My daughter was in hfher first year of uni when one of her friends called me to say I should come and pick my daughter from school. She was 16, turning 17 at that time and hadn’t really settled at school.
Before she left for the university, I had wanted her to work; you know, learn a trade or learn how to sew or plait hair at the local salon, so that when she got to school, she wouldn’t be depending solely on the allowance we gave to her. I was also hoping to teach her to be self dependent. It turned out that she had such excellent results for both Jamb and waec that everyone in the family insisted we dent her tonixo7jy university immediately.
At the uni, Grace, that is my daughter, didn’t adapt quickly, she kept sending me text messages every day about how hard school was, how her roommates were always mocking her, calling her ‘mummy’s girl’, how she was being pressured by boys for friendship. I always counselled. I would often call and on one or two occasions, I took a trip to her school to see how she was doing.
By the end of the first semester, it seemed she had settled. When she came home at the end of the semester she seemed ok to me; we talked, she told me about her new friends, not her room mates, by the way, she told me many things and I was glad she was doing well.
Second semester resumed and my daughter was very eager to go back to school. School by the way is a state university in one of the Midwestern states.
About six weeks or thereabout after resumption; I got a call from one of my daughter’s friends, she said she got my number from my daughter’s phone. She told me my daughter had been skipping classes and that when she went to her room, she found her huddled on the bed, she tried to get her to take a bath, eat and go for classes but my daughter refused…this had been going on for more than one week!
Grace didn’t attend classes for over a week? What happened to her?
Was she sick? Malaria?…
I told my husband about it and he told me to go bring her home, especially as we had concluded she must have got sick.
When I got to my Grace’s hostel, being a state university, she lived off campus in a hostel. So when I got to her room; I was in shock. My daughter had emaciated, she looked unkempt, she was also running a fever; that was all I needed to conclude she had either typhoid or malaria common to us here.
I dressed her up, while asking her why she didn’t call me; she had been absent for classes all these days, she didn’t call?
I decided to take her back home.
As soon as we got home, she took her bath and we headed straight to the hospital. They took her vitals, blood, urine…to determine what kind of fever she had.
They began to treat her; when the results came, the doctor called me aside.
“Madam, your daughter is six weeks pregnant.”
My world crashed! Pregnant? How? When?
I rushed to my daughter, who somehow knew what I was about to confront her about.
“Mum, I was raped! I was raped!! shortly after we resumed; I couldn’t tell you because I knew you would blame me; I went out with my friends and someone must have put something in my drink because I don’t know what happened; I woke up in a strange place with all my clothes gone. Mummy, I was raped, I know it’s my fault…”
Grace told me, further, between heavy tears, how she had found her way back to her room and thought perhaps it was all a bad dream but she saw blood. She said she tried to live normal but each day was becoming more and more difficult especially as she was seeing the boys she was with, the ones she suspected must have raped her.
After some weeks, she said she couldn’t cope with classes, she wasn’t paying attention and so she stopped attending classes…she didn’t even know she was pregnant already!
My head was spinning. This couldn’t be happening to my child, this was not happening. Long story short. I told my child it wasn’t her fault; how could it be her fault? Young people will always go to parties, I had my share of parties when I was her age, but monsters would always take advantage. It was my fault that I didn’t teach my child to beware of monsters that spiked drinks and raped girls.
There was no doubt in my mind that we had to remove the pregnancy. We had to get rid of it or it would stunt her for life!
I called my husband and told him to come to the hospital quickly. When he came, I told him everything and finished by saying, “Grace will not keep the pregnancy.”
She didn’t even know which of the boys was responsible; she was young, still had to return to school to finish her education; I decided based on these factors that we had to remove it!
My husband was reluctant, he was like, maybe she should stay at home, have the baby and she could return the following year. I didn’t agree because I just couldn’t see the possibility of our daughter recovering enough to continue with her life.
The baby would be a constant reminder of that day, of what happened to her. I wanted to wipe the slate clean for her to start her life afresh. So I insisted and got my way.
Two weeks after, my daughter felt strong enough to return to her studies, this time, a lot wiser about her friends and parties and drinks…
I on the other hand felt that I had helped my child restart her life all over again…
Grace finished school, three years after, served, went for her masters, worked, then met a young man she finally got married to…seven years after no child to date!
She hasn’t even got pregnant once, not to talk of a miscarriage. I have followed her to several hospitals, they have conducted tests…nothing.
Now, I am full of regret! I regret insisting on that abortion, I regret playing god over my child. I regret not letting it live. What could have happened of I had let that pregnancy live? Worst case scenario, I would have raised the child as mine while my daughter returned to school. That child may have become someone great today. Who knows, that child would have opened the door to several other children too for my daughter…but I aborted it. I live in constant regret!
Or do you think I was right to insist on an abortion?
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)