Because we’re on a roll! And also because my sister launched her website just yesterday! Check out tenewaa.com, and let me know your thoughts! (And please order something!)
In the meantime, I wish you a beautiful week, filled with love, peace, and productivity.
From: [email protected]
Adzo, I’m sorry about all of that. I can imagine the tension! Remember when someone stole something from a client years back? Those were bad times! I hope it gets better. I also hope you’re able to leave! If you do manage to get out, call the number I’ll send in a separate email. He’s a Catholic Priest who has helped me out a lot in the past few weeks. He might be able to help. I don’t intend to stay long where I am currently. But for now, he might be able to show you where I am. I hope it all works out. I hope I get to see you. Baby is almost here. Each day I grow even more restless. I cannot wait! How do people do this multiple times?!
Alima went into labour on a very hot afternoon. It was a little after 1:00 PM, and yet the sun was sweltering. It took her quite a while to realise it was labour pains. Although they had said this over and over again at the antenatal clinic.
“It will feel like you want to go to the toilet and a little like your menstrual cramps.” She was lying in bed with her feet kicked up because that’s what they said to do with her ever swollen feet. It barely helped; she did it anyway.
The contractions were preceded by a wave of nausea. She tried to throw up, but after a few minutes of empty retching, she went back to the bed and kicked up her feet. Within thirty minutes, she knew. She knew exactly what it was.
One contraction ripped through her leaving her without a doubt. It pulled a blood-curdling scream from her. And with it, came the tears. She tried to calm herself. Why was she crying? She was finally having the baby…
And Akaa is sitting comfortably in his wife’s arms.
She brushed the thought away and concentrated on trying to get her packed bag. They’d told her to keep it by the door. Why hadn’t she listened? And not everything was even in there yet. The items on the list had been straightforward, she just hadn’t gotten round to packing it all up properly.
If you hadn’t spent so much time writing letters to a man you will probably never see again, maybe you would have had the time to do the needful!
For one queasy second, she saw the world flash before her eyes. She saw herself dying, watching the child grow up alone.
Where had that come from?
She stopped packing the bag when another contraction caused her to stagger and crouch. She was seeing red. She grabbed the journal from under her bed. It still had a blue ballpoint pen inside it. She wondered if she would be able to write one more thing in there before the baby showed up. Was she going to make it to meet the baby? Why was she suddenly having visions of doom?
She grabbed the journal and half waddled half run to the door. Bose was right at her door.
Bose didn’t know what to expect when he heard the scream. Of course, right on the top of the list was the baby coming out. But a frantic, sweaty hyperventilating woman screaming and shoving a book at him was not exactly part of what he had been expecting.
“The father of this baby. Phone number.” She paused to take a long breath. “If I die!”
She was not very coherent, and Bose was starting to panic. It would take him about fifteen minutes to get to the main junction if he run. If he was lucky to meet a bike, he could take that to go get a taxi in the town. He was doing mental calculations, and she was shoving phone numbers into his hands.
He had the phone number for a taxi driver in town, but he was trying it, and it could not be reached.
“Alima. Let me go get a car.”
She looked at him but didn’t seem to compute what he was saying. She went to her bed and came back with an envelope…. She handed it to him, muttering things that didn’t make sense.
He had seen people in labour sent to hospital on bikes multiple times, for some reason, she didn’t seem like the kind that could do that. Was there a kind? He wasn’t used to his mind being all over the place this way.
“I don’t want you contacting him just yet…” She paused, bent, and groaned.
“He made to walk out, frustrated that he couldn’t reach the taxi driver.”
“But in case I die…” she puffed out some air. “…or anything happens to me…”
Another contraction. A smaller one.
“Let him know that this is his baby.”
That stopped him in his tracks. Why was she considering dying? How many people died from having babies anymore?
She continued as if they were having a normal conversation – one where she was in a hurry. “He calls me Lina, not Alima. Chances are he will not believe it or want it. And that’s okay.”
It was almost like a scene from a book or a weird movie to Bose.
“I’ve put my girl’s address there as well. She works at the… uhm the agency.”
“She might not be able to keep the child either. I have vague directions to my mother’s place in a paper in the journal. I don’t have a phone number, just a way to get to that village. But if he denies the baby, and my girls can’t keep it either, please send it to my mother. But give Akaa the red journal. The other one, please keep. It has information on my accounts and all, so you can add some money to the baby when sending it to my mother.”
For a few seconds, it was as if she was rapping.
“And thank you. Bose, you have been Godsent. I would not have made it. I hope you get the emancipation you want from your church; I don’t think it’s fair that they hold you captive this way. But maybe it’s because I don’t understand your faith. Or any faith for that matter.”
She was rambling. It dawned on him that maybe she had been given an epiphany of sorts.
“I’m scared, Bose. I wanted a good life for myself and this baby. And now I’m going to die.”
“You’re not going to die Alima!”
His tone surprised them both. It quieted her. “You are not going to die.” He repeated, softly this time. “I’ll be right here waiting for you and the baby.”
I don’t think I can be a mother at forty. I don’t know if I want this. And I know it’s probably unfair not making you a part of the decision. I just don’t want to make this any harder than it is. I don’t know your thoughts about babies. I know I should ask. But if I’m being frank, I’m scared. I’m not good at being scared. Am I going to have to ‘take things easy’ for a year or more? What happens to the companies? Am I going to get fat? What if I die? Not many people have babies at my age.
I won’t lie and say the thought of a beautiful baby girl doesn’t intrigue me. It would excite Mba so much, maybe he’ll even finally be proud of me – first marriage and now a child? He will leap! So strange that something I hoped for with so much intensity so long ago is coming now to haunt me. I wish I could be like most women and come say all this to you, hear you out, let you hold me while I cry, and then make a mutual decision. Maybe I’m a coward, maybe I’m selfish. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if you’ll get mad, or if you’ll want out, but by the time you see this, I don’t think we’ll have a baby anymore. I set up an appointment, to take care of it. I’m so sorry Teju.
Teju was livid. Not because he wanted a baby – he had never even given much thought to kids. But clearly, Talata could not be bothered to treat him like a decent human. Was he still just some lover boy from the agency for her pleasure and nothing else? Why had he thought that this sham of a marriage was anything but that?
You knew what you bargained for…why are you suddenly expecting differently?
He tried to calm down. He’d vowed to not call her or check on her… To pretend he hadn’t even seen the letter. If she wanted a transactional marriage, he would give her that exactly! He lay in the bed tossing and turning after a long shower. Where was she? It was close to midnight. Nobody got an abortion till midnight.
Or did they? Had something happened to her?
He grabbed his phone to call her. No…he wouldn’t.
He called her driver. No answer. He gave in and called her phone. No answer.
He tried to remain calm. He tried to think. Maybe she was at the office. He grabbed his keys and drove out there. Her car was not there. Security hadn’t seen her since his shift takeover.
At this point, he was out of options. He went back home and lay in bed.
He wished he’d known about the baby, but right now, he just wished he knew where she was, that she was okay. He just wanted her to be fine.
That’s when it struck him… really struck him. He really had it bad for Talata!
Women could spend two whole days in labour? It made no sense to Bose! He sighed a sigh of relief when the nurses burst out of the door. What didn’t register was that they were rushing the baby out somewhere.
“What’s happening? Madam what’s going on?!”
They must have noticed the intensity in his voice, because one of the nurses stopped to update him briefly.
“Baby is unwell.” The mother laboured for too long. We had to do a CS. He was asphyxiated. We are sending him to the NICU. Mother bled quite a lot, but she’s stable now. Should be out of recovery in a few hours.
He didn’t even understand half of the things she’d just said. But it was apparent no was not the time for questions.
“Can I see her?”
“Not yet. We will keep you updated.”
When he finally got to see Alima, Bose got alarmed.
“What we’re worried about now is the mother. We think she might have what we call postpartum depression. She refuses to touch the baby, or even look at him. She isn’t talking either. Just staring. We’ve sent for a clinical psychologist to speak with her. Let’s see how she does after that.”
He’d assumed that the nurse’s words at the door were extreme. They were not. She looked at him as if staring past him – as if she couldn’t see him. He congratulated her, and tried to talk to her. To ask if she needed anything. She stared at the wall half the time.
What did all this even mean?
Talata got home at two am.
Teju was still in bed, still fully clothed. When she walked in stealthily, assuming him asleep. He could tell she was not okay. She was clearly upset. She headed straight for the bathroom.
Teju walked in to find her in tears; hands over her face, half naked, half wearing her robe, semi-slumped over the sink. Most of the anger he’d felt earlier dissipated.
“I couldn’t do it. I’m too weak, Teju. I could not do it!” Something odd sparked in him.
Could he convince her? Maybe he could try? Would she listen? Would she be able to? Could they raise a child?
“Let’s shower… come here”
He moved behind her, peeled off her robe, held up her hair into her large shower cap, and pulled her into the shower. He remained fully dressed, put on the water and held her in there as her tears subsided. She clung to him as if her life depended on it. His clothes were soaked through, and before long, his erection was poking her; clearly his body didn’t know how to read the room.
She felt it. Felt it press into her belly. She slowly started to take off his clothes. “Baby… we can do this later.”
She went on as if she hadn’t heard him. He looked down at her – her eyes red and swollen, chest still heaving, lips lightly pursed. Before long, she was on her knees taking off his underwear, throwing them to a corner in the shower.
Teju pulled her up to her feet and kissed her lips. He had to dig deep into himself to muster all the self-control he could. He grabbed her shower gel, and soaped her up, feeling light flutter when his hand run over her belly. Would she keep it?
The tears had stopped, but she was still trembling. He washed her up and then soaped himself while she dried off.
In bed, he held her tightly, her back against his chest, kissing her ears, her neck, her shoulders. She was oddly silent. Neither had on any clothes, and again, he could feel the effect of her body on his. He continued to kiss her all over, flicking her nipples and stopping only to turn her around slowly. She had that look in her eyes. He could only remember it from the time they’d made love, the week they’d visited her father.
“Tell… me what….what you’re thinking.” He could barely get the words out.
She was breathing heavily, stroking his member with one hand, and attempting to touch him everywhere with the other. He peeled both her hands, placing them above her head, looking into her eyes, willing her to give an answer.
“I’m thinking…” she said breathlessly. “… that maybe, just maybe, you… might be too good for me.” And with that, he slid slowly into her, watching as her eyes went unfocused for a few seconds. When the haze left, he looked into her eyes, willing her to feel what he felt.
She let out a strangled cry.
I’ve never really given much thought to having kids. Same way I never really gave marriage thought before you. I’ve only known you a couple of years, and we’ve had a comfortable marriage going on for just a few months now. I was mad when I read your note. Not because I want a child badly. But because I wish you’d told me. Ours is a very unconventional relationship, but I don’t like feeling as if I don’t matter. I know it’s your body. I know you’re the one that will have to go through it. And I won’t force you to do anything – you’re Talata, nobody forces you. I just wish your first thought had been “Oh my God, let me tell Teju!” I know you’ve taken care of yourself for so long, T, but I’m here now. You don’t have to do it all alone anymore. allow yourself to be weak once in a while, to be fragile… let your people take care of you! Let me take care of you.
Imagine if the tables were turned? What if I was diagnosed with something scary and you were totally oblivious to it? You know how you get.
I deserve a chance to be there for you… and if you don’t tell me what’s really going on. I’ll never know!
Whatever you decide to do, babe, let me be there for you. Let’s do it together.