African StoriesLife and General Fiction StoriesNaija Stories

Escape to the Void

The baby was in the cot few metres away, her bundle of melody. She walked steadily towards the cot, it was now or never. Soon they won’t be alone, there would be sounds of the feet of the hypocritical gospel bearers, the smell of hate and contempt.

She smothered the baby with the blanket, and without flinching reached out for the kitchen knife and slit her wrists.

Hush, baby, we have escaped.

She had returned home with a grand trophy for her parents, a swollen belly and the sperm donor at bay.

Her father’s face had contorted into a mass of angry veins and a riot of furious emotions as she walked through the door that afternoon, head bowed. Her mother had taken one look at the protruding stomach and went down on the tiled floor with a loud scream.

With emotions spent, she hovered around her daughter like a kite, asking questions—too many, willing the swollen tummy to be a product of rape, seeking a sob story to tell inquisitive ears of friends and family: that of a girl accosted by a nameless and faceless brute; that of forced entry into her womanhood, a story that would arouse pity. Any other story but the glaring reality that her daughter had committed the abominable fornication.

She had stared at those fearful eyes and told her that she had not been raped. She recoiled, hurt.

There were loud prayers too at night, prayers which kept her awake, rolling from one position to another seeking for the most comfortable position for her big belly and its occupant. Prayers peppered by noisy tongues and loud clapping, prayers that stretched to early hours of dawn.

She wondered fleetingly sometimes if some of the prayers was for her to lose her baby.

The day the baby came was like no other, the holy ones were absent as they always have been; hunger came with cramps, suffocating cramps that left her gasping for breath. She limped to the balcony and held on to the rails for support. Someone had thrown some newspapers out of the window and one found its way to the balcony where she clung.

She bit down on her lips till they drew blood and with a mighty push, her baby came tearing into the world with a shrill cry and blood seeping onto the newspaper.

Those were the days when they were still glimpses of light. Light died when her period came, a startling red liquid that frightened her. Light died with the realisation that they would rather be without the prodigy and the abominable child.

Someone might fling down a newspaper tomorrow morning and it would read: Murder—Suicide: mother and child dead.

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