BY ABIOSE A. ADAMS
My phone rang 12 times. I looked at it. It was an unknown number. I hissed and tossed it aside. The only call that would make any sense to me now is Tunbi’s call of apology.
It rang again, this time — the thirteenth time. I was convinced that it had to be an important call.
“My name is Dr. Nicholas, Niko for short,” the voice from the receiver said.
Niko for short…?
“I’m calling on behalf of Tunbi,” he continued. “When do you want to come?
“I don’t understand what you mean; and why are you the one calling?”
“He said to call you. Can you come to Gbagada?”
“To do what? Is Tunbi going to be there?”
On the day we were to meet, I woke up with a stomach full of butterflies. Are things going to finally fall in place? Was he about to apologize for his mother’s behavior and finally accept me and fix a date for our wedding? Why didn’t he call me by himself?
I jumped into a Danfo, the Lagos yellow commercial bus. I had missed my stop and overpaid the driver by the time I got to Gbagada.
That was 9 am. I arrived at Number 12 Filani street. It looks normal and smells normal. But something told me there was something abnormal about this bungalow, situated inside a large, weed-ridden compound. Overlooking it is a densely populated and noisy public secondary school. The students looked into the yard from time to time, sniggering and giggling.
Then I called the man who introduced himself as Niko for short. But no answer. I pushed open the pedestrian gate and saw two women approaching. Both had their faces were partially covered by their scarves. I asked them if it was Number 12 but they didn’t even give any room for eye contact. I walked towards a wider door on the top of which was written ‘reception.”
There I fell in steps with a young woman my age. She was pressing her phone and talking to herself.
“Oh sorry, please I’m here to see one Dr. Nicholas,”
“Doki?’ She pushed up the diamond-studded face cap from off her brows. “he is in theatre.”
“You don’t know?’ She looked at me surprised and turned in the direction of the theatre room. It was then I saw she was talking to the blinking Bluetooth plugged into her ears
“Sorry, what’s happening here?”
“I can’t talk now. Later.”
I stared at her retreating rear till out of view. And then I tiptoed forward and saw a hall, quite dark. Three women appear to be hiding their eyes behind dark sunshades. They sat far, far apart.
And suddenly a shortish guy sidled up to me. He was wearing a striped shirt, pink in colour, with sleeves rolled up to the elbows. He had a pair of penetrating eyes set in a very round and shiny head.
“Are you Niko for short, or Doki.”
“I’ve been trying to reach you.”
“Same here,” he beckoned me to follow him. I followed him back into the yard.
“You invited me here. What’s happening here?”
“Tunbi confided in me that he was in trouble. And what are friends for but to bail each other out? So we can help you find it here.”
“Find what? Did he tell you anything is missing?”
“Your missing period. We’ll just clear it out with a minor D and C procedure….before the baby grows bigger and it gets more complicated,” his voice was matter-of-factly.
“My goodness! So that is the pathetic discussion he asked you to have with me? What a shame! I’m so embarrassed! You see, Niko or Doki or whatever you call yourself, the only thing I want you to find is Tunbi’s sense of responsibility! Frankly, that’s what is missing! Period!”
“Come on…you see all these women,” he pointed at the women I had earlier seen… “that’s what they came for. A lot of them, married, are my regular customers. They just come here, and in a matter of five minutes we wash it off! The headache of a lifetime is solved in five minutes! No need to bog yourself down with the idea of having a baby when you are not prepared. It is so convenient.”
“How so convenient to wash off pregnancy and wash off my principles and values?”
“You should have considered your principles and values before having unprotected sex. Or at least you should have played smart! By the way, what’s the big deal? Some women have been here three to four times already and they will still get pregnant again whenever they are ready. What’s the big deal?”
“You know what? I don’t blame you. I blame myself for assuming Tunbi’s smart! A man who wouldn’t take responsibility for his actions, but would rather look for a bailout is a coward! If I wasn’t smart, I would rather bear the consequences of my not being smart than chicken out. That for me is the big deal!”
He grinned and gazed at his phone…. “Tunbi didn’t tell me that it is a born again he brought this time ooo,” he said mockingly.
“Did you just say this time?…you mean Tunbi had been bringing girls here…..unbelievable?”
Doki pretended to have received a call and dashed some meters away from me.
I remained at that spot in a messy fuse of anger, shock, and regret. A headache of a lifetime solved in five minutes? Is this what this so-called charlatan doctor now calls a baby? I heard the students laugh. I looked up, they were looking down at us and giggling. Maybe they overheard our argument. Maybe not. Maybe they felt sorry for me now, but I felt sorry for them even more because they were very vulnerable; raising girls beside an abortion clinic is no small danger. Did the school authorities even know this?
Then returned this lady in diamond-studded face cap. This time her voice was confident with something.
“So have you done yours?”
“I don’t see how that is your business?”
She pulled out her Bluetooth earpiece and removed her cap as though to show herself “You asked me before about what they do here, forgotten?”
“I don’t care anymore.”
“You have to….oh. The earlier the better oh. Don’t waste time. The baby grows bigger and bigger every day. If you know your bobo (boyfriend) is not ready, and you don’t want to become an ‘after-one’ you better do it. If not when you meet another guy, his mother, the sister may not agree for him to marry you. They will call you after one.” She wore back her cap and plugged her ear again.
Though her advice was unsolicited, it confused and scared me a little. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted anymore. Inasmuch as I was so carried away with this ’baby’ idea and of getting married to Tunbi. I also don’t know how I will face my family, society, the church without being judged. That is the hypocrisy of society! In the same society, married women —someone’s sister, mother, mother-in-law— would be the first to judge single mothers, and discourage their sons from marrying them, stigmatizing them as after-one!. Meanwhile, you see the same women trying to wash off their dirty linen away from the prying eyes of the public.
Doki came back to me.
“Time is not on your side… Are you game or not?”
I followed him.
I was asked to wear a blue hospital robe, take off my shoes and underpants. I was asked to lie on the bed with my head raised and legs splayed across the two metal holders. I saw on the table a line-up of surgical scissors, a pump aspirator, aluminum rods, long and short, alike. Are these instruments going to be used on me?…OMG!… The theatre lamp was brutally bright and penetrating. I closed my eyes in fear. I shivered from the cold and coughed from the choking smell of disinfectant. This horror movie must end today.
Then came two doctors in green theatre attires, totally masked up; white gloves and goggles.
He adjusted the lamp to focus on my pelvic area and touched me with the cold surgical scissors. My heart went cold for a moment thinking I could pull it off, but I pulled out of the bed. The superman energy that descended on me, forced down the metal pans, holders against the equipment. And there was great clatter and chaos.
“No I can’t.”
“I can’t do a D and C!”
(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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