African StoriesLove and Romance StoriesNaija Stories

It’s Not Always What It Seems

I was excited. I was happy. I was anxious, anxious to tell my boyfriend of three years that we made it. That just like he shoots threes and never misses, he has made this shot too. I was anxious, so anxious to tell my boyfriend, who I dumped my high school sweetheart ‘Dave’ for, that he was going to be a father soon, the father of my child.

“Dump” is such a harsh word, I know but you can’t blame me for leaving Dave. My boyfriend is much older and is at least earning enough to take care of himself compared to Dave who depended on his mother and uncles. And at times the little money he got from selling his artwork. Although he ran into debts more often than not, I still saw myself having a better future with him than with Dave. Since he lived abroad and was obviously earning in a foreign currency, I felt that whatever he earned, there would be more than enough to start something—a family here. At least I wouldn’t have to join Sister Nkechi and Sister Agnes to be frequenting the parish for morning and evening masses and never missing to book mass because my time has come and is right on its way out. I didn’t want to be the aunty that was ripe for marriage and yet you’d come visiting and it’ll be only her voice and maybe that of some other adults but no baby cries. No children’s laughter and occasional wailing. No little ones to run around the house to fight for whose meat is bigger, who came first in class and who didn’t. No kids to brag about who has the finest handwriting or who is the teacher’s pet. No little ones to run to the gate when their daddy finally gets home in the night shouting “Daddy oyoyo”.

No, I didn’t want to be that aunty. Not in this life, not in the next. I was going to get married in my prime by all means—this I made sure of by ditching Dave and accepting my American lover’s proposal and also making sure I do whatever he wanted—to arch my back exactly how he wanted, not too high, not too low, with my hips in the perfect shape, arms stretched out in front of me, swallow whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. Most times I had to sleep in the day so I’d be up at night texting him when he gets back from work. He worked morning shifts so with the six-hour difference and with the fact that I was a student, this was the best option; and if I happen to be busy during the day (which I almost always am) and can’t take my siesta, I’d still stay up at night thereby jeopardizing the following day’s activities. This was me throwing away my sleep. On a regular. But it didn’t matter, this is what I wanted so I was willing to do anything to get it.

The doctor’s voice still rang in my ears clearly. “Moooorenikeji, is that…?” He pronounced my name with much difficulty so I figured he wasn’t from the South, so I saved him the stress and answered.

“Yes, I’m the one. And It’s Moh-ren-ikeji, not Moren with the “o” sound.”

“I’m sorry about that. Let’s meet briefly in my office, please. It’s this way,” he said as he pointed to his office. He had this smile on his face that I couldn’t tell what it was about.

“You may sit. Your report says you fear that you might have malaria or typhoid, maybe both, reason being that you’ve not experienced these in a while, and being AA, it’s a normal occurrence. Am I right?” he asked

“Yes, that’s what I think but my friend Kiki advised me to see a doctor. So, please tell me, what is it?”

“Well, I for one know that it’s not malaria neither is it typhoid—”

Sebi una don see this guy!” I cut him short, whilst biting my lips in a manner that depicted violence. “Doc, will you like to talk now or after you get your ear bitten off?”

He chuckled and said, “Congratulations, ma’am. You’re six weeks pregnant.”

“Sorry, do you mind checking the name again? I believe there’s a mistake somewhere,” I said out of shock. My expectations were to leave the hospital with some malaria pills not to test positive to being pregnant.

“The only way I would have said maybe there was a mix-up somewhere is if I wasn’t in the lab when the tests were carried out but, as the Good Lord would have it I was there to oversee everything. So I’m one hundred percent positive that these results are yours. Congratulations once again.”

“Thanks, Doc.” I was feeling ecstatic, so many things were going through my head. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be a mother yet. Like hell I wasn’t, but looking at the bright side, this is what I wanted—a family. A family with Henry. Perhaps Henry would be happy that I’m carrying his child and we’d become a family, legally. With these thoughts, the confusion in my head turned into happiness and I started smiling.

“I’ll stop by later for the ultrasound. Thanks again, Doc.”

“Just doing my job, ma’am.” He got comfortable with calling me ‘ma’am’ since my name was rather too difficult for him to pronounce.

I took the bus to my junction and then a bike to my house. “Hey, baby. Where are you? I’ve got good news for you. For us, I mean,” I said as I walked through the front door. “Where are you, babe?”

“I’m right here doing my thing. I’ll be with you in a minute, baby.”

“Are you in your comfort room again, watching the game?”

“I’m here now for you,” he said as he showed off his beautifully-manmade dentition as he drew closer and held my hands. His touch is… urghhhhh… heavenly is the word.

“You don’t look like you tested positive for malaria or even negative. For the record, you look like you won a million-dollar lottery. What are you not telling me?”

“That’s not your best shot, is it? C’mon babe. Gimme something.”

“Hmm, let me see… did you run into old friends or something?”

“No, that’s not it. I only went to the hospital like we discussed.”

“Wait!” He let go of my hands, took a step back and looked at me in a way he’d never done before and popped the question in a manner so hurtful I lost my voice. “Morenikeji, are you pregnant? ‘Cause if you are, I don’t see why you should be laughing.” When I didn’t answer, he bit his lips, clenched his fists as if he was ready to get into a brawl with someone. “Answer when I’m talking to you, woman. Are you pregnant?”

I couldn’t talk so I handed him the brown envelope that had the test results in it instead. He snatched it from my hand, glanced through it, looked at me and back down on the papers and back up at me.

“This isn’t even possible and you know it.”

I was shocked at what he said and I think that’s what gave me back my voice. I was furious. I was ashamed. I felt betrayed but I didn’t want to mess things up. I didn’t want to tarnish my chances of getting married. We were almost there but this was just too much for me. I never had anything to do with anyone. I stayed faithful to him. I daydreamed of having him as the father of my children. I had butterflies in my stomach whenever I thought of him.

“Are you trying to say that—?” He cut me short

“I’m not trying to say anything. These are facts, raw facts. There’s no way you’ll be pregnant. Unless the child is not mine. My coitus interruptus game is superb and you know it. I’d never make such a mistake. I don’t know what stunt you’re trying to pull but you got the wrong guy.”

I couldn’t hold it anymore. I landed a slap on his face. “What do you mean? That I’m trying to pin another man’s child on you? How could you say that? Why in the world would I do that? I’m in my finals and having a child out of wedlock is against my school’s rules. I could even get expelled. Why in the world would you think I’d do that?”

“Exactly! That’s why you want to pin it on me thinking I’d fall for it and get married to you and save you from being expelled. Nice getaway plan. Kudos! You’re a master planner but you failed this time. Like I said, dear, I’m sorry but you picked the wrong guy. I wish you luck anyway.”

With these words he walked out on me and into the room and started packing his things. Everything happened so fast. I couldn’t believe my ears. I couldn’t believe my eyes either. I wished I could just wake up from this nightmare. I wished it was just a dream but it felt so real. It wasn’t a dream. It took only a few seconds and my whole life was shattered. With tears in my eyes I dashed into the room.

“What about the unending love you said you have for me? What about the kids we planned on having?

“We’ll still have the kids but not together. I mean, you already have one of your own, right?” he said as he pointed at my belly

I cried uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe that a man born of a woman could be this cruel to a woman carrying his child.

“You said we’d name our first boy Michael. I asked why. You said my mother’s name is Michelle, so was her mother before her and so am I. You said it’s been three generations already, so instead of giving our girl child the name, we’d pass it to the boy. We agreed we’d have four children. What’s going to happen to all of that now? What’s going to happen the plans we made about you coming back immediately after my youth service to put a ring on my finger and me coming over once my papers are ready?”

“Nothing is going to happen. You had a choice and clearly you chose. I expected better from you, Michelle. I really did. You’re a disgrace to womanhood. I hope you don’t turn out to be a disgrace to motherhood too. Anyways, I left some twenty dollars for you on the table.” These were his final words as he stormed out of the house. I ran after him with his so-called dollars. I threw them at him, tugging at his shirt and shouting on top of my voice: “To hell with you and your dollars. To hell with you. To hell with you, Henry. To hell with you.” I had become the mad woman who ran after her husband, yelling in the streets because he was leaving her with the kids and no income. But in my case I wasn’t married. I didn’t have a husband. I had a boyfriend. A boyfriend who was leaving. A boyfriend who was now my ex.

I called Kiki and told her everything, I told her that I wanted to get rid of the baby. I had to, but she advised me against it. She came over and stayed with me for a few days but had to go back. She had just gained admission to do a master’s degree programme in Canada and she was on government
scholarship so she had to go. Before she left she made me promise her that I won’t bring harm to myself or the baby. She also said that I’ve been mentally unstable, that I’d wake up in the dead of the night and be texting and laughing like couples do few weeks into their relationship.. You know, that spark that comes with being loved by someone whom you don’t know from Adam.

“At first I was happy you found someone to take your mind off all this,” she paused, sighed and continued, “only for me to find out two days later when I wanted to help you register your courses that you were texting your late mom and wishing she was here, wishing she didn’t die whilst you were a child, maybe you would have learnt from her how to face times like this. Maybe things would have been a bit bearable if your father wasn’t a deadbeat dad.” I fell on her shoulders and started crying.

“I know this is a hard time for you but I need you to be strong, for yourself and the baby.”

“Thanks, Kiki. I really appreciate you being here for me.”

I saw her off to the park where we bade each other goodbye before she took a bus to Lagos, her place of flight. I couldn’t go to school to avoid being expelled but I still needed to take my quizzes. I was alone in this world. I had no one to run to and then I remembered Dave. I called Dave, I texted him but he didn’t reply. I went to his house but he wasn’t home. I left a note for him but he didn’t reply. He probably didn’t want to have anything to do with me. For the first time I felt bad for what I did to him because now I know how it feels, someone else had made me feel the same pain but much worse. Much worse than what I did to Dave.

I made up my mind to end it all. There was nothing left for me here. I didn’t want to bring this child to this world to suffer. I got myself some leftover diesel from the Sumec Firman Henry got me and some insecticide and laid on my bed ready to drink it and had to scribble something on a paper so people don’t think it was murder and so they learn from my mistake, a mistake unforgivable. I looked up to the ceiling and begged the Good Lord to forgive me. I was ready so I mixed it, drank and went to meet my creator. What I scribbled on the paper was:

“Don’t leave something good for something better. It’s not always what it seems.”

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