I regret a lot of things.
I regret that I hurt my own child, my only child.
See, I don’t like saying that something is the devil’s work but this one, I was pushed by the devil two years ago!
I take responsibility for some of what happened but the majority, if you know the kind of person I am, the majority is the devil’s work!
I am a widow. I am 45 years old and I have a daughter who is already married and has a seven year old daughter.
I lost my husband to cancer, he was much older than me. I was given to him to marry when I was just 14 years. He sponsored my secondary school education but told me he couldn’t continue, after I finished SS3.
So, I had to become a housewife at 18. I had several pregnancies that didn’t stay; But, when I got pregnant for my daughter, the pregnancy didn’t go down, I was happy. That’s how come I have only one child today and I am very proud of her.
But you see, the thing that happened to me now brought a wedge between my daughter and I.
I can’t just tell you like that, I have to explain.
After my husband died, I mourned him like a good wife. You know I married him when I was still young and by the time he died, I was just 34 years old.
It was not easy because even before my husband was fully mourned for one year, I was just getting all kinds of advances from men; men just wanted to sleep with me but I didn’t agree to anyone of them. I was only concerned about my child.
But after the period of mourning, I was, you know, still young and I needed a man’s body to touch my own.
Even when my husband was alive, I hardly enjoyed being a woman with him, because as I told you he was much older than me. He was almost 65 years when he died and he was also not the type of man that liked to do with woman all the time. So, I didn’t really have that feel of a husband like many women my age and I used to wish that I could.
So, after he died I told myself that if anything must happen it must be with someone who would be loving to me and take care of me and my child. I wanted a real man, a younger man who would understand what a woman like me needed.
I know some people will say, see her, harlot, see ashawo, see this, see that. But at least, I did not do anything outside my marriage and now my husband has died, why would I not look for better man?
For a few years before my daughter was old enough to get married, I had a boyfriend. You know, he was not a small boy but he was my age mate and we were happy together. He used to come every night to sleep. He was a really good lover but he had no job, no money and he even began to steal from me. The small money I made selling provisions to take care of my daughter, he was taking it, so I told him to stop coming.
That’s how come I got another man friend, he wasn’t taking my money and was giving me small change but he was not giving action, na wah, o, so somehow, I kept two of them.
But after my daughter became old enough and got married, I just decided to live my life with whoever makes me happy.
Anyway, so I was busy with my business when my daughter called to say she and her husband needed me to help them on their farm because Fulani people were destroying farmlands and they wanted to quickly harvest their yams and other things before it would be completely destroyed by cows!
What was I doing that if I couldn’t help my own child? So I said, ok, ‘I will come and help you.’
It was help that I went to help them o.
If you know about farming, you will know that to harvest is not one day’s job; and my daughter couldn’t come to the farm with her husband. She was busy in town, so the work was to be done by my son-in-law and myself and it required us to sleep on the farm for weeks because harvest is not one day work. It can take weeks with just a few people doing the work.
That is what happened.
We worked together with the few workers he was able to hire; we ate together then me and him slept in the same hut in the farm.
You know when you are alone with someone, you start to see their true colours; that is how I began to know Mikel, my son-in-law, gradually.
At night he would tell me about his life, how he grew up, the things he wanted to do in life.
Me sef, I told him about my life, how you know, I wanted to further my studies, how I couldn’t, how the fact that I was married off early affected many things for me, how I often wished that I married someone my age and we had a happy life…
It was from one talk to another, I did not know when the devil entered our talk; I joked that body no bi wood that even at my age, I still felt like having sex many times.
I did not even know when we began to do it. I was afraid at first, I mean, I knew he was my daughter’s husband but, we had been on the farm for over two weeks and at that time, I was tired and I was not thinking straight when it happened.
I was ashamed of myself the following morning and I told Mikel that we must never do this again.
“This is an abomination,” I told him.
But Mikel is a devil, he said people have been doing it since that we would not be the first in history. He said the only thing is we should just not let my daughter know.
That was how we did it every day. Once we finished work on the farm, that’s what we did next.
I didn’t know myself again, it was as if the devil took my mind…and at that age, I didn’t even know I could get pregnant at 45! But I became pregnant, that’s when I knew I had allowed the devil to use me!
Yes, I know, blame me, call me all sort of names, you think I haven’t called myself those names?
You think I don’t regret what I have done?
What kind of child would I be bringing into the word? It is an abomination, to be pregnant for my son-in-law! It is an abomination!
There was no one to turn to. There was no one to help me, when I told Mikel that I was pregnant, he just shouted God forbid bad thing!
How for do?
I had to remove it but how would I have removed it without my daughter knowing? I had to confess to her. I didn’t know what else to do, that’s why.
What did she say? What would she say?
She cried and abused me and abused her husband and told me she didn’t want to see me again. I deserve it but I still needed to remove the pregnancy! How would I explain to people in town that my pregnancy is for my son-in-law? Who would I have given the pregnancy to even if I lied that it wasn’t Mikel’s own?
Eventually I removed the pregnancy. I regret what has happened, I want my daughter to forgive me because I will die if she doesn’t forgive me.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)