Series

Fighting For Forever: Part I

I sat and watched as she got ready for work. My eyes liked what they saw and judging by the increased rate of my heart beat, my body did too. For the first time in months, I felt alive. Her dress nipped and tucked in all the right places, I could never get over how tiny her waist was. It was one of the first things I noticed about her the night we first met. That and the way her smile lights up her eyes. I miss that, so much! There was a time when all I had to do was walk into a room for that smile to appear. These days, my presence has the opposite effect.
I screwed up, I know I did, but show me a person that’s never made a mistake and I’ll show you God. How was I supposed to know that the client I brokered that deal for was a con man? I followed procedure, did everything by the book. That I lost my job over it doesn’t mean I did wrong. Someone had to take the fall to pacify the board and understandably, that someone was me.
“You look beautiful baby,” I said, moving to stand behind her, eyes glued to her reflection in the mirror. Lowering my head, I planted a kiss in the cleft of her neck. She tried to hide her reaction but there was no mistaking the flinch.
“Do you have a problem with me kissing you?”
“I don’t have time for this,” she growled, “Someone needs to go to work to provide for this family and seeing as you’ve refused to get off your backside, I am that someone.”
The force of her resentment left me temporarily speechless. I knew she was mad I’d lost my job but for the first time, I realised it went a lot deeper than that.
“Move out of my way Alex, I need to get to work.”
“Tell me Karen, what are you so mad about? I’ve told you what happened at work, it wasn’t my fault! Even my boss acknowledged that but his hands were tied. Why won’t my wife show some support?”
“It’s been six months, surely that’s enough time to find another job? Or do you expect me to support you forever?!”
“Is that what this is about, the fact that I haven’t got much money to add to the pot?”
“Much? Don’t you mean any? Look Alex, I’m sick of paying all the bills in this house. Like that’s not bad enough, you expect me to line your pocket too. What kind of man doesn’t know to save for a rainy day? You don’t work, you don’t spend. That’s how it will be from now on. Let’s see if a job won’t miraculously appear.”
“Tell me, who paid all the bills in this house before I lost my job? Who bought you your car? Who took you on holidays and lined your pockets when you didn’t have two pennies to rub together?”
“And is it not your duty to provide for your wife? If you want me to wear the trousers in this relationship tell me so I know where I stand. What kind of man doesn’t feel uncomfortable having his woman feed and clothe him?”
“You talk like I haven’t been frantically looking for a job. You think I like relying on you for money? You think it doesn’t break my heart when the bills come in and there’s not a damn thing I can do about paying them? Tell me, before I lost my job did I ask you for a penny? Didn’t I handle everything that needed handling in this house?”
“Then be a man and continue handling things! I really can’t do this now, I have a job to get to. For the love of god, get out of my way!”
I stepped aside and watched her pick up her handbag and walk out of my bedroom. My mother’s warnings came flooding back and I sank against the wall as the truth of her predictions hit me. I did not marry a good woman.

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The Trust Series: Stranger In My Bed

         

                Image © Nevit Dilmen 

           Today is like yesterday and yesterday, like the day before. Time is in limbo or perhaps it’s me? I can’t make sense of anything anymore. Thinking conjures memories and memories, emotions. I can’t have that, so I lie here desperately trying to murder my ability to feel.
          It’s not working.
          Is there no respite from this pain? Ten years, Kunle, ten years of selfless love and endless sacrifices and this is how you repay me? Oh God! You have allowed my enemies to mock me. What happened to preparing a table for me in the presence of my enemies? What happened to all things working together for my good? Have I not served you faithfully? Have I not done all that you require of me?

**********

          Meeting Kunle Kunle ten years ago was an answer to prayer. We were both Christian and determined to do things God’s way. We prayed and got people to pray with us till we were convinced we were meant for each other.
          Our wedding night was beautiful. It happened eight years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a first for us both and unlike the many stories I’d heard, wasn’t awkward. There was no confusion; we instinctively knew what to do. I felt so much closer to him afterwards and he said he felt the same way. We were eager to start a family and didn’t use any contraceptives. Kunle was thirty-two at the time and I, twenty-eight. We had our whole lives ahead of us and stayed up many nights sharing our dreams for the future.
          The dreams started to develop a mind of their own when a year into our marriage, I hadn’t conceived. Who has sex every other night, without contraception, for a whole year and doesn’t get pregnant? We were concerned and decided to get tested. We visited the best fertility clinic in Lagos, emptying our pockets for the privilege and the news was good; there was nothing wrong with either of us. His sperm count was above average and his swimmers were Olympic quality.   My eggs were healthy and gagging for a hatching. The doctor told us not to worry, it would happen soon enough.
          Two years later, it still hadn’t happened. At this point we’d been married three years and both sets of parents were getting restless. We couldn’t bring ourselves to tell them we were trying so we lied, said we weren’t ready to start a family. They didn’t believe us. What thirty-one year old woman in Lagos didn’t want a child? Desperate, we decided to get a second opinion at a fertility clinic in London. Thankfully, on the fat salaries we both earned, we could afford to. We flew 6,218miles, coughed up thousands of pounds and endured intrusive pokes and prods only to be told the same thing; there was no medical reason why we weren’t pregnant. I broke down. Had I offended God? Why wouldn’t he bless me with a child? It was Kunle who comforted me and encouraged me to trust that God would give us a child when the time was right.
          On returning to Lagos, we came clean to our parents. My mother, true to form, broke down and started wailing about how I was bringing shame to the family. My father just looked on like I hadn’t said anything. Kunle’s dad told us not to stop praying and believing it would happen but his mother smirked and muttered something about bareness being incurable. My spirit broke as a woman that once declared me the best thing to happen to her son stared at me with venom oozing from her eyes.
          I begged Kunle to consider IVF but he refused, said it was us sending a message to God that we didn’t trust him to give us a child the natural way. Sometimes I agreed with him, other times, I didn’t. Didn’t God create science and give doctors the wisdom to come up with the whole IVF thing? Be it by IVF or other means, I wanted a child. I watched my friends children enter the world, say their first words, take their first steps and celebrate birthday after birthday with a heavy heart. Kunle on the other hand refused to be depressed about it all. His faith that God would bless us eventually was so strong that on my dark days, I drew strength from it. I thanked God for blessing me with a man of faith, a man that wasn’t swayed by his mothers repeat suggestion to take a second wife. My love for him grew in exponential proportions as I watched him protect me from his mother’s razor sharp tongue and my mother’s wails of despair. In time, I was able to match his faith and together, we prayed and patiently waited for God’s time to coincide with ours.
          It’s been eight years since we got married and still we are waiting. I am now thirty-six and truth be told, have accepted the reality that I may never have children. I have suggested adoption but Kunle says we’ll consider it in a couple of years if we still haven’t gotten pregnant. What did I do to deserve such an amazing man?

**********

          Kunle’s job sees him clocking plenty of air miles so when he said he had to go to Abuja for the weekend, I dropped him off at the airport as usual, kissed him goodbye and told him to hurry back. He stroked my hair, said he’d be back before I knew it and disappeared into the crowd of travellers struggling to get past the police men at the entrance to the departures terminal.
          Kunle and I typically spent Friday nights at a couple’s fellowship but that night; it was the last place I wanted to be. I missed my husband and didn’t want to be surrounded by couples making gooey eyes at each other all night. Instead, I decided to grab a take-away dinner at Marco Polo and sit in front of my TV catching up on the last series of 24.
As I walked into the restaurant, I noticed a couple tucked away in a corner. The man had his back to me but something about him was familiar. The lady was stunning, super model stunning and her laughter which was what caught my attention, had a warmth to it that was endearing. Our eyes met and the startled look in her eyes had me puzzled. Had we met before? I smiled tentatively. Startle descended to panic and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. The man she was with turned around to find out what was causing her distress and it was then, life as I knew it, ended.
          Kunle, my Kunle, whom I had personally dropped at the airport less than six hours ago, was sat at the table opposite this mamiwater of a woman. I stared straight into my husband’s eyes, down at their linked hands across the table and then back up into his eyes. The guilt in his eyes said it all. I spun around and fled from the restaurant.
          I waited three days for Kunle to come home and explain himself. Three days filled with an endless flow of gut wrenching tears. When he finally showed up, it was to tell me our marriage was over. The woman from the restaurant was the mother of his two children. Two boys he said; Kunle Jnr and Kayode. I stopped breathing, I swear it, my heart stopped. Kunle had children?! The older of his sons had recently turned five and the other was two years younger, he causally informed me as he folded his clothes into suitcases.
          “I’m sorry Kemi, I know this must be a shock for you,” he said apologetically. He would allow me time to come to terms with what was happening before beginning divorce proceedings. He was a reasonable man, he was willing to split our assets 50-50. I could keep the house; he had another where his whore and children lived.
          Was I supposed to be grateful?
          I stared at this stranger I’d dedicated the last ten years of my life to, the only man I’d given myself to; mind, body, soul and spirit. My heart had a lot to say but my lips refused to cooperate. I watched in silence as my husband packed himself out of our house.
          It’s been six months and still, my lips have refused to speak.

The Trust Series: My Auntie Pearl

Saturday 3rd of September, 2011

Auntie Pearl is my favourite auntie! Whenever I get into trouble with mummy, she always helps me out. She takes me out and buys me treats on her way home from work. I’m no longer mad that I have to share my room with her. She is fun!
She tells funny tortoise stories at bedtime that make me laugh and when mummy pokes her head round the door to find out why I’m not asleep, we both make snoring noises so mummy thinks we are sleeping. He he.

Monday 5th of September, 2011

Why was Aunty Pearl crying last night? I heard her when I woke up to go to the toilet. I asked her who made her cry and she said she wasn’t crying. I don’t believe her.  😦

Tuesday 13th of September, 2011

Aunty Pearl cries a lot but she tries to hide it. Sometime she comes out of the bathroom and her eyes are red, like mine after mummy’s spanked me for being naughty. It makes me sad. I asked mummy why Aunty Pearl always cries and she told me to mind my business. Hmph! Nobody tells me anything, they say I’m only a little girl but I’m 7! Hmph!

Sunday 18th of September, 2011

She told me! She told me why she cries a lot. She misses her husband. They had a fight that’s why she came to live with us. She says she can’t have babies so her husband doesn’t love her any more. God, please let Aunty Pearl have babies so her husband will love her. She is sad without him and I don’t want her to be sad. She cries a lot God, please don’t let her cry any more. Amen.

Friday 4th of November, 2011

Aunty Pearl has gone.  I’m sad but I’m happy too. Can I be sad and happy at the same time? Her husband loves her, he came to the house to tell her. He is nice, I like him. His name is Uncle Kenny and he’s REALLY tall, like a giant. He carried me on his shoulders and I touched the ceiling! He he. He said I can come and visit anytime and Daddy said I can go as long as it’s during the school holidays. They live in Port-Harcourt though so Daddy says I’ll have to fly in an aeroplane!!!!!! I’ve never been in an aeroplane before, I can’t wait!

Saturday 10th of December, 2011

I’m going to Port-Harcourt tomorrow! Daddy said I have to come back before Christmas though so I’ll be back in Lagos on the 22nd of December. Mummy told Aunty Pearl she mustn’t spoil me while I’m out there and she agreed but when I spoke to Uncle Kenny, he said I’d be so spoilt, I’d be rotten and they would have to throw me away. He he. Adults say silly things sometimes.

Sunday 11th of December, 2011

I’m in Port-Harcourt! The plane was scary! It kept shaking and I cried all the way. The lady looking after me said it wasn’t always like that but it was really windy so the plane had to fight the wind. I don’t know if I believe her but I’ll try one more time. If it happens on my way back to Lagos, I’m never flying in a plane again!

I like it here. Uncle Kenny’s house is big, bigger than our house in Lagos. He has many cars. I think he is very rich. Auntie Pearl took me out for ice-cream this evening and when we got home, Uncle Kenny had loads of DVD’s for us to watch. We watched Shrek. The donkey was so funny! Uncle Kenny said there’s a part two and three so we’ll watch them tomorrow. I love Port-Harcourt!

Thursday 15th of December, 2011

Auntie Pearl beat me today and I cried! It wasn’t my fault that I broke the handle of the kitchen door. She told me to get her a glass from the kitchen and when I tried to open the door it wouldn’t open. I went back to tell her and she slapped me and said I was a lazy girl. It really hurt so I cried. She said I shouldn’t come back to the living room unless I had the glass with me so I tried really hard to open the kitchen door and the handle fell off. She beat me with her belt and there are marks on my arm. They hurt.

I was still crying when Uncle Kenny cane home from work and when he saw the marks, he was angry with auntie. I could hear him shouting and I was scared so I went to my room. Not long after, auntie came into my room with the belt in her hand. She said I came to her house to destroy her marriage and then she beat me again. I didn’t tell Uncle this time.

Saturday 17th of December, 2011

I don’t know why auntie doesn’t like me anymore. She treats me differently and doesn’t talk to me unless she wants to send me to get something. I tried to hug her yesterday and say I was sorry I broke the door handle and she pushed me away. I wanted to cry but I didn’t so Uncle wouldn’t get angry with her again.

I still like Uncle, he’s nice to me. He took me to the amusement park today and we had fun. Auntie didn’t come with us, she had a headache. We went to the supermarket and uncle bought me plenty of toys and a new dress! I really like it! It’s yellow and has black flowers all over it. We had dinner at Chicken republic before we went home.

Auntie didn’t look happy when we got home. She asked Uncle why he was carrying me when we walked in. She said if my legs weren’t broken, I should get down and walk. Uncle put me down, kissed my forehead and told me to go to bed. I tried but I couldn’t sleep. Auntie was shouting at Uncle and I could hear her.

Sunday 18th of December, 2011

I want to go home! I told Uncle Kenny to call my Daddy, I want to go home! What have I done to auntie? Why does she hate me so much?

This morning we all went to church together but Uncle had a meeting so he didn’t come home with us. As soon as we got home Auntie told me to go to the kitchen and chop some onions. When I told her I didn’t know how, she got angry and called me a spoilt brat. She dragged me by ears to the kitchen and told me to start chopping the onions. I wasn’t happy anymore so I told her I didn’t want to chop onions, I wanted to go home instead. That’s when she started beating me and shuting at me. She said I’m a prostitute, that I came to her house to steal her husband. I don’t even know what a prostitute is. She pushed me to the floor, took off her belt and wouldn’t stop hitting me. I screamed and screamed but no one came. I think I slept because when I woke up, I was in Uncle Kenny’s bed and he was stroking my hair. He said he was sorry for what auntie did but I still wanted to go home. I tried to move but my body was paining me. I started crying and told him to call my daddy.

Daddy sounded angry. He said he had missed the last plane but he would come and get me first thing in the morning. When Aunty Pearl came into the room I screamed until uncle told her to leave. I made him promise not to leave me so he lay beside me and sang silly songs to make me feel better. His voice is funny, just like mummy’s voice.

Monday 19th of December, 2011

Daddy is here! I’m going home. I hate Port-Harcourt and I’m never coming back.

I hope I see Uncle Kenny again. He promised to buy me a Nintendo Wii if I come first in my class!

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.

********************

               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

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.

*************************

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.”

*************************

 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: The Birthday Girl’s Story

               I love birthdays and when I woke up on the morning of my 19th birthday, I thought it was the best day ever; lots of calls, messages and prayers in the normal African tradition. I decided to miss my A ‘level Physics class, after all, it was my birthday. My boyfriend came over laden with gifts, cards; the works. He planned to take me out so I was really excited. I started to get ready and we got carried away. We had been together for about 4 months and had never slept together. We did everything else but were very careful but that day (my birthday) things got out of hand. He coaxed, loved and cajoled till we were having sex. It was over very quickly and as soon as we were done the reality of what had happened hit me and I knew it, I just knew I was going to be pregnant. Exactly eleven days later I missed my period and it all began.
               I waited a few more days and lo and behold my period still hadn’t come so I bought a pregnancy test kit from boots. I bought 2 actually, just in case one was wrong. I got home, peed on the stick and watched a pink line gradually surface. My heart sank. I tried again, same result. I started panicking. I called my boyfriend and told him. He asked if I was sure, I said yes. He told me to come over. I bought more pee sticks and made my way over, all the while, shaking. It was another physics day so I was happy to skip school, don’t really know why I bothered with the subject, I’d never liked it.
               When I got to his place, we talked quietly in his bedroom (he lived with relatives). I peed on another stick and brought the result to him. Clear as day, I was pregnant. We couldn’t get married, still too young. He was Christian and I, Muslim and both our parents would have killed us. I remember thinking about people who had died from septic abortions but I thought “surely that won’t happen in the UK?!”
               We agreed to have an abortion.
I went to my GP and told him I was pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. He was angry. He’d been my GP from birth, knew my whole family and even advised me on becoming a medical doctor and what subjects to do at A ‘level. He wasn’t happy and managed to make me think the NHS would say no. I was terrified! No one could find out. I got morning sickness and couldn’t eat anything. I thanked God my mum was out of town at the time because she would have known. Well, the letter came through and the NHS said yes.
               It was morning, the day, the day had come. I was really nervous and thought I’d be sick. They didn’t let him come in with me. The procedure was explained, I filled some forms, signed and was wheeled into the theatre. I remember telling the anesthetist to make sure I wasn’t carrying twins because I’d heard a story about someone aborting one child while a second, undiscovered child lived. He smiled, nodded and asked me to count backwards from 10. I woke up a little while later and realised I was back in the ward. It was all over…or so I thought.
               On the outside I was fine but inside of me, the grief was only just beginning. I couldn’t tell anyone, friend or foe. Every time I saw a pregnant woman, I wondered. Every time I saw a single mother I thought her a much better person than I for having the courage to have her child. For years after, I couldn’t have conversations about abortions, couldn’t bring myself to utter the word. It took a few years before I was able to cry and when I did, I cried for hours.
               I have since become a Christian and I’m grateful that God forgives. Forgiving myself however, was the harder bit. I finally got there about 8 years after the event but, till now, I still ask myself ‘what if?’ and ‘how old?’ amongst other things. At the time it was normal to have an abortion but no one told me about the guilt afterwards. I really wish someone had schooled me right.

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This is a non-fictional account of  The Birthday Girl’s experience. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. That you and others would trust me with your stories is incredibly humbling. You are whole my friend; mind, body, soul and spirit.

This is the penultimate story in the series. There’s one more (fictional) to come so please stay tuned!

xxx

Waila

The Abortion Series: Mr Anonymous’ Story

The day started like any other; morning came, met me lazing around and left. Late afternoon met me fed and doing the dishes. Just as I finished, my phone rang. Spotting the callers ID, I groaned. I hadn’t spoken to her in a month and after our last conversation had hoped I’d never again have to. I answered the call and looking back, wish amongst other things, that day had turned out differently.
      “Hey. What’s up?”
      “I’m pregnant and I think it’s yours.”
In one seemingly eternal minute, my mind went back to the first and only night we’d spent together. Our relationship had officially ended two weeks before. She was supposedly a virgin and I hadn’t planned to sleep with her but in 30seconds of madness, I planted life in her.
      I remembered the last time I’d spoken to her. She’d called the day before worried because she’d missed her period and didn’t know what to do. She called that day to say it wasn’t what she’d thought; it was only an infection. I remember freaking out and falling ill, my sickness induced by the thought that I too was infected.
      I remembered why the relationship ended. She’d wanted to get married and I hadn’t, not to her. All the time we were together, I suspected her of cheating. I lied, told her I never wanted to get married and she vowed to change my mind.
      All this I remembered in a minute.
I asked her what next. She said she didn’t know. I told her I wouldn’t support an abortion, she said she wasn’t considering it. 9 months passed, months of arguments, unwavering looks of disappointment from parents and family, months of external pressures on me to marry her. I stuck to my guns, I couldn’t marry her. If the relationship didn’t work out, then marriage most definitely wouldn’t. Marrying the man that got you pregnant for want of a ‘better’ option or marrying a woman for responsibility sake, is erroneous at best. Those months were extremely difficult for me…but considerably more so for her.
      At times I considered encouraging her to terminate the pregnancy but in the end, decided to let God make that decision for us. This may sound crazy but miscarriages happen, people give birth to stillborn children, babies die every day. If the baby wasn’t meant to be, it wouldn’t be. I couldn’t shake the thought that if we had an abortion, we might never again have the chance to be parents. Ever. Being pregnant and unmarried was one mistake. I didn’t want to make another by having an abortion.
      I am single, she is now married and has a daughter in addition to the son we share. A recurring ‘issue’ in my relationships is my son. It’s a massive consideration for any woman looking to spend the rest of her life with me. I’ll be honest, it has crossed my mind how much less complicated my life would be if I’d encouraged her to abort. Yet, however I think about it, it would have been the wrong thing to do.
      I have friends who regret making that decision. They see little kids and can’t escape the question, “what if?” Funny thing is, the same thing happens to me. I see little kids and ask myself, “what if?” For all the regrets I have, the decision to have my son isn’t one of them, for when life presents itself at its most hopeless, hearing him say “I love you daddy” always, always brightens my day.

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This is a factual account of Mr Anonymous’ experience and I’d like to thank him for sharing his story with us. Thanks buddy!

xxx

Waila

The Abortion Series: Adiva’s Story

When you’ve been with someone over 4 years, you probably would have talked about love, marriage and having babies. My boyfriend and I had gone down this path. Sex wasn’t something we frowned upon though we are Catholics that go to church every Sunday, pray the rosary and try to live a sin free life. He always said that our only sin was sex and maybe God understands.

At the start of the year, I had the flu (or so I thought). Like most people, I didn’t go to my GP. I self medicated.  By Valentine’s Day, I knew there was definitely something wrong. We spent our Valentine’s Day in a walk in centre in Bolton. The first thing the GP asked me was “when last did you have your period?” My heart sank. I knew I was pregnant. At this point, my boyfriend was visibly shaken, probably worse than I was because immediately I thought I was pregnant, I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t keeping it.

Flash back to 2 years ago. I had this abortion conversation with my friends and swore with every living cell in my body that I’d never do it. “Over my dead body!” I said… but look how quickly I made the decision once I was in the situation. The GP ran the necessary tests and yes, I was pregnant. Everything else she said was a blur. My boyfriend kept consoling me. He said we’d have the baby and get married later. I was 24, he was 25. We were probably at the right age. Was it the right time? The right circumstance (pregnant before marriage)?  No. I knew my mom would kill me. I quietly rang my GP and made the appointment.

On the appointed date, I woke up early, my boyfriend and I said a prayer, he rang a taxi and we went to the clinic. It was the worst day of my life. They didn’t let my boyfriend in. I was alone. He had to sit in the waiting area for the next 5-6hrs. I filled out paperwork concurring that I was in the right state of mind to kill my unborn baby and had a scan to show that the unborn baby was growing healthily.  The nurse took a sample of my blood and kept asking if I was sure I wanted to do it. I had to see a therapist who explained the series of emotions I might go through after the abortion. I got stripped down to my panties and then they gave me a hospital dress and wheeled me into the theatre. This was the first time I cried. I swear I wasn’t emotional; I was just numb so I don’t understand where the tears came from. I kept asking if I could see my boyfriend, they said no. I prayed again, told God I was sorry but needed him to understand.

Once I was in the theatre, the doctors smiled and told me to stop crying. They’d seen my type so many times. At this point, I was being injected with anaesthetics. I was saying the Hail Mary…and woke up 15mins later in a recovery room, my clothes next to the bed along with a note explaining I might be dizzy but to put on my clothes when I felt ok. A nurse came in later and gave me a glass of orange juice and some biscuits. I dressed up as fast as I could and made my way down to the waiting room. He was there, waiting. He called a taxi, we went back home and both cried for the next hour. We had nothing to say so we cried. He promised to be with me forever, which I know is true but it can never erase what happened. Right now, we live with the guilt that we’ve done something so terrible.   

Apart from the sinful aspect, it is a very scary process. I was shaken and there was nobody to hold my hand or whatever. I kept wondering “what if I die, what will I tell God? Will he forgive me? Can I still go to heaven?”

The whole thing messes with your mind.

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This a non-fictional account of Adiva’s (real name withheld) experience and I would like to thank her for having the courage to share her story with me and the rest of the world. I am beyond honoured my friend.

If you have an experience you would like to share, please email your story to me @ wailacaan@gmail.com and be assured that your identity will be withheld.

xxx

Waila

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.