I welcome you all to another exciting TGIF Special. I am awfully sorry I could not post any installment last week. I was seriously down with fever and couldn’t even write a sensible paragraph as much as I tried. I have fully recuperated now.
As scheduled, the “Still Searching” dosage still ends today. I made extra efforts to write the installments for last week and this week. So, you have two doses to take down your throats today. Hallelujah!
I appreciate those of you who reached out to know what was wrong when you didn’t see me last Friday. It was so kind of you all. And all of una wey no see me and no ask of me, no yawa. Make you go cover una face.
Enjoy today’s double dose!
STILL SEARCHING [DOSE 3]
Segun and I now maintain a good rapport. Since that day he dropped me at Adaba radio station, my place of work, we have been meeting frequently. He has found out what time my office closes for the day. He comes around that time to take me home in his car. I feel awkward about this and keep telling him so, but he shrugs it off each time, as if he is not disturbed. If I would be honest, though, besides the awkwardness, it really feels good to sink comfortably into the front seat of a sports car. Apart from the fact that it saves my money and time, it also excludes me from the ordeal of rubbing shoulders with ponmo, fish and locust beans sellers in commercial buses; that way, my perfume can at least last longer.
The time is 4.00 p.m now, the closing time. I am taking my time to pack my things and make up a little, just to while away time until Segun comes. As usual, when he comes, I will feign surprise to see him and make weak attempts to dissuade him from always coming to pick me. I will do that without making it obvious that I have actually been anticipating his arrival, and he would laugh and wave it off.
I can hear the honk of his car now, but I won’t go out. I know he will come and meet me here. I quickly bring out a file and pretend to be working on it.
“Hello, Princess!” he says.
I take my eyes away from the file and gawk at him with exaggerated astonishment.
“Oh, good afternoon, Segun. I told you not to bother yourself coming to pick me na,” I reply with a concerned tone.
“I didn’t come to listen to a sermon o. I will sit and wait while you finish with that file.”
He draws out a chair and sits. I shake my head and smile. I deliberately take my time in drawing unnecessary lines and flipping through the file to sign here and there.
Perhaps someone is wondering why I am ‘punishing’ him like this. Well, even though I am in sore need of a husband, I do not want to portray myself as some cheap lady. I hear proving difficult for a man makes you more precious to him when he gets you at last.
After five minutes, I pull out a drawer and keep the file in it. I pick up my bag and follow him to the car. He makes to help me with my bag, but I decline. He opens the front door for me to get in and closes gently after I have entered. Very gentlemanly, isn’t it? I smile and say thank you. He starts the car and zooms off.
“Princess,” he says, “unless you have something very urgent to do at home, how about stopping at the cinema for a hour or less?”
“Ehn-ehn, because I am in your car abi, that’s why you think you can take me anywhere?” I act as though I am annoyed.
“Ahn-ahn, Princess, it’s not like that o. I just thought you might like the movie they want to show this evening. Please,” he coaxes. I nod weakly and fix my eyes on the bumper of the red car in front of us.
At the cinema, he pays for our tickets and heads for a part that looks somewhat secluded. I follow his lead. We sit. He buys some snacks: plantain chips, chin-chin and two bottles of La Casera. I look at the screen and see the title of the movie that has just begun. It is ‘October 1’, a movie directed and produced by Kunle Afolayan.
I have watched the movie before, but I do not tell Segun so. I know he has not seen the movie, because he says something about how he is glad to finally get an opportunity to view this movie that has received a lot of positive reviews. I concur with him. He starts munching plantain chips, and I take the chin-chin. He clears his throat noisily, as if he is about to say something, then moves uneasily on his chair. I ignore that and focus my eyes on the screen.
“Princess, I have always had something on my mind, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get it off,” he says.
Without taking my eyes off the screen, I respond, “What’s that?”
“It’s about you.” I turn and look at him, my face contorting to form a countenance of bewilderment. He avoids my gaze and fixes his eyes on the screen, without seeming to see anything.
He continues, “If you remember quite well, I was always after you in our undergraduate years. I mean, I did virtually everything possible to win your heart, but you just wouldn’t budge.” He sips from his bottle of La Casera. I look straight ahead of me, with my ears pricked up to catch his lowest whisper.
“I have thought over it countless times, Princess, and I’m afraid your charm is still as potent over me as it was many years ago. I’m still in love with you, and I can’t even help it. How about giving me a chance, just one chance to express and make you see how precious you are to me?” he pleads.
I sigh. Joy and sorrow flood my heart- the joy of finally hearing a man say this to me and the sorrow of how long it has taken- but the joy outweighs the sorrow, for my face breaks into a beaming smile. I reach out for his hands and wrap mine around them, then look into his eyes and whisper, “I will, I will. I will give you a chance, Segun.”
He must have doubted his ears at first, or maybe is too dazed to believe what he has just heard. As the full import dawns on him, he grabs me in a tight embrace, shouting, “Thank you, Princess. Thank you.”
STILL SEARCHING [DOSE 4]
My God is a good God. I can say that over and over again. Who would have thought that within a few months the stigma placed on me would be gone? Just like a dream, things are beginning to fall into place in my life. Is this what marriage does to people, that ones who had once looked down on me now look up to me with admiration, that my parents now feel glad to point and say that’s my daughter married to so-and-so, that Abeke is now at ease to have her husband around me, secured and without ill feeling? Ah, I can now walk and hold my head high.
Yes, one year after my wedding to Segun, I can walk and hold my head high but for one thing: a child. Without that, they say my joy is incomplete. Without that, they say I’m just like a snake that crawls on a rock and leaves no trail behind.
My mother-in-law came last week and hell broke loose. She said I bewitched her son to marry me, otherwise her son would have gone for a ‘fresh-blooded’ lady who still had children in her. She said I should disenchant her son from whatever juju I had bound him with and conceive a child or leave her son’s house. I wept profusely. I thought marriage was an end to my travails, but I couldn’t be more wrong. Now, it only seems my troubles have exacerbated.
So again, I remember the way to the church. It seems as though the witches in my village and I still have a number of issues to iron out. I am not going to take it lightly with them. Every Saturday, I now go to a mountaintop to pray. In my prayers, I call down fire and thunder, bind and ask the witches causing my barrenness to fall down and die. Yes, I ask them to die, and their families too. It is what my pastor tells me to do: “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.” When they all die, I will have my own child.
Segun is not as perturbed as I am over this matter, and I do not blame him, after all he is not the one to be called a witch when his mother comes next, neither is he the one that is being referred to as barren in the neighborhood.
Bitterly, I accused him of being nonchalant to our plight last night, and he apologized. He said we would go to the hospital together today for checkup and tests, to know whether anything is wrong or maybe we should only exercise more patience.
Now that we are in the hospital together, I feel very nervous. I don’t think anything is wrong with me, but I fear that the tests might say otherwise. Both of us have been tested a couple of hours ago, and the result will come out anytime soon. My throat feels parched, and a few rivulets of sweat trickle down my face occasionally. I mop them quickly with my handky and try to steady my fingers. Segun looks calm, and I envy him. Men do not have problems, do they?
A nurse approaches us. “Mr and Mrs Owode, right?” she asks. I stand immediately. Segun says yes while still sitted. “Any problem?” I enquire, tensed up.
“The doctor would like to see you both in his office. Please follow me,” she replies, then leads the way. We follow.
The doctor’s office is a capacious one, having a large desk at the centre with well-arranged files, a sphygmomanometer, big books, and a laptop among other things. The doctor is clad in a white coat, having a stethoscope hanging loosely around his neck. He is dark, bespectacled and looks like one in his late thirties. He stands up to greet us as soon as we get in and directs us to sit.
“I am Dr. George,” he says, “and I commend your wisdom in coming for a checkup on account of your delay in getting a child. The tests have been conducted, and our lab technicians just brought in the result. I appreciate your patience all through.”
I feel the doctor is dilly-dallying too much. If he were my younger brother, I would have given him a resounding knock on the head for torturing me with suspense, but he is not, so I tap my feet instead.
He continues, “The result of the test is no cause for alarm. Everything is still under control.” I am getting restless now, rapping on the doctor’s desk with my knuckles.
“Whatever I tell you today, believe me, is exactly what you will get anywhere in the world. From the test result, madam is fine; she has no problem whatsoever, not even with her womb or fallopian tubes or ovaries, but …”
“But what, doctor? But what?” I ask, jumping up, my breathing becoming forced, my chest heaving. Segun draws the tip of my blouse and motions me to sit down. I comply.
“Calm down, madam. I’m afraid your husband has a blockage in his ejaculatory duct that prevents sperm from getting into his ejaculate fluid. However, this can be corrected by a minor surgery to repair the obstruction.”
Partially, I am delighted to know the problem is not from me. How I wish my mother-in-law was here to hear this with those very ears of hers, that it is her son who is the cause of our childlessness so far, and not me, the supposed witch. But I am concerned for Segun too: a surgery is still a surgery, whether minor or not. And the least I want to become now is a widow. Although the doctor calms us that there are unlikely to be complications, I still do not feel at peace with an idea about anything surgical. Anyway, Segun has made up his mind, and the date for the operation has been scheduled already. The best I can do now is pray and bind more of those demons bedevilling me.
The surgical operation was successful, and eleven months after, I have my baby with me- the pride of my life and the shame to my enemies. But something baffles me, though. People come to felicitate with me and welcome the newborn child with gifts and wide smiles plastered to their faces, then they ask for the baby’s sex, and when I tell them, their countenances change to that of pity. They would then try to console me, telling me not to worry much, and that I would have a male child next time I conceive. What madness!
No, I have not known the height of madness yet. My society, quite indisputably, has so many disgusting traditions and obnoxious norms, but this preference for a male child floors me. Already, my mother-in-law has sent an emissary to congratulate me on my successful delivery and, more importantly, inform me that she would not come for the naming ceremony nor regard me as a bonafide wife until I give her son a male child. So her advice to me is to go and intensify whatever voodoo I am making and deliver a male child as soon as possible. Now, I think that is the very height of madness.
Three years ago, I was the object of ridicule because I was single. I got married and they stopped making fun of me. A year after marriage, they said I was a witch because I had not conceived. I conceived and delivered a child, and the defamation ceased. Now that I have a baby, they mock me because it is not a male child. Is there anything one can do to satisfy the world at all?
Again, I shall head for the mountaintop to pray. Perhaps the witches in my village have not fully withdrawn their hands from my affairs. Again, I shall strike them with fire and thunder. I will passionately ask God to kill them all this time around. Maybe then, they would be no more, and I will conceive and deliver a male child. With that, I would have shut the mouths of my enemies forever, or so I think.
Another TGIF Special starts next Friday as usual. You should not miss it. Have a great weekend!
~~~Omoya Yinka Simult