I can see the chaos around me but I hear nothing. I want to hear the words leaving the mouths on the faces that I can see, but the pain between my legs seem to have deafened me. I want my legs to rest parallel to the bed. I think this will soothe the raucous in my lower abdomen. There is resistance. I can feel hands keeping my legs apart… my feet flat on the bed. My body is doing a distorted dance to the rhythm of pain, and I fear that the flimsy apron guarding my decency will disappear. Yet, I cannot tame my body. My eyes are heavy with tears that refuse to flow. My lips part to give passage to screams that I cannot hear. My skin is now beneath a blanket of sweat. I try to dig my fingernails into my palm. Perhaps this will make me forget about the pain. I realize that my hand is wrapped around what feels like a wrist. I turn to find a familiar face staring at me. His eyes are a deep pool of fear. I wonder what he is saying to me. My eyes, tired from the roving begin to shut down…gradually. I need to remember how I got here.
“Push!” I faintly hear a voice say just as my sight meets with darkness. Darkness laced with sparks of memories.
I can no longer remember the exact clothes I wore on the day the seed was planted, but I remember my first pregnancy quite vividly. My breasts still looked like seedlings. Each time I announced that I was sixteen years old, I got the same response. ‘Late bloomer’. I remember sitting in my bedroom and chuckling at the irony of a late bloomer with a bulging stomach. “She is not having an abortion and that is final!” My father had yelled out over dinner that night. He was the only person averse to my getting rid of the unborn child. “My daughter will not birth a bastard!” My mother had retorted. I sat teary eyed, staring at the untouched plate of food before me, receiving weapons of the verbal battle between my parents. The thought of having an abortion scared me. The thought of bringing the child of the masked man that stole my innocence into the world scared me even more. I knew that obeying my father would mean me waking up, for the rest of my life, to the memory of the day I got pinned to the floor and had the penis of a stranger driven into me multiple times amidst a robbery attack. I was immediately given pills to prevent the pregnancy but something clearly went wrong.
One morning, about a month after I discovered that I was pregnant, I woke up to the realisation that the universe was against the choice I made. My bed sheets had not been familiar with the amount of blood that clogged its fibre that morning. My thoughts were muddled as pain blended with the calm breeze of relief. My mother held me tight, after giving me a gold necklace, and assured me that when the time was right, I would have my own children. I believed her. I remember that the date on my journal entry that night was 16/11.
I can still see the horror that filled Ade’s face when on our wedding night; he walked out of the bathroom to the sight of his new bride sitting in blood. I looked like a very ripe peach in full blossom on my wedding day, my baby bump very visible every bit a delight to Ade and I. During the ceremony, he had whispered to me, “November 16 will remain a memorable day for us.” I remember that my anticipation grew each time he dropped a hint of what he had planned for me that night. My wedding night fantasy was no stranger to him and he had promised that, despite my pregnancy, he would bring every detail to reality. I lay on the king size bed in the hotel room we were lodged in, still in my wedding regalia, awaiting Ade’s hands to begin their magic both on my dress and my body. He was in the bathroom. I must have been tired because I opened my eyes after what most have been five minutes to find that the bottom of my dress had been invaded by red patches. I looked and Ade stood still, staring at the bed. His words from earlier in the day floated past my ears. November 16. Memorable. Us. I began to shiver as my eyes welled up. Before the tears rolled down my cheeks, I felt Ade’s big arms surround me. He said nothing. Morning came and a note that read ‘There’ll be others. I love you’, lay below a small red box. I opened the box and the most beautiful pearl necklace greeted me. I picked it up and said to myself, ‘There’ll be others’.
Five years passed and there were no others. Instead, my husband and I had unconsciously developed a routine. I had been pregnant three times in those five years, and every November, I remembered the pain of losing a new life growing within me. With every miscarriage, Ade lavished me with gifts. A pair of shoes to ease my pain the first time, a weekend getaway in Paris to have a good rest the second time, a car to try to take my mind off it the third time. The anniversary of the death of my unborn children had overshadowed our wedding anniversary. I sought for a solution wherever I could. I was unlucky. Ade did not see the point in moving the mountain before us when we could easily find a way around it. I had accepted my cup in life and was warming up to the advice from the doctors to take out my uterus. ‘For my safety’, they had said. Then in April, I found out that I was two months pregnant.
I can hear the voice loudly now. I can hear the chaos around me. My body is weak but I send all the pressure that I can garner to my abdomen. My grunts are reaching my ear. Ade is calling my name. I turn to him and he manages a smile.
I bury my fingernails into Ade’s skin as if I am drawing energy from him. I raise my upper body from the bed. My prolonged scream drowns every sound in the room. This is the last bout of strength I have to give. I close my mouth and begin to collapse into the bed… then I hear it. A new sound fills the entire room. I stop midway to look at the direction of the sound. A tiny human covered in blood resting in the palms of a nurse. I finally drop my back into the bed and allow the tears in my eyes flow freely. My hand is now between Ade’s palms. It is the 16th day of November and a new memory, a new anniversary has been made for Ade and I… and our baby.
July is a special month for us at BellaNaija. This year, as we celebrate our 6th anniversary, we hope to bring something special to our dear readers. Today’s BN Prose is the last of our anniversary themed stories. We hope you enjoyed every bit of it.