This post is dedicated to our very own Chreez and Fransik. Best friends who share the same birthday. Wishing them the best!
Oleng was surprised to see her mother’s car and another car in the compound. She groaned. Her mother had a visitor. She dragged her shirt over her tummy harder before slowly walking into the house. She wanted to quickly escape to her room but her mum called her as usual to come and greet her visitor. Oleng greeted the woman but didn’t like the way the woman stared at her. To worsen matters, her mum sent her to get the woman a bottle of malt. The woman continued to stare at her much to her distaste as she opened the drink.
She had to wait to be dismissed so she couldn’t rush out even though she felt like doing just that. She heaved a sigh of relief when her mum told her she could leave. She felt the woman’s eyes on her back as she walked away. She hoped the woman wouldn’t divulge her secret. Her mum would kill her if she knew she was pregnant.
“You should ask your daughter questions.” Mrs. Amare coyly said when Oleng had left the living room and took a sip from her drink.
Mrs. Akpan waved it aside. “About her whereabouts? I know she went to see her friends.”
“Not that. I mean the changes in her body.”
“There is no need for that. She knows about growing up.”
Her friend smiled and shook her head then took a sip from the malt. “I knew you would be too busy to see what others see so I came to see for myself. When she passed by my house in the afternoon, I was surprised to see her because I haven’t see her for a while now. When I observed the changes in her body, I knew why. I came here to see things for myself. So, what you’re telling me right now is that you haven’t noticed anything about your daughter?”
Oleng’s mum was puzzled. She shook her head slowly in confusion. “No. Not really. All I can see is that she has put on weight. I told her to control it when I gave her money to get new uniforms to replace the old ones she said were now too tight for her.”
Mrs. Amare smiled again. “Call her. Let me see her again. At least to make sure I’m not getting blind or hallucinating.”
“Okay. Though you’ll tell me the meaning of this when she leaves.”
“Just call her.” Mrs. Amare said feeling worldly wise while her friend picked up her phone and called her daughter.
Oleng groaned before she answered the call. She prayed that woman wouldn’t look at her funny again.
“Ah…emm…” Her mum didn’t know what to say as an excuse for her calling her. “Go to my room; get me my black hand bag on the bed.
When she brought it, she noticed the woman was still looking at her intensely. A cold shiver went down her spine. Could women detect such things at sight? She wondered, as she walked to her room after she was dismissed.
“Yes, my suspicions are correct. Linda, your daughter is pregnant.” she proclaimed.
“What?” Mrs. Linda Akpan exclaimed.
“You can’t be serious, Kate.”
“I’m dead serious. As you know, I’m a mid-wife so I have seen a lot of pregnant women in my time. Your daughter is pregnant. It should be roughly four months.” she said as a matter of fact.
“Jesus! I’m dead. This girl has killed me.” She put her hands on her head.
“Find out from her how far gone she is and who’s responsible.”
“I think I know who is responsible. I warned her. I told her not to bring that boy to this house again.” she was in rage now.
“It might not have been here. After all, there are so many places where it could have been done.”
“My God!” She was actually shaking.
“I’ll take my leave now,” The nosy woman said and got up. “Just take it easy. These things happen. Just find out things from her and see how you can get rid of it before it starts showing or ruin her future. If you like, I know a good doctor who can help you remove it without complications.” she advised.
Her friend could only nod her head. Oleng, pregnant! It was unbelievable. She didn’t even know when her friend left as she just sat there thinking and shaking her head. Then she suddenly got up in anger.
Oleng was very surprised to see her mum in her room. Her mum never entered there. She looked at Eric’s huge portrait on the wall and hissed.
“Get dressed,” Her mum told her without preamble. “We’re going to see Doctor Stanley.” she declared and was about walking out of the room when Oleng said,
“What for? I’m not sick.”
“I know you’re not sick. You’re going for an examination.”
“Examination for what when I’m not sick?” she fearfully enquired.
“Don’t try to be smart with me, young lady! Or maybe you want to tell me the truth to save me the trouble of dragging you to the hospital.” She walked into the room and folded her arms, looking piercingly at her daughter on the bed.
“What truth?” she asked in almost a whisper as she swung her legs from the bed to the floor.
“Are you pregnant?”
Oleng’s upper lip parted from the lower one on impulse. Her heart beat became faster. That nosy woman had somehow found out and told her mother. What was she going to do now? She decided to brave it.
“No.” she said and shook her head at the same time.
“Then get dressed, we’re going to the doctor to make sure you’re not.” Her mother pronounced and started walking to the door again.
“But I don’t want to see the doctor. I’m not pregnant.” she protested.
“Oleng! If you don’t get dressed right now, I’ll beat you up and drag you to the hospital.” Her mum fiercely told her which made her shiver.
Her mum was rarely in a fit and whenever she was, heaven help her! She slowly put on her clothes again as tears streamed down her eyes. She knew the cat would be let out of the bag now. Her mum would discover that she was pregnant for Ricky.
“Oleng!” Her mother yelled from the sitting room and poor Oleng in fear, ran out.
They were both quiet as her mum drove to the private hospital. Unfortunately for her, the doctor was not busy so they were ushered into his office. Oleng looked at their elderly family doctor and tears rolled down her eyes anew. He would be disappointed in her. Her mum found it hard to explain why they were there. The doctor was surprised when she was able to say something.
Oleng looked at the floor when he looked at her in disbelief. When he asked her the last time she had seen her period and she kept quiet, her mum barked at her. Doctor Stanley told her to take it easy. Oleng told him. He made her lie on the bed and examined her. Her mum insisted on watching. She shook her head when she saw the telltale bulge that had been her daughter’s flat tummy.
They drove home in tension again with her mum shaking her head and continuously asking how could she have done this. The doctor had pronounced her at least four months pregnant after the result of the test they had waited for had read positive.
When they got home, Oleng rushed to her room but her mum followed her to torment her.
“How could you, Oleng? How could you? Didn’t I warn you? Didn’t I tell you not to bring that boy here again? Just look at yourself now. Where’s the boy now? He’s in the States enjoying himself while you’re here carrying his bastard. I never knew you were so stupid, stupid enough to get yourself pregnant at such a tender age. You’re just fifteen for crying out loud!” Mrs. Akpan ranted and raved while Oleng just used her hands to cover her ears and wept loudly.
“I don’t mind the fact that you had sex,” she continued “Because you kids of nowadays are very experimental but for you to be so stupid to get yourself pregnant is what’s driving me mad. What are the uses of contraceptives?”
After she said that, something snapped inside Oleng. She suddenly stopped crying and got up from the bed to face her mother.
“How could I have known about contraceptives?” she yelled, “Did you for once tell me about them? The day I came to you to explain, adolescence, puberty and pregnancy to me, didn’t you send me out of your room with the excuse that you were tired and some other time? But you never found time for me. You were either in Dubai today or China tomorrow. Even when you were at home, you didn’t give a damn about me. And now you stand there blaming me for everything and calling me stupid.
Eric taught me everything I know today. It was his mum who told me about menstruation. She bought me my first pad. And maybe I got pregnant on purpose because you told me some time ago that if I got pregnant, I’d go and live with them and I know for sure that life there will be better than this hell, where I’d get attention no matter how little than here where I’m not noticed.” she spat out angrily.
For an answer to her outburst, her mum gave her a sound slap. She fell on the bed and held her cheek. “How dare you talk to me like that? I’m still your mother!”
“No!” Oleng yelled, “You’re not my mother. You’re a stranger. I hate you!” she yelled and ran out of the room. She ran out of the house also.
Linda walked slowly to the living room and collapsed on a chair. Thoughts flooded her. She sighed when she remembered sixteen years ago in Calabar.
She had been head over heels in love with Umoh then. They had planned on getting married. The day Umoh gave her an engagement ring was her happiest. Everything had been going smoothly until that fateful night. She and her boss, Efiok had gone for a business night party. The alcohol had been very strong and before she knew what was happening, she found herself in bed with him the following morning. He had apologized profusely for what had been a drunken one night stand.
She had wanted to resign her job as his secretary but she had needed the money for her wedding so she had stayed but their relationship became strained because of that night.
She was almost suicidal when she discovered a month later that she was pregnant. She couldn’t pass off the child as Umoh’s which she would have done not to lose him but she and Umoh had never gone to bed together. They had been waiting for their wedding night and now her boss had ruined it. She went for a D and C but almost lost her life in the process yet they had not removed the baby because doing so would cost her her womb. She kept everything to herself until Umoh discovered she was pregnant. She tried explaining things to him but he wouldn’t listen. He called off the engagement. She wept herself almost to death.
It was her younger sister whom she had confided in, who had gone to tell her boss that she was pregnant. He was sorry Umoh had broken up with her and wanted to marry her but she refused. He had continued pleading and with her sister’s intervention, they had gone to get married in the registry. Efiok had wanted a white wedding but she would hear nothing of it. Efiok had been a perfect husband. Even though they had not planned the pregnancy or marriage, he fell into the role of husband and expectant father very well while she was always moody at losing Umoh.
As fate would have it, he died in a plane crash on his way to Port Harcourt to return back to Calabar the same day. When the news had been broken to her, she had gone into forced labor and had given birth to Oleng a month before she was due. She hadn’t breastfed her baby. Her sister, Vien who had been nursing a baby then had been the one to breastfeed and wean Oleng because she, Linda had been very sick after the birth, for over a month. Vien had been the one to give Oleng her name.
She had decided to change location then to forget everything and she had chosen Port Harcourt. It was when Oleng was two years old that she had gone to bring her to live with her in Port Harcourt. To worsen matters when she had met two other men who wanted to marry her, they had deserted her when they discovered she had a child. So Oleng was indirectly responsible for her loneliness though she had not killed her father who would have been a companion to her. It had caused her great pain when she went to Calabar once and saw Umoh with his wife and kids. What she had lost because of Oleng made her more bitter. That had brought a greater gap between them because she couldn’t forgive Oleng however childish it seemed for taking her happiness away even though it wasn’t her fault. All these made her cold, bitter and authoritative. It made her swear off men because they were all bastards!
As her heart turned colder, she knew the saying was true that if a female got pregnant out of wedlock and gave birth to a female child, the girl would follow her footsteps. She had gotten pregnant out of wedlock and now Oleng had done the same at an even younger age.
Hell no! She wasn’t going to allow history repeat itself. She had been secretly molding Oleng to become like her. She had withdrawn emotion from her because emotion didn’t get one anywhere in this world. She had left her alone for her to endure hard times and become mature without motherly love. To help her cope in this wicked world yet she had disappointed her by getting pregnant for that bastard! Such foolishness she couldn’t fathom. Had Oleng ever seen her with a man? Why hadn’t she taken cue from her? Couldn’t she have used a contraceptive? It made her very angry. She knew what she was going to do. She sat there just staring into space until late evening when Oleng came back.
Oleng ignored her mother and went to her room. She had made up her mind to tell Ricky. At least to get away from this house before her mother poisoned her. She had no idea if Ricky’s mum would accept her but she had to try. Anything was better than staying here where she knew surely her mum would make her life a living hell.
Eric was offline but she still typed the message. She told him she was sorry but she was pregnant and needed help. She asked if she should go to his mother. She pleaded with him to reply and she was sorry for shutting him out all this while. She waited and waited but he didn’t come online. She slept off still waiting. She woke up the following morning yet Eric had not replied. She became sort of scared. Her mum didn’t go out, much to her annoyance. She went to the kitchen to get herself breakfast thanking God that her morning sickness had let down. She ignored her mum.
By afternoon, Eric had still not replied. She became worried. She picked up her phone and sent him a message to call her as soon as he got the message. She waited and waited, yet nothing.
What’s going on? She wondered.
Zinny and Marvy were amazed when Oleng‘s mum opened the front door when they came to visit her after school.
“Yes?” she asked harshly, “What are you prostitutes doing here?”
They glanced at each other in wide-eyed amazement but she continued, “Isn’t the fact that you have ruined her life enough?”
“Ma, we don’t know what you’re talking about.” Marvy managed to say.
“Oh! You want to tell me you don’t know she’s pregnant? You want to tell me you all haven’t been sleeping around but are wiser. Why didn’t you tell her what you normally do to avoid pregnancy? Or is it that you girls have done so many abortions you want her to join your club?” she lashed at the bamboozled girls.
“Now before I lose my temper, you harlots better get out of my compound.” she furiously told them.
“Let’s go, Zinny.” Marvy told her friend who stood looking at Mrs. Akpan in anger.
“No Marvy,” she shook her friend off. “She’s going to tell me when she saw us standing on the streets looking for men and if it is her hospital that we did the many abortions.”
“Zinny, please let’s go.” Marvy tried dragging her but she stood rigid.
“Oh! So you want to know?” Mrs. Akpan smiled bitterly.
“You’re only looking for whom to blame when the person to blame is you. Have you ever been there for your daughter? Have you ever discussed sex with her before? Is it not a mother’s place to teach her daughter the dangers of premarital sex? Now you’re blaming us. We did our best. I think it’s God that is punishing you for your wickedness but it’s a pity He’s using poor Oleng as a pawn.” she continued yelling as Marvy dragged her towards the gate where the gateman stood staring.
“Get out of my house and stay out!” Oleng’s mum yelled.
Oleng who had been asleep all this while came out and ran to her friends. “What’s happening?”
Zinny who was breathing heavily said, “We came to see you but your mother started calling us names. She called us harlots and accused us of carrying out abortions. I’m sorry Oleng but I had to tell her my mind. She is to blame for everything.” She was crying now.
“I understand. I told her my mind too yesterday when she found out.”
“How did she find out anyway?” Marvy asked.
“A nosy friend of hers told her. Then we went to see our family doctor and he confirmed it. Like I said, it’s four months old.”
“O Oleng!” Zinny hugged her and Marvy hugged her too. They were all crying.
“You girls shouldn’t come here again. I’ll come to your respective houses tomorrow.”
“Okay. Take it easy. Everything will be fine” Marvy hugged her again.
“I hope so.” Oleng replied with doubt.
“Take care.” Zinny said and hugged her too. They said goodbye to her not knowing they were seeing the last of her.
Oleng walked quietly to the house ignoring the gateman who was looking at her strangely. She didn’t care if she knew she was pregnant. He had probably guessed who was responsible, after all he had played a part in the whole ordeal. She walked dejectedly into her room. Ricky had still not replied.
Her mum who was still fuming went to her room. “So those are the kind of friends you keep who don’t have respect for their elders?” she furiously told her daughter who went to lie on the bed.
“So now you know. You didn’t care to know before.” she said in a bored manner.
“Well, you weren’t stupid enough to get pregnant before.” she threw back.
“Just leave me alone. I’m tired.” she snuggled into her sheets.
“You should be. After all, you’re carrying what’s bigger than you.” she lashed out again but Oleng just ignored her. She stood there and thought for a while.
“Get ready. Tomorrow, we’re going to see a doctor. Try not to eat anything because you’re going to have an abortion.” she declared and made for the door.
“What?” Oleng jumped up in bed, “You really want me dead, don’t you?”
She turned around with fiery eyes. “How dare you say a thing like that? Are you not happy that I’m taking you to a qualified and competent doctor to remove that thing instead of the quack your friends would have taken you to?”
“I don’t want an abortion!” Oleng yelled.
Her mum was shocked. “What?”
“I don’t want an abortion. What if this is the only child in my womb? What if something happens? Human beings make mistakes even the best of them.” she threw at the woman she called her mother who was looking at her in disbelief.
“I can’t believe this. Have you thought of the fact that you can’t deliver safely? Have you thought about the fact that you can very well die during labor?”
“Yes. I might not know much about such things but I know there is something like cesarean section,” she boldly told her. “I’ve always hated the thought of abortion. I was among those who campaigned against abortion in school and now that I’m in a fix, I won’t go back on my word. I won’t lie, the thought of labor scares me but I would rather die during labor than live the rest of my life knowing I killed my child, Eric’s child.”
Mrs. Akpan smiled. “So this is about him. Well, for your information, he doesn’t love you. He doesn’t care about you. He just used you to satisfy his youthful lust.”
“That’s not true. You don’t know anything about him so don’t say anything.”
Mrs. Akpan pointed at her laptop for an answer. “If I had known that thing was for you guys to continue communicating, I wouldn’t have bought it for you. Have you told him?”
“Yes.” she replied looking down.
“What did he say?”
“He hasn’t replied.”
“And he never will. He has abandoned you.”
“No!” she vehemently denied.
“Stop deceiving yourself. He isn’t worth it. Men are not worth it,” she retorted. “Well, you can keep the baby but don’t come and meet me for anything.” With that, she left the room and banged the door.
Oleng wept bitterly on her bed. Then she suddenly got up from the bed and picked up her phone. She kept trying to call Eric but it refused to go through. Had he switched off his phone also? She thought in despair. When she finally got the number, it said it was off service area. She continued trying but there was no reply. What happened to his promise of always communicating no matter what? In desperation, she sent him a text to call her immediately he got the message, yet nothing.
It was like that for a whole week. He didn’t reply her text nor call back and he was still offline. What her mum had said finally seemed true. Eric had deserted her when she needed him most. She would have gone to his house to enquire about him from his parents but her mum refused her going out. She was surprised that her mum hadn’t gone out in a week. That was very strange and unusual though she talked for hours on the phone. Zinny and Marvy were the only ones Oleng communicated with over the phone. Her life felt worthless without Eric.