“Hey baby, I am sorry, I don’t remember all these she is talking about.” Ray wept and continued apologizing.
“The time you were on top of me, how was I supposed to know I was ovulating or how would I have known that you didn’t know what you were doing because as much as I remember, you were completely aware and was in control. So, do not give me that crap. It is enough that you’ve gotten me pregnant by taking advantage of me while I was drunk, you have to take responsibility for your actions dude,” Jamila furiously lashed out.
All the while they argued, I had no idea what was going on or what to say to the both of them. Jamila had invited me over to her hotel room. Innocently, I had gone there. I hadn’t known she was the call that Ray took.
Seeing Ray in her room wasn’t a new thing for me although to the best of my knowledge, it never happened after we began dating. Jamila was pregnant according to her and Ray was responsible. Ray denied responsibility, but Jamila was adamant and insisted he had sex with her. It was clear Ray was in shock. He couldn’t remember having sex with her but she wasn’t having it. It was the night of Duke’s birthday. Everyone was drunk and with little or no recollection of events during that party. Ray had asked if I kissed him. He remembers being kissed by someone he thought was me. He had also woken up stark naked and didn’t remember sleeping naked. The night was foggy in everyone’s memory. No one seemed to remember what transpired that night except Jamila who insisted that Ray had sex with her that night.
Ray was devastated but it wasn’t anywhere near what I felt. It was very difficult to believe Ray didn’t know he had sex with Jamila. Jamila seemed quite certain that he was aware of what he was doing. To the best of my knowledge, for a man to have sex, he needed an erection. So even if Ray was asleep, how did he get an erection? I began to put the picture together in my mind. Ray had asked if I kissed him. When I asked him, what brought about the question, he had waved it away casually. He must have had sex with Jamila when he was drunk. It was a complicated matter. What I wondered was how he couldn’t remember.
On one hand, my boyfriend whom my girlfriend accused of being responsible for her pregnancy, on the other hand, my girlfriend who accused my boyfriend of being responsible for her pregnancy. In the middle was me, who was totally confused and an unfortunate witness to a sad event.
Ray had called Duke over too. If Ray was responsible for her pregnancy, he was duty bound to take care of it. Duke didn’t recollect any sexual contact with Jamila and even suggested to Jamila to abort the pregnancy and she vehemently refused. She said it was murder and she wasn’t going to murder a baby.
Here, a lady whom I knew too well had murdered a lot of babies from her stomach. I guess it was a matter of trap. Jamila had always had an infatuation with Ray. She had made it crystal clear that she wanted Ray. If she had Ray’s baby, this was her checkmate. Duke wouldn’t get her to abort a piece of what she had ever wanted.
Ray paced around the room. He stood by the window and stared into the distant oblivion for a long time, while continuously smacking his lips. I haven’t seen such amount of pain on one person’s face at a time. His pain was indescribable. He had always told me how he would remain faithful. We just had a fallout in my room over sexual contact, he hadn’t been able to look me in the eye so far. Here again is a deeper mess he’s found himself into. He didn’t talk to me; tears did his talking.
He asked Jamila what she wanted? Jamila wanted nothing but to have him in her life to take care of the baby he had put in there.
At this point, my tears were becoming more than I could control. I stormed out of the room and raced home. This wasn’t something my hotel room could handle.
Mother as always had the right words. She calmed me down and asked me what I wanted to do.
“Mummy, I cannot deny my friend and her unborn baby the care they will need by clinging on to a man who is responsible for her pregnancy. It would be a different level of wickedness. He is supposed to take responsibility for his actions, isn’t that right mum?”
If I was the guilty party and had gotten pregnant for Duke, I wasn’t sure Ray would want to see it differently. I had to move on with my life while wishing them well. It was a pill too hard to swallow. For the first time in my life, I decided to date someone. My friend who had experienced different level of relationship with nearly a taste of every form of man alive wouldn’t let me experience my true love.
Mother told me to follow my mind. She believed I would come out of this stronger. But mother warned me to beware of Jamila. She had a few other words to say that I wouldn’t put into writing.
Lagos became agonizing while it lasted and while we were all on the same flight to Abuja, no one talked to each other. It would be completely impossible for anyone to know that we were friends.
Individually, we took different cabs back into town. Within this period, Duke and Ray had called me severally; calls I carefully avoided. They had dropped several messages I didn’t bother reading. It was very simple to mark those messages and delete them.
It wasn’t unusual that Jamila didn’t turn up at home and I didn’t care where she was. It was barely my concern. I was happy she didn’t come back because it gave me space to think of a better way to deal with these things. I had planned to stay a while in Abuja until I was ready to go for my MBA. But as it stood, I was going to relocate back to Lagos immediately after my service year.
Duke popped up at my workplace severally to intercede for Ray. Ray had all my friends call me too, but I didn’t think there was a better course of action. It was the right thing to do and I did it too. I never understood what Ray wanted me to do; join him and fight my girlfriend he got pregnant?
Aren’t girls supposed to stand by each other? Then when Jamila came around, she came to pick up her clothings. She was moving out and moving into Ray’s. She wasn’t going to retain the house after service and would be with Ray. I do not know if Ray was part of the arrangement but whatever it was, it was playing nicely for Jamila.
On an occasion, I ran into Duke at Jabi lake and it was obvious Ray had sent him there.
“Duke, you would let Ray crash your business too? Aren’t you supposed to be taking care of your business, why would you leave that and run after me?”
“Pamela, I know Ray did the wrong thing. But I am certain he didn’t know how it happened?” he said. “Why not just stand by him while Jamila has this baby? Ray plans to get a DNA to prove the paternity.
“And if DNA proves he is the father?” I cut in.
“Then he will pay her off and that will be the end of it.”
“And what made you think Jamila would accept a payoff? See Jamila is my friend and I know she will take steps to get whatever she thinks she wants.”
“But you and I know that Ray isn’t responsible for this pregnancy,” Duke said, rather too sure.
“I am not going to drag myself into that judgment, every man gets to answer for their deeds.”
“Yes, I know that, but Ray has been beaten down and defeated. If you don’t talk to him, he may not come out of depression. He may soon lose his job. I have had to answer two queries he received at work, they may soon lay him off. Please speak to him,” Duke pleaded passionately.
“I don’t wish him ill at all. At least, I loved him at a time. But he must learn to take responsibility. First, he got my friend pregnant, and now he wants to lose his job. I don’t think he is being mature here. Tell him to get over what has happened and grow himself into the father he is about to become,” I answered.
“Pamela, think about your friend. Ray wouldn’t be able to move on without you in his life.”
I would be lying if I say I didn’t feel sorry for Ray. I am certain he didn’t deserve what was happening to him but right now, he had to grow up and take charge of his life.
As time went on, through Duke, I learned that Jamila said it was a taboo in her place for someone to give birth without marrying. Her parents would reject her, her village gods would come after her and the father of the child and they will all die. This had greatly disturbed Ray and he had agreed to go see her parents and organize their wedding.
Ray trailed me again to Jabi lake. He couldn’t even talk. He just kept crying. I wasn’t very angry with him but immediately I saw him crying, I was overtaken by rage and I gave him a piece of my mind. All he could mutter for the whole time he spent there was an incoherently rendered “I am sorry.”
He looked emaciated, rough and unkempt. I wanted to take him to a diner for him to feed, but I was angrier than I was thinking. Ray left after a while and I became sad again. The next time Jamila came around, she drove in to drop a wedding card. She drove in Ray’s SUV. An engagement ring on her hand. I learned later from Duke that she got herself the ring and cared less about what people said about her desperation. Duke had told her on many occasions to really examine herself and know if she was forcing the pregnancy on Ray and be sure he was actually responsible. She insisted he was the one responsible.
When she walked in, she sat on the couch and asked me if I made a meal. I told her to go get herself something to eat in the kitchen. She resurfaced after a while, having almost taken all the chicken in the pot of jollof I made.
One could think she came to spite me. She spoke as she ate; making a very annoying sound with her speech. She invited me to her bridal shower and insisted she wanted me to be her bridesmaid. I politely disagreed and told her that though I may be present at the wedding, I was going to neither be her bridesmaid nor would I attend her shower.
“Come on Pam, why would you do that to your best friend?” she asked casually.
Since this episode broke out, she had not even tried to explain to me what happened nor apologized to me for having sex with my boyfriend.
“Do what to my best friend?” I asked. “Best friend, best friend that had sex with my boyfriend and didn’t even feel she should tell me about it. A best friend who got pregnant for my boyfriend and has not considered it right to apologize, a best friend indeed!” I thundered out, angry and pissed.
This rather than cause her to apologize spooked her off. She vented off her frustration on me. She maintained that she wasn’t supposed to apologize to me because I was the first to cross her and snatch her boyfriend Ray. She has got her boyfriend back and instead of being happy for her wedding, I am making noise about it. Her rants were terribly difficult to swallow. She was a lion who wouldn’t hesitate to physically harass me. I was hoping she didn’t get physical because though she claimed she was three months pregnant, she was also ready to do anything to stamp her claims.
Luck smiled on me and Duke drove in. Through the glass window, I could see he had a company in the vehicle but I wasn’t sure who. When they alighted, it was Ray. Ray had not stepped his foot in my house since the incident. However, Jamila informed him about his trip to invite me over for their wedding. Fearing a confrontation, he called Duke and asked him to come check me up. Duke thought it was a good opportunity for the four of us to sit and talk things through.
In a week time, I would be done with my service year; such was not the case for Jamila whose uncontrollable truancy had earned her a three-month extension on her service year. Ray took unsure baby steps towards the house and when the door opened and Duke stepped in, he was alone.
Jamila was the first to talk.
“Monitoring spirit, what do you want here?” Who could believe that Jamila would call Duke, a guy he had fleeced for ages a monitoring spirit. This was such a time one would assume that mother nature would have gotten angry and sent a hailstorm to swallow her, but again, mother nature was eloquently silent. She was always spiky but it now seemed as though she was possessed by a terrible demon; a demon from the seventh hell. She was perpetually confrontational and insecure.
That she called Duke a monitoring spirit was not only funny but sad at the same time. Duke had been the only one genuinely there for Ray. I would have loved to, but I had to do the most responsible thing. Duke had told me at Jabi lake that Ray hardly spoke with Jamila. She was the one who threatened hell if Ray failed to do her biddings. She had once threatened Ray with reporting him to the police on rape charges.
When you are boxed in by a scheme, you first need to understand the scheme to be able to break free. Ray was too broken to think and it served her purpose perfectly.
“I didn’t come here for you,” replied Duke.
“Oh-oh, you guys are now hitting it off, that is nice to see” Jamila replied. “No be my baby follow you commot for that car?” she asked in her raw pidgin English.
Trying hard to ignore her, Duke continued to talk to me. “Pamela, hope you are OK?”
“Yes, I am OK, what is this about?” I asked.
“Can I ask Ray to come in? We all need to sit and talk.”
“Do we?” I asked
“Please Pamela, it is enough and about time we should talk. If you do not let him in, I will,” Duke threatened, while walking to the door to let him in.
“Duke, you do not have to keep my fiancé waiting. If Ray is out there, he should come in immediately,” Jamila said; while making to the door to let Ray in too.
“Since you all are now taking decisions on my behalf, that is my cue then, I guess I need to get fresh air outside this compound,” I said. Duke held me to prevent my exit and it was about then, Ray entered.
What greatly annoyed me every time I saw Ray was his crocodile tears. He always looked cowed, constantly bowed his head and unable to look me in the eye. If he was innocent, his crocodile tears weren’t what he needed to prove it.
Ray spoke meaningfully for the first time. He begged that I should attend their wedding. He wanted me to please be Jamila’s bridesmaid because it would make me closer to them. He wanted to be friends with me even after what happened and though he couldn’t have me again as he wanted, it was
enough for him to be friends with me. While that was what he wanted, he didn’t ask what I wanted. Jamila was devilish and I couldn’t be bridesmaid to the devil’s incarnate.
Of course, I could still be friends with him, but I couldn’t bring myself to be Jamila’s bridesmaid. Though the wedding was in Lagos and I would be in Lagos by then, I was definitely not going to attend as the bridesmaid. To be fair, it would have been the best thing to keep off but I would just attend and pretend to be OK with the wedding and that would be all about it.
- Emmanuella John, the Christmas Princess is the third child of seven children. She is a writer, who writes poems, prose (fiction and non fiction etc) and a little of drama. She also writes articles on different topics.