Fridays were for binges. Saturdays were sober. Sundays were solemn. Mondays were serious. This was the order of the weekend at Sheri’s, where I began putting up.

It was the Monday of my job interview, so it was serious. Sheri had advised me not to reveal my pregnancy yet. And I agreed.

That morning, I woke up feeling light-headed, but my heart, was in the least, light. I wore all things bright and beautiful— a push-up bra to push up my confidence and a waist girdle to hide my bump; red lipstick to brighten my comeliness and hot ginger tea to fight my nauseousness.


I cobbled my CV together and checked google for likely interview questions, but I would later learn that there were some questions google has no answers to.

My CV in a nutshell: I had studied Guidance and Counselling at the University of Ibadan. As part of my 3-months IT (industrial training)I had worked at the gender desk as a counsellor of the youth church. During my one-year national service, I was the Guidance and Counsellor at the Girl’s only school in an Akwa Ibom community where I had met Tunbi.

So I believed I was suitable for this organization which was called Garrison for Girls and Women- a women and girls rights advocacy institution.


When I arrived at the venue of the interview at Palm-Grove, I happened to be the first applicant to sign in. The office looked like a 3-bedroom apartment, dark and damp. The front desk officer shined a torchlight, scanning my face and apologizing for the darkness.

The other applicants came in one after the other —two ladies and three guys. I looked at the other applicants and their confidence shriveled mine. One wore a black suit with a blue shirt and tie. He had a well-trimmed beard that made him look slightly like a clergy. The other guy wore a simple pink shirt tucked into a pair of trousers. He looked as simple as his appearance, gazing into his phone throughout the waiting period. While the third came in with so much confidence as though the job was tailor-made for him; confident and ready. He picked up the newspapers from the receptionist, pointed his phone torch at it, occasionally slipping in and out of playful banters with the front officer. The lady applicant sat beside me —plump-ish, thirty-ish and was wearing a loose gown as well. I wondered if she was also trying to hide a pregnancy.

“The test would soon start,” announced the front officer who was wearing a pink skirt suit. Her hair was short and tinted in gold.

I closed my eyes in a silent prayer hoping I would be the Lord’s anointed! I really needed this job, to finance my pregnancy. I need to prove to Tunbi and society that I can take care of my child, and I would be successful at it. But could I beat these competitions of mine? I guess none of them could go through the burden I was carrying. They would collapse already. Sheri told me to hide my pregnancy, what if they discover it. Would I be sacked for the sin of deception?


And then I opened my eyes to see a lady wearing a lemon skirt suit and scarf.

“You are all welcome to Garrison for Girls and Women…. And my name is Naffysat, just call me Naffy.”

She was quite short, with short hair and maybe a short fuse. She looked like someone in her mid-forties with a grim face framed by her green scarf.

We followed her to the board room. The room was very wide and rectangular like a football pitch. At the center is a wide mahogany table glistening in the light of the room and beneath the tables were 14 polished chairs. It looked like a place where important decisions were made. Naffy motioned us to pull out the chairs, which were well-spaced. The tables had our name tags.


I looked at the test papers, all I saw was blankness. I fixed my eyes on Naffy again wondering why a woman of her age and status would want to be called by her first name. Is she not a Mrs. Somebody? I looked at her finger and there was no wedding band. Was she married or divorced or widowed or an old single lady, like Iwa? Has she also done an abortion? Or she was just having protected sex and playing smart?

“You have 15 minutes more.”

I awoke to reality and I attempted the questions. It was an aptitude test for which I had no aptitude. I kept looking at her wondering what she will do to me when she discovers my true status. Someone like this will be quick to judge me.

I heard her saying, sinner!


My mind was totally scrambled. I gazed into the test sheets again and I ticked some answers.

“Time up,” I heard her from behind me. And she came in collecting the sheets.

“Only successful applicants would be contacted. I wish you good luck and best wishes.”

Oh. Not Again! I have heard that slogan too many times.

As I stood to return to Sheri’s, I did a quick risk assessment. Can I do this? I feel so weak already. For how long will I continue to hide my pregnancy? Can I put on this thick skin to face society? Or the thick skin will choke me upright in my face?

*                                *                                   *                             *                           *

One week after, I was asked to resume. My goodness! I was the Lord’s anointed indeed!

But on that day, my energy was at its lowest ebb. I woke up with the strong urge to vomit, but I clutched my flask of hot ginger tea along.

Naffy introduced me to the management team. The three women sat at three strategic ends of the boardroom. A plus-sized lady introduced herself as Ruth. Ruth was wearing a white and red fitted gown that highlighted her excessive belly fat, and her double neckline. When she talked, the jowls on her jaws splattered. She had become the head of organization, when her husband, the founder, died 10 years after the inception of the organization.
From time to time, a bout of nausea flooded me and I felt gaseous, as though something was about to fly out of me or I was about to fly out of something. My head felt light, dizzy and I walked with unsteady steps. I sipped from the flask of hot ginger tea to drive away from nausea and steady my breath and gaze. To worsen my condition, the air-conditioner was about to expose my secret as the split unit kept blowing chilly air in my face.I grew more and more nauseous with saliva welling up in my mouth and on the verge of vomiting when I quickly asked for the restroom.

“Are you married,” Naffy asked, looking at me with probing eyes after I had returned from the restroom? She was the programme manager.

Her question so startled me that I almost fell off the chair. I had asked google for likely interview questions, but I didn’t see this coming.
“Are you planning to be married? I mean do you have a fiancée?”


I grew more anxious. Why was she asking?  They might just suspect I was pregnant and that I was lying.

“Okay so just so we are clear after you get this job, you are not allowed to be pregnant in the first two years,” Naffysaid, her voice sounding like someone reading out the riot act.“We want someone who could do the job with all the mind and might. No distractions. You scored very high on the aptitude test and based on recommendations from our partners, we are considering you for this position. The male applicants did well and we could have offered them the job. But you did well too. Though we are an equal opportunities employer, we give preference to exceptional female applicants.

“So, no pregnancy. Are we clear?” I was so startled that I didn’t hear her question.

“Are we clear,” she said again, her voice, loud and emphatic.

“Please ma can you switch off the AC?” I tried to change the topic.

“Do you have a fever?” Naffyfell for my red herring.

“No madam. I am perfectly fine. It is just the AC. It is too cold.”

Naffy checked out the operating temperature of the appliance.

“At 24 degrees? Too cold…do you have a fever?” Naffyasked again with a strange puzzle sketched across her face.

“Yes,” I admitted, finally.

“Take care of yourself. We look forward to a great working experience with you. Today is Friday, so you can start from Monday. Pick up your employment letter at the front desk office,” she added.

“Thank you, madam.”

I stood up and hurried out of the boardroom to the bathroom, where I vomited all the bile in my belly.

While in the bathroom, I put a call through to Sheri and begged her to take me back to Dr, Bosun. Maybe Tunbi was right that a child would hinder my career progress. Maybe Sheri was right all along that I won’t survive being a single mother without a partner. I was balking already.

“Hello, Sheri, I’m now ready to abort the pregnancy. I can’t continue like this!”

“It’s too late,” Sheri answered.

(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.

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