“You can’t turn me on and off whenever you please,” he shot at me, making his way to the zipper of his trousers. He was stark naked in an instant.
What did that mean anyway? What did it mean to turn him off and on? I had no idea what he was going on about.
I was afraid to look at him… a naked boy… and I was in his room, fidgeting like jelly! I was in a compromised place, I realized, sadly.
The rest of what happened, you can imagine for yourselves, but I did struggle and scream and shouted but no one came to my aid.
I remember him carrying me back to my room, cleaning me up and telling me how much he loved me. I also recall him asking me not to relate what had happened and that it was to stay between us two. I felt weak… I couldn’t cry anymore. I couldn’t do nothing.
I was in that place of guilt where the ticket of redemption was been torn, into pieces. There was no coming back from this, I was sure.
Yesterday, I was a virgin maid with red roses round my head but today I was nothing. Not a glory anymore to my name. I was no longer a blooming flower and I was still a maid—his maid.
When Madam came back from her trip, I remember being ashamed to look her in the eye as I would usually. I would normally rant on about how lonely it was being without her and then ask her what was she had brought back for me. All I could say was “Welcome Ma.” And collected her bags.
She noticed something was wrong. She asked me and when I could have told her the truth, I simply said “Nothing Ma,” feigning a smile that didn’t even cross my bowels.
After recounting my tale, she stood up, exasperated. Her fine makeup had been ruined by the tears which flowed while I told my story. I could now see creases of old age running in curved lines on her face. She had grown too old in just hours.
I didn’t see anger for me… I saw disappointment, for her son. She shot him one eye that said, “I don’t believe you did this,” went to the wall, buried her head in her folded hands.
I could hear her sob, gently. I felt weird and abandoned. Where does this place me? I thought. I could have sworn it was a dream if I didn’t feel the foetus, refusing to share my uptight heartbeat with me.
On Michael’s face was just a streak of tear which ran down his cheek. He stood up gently, went on to meet his mother. He put a hand to her shoulder and said amidst tears, “I’m sorry mom.”
She turned and returned him a slap that sent echoes reverberating through the well decorated sitting room.
“You’re disgrace! An utter disgrace! I should have aborted you when I had the chance! You have shown that you are the true son of your father. I have never hidden anything from you but you went on to stab me this way? You were the product of rape and now you’ve brought another child into this world, same way. I regret calling you my son. Infact, I rue the day you were born!” she said sniffling.
She adjusted her heavily stoned brocade, scoffed at her son, shook her head and walked past him towards where I sat, helpless, in a pond of my own tears.
She stretched her hands, with a smile that said, “Nothing ever happened here, my dear.” I gave her my hands and she led me to her room.
I saw she perceived my pregnancy in a new light. The thing you all didn’t know was she had known of my pregnancy since its third week. I had been vomiting and sleeping a lot. She had asked me to go for tests and the pregnancy test came up positive. I was scared and didn’t what to say when she would ask.
She had demanded to know the father of the baby, right there, in the doctor’s office. In a few months, I’ve come to see traits of motherhood in her. She had always treated me like I emerged from her womb. When I would not say anything, she gave me options.
“Is it the gateman?” she asked. “Just tell me who, I think he needs to know of his new status as a father. He deserves to know,” she had added.
How do I tell her it was her son? I simply shook my head.
“If it’s not the gateman, then who is it?” she asked, gently squeezing my hands in hers.
I was so afraid, I knew she could lose all her motherly love in an instant if she found out she was about to be a grandmother through her maid!
“He wouldn’t want the pregnancy,” I lied, or was that even a lie?
“Okay, what do you want to do with it? Do you want to keep it?” she asked, pressing my hand gently again.
Abortion? I imagined. I was not about to commit another crime on top of what I already feel like. I shook my head and said, “I’ll keep it.”
She had smiled—a smile that stabbed me in every place of conscience and said, “That’s a good decision, dear.”
I sat on her bed now, weeping uncontrollably. The tangerine fragrance of her room offered me no comfort today—neither did the furry bedsheets.
“How did you find out he was the father?” I asked curiously.
She recounted her own tale.
She had entered the kitchen and stepped on a piece of broken bottle. When she inquired of the new maid she had hired in my stead of how the broken bottle had gotten to the floor she had stammered and said “Erm… Madam…,” scratching her shaved head.
“Are you going to lie to me now? Remember I pay the bills in the house,” she had threatened and then came out the truth.
“I don’t know madam, but I hear Small Madam and Oga, dem dey quarrel for kitchen here and then I hear bottle fall for ground. Na him I run come see say bottle scatter for ground. Oga come tell me say make I pack the bottle and make I no tell anybody wetin happen for here. Na da one I know reach, Madam.”
I could imagine Ekaette curtseying while she narrated her own version of the story.
“What had happened in the kitchen this morning brought all this to light. But I want to really know what happened, Precious! Why was there a broken bottle in the kitchen? Did you two fight?” she gave me a quizzical look.
“Yes,” I simply said, “we fought. I entered the kitchen and saw him looking at Ekaette’s behind. I asked her to leave the kitchen immediately and then I confronted him. He had the guts to tell me I was not his wife and should stop acting like one. He knew I was with his child and his dirty secret, still he had the guts to tell me that? He raped me for God’s sake and I was not complaining about my predicament!”
“What did you do? What did you do when he told you that?”
I adjusted my body position from attack to defense. It was natural for a girl in my circumstance.
“I was jealous. I felt like he owed me something you know… so…”, I rubbed my chin, “so… I slapped him,” I dejectedly added. “…and he pushed his drinking glass in a fit of rage while I simply walked away, crying. This all happened when you were working out.” she rolled her eyes like it had suddenly dawned on her.
I felt so free—to have told her the truth that seemed like a dark veil was lifted from my face.
Madam smiled and then laughed. “Hormones are kicking in… and that’s a good thing.”
Gosh! I love this woman. How does she do this? To be over her grief in just an instant. I could never find such strength within me. I doubted I ever could.
“We have to think about you and the baby now. The thing is that a man can’t be forced to be responsible. Responsibility is something that comes to one as a result of certain realizations. But I want you to take care of yourself and this child… my grandchild,” she rubbed my stomach. “… and I should give you a tip: ‘never blame yourself for this’, ‘never see your child as a mistake’ and ‘never lose yourself to jealousy’. These things kill a woman faster than her past and state.”
She made absolutely sense, I thought. I saw everything in a new light.
Six Months Later…
I sat on the hospital bed, looking at these two bundles of great joy. If I had aborted, I would have killed two people. Their tiny forms made me cry. I had cried when I birthed them and I’m still crying now.
Michael entered the room, smiling, holding a bouquet of fresh red roses. He handed them to me and I inhaled their petals. “Ah! Fresh blooms!” I said.
“Hello Honey. How’re are my twins doing?” he grinned. The joy was like a map on his face. The road to this place was foggy and dark, but we had found our way through, only together.
I had let go of the pain, he had afterall asked for my forgiveness. Whether he did look at any bum again was not my problem—men would always be men, I had resolved.
I was going to teach him what it means to love and be loved that he was going to be too busy to look at any woman except me again.
“The latest Grandma is here,” Mrs. Patricia announced, lifting two heavy nylons and dropping them on the hospital cupboards.
“Hello Mom,” I weakly added, tilting my head to receive the implants of her kiss.
“I came as fast as I could. Left everything undone. It’s not everyday that one becomes a Grandma,” she smiled.
She looked ravishingly gorgeous today, I couldn’t help but notice. She crooned and made clicking sounds at her grandchildren who were soundly asleep.
Looking at the symbol of our holy matrimony on my left hand ring finger, I smiled with satisfaction.
Although I know my story does not end here, I’m willing to give it a beautiful ending. I’m going to ensure we all live in peace… it’s afterall a wife’s duty.