Ours was a forbidden love and we knew it from the get go.
We could easily have been siblings because we were born at about the same time, same day at the same hospital. Maybe that’s why we fell in love. She was my father’s first cousin’s daughter, so we are essentially second cousins.
Her mum and my father never even met until they were teenagers because our family is large, polygamous homes have those type of numbers.
Anyway, we met at one of those family reunions; and we hit it off almost immediately.
Nobody suspected we could have anything between us and to be honest, even we too didn’t set out to ‘do’ anything. We were two young people who found they shared a lot in common.
After that period, we kept in touch via sms because whatsapp wasn’t popular then, and we couldn’t afford Blackberry, so we used yahoo messenger. You know, chats rooms and the likes. That was what was popular early 2000, so that was how we communicated and via email, of course.
During holidays we visited one another and even then our parents didn’t suspect anything but we had begun petting, you know, kissing, smooching…we were both virgins and so quite clumsy with one another.
Eventually, we had sex…We had sex just once. We were both 19 years then. I was still awaiting results after failing jamb yet again while she was in her first year at the university.
You can imagine my fear when she sent me chat one day to say she missed her period. I was like, so?
It didn’t sink; I hadn’t learned that sex, even if a clumsy one, can result in pregnancy.
She herself was scared; she told her roommates and they advised her to get rid of it; and no she didn’t tell them who was responsible.
I asked her what she wanted to do because I knew we could never ever tell our families; it was a taboo!
She told me she was scared, so was I. She was away at school then up north, I was in Lagos and didn’t have a dime to my name apart from what I got from my parents which I spent mostly at business centres chatting with her. Back then, to send a mail or chat on yahoo messenger, you had to go do it at a business centre, you would pay for one hour, get a code to input in the computer then you log in and do your business, unlike today where you have everything on your phone. Our phones were not so advanced back then. I remember I was using an old Nokia, that 3310…yeah.
When we chatted, I told her I would support her in whatever she wanted to do. I had no idea how far gone she was. I mean such details were foreign to me. At first, I didn’t immediately get what she meant by ‘I missed my period,’ you know, I was that stupid.
She wasn’t available for chat the following days…until my father told me the worst news of my life!
From what I was able to gather; she was taken to a quack, as you can imagine, her parents weren’t supposed to know, neither were mine for that matter. The quack, did a bad job, that’s why they are called quacks. Left most of the fetus in her womb. The pieces of fetus got bad and poisoned her blood…she died five days later!
My folks thought it was because we were close, I mean, they thought we were doing ‘brother and sister’, they never imagined we were lovers. So when I passed out, they didn’t know I had a hand in her death.
I have never come out to claim responsibility. I couldn’t. If she had lived, I believe I would have owned up but she died, she is dead…what good would it do the family?
I regret my role, I regret my foolishness but I will never own up to our family, I still suffer for her death!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)