Trouble started when we exchanged these hot words.
‘You will suffer; I will make you pay for this!’
‘You are not God, I will not suffer, you are not my God!’
‘I will show you, by the time I am done with you, you will see maggots in a pot of salt!’
I was in a rage but my rage was nothing compared to the volcano erupting before me, that volcano was Yemi, my boyfriend of three years; the father of my unborn child.
His eyes were like balls of fire. I couldn’t believe these same eyes, just months back would look at me and I would melt. They were not this fiery and full of hatred, they were loving and kind and gentle.
How did we get here?
I refused to abort the pregnancy I got from him. I refused to endanger my life for selfish reasons.
First off, I met Yemi on the queue at the GT Bank ATM machine in Gbagada, the one on Diya street; I joined the queue after him and we got talking after one of the customers at the machine just kept withdrawing and withdrawing and withdrawing. The rest of us began to protest that he should not finish the money in the vault, he should pity the rest of us. That was how we began to talk, we laughed at the man and stuck up a conversation after that. It turned out that we lived just two streets apart and somehow had attended the same secondary school but he was like five years my senior so we couldn’t have met.
We began to date; I was a jobless graduate and he was a disgruntled guy working for an engineering company. Yes, one thing led to another, I don’t want to go into too many details.
Yemi was good to me but he wanted to travel abroad. He wanted to go do his Masters abroad, in the UK to be precise. I liked his ambition. I encouraged him though from what I saw, I figured he couldn’t afford the fees. Unbeknownst to me, he was vying for a scholarship.
Then the inevitable happened, I fell pregnant, like people say these days. God knows, I didn’t plan this pregnancy; we had been doing the withdrawal method because Yemi didn’t like condoms. So of course, I told him I wasn’t seeing my menses for almost three months. Usually even before I began to have sex at all, my menses is very irregular, so when I didn’t see it months after we began to sleep together, I wasn’t bothered; then three months later, i just woke up feeling sick, like I had fever or something. I went to the chemist for anti-malarial and even after three days that I normally would feel better, I still felt as sick as I was the first day. Then I began to retrace and I realized I hadn’t seen my menses for almost four months!
Mo da ran!
Omo, that was when the wahala began o.
I told Yemi about my conclusion, and though, I too was afraid, I mean, pregnancy when I don’t even have a job. Hummmn. Anyway, I went to a diagnostic center and did a scan. Behold, I was almost 10 weeks gone and yet my stomach was as flat as a board.
Yemi wanted me to remove the pregnancy. I said, who sai! Remove what? I will not endanger my life, o.
Next thing I knew; it was always quarrel. Everyday quarrel and curses. At that time, I was partially living with him in his two bedroom. He accused me of being an emere, meaning a wicked spirit who wants to truncate his abroad ambition. My sister, did I impregnate myself? When he was doing it and enjoying, he didn’t know, now it is my fault!
Everything I did made him angry, even if I don’t talk or reply his insults, he would still be angry. I had to move back to my parent’s room and parlour when wahala was too much. He didn’t come or call me throughout!
Months later, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl on earth, no one who sees my Morenikejimi will not love her. Of course, my parents went to inform Yemi that I had given birth through c-section at Gbagada General hospital. He came there, I think on the third day or so, he came with his two sisters and their mother who resides in Ibadan and when they saw their baby they said, this truly was their child and that they would take care of her.
My dear sister, I was happy. I was relieved, I thanked God that this wahala was over.
They insisted I bring the child to Yemi’s house for the naming ceremony saying their child is not a bastard, they will name her and care for her. So my parents packaged me and my baby to Yemi’s place even though at this time, he didn’t say anything about marriage to me. His mother came to stay with him to care for the child. Me, mumu, I thought I was in paradise.
I suspected nothing. In fact, right after the naming ceremony, we were back to having sex again and I thought we were good; though this time, I made sure I couldn’t get pregnant again, I was actively breastfeeding.
I was also checking out places for job placements and buying a few things to sell as well so that I won’t be idle.
One day, he came home to say he got his visa! I was shocked because up until then, I had no idea he still had travel ambitions. I pretended to be happy for him but why didn’t he tell me he was still pursuing his abroad dreams?
I thought well, what will happen to me and my child? When I asked him, he just told me he would sort things out.
He sold off his car and personal items so he could have money for travel and he was set. Mama will have to return to Ibadan and so our 11 months old baby would be taken to a crèche. I am a fool, I know. I agreed. We put Morenike in a crèche owned by his cousin or someone from his town. You know how people from your town suddenly become ‘cousins’?
Anyway. That was how he travelled. I wept. As if I knew this was a goodbye for good. Months later, I think, yes, my daughter was about 20 months, I came to crèche to be told Yemi’ mum and sister had come from Ibadan to take my child from me.
I went mad!
How! When! Who gave them the right?
They said it was Yemi!
Which Yemi, from where to where? Straight, I went to the police station to report.
We didn’t get my child o.
They had filed a report at the police station that I neglected my child, that I was an unfit mother, that I leave my child for hours after hours to go with men.
Long story short, I began the battle of my life. After several visits to the Police, and several weeks o. I think they finally believed I had been wronged. They decided to take up the matter, after first arresting the crèche owner.
Months later, we got permission with the police in Oyo state to go with me to find Yemi’s mother’s house. Her phone number had been switched off and even the crèche owner didn’t know where she lived in Ibadan.
We began a man hunt. It followed months of one disappointing news after another. It followed Yemi calling the DPO and threatening legal action, it followed him calling from the UK and telling me to back off after all I couldn’t take care of our daughter!
See o. He’s in the UK and he can tell me I can’t take care of my own child. His mother is a better mother to my own child! The same child he didn’t want just two years ago.
My sister, let me cut it short, we found my daughter, after more than one year of looking for her. You know the best part? She still recognized me as her mother! She saw me, blinked and said, ‘Mamma?’
Nothing surpasses that!
As for Yemi, all the time he was harassing me here, he had got involved with an oyibo woman. I hear he has even married the woman. I wish him luck. I have my daughter back and I thank God. I thank the police too, they were diligent, they helped me get justice!
-Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories