I started noticing sever back ache come weeks later. I was always weak and dizzy and food lost taste in my mouth. I could no longer enter the kitchen because the smell of food was enof to make me dizzy.
Even coke which had been my favourite drink now had a metallic taste in my mouth.
I hated drugs so i hid my sickness from aunt Chime because she was going to drag me to the village clinic for them to administer drugs on me.
School was resuming in few weeks time but i didnt look forward to it.
Oma had returned to the village and she visited me almost everyday. She told me i was getting fat nowadays and what was the secret. I simply laughed it off and said it was because i rarely left the house nowadays and slept alot.
I lost taste for s£x and whenever Ralph called me, i always had one excuse to say. Ifeanyi never went beyond kissing with me. He understood me and claimed i needed time to heal. He was the best boyfriend that could ever be, he was caring, romantic, nice, and he wasnt stinging. He always siezed opportunity to shower me with gifts, some of which i rejected because i didnt want aunt Chime to suspect anything.
I checked my calendar. Today was 25th, it was due for 14th, why had Aunty flow not visited yet?
My heart pounded loudly against my chest.
I immediately fell on the bed, picked up my phone, turned on my mobile data and hit the internet.
SYMPTOMS OF PREGNANCY – I typed into the search box. My heart pounded loudly as it connected.
She looked up at my, her brow creased in a frown, obviously, she was trying to recognise me.
‘Maduemezie okwaya?’ she asked in Igbo.
‘yes ma’ i replied as my heart pounded loudly against my chest..i had hoped she hadnt recognised me. But she did.
‘gi bu afa yi sef?’ she asked meaning – what is your name?
‘i…i…’ I decided to lie ‘Mary’
‘asi!’ she said immediately shocking me. Asi meant lie.
‘okwi i che umara afa yi okwaya?’ Meaning, so you thought i didnt know your name right?
‘afam bu Mary’
‘ta mechionu, onye asi…’ she said smiling ‘afa gi bu Ivyy, so because i’m old, you think i forget people that easily okwaya?’
I smiled ‘my name is also Mary, my baptismal name’
‘ooo, anukwam (i’ve heard) Gini ki cho?’ What do you want?
‘erm, i…’ God help me, how do i tell her this without this inquisitive nurse asking me questions i wouldnt want to answer?
‘erm, i’ve forgotten what my neighbour called it oo…erm, okay..she said pregnancy strip!’ I exclaimed, glad the idea came into my head immediately.
She regarded me suspicously ‘children of nowadays, hian! Mere looking at you alone, i know you’re pregnant. So you want to fool me into believing its for your neighbour okwaya? When last did you see your period?’
I was shocked to the marrow, how did she know? I looked at my body, was it written all over me?
She chuckled as she rose on her feet ‘it seems you’ve forgotten that i’m a old woman with so many grandchildren and as such, i have more experience than you can ever imagine, mu amugo nwa oo (i’ve given birth oo). I know a pregnant woman immediately she crosses my face and immediately you came here, i knew you were carrying a child, that was why i was interviewing you..see your life…i’ll advice you not to bother buying a pregnant strip, because i’m already telling you that you are pregnant’ Her face wrinkled in disgust as tears ran down my cheeks ‘there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Shebi you wanted to taste what your mother was eating every night? Shebi you’ve tasted it…e sweet?’ She laughed wickedly.
‘your parents…oh! Your parents are already dead, too bad! But they will be turning in their graves by now…its a pity. I just hope the man marries you sha, so your life wont be a mess like your moms’
I broke down in tears. Who was this woman to judge me? What right had she to judge me? I thought as i cried.
Ralph has killed me! Ralph has ruined my future! My education…my career! God!
I fell on the floor of the pharmacy weeping like a baby.
I had always wanted to be an Accountant…a chartered Accountant. But all that had gone down the drains.
The heartless woman didnt even deem it fit to console me, instead she laughed.
‘shebi penis dey hungry you? Shebi you don taste am? Amu na su so, Amu ne gbu!’ (The penis is sweet, the penis also kills).
How i managed to get home that night surprised even me.
Immediately i got home, i locked the door behind me and cried my eyes out till i slept.
A knock on the door woke me up. I opened it to see Aunt Chime.
She regarded me for a while, held my hand and dragged me to the sitting room.
I was scared, what was happening?
She landed a hot slap on my cheeks immediately we got there.
‘tell me the ba.stard who’s responsible!’ She said angrily.
I started crying. She had found out ‘aunt, what happened?’
‘who’s the fool who got you pregnant, you animal!’
‘aunty….’ i started crying. I had brought shame to myself. What do i tell her? God please forgive me my sins, but please help me outta this mess. I felt like dying.
She gave me another slap ‘it seems you are trying me Ivyy, im tizie ife tata, e go w€te oweyi (if i beat you this nite’ She brought a horsewhip from under the table and landed it severally on my body.
‘tell me…tell me’
I screamed as the whip touched me everywhere. I was dying slowly and only God could help me.
‘will you tell me or not?’ aunt Chime asked landing the whip mercilessly on my body.
I’d never been flogged like this before. I couldnt take it anymore.
‘IFEANYI!!!!!’ I screamed.
I stilled. What did i just say?
Very early the next morning, aunt Chime dragged me like a thief to the onowu’s house. The guard at the gate refused to let us in as the onowu was around.
Aunt Chime started screaming loud ‘IFEANYI! IFEANYI, SON OF THE ONOWU! COME AND SEE WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO MY NIECE OOOO! YOU’VE IMPREGNATED HER AND YOU MUST TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT’
I bowed my head in shame as tears poured down my cheeks…i regretted so many things.
If only Ifeanyi was responsible for my pregnancy, then i wouldnt have no fear because he was certainly going to marry me. But no he wasnt, and he was going to know because he never had s£xual intercourse with me.
And the shame it was going to bring to me now, because everyone came out of the house almost at once, the onowu, Kainene, Henna, Ifeanyi, the maids and so many other domestic workers in the house.
The onowu told the guard at the gate to let us in and he did.
Immediately i stepped into the compound, i lowered my head in shame. I knew i was a mess, my hair was rough, my clothes were squeezed and my face oily and pale. My eyes were red and swollen from too much crying.
The onowu looked from aunt Chime to me accessingly ‘whats the meaning of this, so early in the morning?’ his voice vibrated in anger.
Aunt Chime got on her knees with her head lowered ‘onowu, may you live long’
‘what brings you and your niece here this early morning?’ he asked.
Henna moved to my side and was about speaking when her father commanded her to step back.
I suddenly felt dizzy and my knees became weak and Ifeanyi was beside me in a flash and i fell into his arms.
By now, aunt Chime was already explaining everything to the onowu.
I looked at Ifeanyi in tears and mouthed ‘i’m sorry’
He looked at me in confusion.
‘i’m very sorry Ifeanyi, have mercy upon me’ i sobbed.
‘……so now, my niece is pregnant and she claimes Ifeanyi is responsible for the pregnancy and i brought her here for Ifeanyi to take responsiblity. Long live the onowu…’ Aunt Chime concluded.
‘get up woman…’ the onowu said and she did.
‘Ifeanyi!’ the onowu spoke authoritatively.
Ifeanyi looked at him, confusion laced over his face. It was obvious he wasnt understanding what was going on ‘dad?’
‘what do you have to say about this? Have you impregnated this girl here as claimed?’ the onowu asked.
Ifeanyi looked at me and gave me the ARE YOU CRAZY look? ‘are you playing games Ivyy? If thats the case, you should quit now cos everyone is falling for it’
‘mere looking at her, she looks like someone with pregnancy…’ the head cook of their house said, madam Onuoha, a woman in her sixties.
The onowu turned to her ‘did i ask for your opinion?’
‘get inside the house and prepare dinner immediately!’
The cook scampered inside the house immediately.
Ifeanyi shifted away from me ‘Ivyy, who’s responsible for your pregnancy?’
‘what kind of question is that?’ aunt Chime asked ‘of course its you! You think i havent been seeing you guys hang out in my garden through my windown?’
Ifeanyi stood up immediately ‘i am not responsible for this! Tell her to tell you the person responsible for the pregnancy because its certainly not me, i am a hundred percent sure of that!’
‘dont you know that condoms do burst?’ the onowu interjected ‘if you think you can be hundred percent sure simply because you used a condom then you’re a liar. Ifeanyi, i’m disappointed in you! How dare you try to shy away from your responsibility? Is that what i thought you?’
‘dad! Ivyy is lying! Gosh, Henna please tell them what i told you last night…’ Ifeanyi said turning to Henna ‘i agree that we attempted to do it so many times but Ivyy couldnt do it because she or rather she claimed she was raped and so she had issues whenever it came to intimacy. I swear on my late mother’s grave and everything i hold dear that i did not have s£x with Ivyy. She was my girlfriend, yes, but there was never any intimacy between us, ask her yourself!’
I started crying as all eyes turned to me.
The onowu came closer and squatted in front of me ‘tell me my child, who really is responsible for your pregnancy? Is it really Ifeanyi?’
I cried. I couldnt say anything….Ifeanyi was such a good person, he didnt deserve this kind of treatment from anyone most especially me. I just had to admit that i’d lost him for good. He was never coming back to me again and it was all my fault.
‘answer me child…’ the onowu said tenderly ‘is he truly responsible for your pregnancy?’
I shook my head. I couldnt do this to Ifeanyi, he deserved something better ‘no’
Everyone gasped and Ifeanyi fell to the ground crying. He had truly loved me.
‘then who’s responsible?’ the onowu asked.
‘Ralph…Ralph Obi’ i sobbed.
Henna’s shoulder sagged in disappointment.
She warned me. Mrs Asemota warned me.
I would never forget that day in my life.
That day when i stood by the window watching my mates dressed in their neat and well ironed school uniform hurrying off to school with their fancy schoolbags slung over their shoulders.
That day when it dawned on me that i might never smell the school gate anymore. That day when it dawned on me that i was going to miss my teachers. Especially Mrs Asemota. That day when it dawned on me that i had disappointed very important persons in my life.
I knew without being told that mama was going to be very upset with me wherever she was.
I lost. I lost on both ends.
Immediately we left the onowu’s house that fateful day, aunt Chime had dragged me to Ralph’s house.
We met his mother and she threatened us after throwing some money to us, never to come close to our house again.
She called me names i knew i deserved and told me to terminate the pregnancy immediately and i shouldnt drag down her son simply because i was also going down.
Aunt Chime had retorted and had told her that if she had given her son a proper upbringing, then he would never have impregnated a girl while in secondary school.
And the woman had looked at me and said i was more shameless because even though Ralph had impregnated me, that wouldnt stop him from going to school becoming what he’s destined to be. But as for me, mine was finished because it will take only a miracle for a responsible and well respected man to marry me.
Aunt Chime had been very mad. And she had stood in front of the woman and told her that plus my pregnancy minus my pregnancy, i was going to be greater than her son in the future.
The woman had laughed and ordered her securities to throw us out. I couldnt stop crying.
At a time, the thought of suicide crossed my mind. I couldnt stand the shame and all.
I looked at the window once more. I saw Mesoma and her friend, Chisom going to school. I was far better than those girls. I was far better than Henna who was scre.wing her own father. Why was i the only one with badluck, i agreed i made a mistake, but did God have to punish me for that?
The door opened and Aunt Chime entered the room with a tray in her hands.
‘Ivyy dear, breakfast in ready, come and eat, have you brushed your teeth?’ she asked concernedly dropping the tray on the table.
‘good morning aunty, i’m not hungry…’ i replied wiping my tears with my hands.
‘are you crying again?’ she moved closer to me ‘baby, you have to stop crying. You really have to stop dwelling on your mistake..what has happened has happened and you have to move on. You have to be in good condition and eat well for your baby’s sake…’
At the mention of baby’s sake, i broke into tears.
She pulled me closer to herself ‘you’ll be just what you want to be my dear, pregnancy will not stop you. You will carry this pregnanct, you will give birth to this baby, you will nurse it for one year but after that one year, Ivyy, i’m sending you to the city, you’ll drop the baby with me, i’ll train it and treat it like my own. With all my savings, i’ll make sure you go to a very good school over there, i would do everything i can, even if i have to open my legs for every man in this village, i will do it. You must show people that early pregnancy cannot stop you from being whatever you want to be. Pregnancy does not take long, just nine months, after then, its over. Just take it as a nine-month break in your life. Moreover, you shouldnt be sad. You are going to be bringing a new life into this world. Do you know how much i’ve prayed to God to grant me this nine-month rest? You are opportuned to get it Ivyy so relax and be happy. If you think your pregnancy will cause you to stop schooling, then it will not, you’ll start school again, you’ll attend university and you’ll graduate with a very good result, i’ll make sure of that. I’ll prove to that useless woman that plus pregnancy minus pregnancy, you’re destined to be greated than that psychotic son of hers…’ she said with such venom in her soul.
I couldnt believe this was the woman i once i hated. I couldnt believe this was the woman whom had flogged me that day..mercilessly.
She was my second mother.
I rested my head on her shoulder and cried.
‘and if anyone tries to mock you, just tell me, i’ll show them a every vagin.a has hair, everywhere in the world except that of a small child! Pregnancy is a gift not everyone has the opportunity to recieve, so if you’ve recieved it Ivyy, then you should cherish it. Dem no born anybody well make they come meet you tell you nonsense, i go tear their cloth for their body!’
I cried. I hope everything becomes as aunt Chime had said it, God being my helper.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Aunt Chime registered me in the clinic for antenatal, and that was the only place i visited apart from church.
The three places i ever went to were the church, the clinic and the garden which was also in the same compound. I’ve never felt so lonely the way i felt this past few months.
Henna was still angry with me, i could tell with the way she always reacted whenever she visited which was once in a blue moon.
The next time she visited after that day at her house was in my third month of pregnancy.
She came again in my fifth month and twice in my sixth month and i did not see her till my nineth month of pregnancy. She always came with gifts and novels to keep me busy and she never stayed long. She just asked me how i was faring, what it felt like to have a baby.
Oma and Ije came with her once and the degrading look they constantly gave me made me really uncomfortable and i had to tell them i needed to rest just so they could go.
I was standing by the window one fateful morning watching students hurry off to school as i usually did every morning. My classmates were now in their final year preparing for their Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE).
I looked down on my stomach rubbing it gently, i suddenly felt a sharp pain across my waist and below my abdomen.
I ignored it till it came again. This time it was really severe, i muffled a scream.
It came again, more severe this time and i let out a scream as i felt water trickle down my thighs.
‘help….somebody help me….’ Aunt Chime was not home, she went to her women meeting.
I needed help.
I slowly crawled to my box where i had hidden my cell phone. I turned it on and dialled a number.
‘hello?’ the familiar voice which i had missed said into the speaker.
‘hell…o, Ifeanyi…pls come over…i…ouch! I need help!’
I stared lovingly at the little creature in my arm and broke into tears.
Such a beautiful child.
I thought about everything that had happened to me these past few months, all the mistakes i made, all the people i took for granted, all the advice i recieved.
I cried even harder.
Aunt Chime came to me and wrapped her hands around my shoulders.
‘its okay baby, stop crying..you should be happy at this special moment not crying…’ she said.
‘i’m happy aunty, i’m very happy right now….but i cant…i cant stop my tears…’
‘the baby is so cute, just like her mother, what would you like to name her?’
‘aunty, Ifeanyi is unis£x right?’
‘i mean, Ifeanyi is for both male and female isnt it?’
‘eh…yes, but males bear it more…’
‘i’ll name this child Ifeanyi…’ i spoke as tears poured from my eyes ‘her name is Ifeanyi Pamela Maduemezie…i’ll name her Pamela after my mother’
‘Ivyy….’ aunt Chime said hugging me.
‘she’ll always remember me of…of him…’
I nodded ‘i’ve lost him for good aunty.
‘hold on i’m coming…’ i shouted at the person who was persistently knocking.
Little Ifeanyi was in my arms, crying with my b—m in her mouth. She seemed insatiable and i wondered what her problem was. She bit my ni.pple and i winced and spanked her playfully.
I removed my b—m from her mouth and tucked it back into my bra, dropped her on the sofa and headed to the door.
I opened it and gasped ‘Ralph!’
He smiled cockily and spread his arms ‘live and direct baby’
My heart swelled in hatred for this guy. He was my worst nightmare, and if i was given the chance to kill anyone, that would be him certainly.
I suddenly felt like banging the door on his face. It’d been a year since i last saw him. Obviously, his mother had told him about my baby and he had stayed away from me. Fool!
I proceeded to close the door on his face but he was quick enough to put his left foot in the way.
‘what do you want?!’ i asked angrily. This guy shouldnt tempt me, i would kill him if need be.
‘you baby…i missed you, you know’ he winked.
‘gosh! You’re so disgusting! Get out of my house Ralph, i dont want to see ever again!’
‘dont you love me anymore? Remember how you’d scream my name in ecstacy, telling me you loved me with all your heart and you’d never leave me whenever you were underneath me?’
I blushed in embarrassment and closed my eyes. Yes, those were the days of foolishness and blindness. I was naive and foolish then, but not anymore.
Tears smarted my eyes as i thought of everything i lost because of him. My education, my dignity, my self respect and above all, Ifeanyi.
‘i hate you Ralph…’ i whispered fiercely.
I saw emotion pass through his face but it was gone as quickly as it came and he quickly grinned again.
‘maybe if we get under the sheets once more, the hatred will disappear as quickly as it came…what do you think?’ he winked.
I spat on his face as my left hand flew across his face.
My other hand followed and he was quick enof to catch the third one mid air.
I raised my other hand and he held it, i struggled to let go but his hold only tightened. He was no longer grinning or smiling, his face was void of emotions.
Then he placed his lips on mine, but i bit it with full force and he drew back and winced. He held two of my hands with one hand and used his other hand to draw me closer to him. He placed his lips on mine again chewing on my lower lip.
The old me would have melted in his arms by now, but i was a different Ivyy now, i kicked his balls with my knees and he bent low in pain releasing me.
I sent another slap to him…i picked up the rod close to the door and whipped his back with it. He screamed in pain and fell down.
I raised the rod again and this time, it landed on his stomach…he screamed and tried to get on his feet, i landed the rod on his ankle and he was back on the floor again.
I raised the rod again and it bruised his lips. He was practically spitting out blood again.
I raised the rod again and he caught it mid air, but by now, he was weak and i dragged it from him with full force. He called my name and tried to get on his feet, but the rod landed again, but dis time, on his head.
Blood splashed all over the ground and on my body.
I screamed and threw the rod away. I squatted beside him on the floor panicking.
‘God!! What have i done?’
He coughed out blood as his eyes closed weakly, he opened it again and smiled weakly.
He weakly raised his hands and placed them on my jaw.
I started crying ‘Ralph, i’m sorry…Ralph, please i’m very sorry, please forgive me, please…’
‘shh…dont cry..’ he said wiping my tears with his hands ‘please dont cry anymore my love’
I blinked in confusion.
‘you were and would always be my first love Ivyy…you are the first girl i ever disvirgined….’ he coughed weakly ‘believe it or not..after our first time together…i..i made up my mind not to let you go…i…’ he coughed out blood again ‘i fell hopelessly and helplessly in love with you Vee…i loved you…’ he coughed ‘i…i..didnt want to seem like a weakling to you so i hit it. My child…’ he coughed again as tears rolled down his eyes ‘i dont know if i’m going to survive this but my child…please…please take care of him or her…’
‘her…whats her name?’
‘Ifeanyi…’ i said in tears.
He smiled ‘you loved that…that guy so much you had to name my child after him. Please take care of my child Ivyy, and tell her about me…please, let her bear my name..my mother might have chased you away that day…she was…she was only trying to protect my future. I’m sorry that i couldnt…i couldnt visit you throughout the period of pregnancy…my…my mum stopped me…i…’ he was breathing weakly now ‘i love you Ivyy…you and my child…take…take care…’ his hands fell off my face and his eyes closed. He stopped breathing.
I closed my eyes and screamed his name….
What have i done?
To be continued
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