In a voice dripping with so much empathy it was disgusting, they doled out rehearsed lines, a million times retold. “We are truly sorry madam, we did our best to save her”. Those were not the words i was expecting to hear, this was not a possible scenario. I was supposed to become her mother today, now I’m not sure who I am. “Oko yin nko“, the nurse was asking me where Ade was, like I was supposed to know. Knowing his whereabouts was not my problem. It was his mother’s. My mind, traitor that it is, remembers. it remembers exactly why this was not supposed to happen.
“Mum, I’m pregnant”. I blurted out the truth I had known for weeks, as her eyes travelled from her pot to my eyes, I knew she had already figured it out. “Whose is it?”, she asked, “is it that stupid boyfriend of yours?” her voice heavy with disappointment and dangerously veiled anger. She stirred the stew with so calmly that I thought she was going to pour it all over me. She proceeded to tell me what I already knew, she expected more, with eyes glistening with tears, she told me my options, the ones she was willing to give me. “Tokunbo, listen to me very carefully, you can either get an abortion(which is illegal in my country) or you can marry him. If you’re old enough to have a baby, you’re ready for marriage.” Then the real speech began, how she a single mother struggled to put me through school when my father(whom I had never met) left. Then the tears began while I watched, dry eyed.
Two weeks later, mummy Tokunbo dragged me to my future in-laws house to explain how their son and I were stupid enough to put a fetus in my body. His parents were pastors, they had a reputation to uphold. It was decided, we would get married. I was a fresh graduate, he had just finished his service year. He said he loved me, that was before this alien invaded my body, now he looks at me with contempt. I barely remember if the sex was good now, apparently condoms are no guarantee.
His parents would pay for the wedding. Mama Tokunbo had no husband, I was her mistake too. I wish I could tell you that it was perfect, that I wore a lovely white dress, that my father walked me down the aisle. I wish Ade looked at me like I was the only virgin in the room, but that would be a sweet delusion.
I had a dress, it was yellow and it was ugly. I walked down the aisle alone. Their stares were like daggers, they wondered how I could break my poor mother’s heart after all she did to support me Their thoughts ended with ‘like mother, like daughter’, I’m sure. Halfway down, it chose that epic moment to kick.
Ade could barely look at me, He blamed me for being the irresponsible womb that chose to carry his alien. At least, he showed up, albeit unshaven, dishelved, and hung over. What is left of what is right for us is this façade of a marriage built on guilt, and a never-ending blame game.
In my mind’s eye, I tried to imagine what our lives together would be like. Would he become an alcoholic? Would he give up on us? Would he love it? Would he be the father it needed? What would become of it? Could I love it? Would it repeat my mistakes?
I slowly walked down the aisle to my new life, a spineless bag of fears and doubts. The deep baritone voice of the pastor told me that I had reached the altar and it cut into my thoughts unapologetically as he asked, “do you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband?”, with such expectation. My mother’s eyes told me what I must say. I wondered if she would live with him and cook his meals. I allowed myself that playful thought before I heard myself say ‘yes’, when I wanted to scream ‘no’ from the rooftops.
The tears would never be enough, I held her for all of five seconds before she turned blue and stopped breathing. I was supposed to be a mother, she was supposed to make him smile at me again. My heart is ice cold, barely beating beneath my chest, if I could go back…
Author’s note: This is based on a true story. There is nothing new under the sun, but a story though a thousand times retold should never lose its ability to stir our hearts.