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I thought I still had fish in this house o!
As I bent down to rack my wooden cupboard for more pieces of dry fish to complete my Egusi soup, I felt a very sharp pain in my tummy.
“Jesus!” I exclaimed suddenly as I quickly drew a stool nearer and sat down.
What pain was that now, ehn?
I had read in one ancient book that had survived the test of time with me since secondary school- “Where there is no doctor” that whenever a pregnant woman feels any sharp pain in her tummy, she should see her doctor as it could mean a lot of things.
My eyes were so swollen as if they would jump out of their sockets!
My headache was very great!
What could be wrong with me?
Or was it the stress of the day?
The stress of knowing that I was pregnant after three sets of twins with my fate unknown as regards what my husband’s reaction to the news would be?
Or was it the embarrassment of seeing my baby boys on the Almajiri mat, singing beggars’ songs?
Or was it the stress I had undergone in transferring my anger on Taiwo?
I shook my head in sadness.
After I had seen what I saw at the market, not knowing what to do, I acted a very wise woman and smiled at my neighbor who only got bothered.
She looked scared when I smiled and even more scared when I patted her shoulder and spoke patiently.
“Thank you. Let’s go home”
She looked into my eyes again to be sure that I was very okay ‘upstairs’
“Did you know about the whole thing before?” she had asked me and I could only shake my head in the negative.
“Let’s go” I said calmly again, smiling
She turned the ignition key and there was a very thick silence in the car as went home.
“You sure you would be okay?” she asked as I alighted from her car.
“Yes. Thanks, I am grateful” I said as I walked towards the wooden door.
These children didn’t lock the padlock again, ehn!
“Mama, sanu da zoa” Taiwo, one of the eldest twins said from behind me and I turned to look back at her.
She was coming from the shop, a wrapper tied round her slim waist.
Her eyes were very red
“Is it firewood you are using?” I asked and she nodded
“The coal has finished, so I just broke the faulty stool that was in the backyard and used it to fry the chinchin” She explained and I nodded.
She was the most industrious of my children.
“Where is Kehinde?” I asked and she hit the back of her right palm in the hollow of her left palm
“I don’t know o” she said and I turned to move inside.
“What about Bola and Tola?” I asked again.
The second set of my twins could do nothing better than read.
They could read just anything so they must have gone to find something to read somewhere.
I could not afford to buy them books
“What about James and John?” I asked, trying to see if she knew about my boys’ whereabouts
She turned back to look at the shop, then she fumbled with her wrapper
“I don’t know o” she said again, hitting the back of her right palm in the hollow of her left palm again.
“You don’t know where they went to?” I asked again
“I swear to God Almighty, I don’t know” she said again, her index finger travelling from her lips to pointing to the sky.
That gave me the sure answer.
She knew about it!
Whenever my Taiwo swore, it was because she was trying to cover up some lies
“Is my shop locked?” I asked again
“Yes ma” she replied, swinging her right hand
She didn’t know what was awaiting her.
“Come inside” I said calmly again and she followed me inside the house.
I locked the door from behind and pulled her inside the room.
Despite how scanty my room was, it was always neat.
I never condoned any form of dirtiness.
“Mama, what did I do?” she asked as I pulled her in
“Just kneel down there” I said as I dropped my purse on the bed and climbed a plastic chair to pick the koboko I had hid on one of the planks supporting the roof.
I had begged one of my customers who was a teacher to get me one koboko and she gave it to me as she passed in front of my shop last week. I had hid it carefully because if my children should see it, they would have thrown it away.
“Mummy, truth to God, I don’t know where they went to” she started crying
She just gave me more reasons to know she was the one.
I jumped down from the plastic chair and with no restriction, I started beating her.
“By the time I take breath from your mouth, you would know that your mum hates lies” I started as I readjusted the mouth of the koboko
“Mummy, they told me they were going to Kasuwa” she said
She had started confessing
Let me increase the tempo of the beating…she has to confess
Taiwo of all people!
“I told them not to go o mummy” she said again, tears cascading down her face.
I landed two clean slaps on her face.
As she increased the gear of her crying, I pinched her tightly.
“If you don’t keep quiet!” I whispered quietly
I don’t really beat my children that hard but I was mad!
Mad that my children- the youngest of them all could embarrass me
Mad that my most industrious daughter could know about the dirty engagement of her brothers in that dirty business
-And she could still lie that she didn’t know!
I threw the koboko away and pulled her by the ears to myself as I sat on the bed.
“Where did James and John go to?” I asked again
She sniffed wetly
“Mummy, they said they were going to Kasuwa” she said
“And you told them not to go?” I asked
“Yes ma” she said and I slapped her again
She held her face as she wept out loudly again
“What does your mother hate most?” I asked
“Lies” she replied amidst her tears
“What did they go and do in the market?” I asked and as she wiped her tears, sniffing and reluctant to talk, I broke down into tears
“Why Taiwo? What have I done to deserve this? What have I done to deserve all these Taiwo?” I cried out the more and though she still sniffed wetly, she stopped crying
I had never cried before my children before!
She must have been shocked
I was shocked myself…I didn’t plan it.
I was just so overwhelmed by so many thoughts that the best thing for me to do was to cry.
“I try my best to give you everything needed. You are growing now and little proceeds from my business, I use to buy you fine dresses. The wrappers I have now are the ones I had been using over five years ago but I have been giving you almost all you need. You might not be comparable to all kids, but am I not trying?” I asked
It was meant to be a rhetorical question but she answered
“You are trying ma” she said
“So, why Taiwo? Why would you send your brothers to Kasuwa to beg for alms? Why?” tears ran down my face
“I am sorry mum. WAEC registration closes tomorrow and I was not able to tell you since I know you had nothing. I was crying today as you went out when James and John asked me why. I told them and the next moment they told me they were going to the market for Almajiri. I told them not to go but eventually, I allowed them to go” she confessed and my heart got swollen up.
“WAEC Registration closes tomorrow?” I asked again.
“So, your brothers volunteered to beg for alms to raise WAEC fee? How would they raise enough for both of you? How? #28,000 isn’t small o”
My head had started pounding
“Kehinde already has her own money.” She said and my eyes opened in shock
“How? Who gave her?” I asked again
“Benjamin” she replied
“Who is Benjamin?” I asked again
“Her classmate’s brother” she said again, fumbling with her wrapper.
“A boy or a girl?” I asked again, foolishly.
My head couldn’t just compute all I was hearing
“A boy ma” she replied
“Her boyfriend?” I asked again. Taiwo avoided my face and my heart dropped.
I am in serious soup!
“Answer me nah” I almost screamed
“They are just friends ma. That was what she told me” she said
I was tired of beating her
“What did she do that made him give her that much? Tell me the truth ehn, I won’t beat you” I promised as my heartburn increasing.
“Mummy,..” she was reluctant
“Just tell me” I said again.
“He met us on the way and we were crying. He said we should come and I said no. Kehinde went to meet him”
“Jesu!” I exclaimed, loudly, holding my chest in anguish
“He said he was Benjamin’s brother and Kehinde and him became friends. He said we should not cry that he would give us the money. I said no thank you and he said what about you Kehinde and she said she must go to the university, so she agreed”
She swallowed as she looked at the floor, ashamed to look into my face.
“So?” I wanted a complete story.
“Yesterday, we went to his shop”
“Where?” I cut in
“In Tammah. He sells motor parts” she explained
“Mo ti gbe” I pulled at my hair
“He said he would touch Kehinde’s chest before he gives the money. The two chests” she said and my eyes widened
“Chest? Two chests ke? You mean breasts?” I asked and she looked down
“Answer me” I slapped her, my heart thumping hard
“Yes” she answered
“Then, he gave her the money?” I asked again
“Yes. He gave her #10,000 and said she should come back for the remaining today”
“And she has gone?” I asked and she nodded
“Then you said you didn’t know where she went to. Ah, mo ti daran o Jesu!” I scratched my head as I cried the more
She started crying too.
“Would you get out of this room this instant?” I screamed hard and she ran out hurriedly.
I fell to the ground and cried hard.
“Ah ah ah ah, ah! Jesu! Ah ah God of mercy!” I cried so hard.
I never imagined bringing up my children this way.
I knelt before my bed and cried so heavily till my eyes could produce no more tears.
“Where are the mushrooms?” I called out.
“I am coming ma” Taiwo responded and she brought in a bowlful of them.
There was no more fish in the cabinet so, these ones would suffice …I discovered them as I spread my clothes outside yesterday.
As I dropped the last piece in the already frying Egusi, someone pulled at my wrapper
James the beggar!
“Take your dirty hands off my body jhur” I shouted at him
He laughed, the wide gap in front of his teeth showing glaringly.
“Mummy, many people gave us plenty monies” he said, happily.
“Leave my side now!” I screamed and the pain in my head tummy and eyes increased.
What would I do from here?
Exactly where should I go?
Who should I tell?
“Taiwo, come and make the Eba o.” I shouted
“Mummy, no garri o” she replied
“Go and buy one module from Matan Mallam o”
“Mummy, money nko?” she asked again
“Come and carry it from my head, stupid girl” I was angry and if it was not curbed, I would run mad
“Go and take money from the safe o. If she says the garri is #110, tell her its #100 your mother gave you o. if you buy anything more than #100, I will beat the hell out of you” I said as I entered my room to sleep- if I could get some!
I felt nauseous immediately I smelt the fresh fish Adejare said I should help him to prepare some fish sauce.
I felt reluctant to prepare it but who else would have done it? Taiwo and Kehinde wouldn’t be able to make it well.
It had been four weeks now that I realized I was pregnant and it was this week that he came back home from Abuja after such a long time.
As I filleted the fish and introduced them into the sauce on fish, the scarf I had used to cover my mouth couldn’t suffice as the smell gushed into my nose.
I ran to the toilet and started vomiting into the pit latrine!
“Are you pregnant?” I heard that voice so clear and sound
How did he know?
Was he following me?
I had taken measures to ensure that I wouldn’t be loud and it amazed me how he knew.
My hair on my body stood up straight
“Are you pregnant, I ask!” he thundered again
I cleaned my mouth with the end of my wrapper and looked at him
“Yes” I said silently
He laughed devilishly as he came close to me.
He felt my neck and I was shocked.
I had expected something more violent
“You are pregnant” he said calmly and I nodded
“You are mad!” he shouted suddenly as he pushed me down to the floor with his right knee.
I fell right on my vomitus and he started raining punches on me.
“Die! Die! Die!” he continued to shout as he rained blows on me.
“Adejare jo nitori olorun o. Die as how?” I cried out in anguish
“You are an ill-luck! Why would my life have such downturn just because of you. Pregnancy again!” he slapped me on.
I gave in to his beating but guided my tummy which was his center of attack with my hands.
Suddenly, he screamed!
I opened my eyes and there looking like a possessed lady was Taiwo digging her teeth into his thigh.
“What!” he exclaimed on, obviously shocked
Just as I was too!
He started raining slaps on her and I stood up suddenly to interfere.
“Adejare, this girl is nothing but a very naïve young girl. Leave her alone!” I cried out and he growled, fixing his eyes on me like a beast.
“You are turning the backs of my children against me right?” he screamed as he pulled me by the hair and dragged me inside the house.
James and John had started crying.
“You have to remove this nonsense you placed in there. I have nothing to do with it. It has to die!”
I tried to find my voice.
What arrant nonsense is this guy saying?
I was the one that was supposed to take it personal that I had gotten pregnant.
“But, I don’t know why you are getting angry” I said at last and he looked at me, his mouth suspended
“You don’t know why?” he asked again, his hands tightened round my hair
“Of course. I pay the PTA Levy of the children, clothe them, feed them, act as the father and the mother and then another one is here- an additional responsibility.
Wasn’t I so supposed to be angry that I would even commit suicide?” I spoke in a very shaky voice and he was obviously shocked.
I had never looked up into his face to respond to him whenever he beat me.
“The reason why I, Adejare Olowo am getting angry is because I wonder how on earth I became entangled with a beautiful for nothing empty barrel that had overtime been the cause of my misfortune in life. I can’t imagine me living this kind of life but that is what happens when you get married to a cursed individual!” he spat the words into my face.
“Adejare, the children are watching and you are…” I broke down into tears.
One mistake I never made in my marriage was telling my children how irresponsible their father was.
I never did!
I covered him up whenever they spoke ill of him
But see him now.
Tears cascaded my face and I shook my head in a frustrating manner
“Your mother is cursed! She killed her parents, leaved in the orphanage all her life, I picked her up from the miry clay and all she could do was separate me from my own parents as well, making my life miserable, bearing children that took after her witchy lifestyle. Her name is Glory but she is a shame!” he screamed that so loudly that I felt nauseous again.
As I started to hold my tummy in a bid to start vomiting again, he picked me up with a single hand and kicked me hard in my tummy.
I fell out through the door, let out a very ear-piercing cry and there was a great darkness!
I adjusted the intravenous lines and looked at my patient.
She looked so blue!
What is it about this woman oh Lord that she would be going through turbulent times all in the name of marriage?
Exactly what was wrong?
What I didn’t understand well was how a man who had for countless number of times had sleepless nights because of a lady would turn her into a punching bag shortly after saying ‘yes’
If this was what marriage entailed, I’d rather just stay single and happy for my Father in heaven.
I moved to the table to check her case note for her name and I saw it so clearly ‘Glory Olowo’
Darkness seemed to hang in the air.
I sensed there was absolutely something wrong.
All I see whenever that woman entered into my office was darkness.
Darkness was what filled her eyes
She breathes out darkness.
I wonder what it was but I felt so pulled to her side whenever she came by.
Why would I be pulled to darkness?
There must be something interesting about her that I had not unraveled yet.
And it is time to do so.
She had not recovered from her shock yet and it was long over three weeks now.
It was very painful that her husband wanted the baby dead!
What some are looking for badly!
I took her hands and she shook a bit as if a cold chill ran through her spines
“Lord Jesus, thank you for this lady. I know nothing about her but if I could be of help, use me because I can smell a rat as regards her. Something is definitely wrong oh Lord!”
I walked to the window side and drew the curtains. I opened the louvers and moved from one corner of the room to the other.
“I plead the blood of Jesus!” I repeated all of over and over again as I moved from one place to the other.
She moved a hand and I smiled
Something was just so fishy!
“Father, Your word says that the stranger shall be afraid and shall with fear come out of their hidden closets. Every stranger here, I command you to hear the voice of the Lord, leave in Jesus’ name.” I prayed loudly.
I was so lucky that no other patient was in the ward with her so I could pray loudly.
“Are you not afraid?” something told me from somewhere that I could not even decipher
“Afraid? Not at all. For the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded, therefore have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be afraid” I said boldly
In my ten years of practicing gynecology, I had seen a lot of diabolical displays of dark powers
A little wonder most medical personnel rely on one or more powers.
But I had chosen the greatest power of all!
The power of Jesus!
She sneezed for three good times
And darkness I saw again!
I looked up at her as she rubbed her face and attempted to sit up.
She flinched as she sat up and returned to her sleeping position, breathing hard
“Good morning Mrs. Olowo.”
She looked at my side and looked away
“Good morning” she said curtly
“You might have difficulty in sitting up for a while. You have bruises on your tummy, waist and pelvic so you will manage to still be okay”
“Thank you” she said as tears ran down her face.
She looked so weak
“What about the baby?” she asked and I looked at her intently the more
She looked pitiful
“Your baby is growing Mrs. Olowo” I said and she sighed deeply
“What about my husband?” she asked and I smiled
“He should be fine although we have not seen him since you were rushed in here about a month ago” I tried to say as I calmly as I could
She shook her head weakly
“Ok.” She said again
But she was not looking into my face- at all!
“Mrs. Olowo, are you a Christian?” I asked and she nodded in the affirmative
“Are you born again?” I asked again and she nodded
“I attend The Believers’ Gospel Church”
“Church going is different from being born again. By being born again, there are some things you wouldn’t be doing which you used to do before. Do you insult?” I asked and she smiled
“Is it possible not to insult?” she smiled and I smiled too as I held her hands
She tried to get her hands off mine but I insisted
“You don’t like looking into my face whenever you are speaking to me. Why?” I asked
She shook her head
“I look into your face” she said and I smiled
“Ok, look into my face now” I said and she tried but squinting, she looked away again
“It’s kinda painful. The ray of sunlight is disturbing my eyes” she said and I looked through the window panes
There was no sunlight- it was still very early in the morning.
I moved to the other side of the ward
“Look at me now, the rays should be gone” I said but she shook her head more vigorously.
“It’s even more” she said and I walked towards her.
“Would you love to tell me about you?”
“No!” she replied bluntly
“Ok. But are you into any occult group?” I asked so plainly and she looked into my eyes, squinting
She looked flabbergasted
“What are you saying?” she asked and I patted her back
“It was just a question madam. I don’t appreciate everything you are passing through” I replied, calmly
She shook her head as fresh tears flowed.
“I am not a cultist, neither am I a witch. I am just a woman of many sorrows and I don’t appreciate anyone prying into my privacy”
“I am sorry if that is the way you feel madam but I am just your friend”
“Ba na so” she said in Hausa meaning she didn’t like the idea one bit.
She was obviously disappointed in me
I had to win back her trust so we could get to the root of the matter.
There is no smoke without fire
There is no problem we go through without a reason for it- either good reasons or the bad one-
Either man-induced or Divinely-arranged!
I gave her a very large smile and held her hands again
“Ina so n ki sose” I said and gave her a very large smile
She didn’t reciprocate.
My heart suddenly yearned for her as tears rolled down her face
“You think I am weird too?” she asked and I smirked
“No. I think you are interesting and really amazing.” I said and her face glistened
“Then, why have I never had a moment of happiness, ever!”
My heart broke
“It’s about starting” I said and she looked at me questionably
“Really!” I nodded and bent over her on the bed in a bid to hug her.
She put her hands round me too though being careful of her intravenous line.
I had a mixed feeling- I felt a very huge darkness yet my heart opened and yearned for her.
As we disengaged from the hug and I placed her right hand by her side, I saw the cause-
The cause of the darkness I felt.
I held her right hand and studied it well.
“What are these?” I asked her and she withdrew her hand from me.
“I don’t know” she said and I sat down
“Of course you do. How many are those?” I asked again and she looked at me, really baffled
“Why do you care to know?”
Because that might just be the path to tread to your deliverance woman!
Don’t get scared o!
It’s not that bad!
Watch out for part 3