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THE WEAKNESS OF A MAN:chapter 7

Rally Trade

                                                     CHAPTER SEVEN

    I saw Dr Bernard alright. I even got as far as into the theatre, I took my position on the operating table too but after the call from Yeye, the full impact of what I was about to do hit me like a hammer driving home a six inches’ nail. It dawned on me then that I couldn’t do such a thing. I could never kill Biodun’s flesh and blood. I must have been crazy to imagine I could go through it. I felt profound hatred for myself that I couldn’t control the tears from falling freely as I begged the doctor not to go on with the operation. I told the stunned doctor the whole story and appealed to him to give me a few more days to sort out the matter. He gave me two weeks. He was so sympathetic that he would have kept it secret but he couldn’t betray Yeye’s trust, he told me.

       I left him, very confused. It was while I was inside my car, under the scorching sun, that I finally realized the solution to my problem. A solution I should have accepted a long time ago when Biodun suggested it. I didn’t care anymore. Biodun was now my primary concern. I realized then that I had almost lost him forever. The termination of the pregnancy would have been a mistake. It would have brought an end to our relationship.

      We must elope. We must leave these self-centered people, we must live our own lives now. We’ll go far away from them; we’ll have a happy life together; Biodun and I and our kids.

       I felt so happy. I just couldn’t wait to tell him the good news and begin our new plans. I got home and found he’d called. I called him but after several calls without getting an answer, I decided to await his arrival in the evening. I completely forgot that I had an appointment with Yeye and when she came a few minutes later, she changed my plans again. 

     I ended up making a journey to Kaduna instead of waiting for Biodun as I’d decided. Yes, Yeye was right, I needed some time to myself because my thoughts were running wild. I realized I needed some time alone from everyone but not to recuperate though, since I didn’t have the abortion, but to get my scattered thoughts together and convince myself I was making the right decision. I needed time to think everything over.  After my discussion with her, I became so lost and confused. Her kindness made me feel so bad, it filled me with a guilty conscience. I mean, she’s been nothing but kind to me and I was about to betray her again and that would also have its consequences. I was clearly in a dilemma. I had not meant to betray her but how was I to know it would be so difficult to try to terminate Biodun’s baby. Yet, I couldn’t afford to have any troubles with Yeye. She is going to be my Mother-in-law.  And yet too, I couldn’t risk losing Biodun, the love of my life. I had a tough decision to make, whether to please mother and displease son or the other way round and I needed time alone to do that. So, I embarked on the journey in the hope that I might be able to make the right decision on my own. 

       All through my journey to Kaduna, I secretly battled with the odd feeling that Yeye was up to something but I repeatedly wiped the persistent thought away. The feeling was so strong and when every attempt to erase it from my mind failed, I tried to assure myself that I was only suffering from a guilty conscience. I just couldn’t place exactly why I felt that way. Even though she had seemed very nice and understanding and helpful, she had seemed strange too; and a bit too desperate to see me leave town. The way she virtually pushed me out of my house to embark on the journey made her more suspicious as I covered the distance.  And there was this strange look in her eyes when I gave her the note to Biodun. As I thought more about it, I was very convinced I could call it a look of triumph. Why was she so eager to see me leave town?  Was she hiding something or was she only scared that Biodun might find out the moment he saw me?  Yes, I looked terrible and I was happy she had been fooled by my looks. She was convinced I had the abortion because she knew about it. Biodun didn’t know about our plans and I had only feigned that look to deceive her.

“Which is the more reason I should have seen Biodun before making this trip.” I suddenly reasoned aloud.

My mind made a summersault. I suddenly felt I shouldn’t trust Yeye. The feeling was so strong I contemplated going back but I went on instead.

        Yeye might find out I didn’t abort the pregnancy by the time I return to Abuja, she might get the truth out of Dr Bernard before the two weeks grace he gave me.  How on earth do I face her then? How do I explain a second betrayal to her? She would certainly never trust me again, I have no doubt about that.  

What if her concerns are genuine? What if she meant well? She has been so nice to me and she has been so thoughtful too. I have betrayed her before and I feel so bad betraying her again. I don’t think I want to face her any time soon. I may have to remain in Kaduna longer than I’d planned. I have certainly killed her trust in me, I know she will never trust me again after this.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

        The thought of Biodun and I having our own kids brought a happy smile to me.  It also brought a torrent of tears to my eyes. I let them slide down freely. I enjoyed the free flow of the bitter-sweet tears as I drove on. It was a relief to my troubled soul.   

        I got to Kaduna eventually after shedding cupful of tears and a considerable dose of a good laugh at my silly thoughts.  I checked into a fantastic hotel. Although small, it was very classy with tastefully furnished air-conditioned rooms.

     And when I was all alone I thought of nothing else but Biodun. I couldn’t help but wish he was with me. I remained in my room all evening. I even had my dinner served in my room, and afterwards, I decided to watch the television to keep my mind away from the thoughts of him. But I realized shortly that it was all a waste of time. I just could not get him off my mind. I tried to relax but it was so boring in the room that I couldn’t do that either. I felt so uncertain and lost. I wasn’t sure I was being fair to both mother and son and myself. The action I took would have almost equal consequences and I was already suffering mine. I wished so much that I had someone to talk to. I felt so alone in the world again, like it was in the old days. I wished so much I could hear his voice, just the sound of his voice and I’d be fine but I couldn’t call him, I was yet to make up my mind on what to say to him.

        Sleep eluded my eyes, deep into the night I was still very much awake. The mere thoughts of him made sleeping so impossible. I realized then that I needed divine intervention, so I said a prayer to the lord. I begged the lord for help, I begged the lord for guidance. I begged the lord to keep our union safe and healthy. I begged the lord to see us through this. Then I begged the lord to help me find peace that night that I might fall asleep. I begged the lord to help me make it through the night in one piece.

“Just tonight Lord, for I must call him first thing tomorrow morning, after you’ve given me the perfect plan and solution to our problems. Amen.” I prayed and then I made the sign of the cross.

        The Lord heard my prayer because shortly afterwards, I fell asleep only to awake the next morning hale and healthy and rejuvenated. I had a long pleasant dream where I found the perfect solution to the problem. I reached for the telephone immediately and placed a call through to his cell phone. I was in so much hurry to tell him my new plan, the perfect solution to our problem but after several rings and no response, I got very worried. I jumped out of bed and placed another call to his house but the operator repeatedly told me there was also no response.  I was so mad I yelled at her to keep trying. 

     Hours later, I got scared when there was still no reply form Biodun’s end. I was particularly scared because I couldn’t get through to his cell phone, which was very unusual. Later, it gave me the switch off message. He never switches off his cell phone. And he should have called me within three hours ago because I left the hotel’s phone number on his answering machine. He ought to have answered the phone in his house. He always did. He normally didn’t get out of bed early on Saturday mornings. He spends his Saturday mornings in my arms and on his bed. And it first crossed my mind then that something was wrong.             

       What is going on? I asked myself as I finished my sixth cup of tea.  I gave the operator his office number and when the call came through moments later, I was so shocked to learn he hasn’t been in the office since he left early the previous morning! I called Yeye when I couldn’t take it anymore. She assured me he was alright and was busy with his daddy. She told me they have been together since the previous day sorting out an important business matter but she wouldn’t give me his contact number. She told me no one, including herself, was allowed to speak with them as they were having a crucial meeting that morning. I had no choice but to wait. I was relieved to hear he was fine. 

     So, I waited. But eight hours later she was still of the opinion that I should wait. I was very pissed but I held my peace. I didn’t want to blow everything just yet.  I was still inclined to play it cool.  I couldn’t dare to let her suspect I was trying to double cross her.  

    I placed another call to his office and gave his secretary my hotel number.  I told her it was urgent and imperative that he received the message directly from her alone.  Yeye mustn’t know about this. If she as much as discovers I was trying to contact Biodun behind her back and against her advice, I should as well kiss goodbye to my beautiful plan.   

    Yeye didn’t sound like there was a problem. But there was something strange about the way she responded to my probing questions that brought another dose of suspicion into my mind. There was a flatness in her voice that surprised me. It warned me not to push or press her any further. It occurred to me then that I should be very patient and extremely careful.  With any luck, he should be in the office later that day and I was sure his secretary would give him my hotel number. I waited for his call. 

     I called Yeye again on Sunday morning and she sternly asked me to remain in Kaduna until she asked me to return. I was so shocked to listen to her speak to me the way she did that for a moment I was convinced Dr Bernard had told her I didn’t have the abortion. I became very scared. I was very sure that something was wrong. If only I could speak with Biodun; If only I knew what was going on. But I hadn’t the slightest idea of what was happening.  I was in limbo. I decided to wait for one more day, she wouldn’t expect me to remain in Kaduna indefinitely.

        But it so happened that the call never came. I managed to get through to Monday morning without knowing what next to do other than hope that the call would come the very next minute. I had a restless night and the next morning I managed to drag myself to the bank even though I didn’t feel like it. I was utterly shocked when I discovered the little token Yeye paid into my account was a whooping sum of Ten Million naira. And at that point, I needed no soothsayer to tell me Yeye had set me up. She had completely fooled me. Everything suddenly began to make sense to me. The puzzle suddenly fell into place. All the nice appearances she has put up these past few days, sending me to her chosen doctor for the abortion, virtually pushing me out of town and deliberately preventing me from reaching Biodun, were all in the attempt to make good her threat. That woman is good; I had to give her both thumbs up. I have been taken for a ride, that was the simple, bitter truth and I’d foolishly fallen for her pranks. She’s actually paid me the money she offered as settlement and I have accepted it unknowingly. How stupid of me not to have realized it earlier than now when it was all so glaring. I must go back and explain everything to Biodun, my defense is the fact that I didn’t terminate the pregnancy and it is a strong one. Unless Dr Bernard has already told her, it is going to be a shocker to her to learn I had outwitted her. It would give me great pleasure to see the look on her face then.

          I felt mad with myself as I covered the distance between me and Abuja. I planned my strategy as I drove. I must have my Biodun back, at any cost. I knew I should take precautions; I needed to find out first what was going on.  If she already knew I was still pregnant, she could lay an ambush for me. She might be tempted to force me to have the abortion. I decided not to go to my apartment until I was sure everything was fine. I checked into a hotel when I got back to Abuja and immediately put a call to his house. There was still no response. I called Otunba’s residence and got the greatest shock of them all. I was told that Biodun and Yeye traveled to the U.S.A the previous night. The information was like a stab to my heart.  I was shaking from my head to the sole of my feet by the time I replaced the receiver.  I was so scared. I had no doubt that I had lost him. The simple thought brought a freezing cold to my soul.

         It didn’t make any sense to me at all. Why didn’t he tell me he was going to the USA or better still, why didn’t Yeye tell me? He should have told me and I should also have told him too.  Why didn’t we tell each other?  Yeye! My heart did a somersault as it occurred to me what had happened. She’s made good her threat and I have been a fool!

        I went back to my apartment with the hope that I might get a clue there. There must be something there to explain all these to me, I assured myself as I hurriedly went to my flat. But the moment I stepped into my living room, I knew at once that he had been there.  One quick look around told me he had taken all his personal things in the flat. The realization chilled me to my bone marrow. I looked frantically around the small room and I saw the note on my centre table.  I picked it up with trembling hands and I read it quickly with tears filled eyes. The clear and straight-to-the-point message killed every iota of hope left in my already frayed heart.  It was so unbelievable that he would write a note so agonizing and so heart rending to me and it came as a complete shock to me. He couldn’t have written the letter, it was so unlikely but it was from him alright. The hand writing was unmistakable. There was no question at all that it could have been written by someone else. For a moment I wondered if they were both in this together or Yeye had deceived him the same way she had deceived me.

 “No!” my mind cried suddenly as it dawned on me that I might have lost him for good, pregnancy or no pregnancy.

     I was very sure I had screamed with all my might but no sound came out of my mouth. I just felt a discomforting numbness all over my body. Then darkness befell me suddenly and for a moment, I didn’t know where I was.  Neither did I know if I was still alive or dead.  Nothing seemed right around me as I stood there in the middle of my sitting room, starring at the note in my quivering hands. I saw the first teardrop as it landed on the piece of paper but I didn’t care, I was just scared.  I was alone again, I thought miserably and I instantly, I felt the strong impact of loneliness. The horrifying aura of loneliness kindled me and I felt so lost. I watched the note hopelessly as I descended slowly into the wilderness of the emptiness of the life that was ahead of me. I knew I couldn’t face it again. No, I’d rather die. The rejection by loved ones, the loneliness, the emptiness, the pain, the agony and above all, the humiliation of a love gone sour. No, I could never face it all over again. It wasn’t just me, I have a three months old fetus growing inside of me. No, I had no chance. But as I reached these conclusions, an unknown force suddenly took possession of me. It gave me renewed strength and I jolted out of my frustration. I took quick steps forward, very determined not to give up.

“Why Biodun, why have you done this to me.” I whispered to myself in agonizing pain and hurt. “I know you’ll come back to me.  My life is centered on you; you must know that by now. I know you’ll be back soon.  I know you will realize she is evil.  You will find out it is all lies, whatever she told you. You ought to know it’s a set up. You’ll come back to me.  Please come back soon, I am waiting painfully.” I cried, speaking particularly to the framed picture of Biodun and I, resting on top of the television. 

      I fell into the nearby sofa when my wobbling legs could no longer stand on their own but surprisingly, I didn’t feel the impact on the soft chair. Instead, I floated in the chasm of space and there seemed to be no end to it. I felt my whole being descend into the deep, lonely and bottomless void of melancholy. I felt a severe heaviness in me as I plunged deeper into the pit. I was carrying with me the emptiness and agony and pain of a recluse, the cross of a lovelorn as I was headed into oblivion. I floated, completely lost in the nothingness that enveloped me, unconscious of all pains and worries, dwelling in the peace of nothingness. Amazingly, I felt free at last.

      I don’t know what happened to me.  I don’t know if I’d died and resurrected or if I’d merely extinguished or evaporated, only to be replaced by someone else’s soul. But I loved the feel, it was so cool and tranquil. This must be acuna matata, the land of no worries and I liked it. I released my soul and floated gladly.

      But just as I began to wallow in the joy of my newly found freedom, something strange happened. I cannot explain it, a sudden fear gripped me. The reality that I was now standing at the edge of a very deep and steep pit hit me suddenly. I was talking to Biodun, holding and pulling and begging him to listen to me while Yeye was on the other side, holding and pulling him too. We both struggled to have him. I cried desperately, realizing I was losing my grip on him. Urging him not to listen to his wicked and selfish mother, I pulled on but he wouldn’t listen to me and when he pulled his hand from my grip and walked away with her, I was left standing, all alone. I watched them leave; the disgust in his eyes told me clearly he was leaving me forever in the solitude around me. It took me only a moment to reach a decision, the sad decision that I couldn’t face the future alone. I had only a moment’s hesitation before I let go, plunging myself into the abyss before me.

      The floating sensation came again but this time it wasn’t like the first, I felt no inclination at all. I felt like I was ensnared in a closet deep inside a bottomless vacuum, and even though I felt the unbelievable cool and tranquil peace only oblivion can give, I felt no joy. I felt profound fear instead. And then, quite suddenly, when I was beginning to get used to my new state of mind, I was rudely snapped out of it again by the sick feeling that I might break into tiny little pieces as soon as I reach the end of my fall. Fear ripped my soul as a loud crashing sound hit my ear lobes. It echoed nonstop, sending aching pains to my brains. I was very sure the sound came from the center of my brain. It was a sharp snapping sound, the same sound of iron falling on a hard metal surface. I feared my body would make the same sound when it reaches the end of its fall. I panicked but I waited for my fate.

       The sound, echo and fear of hitting the surface brought excruciating pains to my frayed brains and I feared I would explode. And in anticipation of my inevitable crash, I held my head with both hands, trying to shut out the sound and echo in the hope that I might be able to reduce the pain that’d seized me. I was so scared that my head would explode the very next minute, so I held it in place in protection. Then I brazed myself determinedly and waited for the explosion. But it never came, even though it was so threatening. 

        The sudden fall into oblivion, the momentary peace and tranquility, the ruse snap in my brain, the excruciating fear of a massive explosion that always never came; all became the new order of my life. I knew a vital nut had loosened from my brain, the nut that keeps sanity in place. I had no doubt that I was losing my sanity, it was so obvious. I was fast losing grip of my sanity, it would only be a matter of time now before I completely lose everything but I cared less.

     Of what use was a head when there was no crown for it.  The crown for my head will always be Biodun and my world ended that day, the very day he left me on a limb. 

        It’s been five months since he left and no words from him during those months.  I have hoped against all odds that I’d open my door one fine day and find him standing on the other side, smiling at me. There was no doubt at all that I’d forgive him. But it was all a pipe dream, the stupid dreams of a fool in love. My foolishness was incorrigible, my expectation insurmountable. I just couldn’t stop or help myself. And when my foolish expectation took complete control of me, I would find myself doing absurd things. I would prepare his favorite meals, I would even set a table for two, light a variety of colored candles, wear my best clothes and wait up for him endlessly until I decide again that I had been wrong about the date.  I’d curse myself for miscalculating the date.  I’d then make a complete mess of the food and myself until gradually, I experience the excruciating endless fall into oblivion again, all through to the fear of an explosion going off in my head. Thank God for the golden metal candle stand Biodun gave me as a birthday gift some years back, the house would have long gone up in flames during one of those absurd nights because I never remember to put out the candles.  In my demented state, I always let them burn out. I didn’t care whether the house got burnt, I didn’t care about anything. I was cracked.

       I was in agony too, suffering the pains of desertion. The world meant nothing to me. I was simply not a part of it anymore. Solitude became my only friend and foe. It was all I had and when you suffer such agony, when you have nothing else, when you have no one to console you, you have no choice than to either get over it or get used to it. You are left with no choice than to let it go or embrace it when that fails. I got used to it, I couldn’t find the will power to let it go. I got so used to it that I was able to live with it. It became a part of me. It became my new life. My companion.

      My pregnancy progressed but I didn’t give a dawn about the baby. In fact, I hated it. I held my pregnancy responsible for my predicament and I treated it as an enemy.  I felt if I hadn’t gotten pregnant or if I had performed the abortion, I wouldn’t be living in such agony. I cursed the day I got pregnant. I needed to blame someone, so I blamed my unborn child. It was the only one available, so it took the full blame. I stopped my antenatal sessions. 

     On some normal days, when the heaviness on my head felt lighter, I would tell myself it wasn’t the fault of my baby.  I would speak to it for hours and beg for forgiveness.  It would occur to me then that we were both victims of a true love not reciprocated. It was on such a normal day that I decided to continue my antenatal treatments.  It took me another normal day to make the efforts six weeks later.  And on another abnormal day, I finally decided it didn’t matter. I decided it was pointless. And I hated my unborn baby!

      I became a loner, refusing entirely to interact with anyone.  The only person I interacted with was my security guard who ran errands for me when I was too depressed to do them myself.  I had no friends.  My three years sojourn in prison saw to that. When I got out, my friends at school had graduated and left town.  The few ones that were left showed me plainly that they’d have nothing to do with a jail bird. So I kept to myself. I had no one but Biodun.  Uncle Festy and Aunty Gina were now living abroad; my jail term had also put an invisible strain in our relationship. Their stance was unacceptable to me when they demanded of me to leave Biodun and relocate with them to London. I refused the offer.  Perhaps, they saw this coming; they were able to see the true meaning and implication of my sacrifice. Nothing else mattered then other than loving Biodun. I just couldn’t see anything wrong with being in love with a guy I knew was also madly in love with me. Not even the fact that I’d become an ex-convict worried me. But like I said earlier, I was a fool in love, what do you expect. I was blinded by love to reason and common sense and it has landed me exactly where I belong. I finally believed that love is for fools!

       The feats of madness reduced dramatically as my tummy grew bigger.  I was surprised. Deep within me, I was glad I was becoming my old self again.  The only problem I had was the weakness I constantly felt in my body.

      The campaigns progressed too. The presidential primaries came at last after what seemed like forever. I followed the campaigns keenly. It was what kept me from going completely mad, knowing that somehow, my future happiness depended on it. Somehow I gave myself false hope. It was a feeling I had. An odd feeling that Biodun went away to enable his father win the presidential election to avoid any possible hitch that might happen as a result of our love affair. It was all I had to hold on to and I clung to it tenaciously. I was cursed by my hope. I was very optimistic that he’d show up one day and explain the whole situation to me. I was very convinced we’d be reunited as soon as Otunba became the president.  It was odd though but it helped me a lot to believe it. I had nothing else to hope on. 

       The primaries interested me more than anything else happening around me or in the world. My entire being revolved around it. Why won’t it become so important to me when it was responsible for my situation?  I didn’t want to miss any details, I couldn’t afford to. I lived for it. I determined to know everything, how well or how bad everything was going, considering the sacrifices I have made for Otunba to participate in the election. I didn’t care if he won or lost, as long as he had his fair chances and I wasn’t standing in his way, whatever became the outcome was fine by me. But oddly, after a while, I discovered I took a liking to him.  He looked too good to me. By my judgment, he didn’t have Yeys’s heart of stone. He seemed more humane. I could be wrong though since I never met him one on one during my countless visits to his home. He could have been putting up a false appearance for the purpose of winning the hearts of the electorate.  Politics! Isn’t that what all politicians do?

          As the campaigns progressed, I found deep down in me I wanted him to be the next president. At least, so Biodun and I would have our chance to be together again. I was so glad when he was announced the flag bearer of his political party.  I was very happy to hear the news and even though Yeye was standing by his side as he joyfully acknowledged cheers from his supporters, I was still happy for him. She looked so happy too. Why won’t she smile so contentedly when all her recent dreams were centered upon becoming the next first lady?  This was the first step to actualizing her dreams; she’s got every reason to be happy. 

       Even as I learned of her arrival in the country, I decided to lie low. It was my first time to see or hear of her since Biodun left me. I decided not to get in touch with her yet. I won’t spoil her happiness just yet. I’d given up trying to reach her months back. I am inclined to let them all be right now. When Otunba is comfortably occupying the presidential seat, I will try and locate Biodun.  At least, he must acknowledge his child. I wonder how Yeye would react to the fact that I didn’t abort the pregnancy.  Poor Dr Bernard will bear the brunt then if he hasn’t told her yet.  I had no doubt that when I present Biodun with his child, he’ll know Yeye lied to him the same way she deceived me and we’ll be reunited. She must have told him I aborted the pregnancy in exchange for the money. Even though I know he should have confirmed the allegation from me before taking that drastic decision, I knew I’d forgive him.  I love him and I want him back. If I could just see him for a few minutes, I trust that I could win his heart back.  Just watching his parents on T.V filled my heart with happiness and a new hope.  I was so happy that I began to make plans and quick decisions.  I was already in my ninth month. The baby will be due any time soon. I suddenly felt so bad to have neglected the pregnancy all the while. I haven’t bought anything for the baby neither did I continue the antenatal. I decided to register for delivery in the best hospital in town the next morning and afterwards, go shopping for my baby’s layette. I will get him everything. I still have the Ten Million Naira intact. I will go on a shopping spree for my baby tomorrow morning. I will buy an entire shop.

       I smiled happily at the new hope ahead of me as I gently stroked my bulged tummy. I felt the baby moving and I told myself that the baby was happy too. 

“Everything will be fine now my darling.” I told my baby as I gently stroke my bulged tummy. I was so happy but my happiness always was shot lived, I had forgotten that vital fact.

“And now ladies and gentlemen of the press,” I heard Otunba saying. “On behalf of my family and that of my good friend, I wish to announce to the public that my only son, Mr Abiodun Adebaba Adeniyi is to be married in a fortnight to the beautiful and delectable daughter of my friend and running mate, Miss Maggie Adams. This great union will no doubt solidify our friendship and ensure a smooth and peaceful reign between my vice and I for the benefit of our great country and people. You are all cordially invited. Details of the wedding will be announced later.  Good night and God bless you all.” Otunba concluded. 

      I watched Otunba in stunned disbelief as he left the platform with Yeye by his side. I just couldn’t believe my ears. It was when the broadcaster commented about the upcoming wedding moments later that the full meaning of Otunba’s words finally dawned on me.

“No!” I screamed in shock when I got the nerve to do so.  “Oh no. Oh my God, no.  It can’t be true.  Please Lord Jesus, not my Biodun.  He belongs to me. We are going to have a baby. This cannot happen.  Oh my God, my Biodun. Oh, oh my back, my waist.  Oh water, the baby is coming.  Help me dear God.”  I said breathlessly as I tried to get on my feet but I fell back on the sofa and for a moment, I thought I was dying. I remained on the sofa, the pains around my waist was so severe that I just couldn’t move. I awaited my death instead of screaming for help. I was suddenly too tired to want to see the next minute.

“Come on, get up!” suddenly, I heard the clear command. “This is not your time to die. What do you want to do? Lie down and die? Don’t be silly. You must be strong, you must stop him.  You must stop that wedding; he belongs to you. If you can’t have him, no other woman should! Locate the nearest hospital and evacuate that thing in your womb and then kill it or abandon it there. You have better things to do now. This is no time to faint. You must find him and kill him!”

     That was the first time I heard the strange voice.  I didn’t know its owner but it came from the depth of my soul.  It was so real and so clear.  The commanding tone was unbearably fierce and the force behind it, so strong I had no power to resist. I had no choice but obey its every command.  And like a person under a voodoo spell, I got to my feet and did as I was told, not knowing where my sudden strength and energy came from.  It was a command I was to obey many more times. 

         I had a quick change of clothes and picking up my hand bag and my car keys, I walked out of the sitting room with considerable strength and energy. I guess the owner of the voice supplied me with the power to carry out the command.  I had enough money in my bag, a hundred and twenty thousand naira to be precise.  I didn’t bother to switch off the TV nor did I lock up my flat.  The water from my body was so much now and there was blood too.  It was running freely down my laps to my legs and if there was any pain, I didn’t feel it.  My brain was too numb to feel any pains.  Or perhaps, the stranger deadened the pains.

      Otunba’s speech set off the snap in my brain once again and it also caused a forced labor. Plus this strange voice I was to dance to the tunes it sang for god knows how long.  I heard the voice every second from that very moment. It was like a massive propeller, propelling a huge machine. It propelled my every action and I had absolutely no control over it. It merely took complete control of my reasoning and my being, I merely followed its lead.   

“You have had it. It is finally over,” it told me scornfully when my obviously scared security guard suggested that he called for help. I ignored him and got into the car instead. He was stunned to see me so strong.

“There is no one in the whole wide world for you now.  Your siblings and family have all rejected and neglected you.  No one bothered to look for you when you ran away from home years ago and no one will look for you now because you are not missed.  You have become one of the world’s scum, a vagabond and a nonentity. You are now an ex-convict too, the worst of them all. He was your only hope and he too is going to leave you for another now.  It is left to you to either watch him marry another woman while you wave him good bye and forever seethe in deep regret or you just kill him and end your grief.  The choice is yours.  If you ask me, I’d say kill him and kill yourself too.  Why stay alone? What is there to live for?  It is all gone now, as in, all over.  Everything has come to its end, go with it.  It will be the perfect solution to all your problems.  Otunba, Yeye and every other person will finally leave you alone. You’ll finally be free. You must heed my advice for I am a friend and I will never mislead you.”

    The voice continued, deep within my soul all the way to the hospital.  I wanted to shut it out, I wanted to stop it but I just couldn’t do any of those but instead, I paid so much attention to it that at a point its arguments began to make sense to me.   

         I drove to the nearest hospital as directed by my dumbfounded security guard. And when I got out of the car and staggered into the reception hall, the nurses stared at me with profound shock in their eyes. They must have thought they were looking at a ghost because they all stared at me in surprise rather than make an attempt to help me. Two nurses summoned courage and approached me.  They both grabbed me as I fell, my strength became suddenly spent. 

“Sister, prepare the delivery room fast, I think the baby is coming,” I barely heard one of the nurses say. 

        Thirty minutes later, I heard the cry of my baby. I have heard women talk about labor pains. During my brief antenatal visits, I heard gory stories about how painful it was to deliver a baby but oddly, I didn’t feel any pains during my delivery. When I was asked to push, I simply pushed without feeling the slightest pain. They were all so amazed by what they called my courage. I ignored them. Perhaps the pain in my soul suppressed any physical pain possible.  I only did as I was told, I had no inclination whatsoever to save the baby, it could as well be a still birth. And when the nurse brought me my baby moments later, I still didn’t have the inclination to touch him.  I didn’t even as much as look at him or ask the sex, I didn’t feel the joy most women felt when they first behold the sight of their first or new born babies.  I felt nothing.

“Just so you know, you have a bouncing baby boy and he is so handsome and cute.  I’ll just put him in his crib over here. You are free to carry him when you have the strength.” The nurse told me, her indignation very visible but I didn’t care. I didn’t answer or pay her any attention. She wasn’t a concern to me.

     When she first came to me and demanded for my baby’s clothing moments earlier, I just stared at her morosely without a word. When she got tired of waiting for my response, she left me. Now she thinks I have no strength to carry the baby. How odd, I pushed all through the session. Who told the moron I didn’t have strength?  I have strength alright.  I have the strength of a lion as I lay on that hospital bed, only my strength was reserved for Biodun.  I could strangle him with my bare hands if I could only set my eyes on him. I was so mad that I agreed to myself that I must find him and kill him. I also agreed that meanwhile, I must be patient. I must concentrate on the immediate problem. The baby!

           I certainly don’t want the baby. I have no future of my own anymore. As soon as I find Biodun, I would become a fugitive if not a dead body because I am going to kill him. I will take the baby to my family home. I will abandon him with the ten million naira and all my worldly possession. I will then come back and finish Biodun. That was my decision. 

“Good decision.” The voice announced.

“Madam, your baby has been crying for ages now.” An elderly woman sitting close to the patient I shared the room with said, bringing me sharply out of my thoughts.  I heard the baby crying all the while but it was very faint, I was too deep in my thoughts to be disturbed by the shrill cries. But now that I was out of my thoughts, his wails seemed to rock the foundation of the room.  I stared at the crib and the tiny bundle that was my son without any attempt to get him. I didn’t care that he was crying. I didn’t care at all. I went back to my thoughts.  I was going to give him away sooner than later so there was no point in establishing any contact with him. 

“If you still feel too weak let me carry him for a while and see if I can make him stop crying” The woman said and when I paid her no attention, she did as she said and surprisingly, the baby stopped wailing in her arms. The room became silent again, enabling me to have uninterrupted thought.  But moments later, the soft sobs of the patient brought me back to the present.  What on earth is her problem? I thought angrily, she had a safe delivery for goodness sake, what could possibly be her problem now. I needed absolute silence in the room.  I was planning how best to approach my people with a fatherless baby. I think a lot better in complete silence, now why won’t I have it? And just when I was about to scream at her to keep silent, the elderly woman spoke.

“I have told you to stop crying,” she began. “It is God that gives children. Boy or girl, they are all from God.” She added, in an attempt to console the crying woman. 

“Mama I know but my husband doesn’t seem to realize that. I am so scared of what he’ll do when he returns to find out it’s another baby girl.  He is going to make good his threat this time and bring in another woman.  Mama, is it my fault that I only have girls?  Oh God, why me?”  The woman lamented. 

       It took me only a second to realize what her problem was and I was sure fate or providence was at work here. Their conversation interested me so much that I pushed my own thoughts aside and paid them keen attention. I was so glad that the elderly woman had spoken before me, preventing me from throwing away my opportunity.  This was indeed a miracle. 

“You have to be strong, my daughter. You have to be strong to take proper care of the children God has given you.  Let him do whatever pleases him. You cannot change a female child into a male one to please your husband.  He is being very unreasonable to blame you for the sex of the children you have.” 

“But mama, sometimes I don’t blame him. Five children and they are all girls, it is enough to make any man complain.  Now here is the sixth one and a girl again.  Why won’t God just give me a boy?  Just one, we had planned on having only three kids and now we have six and still, there is no boy.  I don’t know how I’m going to tell him it’s another girl.  He’ll be so mad and disappointed and frustrated mama.” 

“Well, you will have to tell him anyhow. Thank God he is not in the country right now, it will give you ample time to prepare yourself for his reaction.  You’ll surely not kill yourself by crying endlessly.”   

“Mama you don’t understand.” 

“I do but what else do you want me to tell you?” she asked her crying daughter. 

       What an irony of life.  Here I am, searching for a way to dispose of my son and another woman is here crying her eyes out for one.  It occurred to me then to offer her mine and now was the right time to step in. 

“I have a deal for you madam, I have the solution to your problem.” I said quickly not giving her time to get over her agony. I was speaking to them for the first time since I was brought into the ward. I could see that they were both remarkably shocked to hear me speak, maybe they had concluded I was a mute.  “You can have my son” I added plainly.  Their shock this time was something to see. 

“What do you mean by that?” The elderly one asked.  She was the first to get over her shock and the look in her eyes told me clearly she didn’t think what I just said was funny. 

“You heard me, you can have my son.” I repeated as I got up from my bed.  They were stunned too to see there wasn’t any sign of weakness in my effort.

“Hey, wait a minute,” the younger one said.  She seemed to have just gotten her tongue back.  “What are you playing at?  Do you mean I should exchange my daughter for your son?  That is certainly impossible.” 

“I don’t want your daughter and I don’t want my son.  I want you to have him, as in twins,” I explained patiently.  The relief on their faces was so visible to me. Both women remained silent, it was a protracted silence that made me feel tensed.  I deliberately allowed them to think, I wasn’t about to let them know I was desperate.        


http://www.leisuretimeread.com

Elizabeth Izebere is a prolific writer who prefers to write under the pseudonym Liz Brey Humphrey. She is a Nigerian. www.leisuretimeread.com is her brain child.

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