fall asleep. The sun rose, its rays peering through the skylight which hung above the foot of my bed. In the distance I heard the sound of wheelie bins shuffling along the pavements and the whistles of the rubbish men as they carted off two weeks’ worth of trash. Mothers greeted one another and children cried as they were dropped off at the nursery a few doors away. I heard my neighbour‘s door slam and the thud of her feet as they hit the stairs. Her washing machine began to spin and I closed my eyes and let the vibrations that shook the entire floor, rock me to sleep.

I dreamt about him; his pale translucent skin, the deep husky tone of his voice, the warmth of his smile, the kindness in his charcoal grey eyes that mirrored the tenderness of his heart. A heart that once was mine. I saw his lips move. It’s too complicated they said, my family are dead set against us. They aren’t racist, just traditional. They don’t believe in interracial relationships and much as I love you, I can’t turn my back on my family.

I called out as he made to walk away. I asked him why he’d let me waste the last five years of my life if he knew he could never marry me. I’d met his family many times; mother, father, siblings, grandparents, nieces and nephews. They were always nice, never showed their disapproval. Was it something I said? Did? They like you his lips said, think you’re a wonderful girl. If you weren’t black, you would have been perfect. They think marriages are trying at the best of times without embracing avoidable complications…and I see their point.

How does my being black complicate things? I went to one of the best independent boarding schools in the country as did both my parents. In that very school was where we first met. We both graduated with first class degrees from Oxford. Mine in Economics and his in Politics. At 29, I’m the youngest partner at the leading consulting firm I work for and rake in an impressive salary. He is a high flying trader in a global investment bank. Our families go to the same church and are members of the same clubs. What’s so different about us?!

I asked if he’d know his family’s position all along and saw the guilt in his eyes. He said he’d hoped they would come around in time. I begged him to reconsider, reminded him of the promises we’d made to each other. Didn’t he realise how much I loved him?! I could see he was torn but I was one person, they were legion. Without so much as forming a fist, he’d given up on us.

I woke up sobbing. Dragging myself out of bed I knelt before the full length mirror that stood upright against my bedroom wall. Not for the first time in my life, I hated being black. Growing up, all the girls around me had long silky locks of hair but mine resembled a forest of barbed wire. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I begged my mother to perm my hair but she said I had to wait till I turned 18. I cried until she came up with a satisfactory alternative. She let me have my hair in single plaits so it was long like everyone else’s. Then there was the hip era. All the other girls were rake thin but I had hips and a well rounded bum. “You’re curvy not fat,” mum said when I complained about being overweight. I went on my first diet when I was twelve.

Seventeen years later, I am a willowy size six. My hair is permed and I always have my 18inch Brazilian hair extensions expertly sewn to tracks woven into my hair. My academic and corporate pedigrees are the envy of many. I’ve done everything I can to become the person I’ve always wanted to be and thought I’d succeeded…until now. I scowled at my flawless chocolate brown skin. It was the only thing that stood between me and total acceptance. Stripping off my pyjamas, I slowly made my way to the bathroom where I scrubbed away at my skin till it began to bleed.

The Abortion Series (FINAL): Hazel Eyes

My hands wouldn’t stop trembling and without warning, my feet followed suit. My head only just escaped a collision with the edge of the toilet bowl as I crashed to the bathroom floor. I watched the little cylindrical plastic tube skitter across the room and cursed it into oblivion. There was no way I was carrying that animal’s child! Hadn’t I been through enough already?! Rage like I’d never known swept over me. A strange beast took control of my lungs and sounds I’d never heard filled the room. My sister Tara came running in. She knelt beside me and tried to take me in her arms but I shook her off. She tried again and I lashed out, striking her across the face.
I needed to find him, to do all the things fear had stopped me doing that day.
In a flash I was off the floor and racing out the front door. I ran towards the train station where he used to sit cross legged on a bed of cardboard, shabbily dressed in a worn grey pin striped suit, a battered black satchel nestled between his thighs. I ran, the cold prickly tar bruising the bottom of my bare feet. In the distance I saw a bright light piercing the dark of the night. I ran towards it willing it to shine into the abyss that now lived where my soul once resided.

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I woke up forty-eight hours later in a hospital bed, surrounded by whirring machinery and the familiar faces of my sister and two of the three ICU doctors I’d become well acquainted with in the weeks I’d spent hospitalised after the attack. Sighs of relief echoed throughout the room. I’d been hit by a car they said. The driver hadn’t noticed me running down the middle of the road till it was too late. The memory came flooding back and instinctively I clutched my stomach.
“The baby is fine,” one of the doctors assured me.
“I don’t want it, get rid of it.”
A thick veil of silence descended in the room.
“I am not having the child of a homeless schizophrenic who battered and raped me.”
Tara took my hand and squeezed gently. “Don’t make any rash decisions,” she said, “I know it’s not an ideal situation but give yourself some time. You might feel differently once you’ve thought it through.”
Every head in the room nodded in agreement and I shut my eyes tight to ride out the wave of anger washing over me. As if on repeat, the scene began to replay itself in my head.
I felt his hand clam over my mouth as the sharp blade of a knife pressed into the small of my back. Warning me not to utter a sound, he propelled me forward. I choked back a scream as my head hit the builders skip blocking off the alley from public view. The pain had barely subsided when he spun me around and landed the first punch. I fell to my knees, blood seeping through a gash on my upper lip. After the third punch, I felt myself slipping away and the last thing I remember as I curled up in a ball, my hands cradling my head, is asking God to save me.
“You have two options,” I announced to no one in particular, “You either help me get rid of this child or I do it on my own, in my own way. The choice is yours.”

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 I saw myself standing over the most beautiful baby girl. She was wrapped in a white blanket, her fingers peeking out, reaching for the stuffed monkey that sat smiling cheekily in the top right corner of her crib. I stroked the crown of her head, my fingers weaving through her sparse locks of hair. She giggled, her big hazel eyes lighting up, willing me to do it again. Instead, I wrapped my right hand around her throat and squeezed as tightly as I could. She let out a blood curling scream, her stumpy little legs kicking furiously, hands clenched, forming miniscule fists. Her tears flooded my fingers like water gushing from a burst pipe. The more she screamed, the harder I squeezed. Her face turned a funny shade of blue and suddenly, silence filled the air. Her big hazel eyes were wide open staring at me, a blank expression across her face.
I woke up gasping, sweat oozing from my every pore. I looked up at the clock that hung ticking over the head of my hospital bed. It was just gone 6am, four hours till the procedure. I lifted my right hand to my face and stared at it like I’d never seen it before. I felt her tears burning trails along my palm…and then I saw them…her big hazel eyes, etched in the palm of my right hand. Her screams rang in my head and our voices blended as mine matched hers; agony for agony, fear for fear.
The door burst open and two nurses appeared at my side.
“I killed her! I killed her!”
They tried to calm me down but I was inconsolable. I knew then that she would never forgive me. Those eyes would haunt me for the rest of my life if I went ahead with it.

 

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This is a fictional story and yes, it’s the last story in the series. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!

xxx

Waila

The Abortion Series: Life For Life

            I sat by her bedside for hours, stroking her left hand where it lay limp against the rumpled blue sheet. I couldn’t stop staring at her breasts. I remembered how they cradled my head while I wept at the death of my mother. The very same breasts fed our daughter Dani. Now the doctors say they are cancerous. Organs that once nurtured life had become advocates of death. At the thought of death my blood ran cold and I shivered. My stomach began to churn and I made it to the sink just as it relieved itself of its contents. Father, why us?

           “You have to make a decision soon Mrs Williams. The cancer is spreading fast and we will have to start the treatment as soon as possible to give you a fair chance of survival.”

Didn’t my opinion count for anything? She was willing but I couldn’t let her die, leaving Dani and I behind. Dani needed her mother and by god I needed my wife!

            “What about your son?” my heart whispered.

“Honey, are you okay?”

I looked across to the bed to find her staring at me, concern forming creases along her forehead. Making my way over, I sat on the edge of the bed and took her hand in mine.

“Why us Debbie?”

 “Sweetheart, I’ve told you not to think that way. You will get through this.”

“WE will Debbie, I am not letting you die!”

“I can’t have an abortion Darren, I can’t sacrifice the life of our son for mine. What kind of mother would that make me?!”

“I need you here with me, I can’t raise two kids on my own. If you go ahead with the abortion, in time, we can have other children.”

“And if we can’t?”

“We already have Dani, she’s enough for me. There’s no replacing you, don’t you understand that?”

“I can’t do it Darren. It goes against everything I believe in. ”

“We don’t have a choice! If you have this baby you will die. Heaven knows I would give anything not to be in this situation but it is what it is. We can’t afford to let our hearts do the thinking. Dani and I need you here. We can have other children, we’ll adopt if we have to.“

“It won’t be the same…”

“And our family won’t be the same without you in it,” I interjected.

“Oh Darren! Do you think this is easy for me? I’m terrified of dying. My head is saying one thing and my heart, another. I know it makes sense to abort the baby and start the chemo but my heart won’t let me.”

Leaning over I gathered her in my arms and we wept at the hand that fate had dealt us.

“Mummy!”

We pulled apart just as Dani came bounding through the door, my mother-in-law following closely behind her.

“Don’t jump on the bed darling, mummy isn’t feeling very well.”

Reaching down I lifted her onto the bed so she could give her mother a cuddle.

“Mummy, grandma says you’re going to heaven. Is it true?”

Glaring at my mother-in-law I responded, “No baby, mummy isn’t going anywhere. She’s  sick but the doctors will make her better.”

Her eyes darted around the hospital room taking in the army of machinery surrounding her mother’s bed. As she noticed the multitude of cables attached to her mother’s chest, her little eyes widened and the tears began to fall.

“Don’t go to heaven mummy!”

She tightened her grip around her mother’s neck and wouldn’t let go when I tried to take her in my arms. Nothing I said consoled her. She sobbed uncontrollably while I stroked her hair and tried to assure her everything would be alright.

Our eyes met communicating the words our lips could not speak with Dani present. She couldn’t bear to tell our daughter she was leaving her. I pleaded with her to change her mind and knew she had when she nodded and turned away from me. A fresh wave of tears engulfed us both and we wept silently for our unborn son who would make his entrance into the world a dead man.

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.

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

Monologue Series: The Future of My Past

I didn’t care how many guys I’d slept with till I met and married Dele, making him an object of ridicule in all of Lagos. I warned him though, I told him everything. I told him about the many politicians and elite business men that had peeked through my curtains. I told him about the many wealthy bachelors that had bought me cars, designer gear and even a flat in Lekki, in exchange for you know what. I told him about the time the vice-president’s wife sent thugs to beat me up because someone told her they saw me with her husband in the Louboutin store in Paris. I told him everything. Of all the things I said, the only thing that seemed to register was that I’d left that life behind. He didn’t care that I’d sold my body for money, didn’t care that I’d slept with married men. All he cared about was the me I’d become, the now, the future.

I was stunned when he asked me to marry him. I’d made my peace with being unmarried for the rest of my life, I didn’t think any man could, would marry me. His sister was in hysterics when she heard about us. His entire family thought he’d taken leave of his senses. They were convinced he was under a spell, cast by me of course. I resent the way they treat me, like slime from a grotty sewer…but I don’t blame them, I’d never have let my son or brother marry a girl like me. The first time he proposed, I said no and didn’t say yes till he’d asked seven times. That’s my Dele, stubborn as a mule. When he makes his mind up there’s no changing it. That final time, I realised just how resolute his love for me is. I said yes.

I shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have married him. I was foolish to think I could get away from my past. Every time we attend a function, it mocks me. The men I’ve sold my body to follow me around like flies following shit. I can’t escape them. How could he not mind knowing that half the room has been serviced by yours truly?! They smile at him knowingly and sneer at me with their upturned noses. The more daring ones verbally taunt him. Trust my Dele not to react. Sometimes I wonder if he’s human. The other day we were having dinner at Four Points when that obnoxious twerp Kola Kuti walked in with his entourage of pot-bellied loafers. I never could stand the guy but while others paid Dollars, he paid Pounds. I put up with his crap long enough to furnish my flat and earn a brand new Range Rover. As soon as he saw us, he came over and winking at Dele said “iyawo e o’dun gan.” I would have slapped him had Dele let go of my arm. I was so mad I could have killed Dele. What kind of man doesn’t react when another tells him his wife is a good lay?! The kind of man that would proudly marry an ex-prostitute I guess.

I screamed at him for the best part of the journey home. How could he let Kunle get away with insulting us both? I called him a coward, a chicken, a spineless excuse for a human being. I regretted the words shortly after they passed through my lips. His eyes glazed over and for the first time since we met, I didn’t feel safe sitting next to him.

“When I decided to marry you Kemi, I knew what I was letting myself in for. The jibes, the sniggers, the looks…I knew they were part of the package. If I decide to beat up everyone that dares insult us, it’s all I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. Besides, I refuse to let them get the better of me, of us. I’m sick of having this conversation. I’m over your past Kemi, when will you be too?”

My guess is never.