“Take this, it will take care of everything.”
I looked at the pill Gbenga had put in my hands. How could something so small take care of something so big? And what exactly did “everything” mean? Did it include the hurt and pain of betraying my parents, the memory of giving my virginity to someone who could not care less, or a painful reminder of that time that would haunt me for years to come?
Gbenga was getting impatient. “Why are you behaving like a child? You are not the first person I am giving this thing to. Just take it, and get out!”
The muffled sobs had become a rain of tears now. I was not hurt that there were other girls before me; my infatuation with Gbenga had turned to hate since the first time I let him touch me. It was his understanding of the word “child” that triggered more sadness. The way he said it as if it were some sort of foul word, an abomination to be held in the highest contempt. It hurt, because at fifteen, I was a child, a child who was now pregnant with another.
Watching my hesitation, Gbenga tried another tactic. “Mofe,” he said calmly, “you don’t want to be stuck with a baby for the rest of your life. Just take the pill, it would be as if it never happened.” I wanted my life back. Back to the way it was when all I cared about was slim-fitting my school uniform and hanging out with my friends; before Gbenga, before I learned I was pregnant, and definitely before now.
Looking at the pill in my hand, I imagined it was a time machine, taking me back to a time when everything was uncomplicated…to a new beginning where everything would be better.
Now I am certain that the only “time machines” that exist are the memories in our minds, winding us back to the past. Funny I would remember that scene with Gbenga at a time like this. Perhaps it is because the pain I experience in my body finally mirrors the one in my heart.
“Eyimofe, push harder.” The midwife screams.
I do not want to push. I want to think about what would have happened if the pill had worked. I would have gone to the university just like my friends, mummy would never have found out, I would not have had to go through the humiliation of being labeled the neighbourhood whore. And I certainly would not need to go through this excruciating pain at this time.
“Mofe, I said push!”
Why do I always do what I do not want to do? These tears, I do not want them. I do not want the memories. I do not want to have this baby. And I do not want my body to gather the extra strength to bring this accursed child into the world. Yet in spite of this, I do just that. And suddenly, the cry of a newborn fills my room. The pain in my body subsides, but my heart is still in labour. My eyes are closed, and my heart wishes as usual, for a time machine.
I do not see the midwife whisper to her partner, nor do I notice the guarded glances they exchange. I do not see the baby. I know I soon will, because I always end up doing the things I do not want to do. But for the time being, I close my eyes. Soon I will be told that I have a beautiful baby, and in spite of the circumstances surrounding its birth, people would celebrate.
I wait for the midwife to call my name. She is a cheery woman, a good friend of my mother. She would chatter nonstop about this child, of this I am sure. Yet apart from the crying in the room, I hear nothing else. Then, I hear another form of wailing. I can recognize my mother’s cry even in a trance.
“Oh my God! What have I done to deserve this?” she says, putting her hands on her head, tears flowing down her face.
It is now I open my eyes. I thought the blame game was over. But mother had never cried like this, even when she first found out I was pregnant. Perhaps the sight of the child made the situation even worse. I cannot feel any worse than I do now, so I follow my mother’s gaze and turn in the direction of the crying infant.
It is now I understand the reason for the uncut umbilical cord, and the sudden absence of the midwives in the room. Mother’s crying now makes a world of sense. This is no beautiful infant. I see twisted arms and legs, crossed eyes, and a never ending drool of spittle.
Mother sits on the midwife’s stool and takes the scissors. She is less hysterical now; crying, but peaceful at the same time. In one snip, the ends the physical connection between myself and the creature and cradles it.
“Aritesioma” She says.
I understand her meaning: No matter what, a child is a child.
I refuse to see why she would give it such a name, or any name at all. This is no child.
to be continued…