I was not married when I became pregnant.
I was doing my own business of selling food to school children at the grammar school near where lived. Even the ‘marriage’ that I am talking about, it was because I became pregnant that I began to live with my ‘husband’, he really didn’t do the proper wine carrying or come to beg for my hand from my parents.
That is how it happened.
I couldn’t go to meet my parents and say, “This is my husband o, he is the owner of this pregnancy,” because, I was already living alone and doing my business. I was not a small girl. And again, in our own case, I am sure that my parents were happy, that at last, this one has found someone who wants to marry her or at least, keep her in his house. Because, you see, I am the one everybody in my family thought would never get married. That one is a long story but let me tell you the one that is ‘paining’ me in my heart.
You see, when I got pregnant, because I am not from a rich family and the person that even got me pregnant is not rich there was some wahala. He himself was just managing. So when I told him that I was pregnant, he said, “Maybe this is the sign that we should start living together.”
I didn’t know he didn’t want to have a child; I didn’t know he was tricking me at that time. Well not trick because we are still together, till today but at that time, his mind was not on having children.
He lived in a two room apartment at that time and was working at the ministry; so when I carried my load to his place; I still kept my own one bedroom because I have things…
Anyway, he would come in the evening from work and give me drugs to take, telling me that it would help me and the baby. I didn’t know he was feeding me with drugs to bring the belle down!
You know, after sometime, I couldn’t even continue my food business because I was always too tired and sick, the belle worried me a lot and my business was suffering!
If you are in food business, you have to wake up early to cook and get yourself ready for the day as early as 4am. You finish selling your food latest at 2pm then you go to the market for more ingredients for the following day…it is a sharp, sharp, business, no sme sme.
But that was the time my rival at the school overtook me in the business. I used to be the one who sold all my food on time because my food is very sweet; rice o, beans o, porridge, swallow…I would finish selling tay tay .When I finished selling, people would then start going to her to buy but they never went to her if I still had food!
So, that’s how it was, o.
Ok, so whenever I drank the drugs, I would vomit and vomit and vomit…I would become very sick. One time, my husband even brought one of his friends that worked in the chemist to give me injection. That injection, I didn’t know was meant to bring the pregnancy down! Because I was also complaining that my business was falling, the pregnancy was disturbing me, I wanted to get up and do my thing!
At the beginning, I didn’t know that was what he was doing. Every time I got sick, my husband would not take me to the hospital, he would say hospital is too costly, he would call, his friend, the chemist to come and give me more medicines.
And when I found out that he was trying to remove the belle, me too, at that time, I was thinking, I didn’t want the baby again. All the money I had for food was going so fast because, you know how money is? If you are not making more, what you have will just fall off your hands like that!
We didn’t have money for proper hospital so how would we take care of the baby? Babies can get sick all the time, so me, too, I said, ‘ok, let’s remove this one and the next time; we will plan it well. when we have money, we would have a proper child.’
So, that’s how it happened but the belle didn’t agree to come down!
Later, later we stopped, abi? I didn’t want to go and die!
Then when the baby began to catch me to go and deliver, I was at the market trying to buy things to go and cook; even though I wasn’t doing the business much. It was one of my customers at the market that arranged for taxi that that took me to general that day.
Hummn, I delivered the baby. She was one tiny baby like this, so smalllll she could fit into my hand! Everybody was afraid of the baby, the nurses, even the doctors, they would come and gather at my bed and be looking at the baby; she was a girl, she was so tiny. They didn’t know how to carry her or even bathe her. They said maybe she is not a proper baby and that was when I became afraid.
Nobody in the hospital had ever seen a baby that small, I said, she was like small feeding bottle, you know that baby bottle? Yes, smaller than it, in actual fact. They said she was not properly formed that she was not a real baby!
Then I knew that it must have been all the drugs and injections I was taking to remove her that made her so small; that’s why she didn’t grew properly.
Now, when my husband came to visit; he looked at her and told me we should run and leave the baby. He said babies like these were problem children that we would just be spending money on her and she would still be like that.
I knew one or two children like that in our area, they are like imbeciles, they never developed…so I was afraid.
We didn’t even have hospital money because my husband said his people hadn’t paid him; me, what I had couldn’t pay the whole money they wanted because aside the fact that the baby was small, the doctors had to do CS. It was a lot of money then even at general!
So after he kept telling me over and over again, every time he came to see me; he would be saying, “Let’s leave, government will take care of her, let’s leave her and go home, let’s go. We don’t have money to care for her…”
After a while I agreed!
I left my baby.
I first sneaked out of the hospital, I pretended I was seeing my husband off. I left a few items on the bed and didn’t even tie my scarf…. I ran off through a side exit, the emergency door; I was just running and didn’t look back!
I stayed in the house for more than one month and told everyone who asked me about the baby that I lost the pregnancy.
This happened many, many years ago.
But I later heard some people came and took the child, that they took her to go and take care of her; that there was nothing wrong with her, in fact. That she was a normal baby!
In my inner most mind, I know the child would be better with those people; she was a child we didn’t want, couldn’t take care of…but many times again, I wonder, when I see women who would be her age mate now, I wonder, is that my child? Is that the child I abandoned?
I Will never forget her.
Do I regret? Yes, I do many, many times!
Why am I telling you?
Maybe you are even the child, you are the same age as she should be, are you my child?
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)