The bus finally mentioned someplace and I signaled to the conductor that I was st©pping there. He gave me my change and I was soon, dropped off at my destination. I looked around, not knowing what to do next or where to go next. It was getting darker and a few shops were alre-ady closed. I looked around to see if I would find somewhere to get shelter. I wanted to stay in an area that wasn’t crowded by people so when I looked around, I found a sp©t just across the road. I looked around and made sure the road was clear before crossing the road. When I got to the other side of the road, I went over to the closed shop that I had sp©tted. It had a small shelter I guess were made for customers so I went over to a corner and la-id there. Throu-ghout the night, I couldn’t sleep. I thought about a lot of things. I thought about what I had done and what I planned on doing. It dawned on me that I ran away from my family and in a place I couldn’t even tell if it was still Lagos. It dawned on me that I was about to do something that years back wouldn’t have crossed my mind. I would never have predicted the pres£nt. I cried in silence because I felt like I was alone. I was very scared. I kept shedding tears before falling asleep.
The next morning, the sound of a c0ckwoke me up. I had a headache that made it impossible to think straight. It looked like it was about 6:00am. Some shops were alre-ady preparing and getting re-ady to open. I had to leave where I had sle-pt because I didn’t know when the owner would arrive. Like I had thought about the previous night, I was going to look for a hospital that could help me carry out my plan. I was naive enough not to have known or remembered that I could not just walk into a hospital and meet a doctor to help me with an ab-ortion. I didn’t remember that it wasn’t that easy. All I knew was that a doctor would help me execute my plan. I had once seen it in a movie where young school girls went to the hospital themselves to ab-ort the baby so I thought it would be that easy. I stood up from where I had la-id and set out to the street. Still not knowing how to get to the nearest hospital, I decided to go to the bus st©p anyway. Maybe I would find people who would direct me, maybe I would find help, I thought. I was feeling very weak, not sure why but I resisted the feeling and tried to be strong.
When I got to the bus st©p, I looked around to see if I would find anyone to ask for direction but everyone seemed so busy. It was either they were rushing to catch a bus, attending to customers or walking really fast. I managed to see a man who didn’t look as busy as the rest. He was just standing beside a shop so I walked up to him and asked for direction. He told me the buses to enter and asked for some money in return. I had no other choice but to give him some money so after speaking to him, I set out to catch the bus..
As I stood by the side of the road, a car st©pped by me. Remember Femi, the man who c@m£ to look for uncle Sam some time ago, he was the one in the car. He called out to me smiling warmly;
“Hey fine girl Mesomma, how are you? Long time.”
I went closer to the car, pretending like nothing was going on in my life. “I’m fine sir”
“Sir? Naa I told you my name is Femi. You can just call me Femi. What are you doing here far away from home? I was actually going to see your uncle this evening even though I haven’t called him yet.”
When he said this, I knew he hadn’t found out about the news of uncle Sam so I pretended still.
“Oh I’m going to get something somewhere.” I said, completely ignoring the p@rt about uncle Sam.
“Oh! I see. Do you mind if I drop you? A girl like you shouldn’t be on the streets alone, you know.”
“I’m okay sir, I’m actually at my destination, thank you.”
“It’s okay if you say so. Maybe we could hang around some other time. I’ll see you later this evening.”
As he said this, I only faked a smile. He didn’t even hide his pervers£ness. I could see that he had other intentions. From the look in his eyes to the way he spoke. Maybe he didn’t know my age, maybe he didn’t know I was still a young confused teenager. At fourteen, a lot of people alre-ady told me how grown and mature I looked. Maybe that was what got to my head to do and allow the stupid things I regret. He smiled before driving off. I sighed in relief because I didn’t want him to know the truth. I didn’t want him to know what had happened neither did I want him to know my intentions. I went over to the bus st©p and was walking to enter my bus when I heard my name.
I looked back and to my surprise found Mummy Nonso, a woman that sold bre-ad and akara on my street. She was very fond of I and uncle Sam but when I saw her, I felt a strange feeling. I felt a type of energy that I had never felt before. It made me very stiff and before I knew it, my name was the only thing I could hear.
I woke up and found myself on a hospital be-d with my relatives around and Esther who sat beside me looking very worried. She looked like she had been crying and I couldn’t help but feel very guilty. I tried remembering what had happened and how I c@m£ about a hospital be-d before recalling that I met mummy Nonso on my way to the hospital. I bet she was the one who called my family but how? I don’t know. She wasn’t even around.
When they saw that I was awake, they c@m£ closer and my aunt asked about my well being. I managed to say that I was fine even though she still didn’t look bright. I held Esther who didn’t seem to want to leave my side. I could only guess that my aunt knew I was pregnant. When the doctor c@m£ to check up on me, my aunt told Esther and my cousins (they were two, one around the same age as Esther and the other younger) to go get something to eat so we could be left alone. After the doctor examined me, he spoke about my condition. He said that it was not uncommon to go throu-gh what I was going throu-gh because the cardiovascular system un-dergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy but because I was still very young, it was much worse for me. He said that the fluctuation in my blood pressure was p@rt of the cause of the fainting and because of my diet. After he explained all these to my aunt and I, he exited the room. My aunt finally spoke up after a two minutes’ pause with a very pained look.
“Meso, where did you go? Why did you leave the house and gave us a scare? Ehn….even when you know your uncle just died.”
Nothing but tears c@m£ to my eyes before speaking;
“I was scared. I knew that everyb©dy would be disappointed when they found out. I didn’t want to bring shame to our family aunty. I’m sorry”
“Meso, it doesn’t matter what has alre-ady happened. Sam’s wife alre-ady told us about your pregnancy. She is even on her way here. True, it is disappointing but we don’t even know any other thing ap@rt from the fact that you’re pregnant. It is possible that you could have been R@p£d. You are still a small girl Meso and even though I didn’t want to believe my ears when I heard it too, I know you that you know better Meso. What happened?”
When she said this, I didn’t know if to say the truth or just lie to her like I planned to in the beginning. I was so embarras-sed and disappointed at myself..
As scared as I was, I told the truth. I told her from the beginning to the end. The first time I was R@p£d by uncle Sam to what had been going on between us. She couldn’t believe her ears after I st©pped talking.
“Mesomma, tell me this is not true. Ewo oooo. Ewo ooo. Àrù (abomination in igbo language). How can Samuel do this? Ahh Samuel! ị na-adịghị egwu Chineke (Samuel, you don’t have the fear of God in igbo language)” I watched as my aunt cried while lamenting. She was an older sister to uncle Sam who were both from my paternal side. My mum had no sibling so I had no aunts or uncles from my maternal side.
My aunt could only shed tears. Now that uncle Sam was dead, it was too late. Too late to prevent all that alre-ady happened. I kept mute and watch my aunt cry in pain.
The next minute, aunty Jennifer walked in. She entered and met aunty Mary crying so she asked what happened. Nothing could come out of our mouths. Aunty Mary suddenly st©pped crying, looked up at aunty Jennifer and said;
“Sam is responsible for Meso’s pregnancy.”
“Which Sam?” She asked looking confused and when none of us could speak, she got very angry.
“You’re telling me Samuel, my husband, impregnated Mesomma ehh aunty?” She said looking at aunty Mary, then glanced at me before bur-sting into tears. She immediately left the room and aunty Mary followed her behind I guess trying to calm her down. My heart was racing; I don’t know why. I wanted to just be dead that moment. Things were going to get worse, I knew that for sure.
A week later, I was discharged from the hospital. Aunty Mary had spoken to me concerning my pregnancy and moving to Port Harcourt with her. Nob©dy spoke plenty about my pregnancy even relatives that visited me during my stay at the hospital. There were times they spoke to me about certain things and spoke in pri-vate amongst themselves but nob©dy ever mentioned uncle Sam. I didn’t even see aunty Jennifer after that day at the hospital. Everyone now knew that uncle Sam was the father of my unborn child which was regarded as foul, an abominable act. Many couldn’t believe it and some even denied him as a relative and friend. You could tell from their faces and behavior that they were all disappointed in both of us. I saw it coming so I always tried to hide my face from the shame. I was never beaten or anything but I was counselled several times. Things were definitely not the same again.
A month after, I was alre-ady in Port Harcourt with my aunt, her family, and Esther. One night, she called me and spoke to me concerning everything that had and was happening. She said she knew nob©dy spoke about uncle Sam because of what he did and that she was very disappointed in him but she was disappointed in me too. She said she wasn’t saying it to make me feel bad but to know how she really feels because I could have prevented a lot of things. She looks at my tummy and says;
“Meso, this wouldn’t have been so. You are just a baby having baby. It’s not right and as much as I don’t want to mention this, your parents would have wanted better. There’s no nee-d to start feeling guilty or sad hmm Meso! ị na- ege ntị?(are you listening in igbo language).” I nod when she says this even though tears were alre-ady appearing in my eyes before she continues. “…Life has to move on. Ama m na ị nwere isi (I know that you have s-en-se in igbo language) but my dear you have to be careful. You’re just a fourteen years old, a child. I know that things will change and become different. People will talk and say what is more than their mouth. You will see things differently but all is not what it seems. Always remember that you have an elder sister who looks up to you. You are older than Chinyere and Ijeoma (two of my cousins who are her children) who also look up to you as an older sister. plea-se, Meso. Try to do what is best. Confide in me if you nee-d help and I’ll always be there for you. ị nugo (Have you heard?)” These words stuck to my head like a magnet.
After we spoke for a while, we heard the bell ring. I thanked my aunt before going to see who was at the door. “Good evening sir,” I said, opening the door to pastor Francis. He was the pastor from the church my aunt attended. He was told about my situation and I had been counselled by him several times. He opened my eyes to the things I wished I had seen earlier. He told me that God had forgiven me as long as my heart was fully repented. I used to feel different and ashamed to do anything or even go to church with my aunt and her family but later on, it bec@m£ the least of my problem. Pastor Francis counselled me that day as usual and asked about my well being before leaving.
After about 7 months of ups and downs, I gave birth to my babies. The night of my labor was not a good one for me. I had just gotten dressed after taking a bath when my water broke. Luckily, everyone was at home that day so they managed to rush me to the nearest hospital. For two and a half hours, I was in labor. The most painful state I had ever been. I almost gave up because I couldn’t bear the pain neither could I breathe properly. I managed to survive the whole process and delivered my twin boys. They looked very adorable but I felt a bit sad. I hadn’t planned to have children for my uncle neither did I plan on being a mother at fourteen but even with all the sadness, my babies gave me happiness because they were innocent. With the days and times that past, my relatives, especially my aunt helped me with all they could. I was helped in looking after the babies and as-sisted in doing a lot of things. I even started school a few months later. It wasn’t very easy with my babies but I managed. Sometimes, I looked at Esther and thought of what she might think of me and the stigma that I may have caused but because she only showed me love and care, I could only try to be happy. I promised myself to be a better person. To try my possible best to give good examples and slowly erase the bad even though damage had alre-ady been done. Many a times, I heard gossips about me but ignored it as much as I could. My aunt was a very strong pillar in my life. A woman of virtue who taught me about the things I now know. She went throu-gh a lot because of me and I just couldn’t thank her enough. Life moved on and I lived everyday with the way it was pres£nted..
TO BE CONTINUED