I believed him.
I believed him when he told me I wouldn’t get pregnant but I didnt realise he was lying to me. Now I am in the hospital with a deformed child and they won’t even let me go until I pay the bills. How will I pay? Where is the money?
I would even have left the baby in the hospital maybe someone looking for a child would come and take him but they won’t let me go. If I get up to go to the toilet, they will follow me. If I say I want to sit outside for breeze, they will send someone to watch me. See the wahala this Peter has put me in?
Yes, I know I was stupid to let this happen to me. I am 19 years old and had never slept with any man, in fact, I deliberately kept myself, hoping that one day, I would find someone who truly loves me. Then I met Peter. Well, that is what he told me his name was. I only recently found out that his name is not even Peter.
How did I meet him?
I went to deliver market to one of my mother’s customers, the woman sells boli and corn. Peter’s place is not far from the woman; he is a vulcanizer by the roadside, close to my mother’s customers. That’s how we met.
My mother sells coal, yes, charcoal which she gets from a supplier and then she breaks them into pieces and resells from nylon bags to women who roast corn or boli or fish or meat by the roadside. Sometimes, we sell in sacks too as well, especially to all these people that do asun or suya or barbecue, they are also our customers.
Many times, we never get paid for supplying but my mother believes it is better to be owed than not to expect anything at all at the end of the day.
I was supplying the women on a street by the market when I met Peter. Despite the fact that I was covered in coal, my face, hands, clothes were all dirty, he still greeted me politely and was kind to me.
By kind, I mean, he told me he never expected a big girl like me to be so helpful to her mother selling charcoal. He said many girls would rather be following men all over the place but me, I am a good girl, doing this for my mother. I just laughed. What would I have done?
He spoke well to me. If you know where I am coming from, you will understand why the fact that he spoke kindly to me got to me. Nobody speaks kindly to me. Nobody has ever been kind to me the way Peter was, so I thought well, maybe he liked me and he was different from everybody.
But my life is a hard life. I was born into a family that is extremely poor. We are so poor we are never even sure of anything when we wake up from our mats. That is why I knew I had to be smart to survive and sleeping around was not even an option for me.
But look at me, now, upon all my carefulness, see me now.
When we started going out as boyfriend and girlfriend, I told him I did not want to carry belle because my people would not be able to take care of me and the child. I told him that I wanted to start my own trade. I would like to be doing small, small business of buying and selling of farm produce so that I can be supplying the women that my mother sells charcoal to; like plantain, corn, yam when it is their season.
Yes, I can go to the village to connect with the farmers because I have done it before. So, that was what I wanted to d. I told Peter and he promised to help me with the money to start. He told me I should find my own customers apart from the ones my mother has, so that when I start, I can have plenty of people to supply and the money will be plenty.
He told me how to do many things and I thought he was very wise. Then he invited me to see where he lived, I went there like two times. Then one day, he said I didn’t love him because I didn’t want to sleep with him. I said but I already told you, ‘I don’t want to be pregnant.’
But he said I would not get pregnant that he would be careful. I refused
After a long time, he just began to fashi my side and I didn’t like it, so I told him, ok, if I get pregnant, what will happen?
He said I won’t get pregnant that only the head will enter and that he will quickly come out. That’s what he told me. So, the first time, he did it, only the head entered. It was very painful, so I was not even interested again. Then he begged me that he would be more careful the second time. He told me only the head would enter small…
Well, that’s how I became pregnant. I did not even know I was pregnant; my mother herself did not know. She had always warned me that if I carry belle, she would send me away that she cannot come and look after me and look after my child.
So, when I discovered I was pregnant, I tried to hide it from my mother. I did not know about antenatal or about drugs or about anything. I tried not to show how tired I was sometimes or how I was feeling sick because, who would take me to the hospital? Where is the money for hospital when we haven’t seen money to eat?
Then I went to meet Peter to say, ‘I don carry belle.’
Jesus! He told me I should go and remove it, that he doesn’t know what I am talking about! I swear. I was shocked. I begged him to help me. I begged him that he should remember he promised me I would not get pregnant and that he has been the only one I slept with. He told me I should never come there again that I am a wakawaka girl that he is sure I sleep with other men!
When I went to his place some days after that, he had moved his vulcaniser machine, the people around there said they had not seen him. Even his house, they said they had not seen him.
That is how I then decided to tell my mother about my condition. She was very angry, she just told me that she would not be able to care for the child that since I know how to open my legs, I should know how to take care of baby.
So, I was like that for a long time. I was still working with my mother, still trying to find Peter, that was how I knew his name was not even Peter.
And when the baby came, I was with one of our customers, I just saw water, I even thought I was urinating on myself. I did not know it was the baby. They took me to the nearby hospital but they did not allow them to take me inside because they said I did not register there for antenatal.
Me, what did I know about antenatal?
But one man who came to the hospital, he said they should take me, that he would pay for me. That’s how they took me, o. Then they said it has to be operation, that the baby is not coming out by himself. Me, I didn’t even know what was happening because I was just crying that they should not let me die.
When I woke up, I saw the baby, biiiggg head, biig head more than the body. They said, hydrocephalus. That’s what they said.
Up till now, almost two weeks, my mother did not come, I don’t even know where Peter is. My sister this is what that has happened to me.
(series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)