Mide’s Abor with Olamide Longe
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Tejumade unlocked the door with one hand, her baby held in the other. The taxi driver stood behind her holding her bags. It was about 6 o’clock in the evening. She caught a movement behind the curtains of the apartment next to hers. She felt eyes on her. She could feel them boring into her back. She concentrated on getting her door open. It cooperated and she stepped aside for the driver to enter ahead of her. She directed him to drop the bags in the middle of the sitting room. She thanked him and he departed. She locked the door behind him.
He was her go-to driver.
She went into her room and gently placed her bundle on the bed.
Alone at last.
Exactly two weeks ago, she had called up the taxi driver to take her to the hospital and she had been delivered of a baby boy. It had been a C-section. She had requested for it.
The baby was sleeping now. She had gone to great lengths not to disturb him in the switch from the car to the house. Her left hand ached. She sat beside him carefully and slowly stretched out on the bed. She still felt very tender in the stomach area.
She sighed, a contented one. It felt like heaven to be back at home, away from the prying eyes of doctors and nurses. It had been tough in the ward. Close to hell, even.
Three women died in the two weeks she spent there, all at night. Two had their babies in the day. One had yet to give birth. She remembered the night nurse going around the ward pleading when she resumed duty after the third death. She pleaded with them all not to give in to death, no matter what. They must fight. Think about their babies and fight. They mustn’t be weaklings, she admonished. Childbirth was a matter of life and death she knew, but they must choose life.
Tejumade stopped sleeping at night. During one of her watches, a young woman, she couldn’t have been older than 20, had a fit, she leaped from her bed and would have landed on the floor, save for the extraordinary speed of the woman staying with her. Any other outcome and it would have ended tragically she was sure.
The stay had revealed to her that giving birth was not something to joke about, especially in her part of the world and made her sore afraid. She was glad she had scheduled a C-section and hadn’t experienced the pangs of labour. However, the after pain itself had been excruciating. She had declined pain killers the second night after the surgery because the one she had been given made her hallucinate. She cried throughout that night. Morning came and she begged for painkillers.
She sighed again. In hindsight, she was glad to have experienced the pain. For some reason, it made her feel complete as a mother.
The baby moved and she turned to him. He slept on. She gazed at him. He was so beautiful to her. Love gushed from every pore of her body.
On her 39th birthday, she decided to damn the consequences and commit herself to what she had discovered about herself and had told no one for the past three years. She broke the news to Francesca, her best friend, over lunch.
“You wake up one day and it dawns on you that you’re not wife material and peace that surpasses all understanding rules your heart and your mind.”
“I had an epiphany a couple of years back.”
“And that means what, exactly?”
“I wasn’t made to be anybody’s wife.”
“Rubbish talk. Heaven forbid.”
“Not at all,” Tejumade retorted. “You do know I have marriage apathy.”
“Hian. It is crazy talk. And I know the cause. Anxiety. Yes, you are anxious. The pressure is getting to you.”
“Well, you are—no, we are getting on in years and marriage seems not to be forthcoming. You are tired of waiting. Tell me that isn’t the real reason you came up with that insane notion.”
“Psychoanalysis fail. Keep your day job.”
“Be serious, Teju. This isn’t funny to me, at all.”
“I am serious. Not that anyone would believe me. However, I’m not out to convince anyone. I have decided…”
“Please, stop this nonsense.”
“To have a baby.”
Tejumade rose to pat her on the back. “Easy.”
When she recovered, Francesca gazed at her in silence, a perplexed look on her face. “You won’t marry, but will have a baby,” she said slowly.
“It has been done.”
“Nobody plans to have a baby out of wedlock. No sane person, that is.”
“I am as sane as you are and I want to hold a baby in my arms next year God willing.”
“God? Did you just mention God? Let me assure you that he has nothing to do with this. It is all you.”
Tejumade reached for her malt drink and drank slowly.
“And your folks, how do you expect them to react?”
“That’s my headache, I’ll handle it.”
“A sensible person would pray to be married in a year and have a baby.”
“Good luck to them. I am having a baby, Francesca. You can’t sway me,” Tejumade stated in firm tones.
… continues next week