Mercy Solomon – Nigeria
I have to wait for the crowd in the bathroom to lessen before hitting the shower stalls. I am scared those over-zealous medical students may take note of the changes in my body. As I was having my bath, I replayed last night’s conversation with Toby in my head for the umpteenth time; I held back sobs. My life was perfect, it was lonely, a little, but I wasn’t complaining. I unconsciously rubbed my hands over my belly frequently these days. How long will I keep this a secret? I dried my body with my towel and proceed to make my way to my room. As I begin getting dressed, my nosy, yet friendly roommate came into my corner and plunged herself on my bed; staring at me mischievously.
“Udy, good morning o,” I managed to say with an awkward smile.
“Your belle don dey big”, was her exact response.
“Jesus!” I immediately exclaim and sat on my bed. “How did you know? Is it that obvious?” I whispered.
“Relax. I know, because I was in your shoes last session.”
“What did you do?”
“Haba, babe, have you seen me with any baby? I did what I had to do,” she answered.
“You murdered your child! How do you live with that?” I asked.
“I chose my education and I prefer it that way. You’re on scholarship Meg, don’t jeopardize your future. Children will come again, they will. Leave that thing. Anyway, how long gone are you?”
“Okay. You get luck say your belle flat. See ehn, there’s this doctor friend that helped me with mine. He’ll help you too. Just sleep on…”
“…Udy, come and give me your boiler biko”, another roommate of mine interrupted.
“Just sleep on the matter, you hear? Let me know in the morning,” She concluded.
Hmm. Sleep, she said. How was one to sleep at a time like this? I wish I had a sister I could confide in at this time. Humorous how Toby has not tried to reach out to me ever since the day of our first fight. I dialled his number absentmindedly for the fourth time today and as always, he still didn’t pick up.
“I chose my education”, were the exact words Udy said.
No, I can’t do that. How would I live with the guilt? Moreover, this life in me, I love with all my heart and willpower. I’ve seen ladies complete their education despite pregnancy. However, how would I face the society, my parents? Toby would probably not even look twice at me. I have watched young, single ladies who got pregnant get stigmatized and taunted by lecturers and fellow colleagues too and it wasn’t a pretty sight.
On the other hand, there was my school and scholarship for goodness sake. God, what do I do? I love education. I don’t want to suffer a set back because of this. I checked my time; it was 4:19am. I need to get an hour of rest, at least. I pulled the blanket over my body and shut my eyes. My mind was made up.
Tiny fingers are beginning to take form on my hands, funny how small they are. It won’t be long; these little hands will gather flowers for my daddy.
I am in the doctor’s office, looking pale and distorted. I am having second thoughts about this. On impulse, I pick up my phone and call my mom.
“Meg” She sounds vibrant and pleased.
“Good morning, Ma.”
“How are you doing nah?” she inquires. “So, it is now you have remembered me abi, after all these years?”
I laugh a little.
“I’m fine ma.” I can’t help the tears that have made their way to my chin. “We’ll talk later. I have a lecture; I just wanted to hear your voice.”
“No problem my love, take care of yourself; make sure you eat well o.”
“Okay ma.” I giggle.
My mom has always been particular about my eating habits. I hang up just as the doctor comes in with Udy. Udy says she’ll be with me throughout the entire process. I nod my head in appreciation. I say a silent prayer because right now, It seems the only meaningful thing to do. I tell God to please forgive me as this will happen only once. I tell Him I’m only doing this because I’m out of choices. I tell Him not to let this one mistake ruin my chances of having babies in the near future. Then, I take a deep breath and wait for the doctor to begin.
Something is happening. I feel strange. It seems like I’m being pulled by an unknown force. No, wait! I don’t want to leave this place, this place has come to be my home. Mother, do something, please, anything. I don’t want to go into this darkness. Mother, are you there?
It was over before I knew it. I cried till I could cry no more.
“Babe, you did the right thing. Don’t worry, you will get over it. See, exams go soon start o, stop all this your ajebo abeg. Get some rest, you’ll be fine.” Udy kept saying over and over again.
Did I do the right thing? Will I get over it? If my baby could speak, what would he or she say? How would he or she regard me?
Photographer: Henry Victor, Canada
Excerpt from #2 Youth Shades