BY ABIOSE A. ADAMS
To rid the baby and rid the memories of Tunbi or to keep the baby and keep the door open for him. To rid the baby and move on with my career or to keep the baby and stay trapped and unemployable for the next 9-12 months.
To raise a child as a single mother, where society would ask, ‘who is the father’, or to raise a child in a two-parent home, where the institution of marriage covers both the bastards and the legits.
These were the questions racing through my mind as I raced out of that hammer house of horror.
It was 2 pm when I walked to the end of Filani street. I stopped over at a restaurant at the corner piece and sat at the dimmest, most tucked-in part— away from faces, facing the wall. The restaurant had few patrons. The manager, a woman seemingly in her early forties, had three girls making her up. One was painting her face, the other was fixing her eyelashes, the third waited. One walked up to me.
“What do you want?”
“Peace of mind.”
“Peace of mind?.eh…eh.. …Is that the name of abeer?… eh…we don’t sell here…,” she replied, acting like she’s used to such banters.
Suddenly, laughter bubbles sprung up from across the hall. I didn’t know whether they were laughing at me or madam who was yelling at the girls…“You dey pull my eyelashes…you wan blind me?”
Madam would later preen herself in front of the mirror. Incidentally, I had sat beside the full-length wall mirror, in front of which she preened. She would strike a pose, adjusting her bust and butt. She looked happy like someone expecting a date. I envied her happiness. I wanted to be happy too. But I didn’t know what she was happy about. Maybe she was one of those women who patronize Doki. Every woman looked to me like one who has done an abortion. No woman seemed pure in my eyes anymore. I suddenly felt irritated and considered changing my position. As I stood, the music issuing from the speakers changed.
It was that same music that set the tone for that night I hung with Tunbi at the club. But it had changed now!
It was blues. But it made me feel blue.
Then, it made me release my stress. Now, it made me relieve my stress.
Then, I danced to it. Now, I have to face it.
My pain crystalized into a full-grown adult and sat beside me. I needed help. I needed a painkiller— an escape out of my present painful and confused consciousness!
I flipped my phone out of my bag and placed it on the table.
I asked Google for help; ‘Decision Making Tips 101.’ Google answered me: ‘Having a baby is a major life event. Making babies is making history!’’
I wanted to implode.I stood up and bumped into Madam, and then I realized it was not Madam. She also preened herself in front of the mirror. She looked at me. I looked her but didn’t recognize her.
“So have you done it now?” she said. And that altoish, upbeat voice that was confident with something, came running back to me.
I turned and she drew closer. She resembled the lady I had met at the abortion clinic except that she wasn’t wearing shady sunglasses and a face cap.
“Don’t you think that question is too personal to ask someone you don’t know?”
“I’m Sheri by the way…what’s your name?”
“How is that your business by the way?”
“….sorry…ooo, I was just trying to help.”
Keep your help to yourself, I answered her— under my breath. But I kept watching till she returned to her seat. She was sitting beside a guy in a white shirt. From time to time, she nestled on his shoulder. I would take a peek in their direction and glance back lest I got caught. He would gently rub her shoulders, and they would whisper and laugh. Flashes of how Tunbi and I used to laugh about nothing and everything, flushed through me. On their table were two empty bottles of wine, and both tumblers, crimson with shame. I looked at my wrist. It was just 2:30 pm. It wasn’t even evening yet and they were drinking so much? It was one of those moments I wish I could drink too.
If I keep this child, would he value my decision? I was raised in a two-parent home and I know how valuable that was. Who would do the minor plumbing and carpentry in the house for us? Who would fix light bulbs? Who would fix the door handles when broken? Who would change the gas, switch on the generator? These were things my father did for us. Could I be a competent mother? Shouldn’t I just go back to the abortion clinic?
These questions had the answers embedded. I knew the answer. But I didn’t like the answer, so I wiped off my tears dashed back to Doki.
On my way out, I passed in front of the lady who introduced herself as Sheri. As I stepped out, someone called out;
“Hello, hello, you forgot your phone on the table.”
“My goodness, thank God,” I ran back.
“Thank you…thank you so much. God bless,” I tucked it into my bag, set to leave.
“You’re welcome,” she answered, looking at me with an appraising eye, her mouth half-closed. “So what’s the name?”
“Nice name…, by the way…meet my boyfriend Charles,” she said, leaning on the guy.
“So, what’s up….have you?”
“Why do you keep asking? Maybe I should also ask you. Have you done yours?”
“Yea… thirty minutes ago minutes ago,” she chuckled.
I looked at her as though admiring a trophy. Dazed. It was my first time seeing, (at close range), someone who had done an abortion. So this is what they look like? Hmmmh.
“How did you do it?.. I..I..I mean how was the feeling?”
“I felt nothing. It’s just one of those routine procedures…of course, you’d feel a little discomfort just the way you feel menstrual cramps. But then you take antibiotics and painkillers.”
“hmmm…..that’s all to it?….I mean how do you feel emotionally….don’t you feel guilt, pain?”
“No. He is here,” he pointed at Charles. “He brought me here and waited with me till I was done. He’s been very supportive. Once you have a supportive partner, that itself is a painkiller.”
“Absolutely,” Charles nodded.
How so romantic! I looked at her again in awful admiration. Routine? No pricking conscience? I wondered how many times she had done it and still would.
“I tried but I couldn’t just bring myself to do it. My conscience will never give me rest, and I will have a hangover for the rest of my life.”
“It depends…. what about your partner?” she asked.
“What if you have a partner who rejects the pregnancy and abandons you.”
“Then you have a choice.”
“Choice? What choice? I’m a wreck already…I can’t even think straight. I’m breaking!”
“well…..maybe get yourself another boyfriend and save yourself the wreckage,” she said leaning on Charles again.
“If you have to keep the baby you have a lot of lying and explaining to do. Starting from when you want to register at the antenatal clinic; they will ask for the father of the child. You have to create a fake surname for your child….On the child’s birth certificate, you will provide details of the child’s father’s name. When you want to rent a house, the landlord will ask about the father of your unborn child. When the child starts school, they will teach the child about nuclear family— father, mother, children— and the child will come back home to ask you, mummy what about my daddy. To make matters worse other children with daddys will begin to ask your child why don’t you have a daddy?…. Plenty of lying and cover-up
“Plus that is the stigma,” Charles chipped in. “Up till now, I haven’t told my mother that she (pointing to Sheri) has a daughter. We have decided to keep it secret until after our wedding.
“What? You already have a daughter?”
“How?… what about the father??… I’m sorry…I mean how did you cope?’’
“You see… you’re asking me the same question….that’s what everyone will ask you too,” she chuckled. Charles did too.
“But seriously, I was living alone at first. But at some point, I had to run back to my mother. I wanted to situate my child in a proper family setting. My older brother stands as the father figure for now until we get married,” she sipped her wine.
By the time she was done talking, my brain went to freeze mode. Sheri was experienced and confident. Apparently! But I didn’t know whether to take her advice. I didn’t know if I could manage to have half of her confidence or experience.
But one thing I know is that I have to face this music, anyhow.
(To be continued)
You can read the last edition HERE
“Unapologetically Shewa” is a story of Shewa and Sheri. Both of them are single mothers who live in a society which judges them. While Sheri keeps seeking where and what to hide behind, Shewa decides to stop hiding or withering under the condescending glare of society. She was ready to shed no more tears, but shed off the scales of self-judgement and begin a journey of self-actualization. Coming against societal norms, will she change the norms or the norms will change her?
Abiose A. Adams, a journalist, creative writer, and senior programme officer at Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation, can be reached on [email protected]
Author’s Disclaimer: This story is purely a work of fiction. Any coincidence of the characters with real persons is highly regretted.
Photo by Pexels.com
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