“You are four weeks pregnant,” the doctor said quietly, haltingly, as though afraid to say the words. Anjola heard Mrs. Adegbite gasp beside her but could only stare numbly at him as she grappled with understanding what he just said.
It was Friday and the hospital was alive with quiet sounds and the pungent smell of antiseptic. Victoria was waiting outside and was probably reading that book she came with. The lights overhead were a little too bright for such a sunny March afternoon. Her file lay opened on the doctor’s desk and she wondered why doctors had such weird handwritings. Anjola was suddenly observing so many disjointed and useless facts, as though her mind were afraid to process anything much heavier.
She looked at the doctor’s sober face again and suddenly the implication hit her. It hit her like a tonne of bricks, leaving her breathless with the realization. She didn’t have stress. Or Malaria. Or Typhoid.
She had pregnancy.
“Anjola…” she heard Mrs. Adegbite’s soft voice as though from a distance but she didn’t respond. What could she say? What was left to say? She was sixteen and pregnant from a violent encounter with a stranger she had not consented to.
If she would speak, it would be to God, asking Him just what she had done to Him to deserve such a treatment. But since organizing such a meeting was impossible, she kept mute and held up all the anguish inside her.
She didn’t even have the strength to cry anymore.
Everything became a blur from then. She was only vaguely aware of what the doctor was saying. Something about ante-natal care and help. She only stared at nothing and when they were done, allowed herself to be led by Mrs. Adegbite out of the room.
Victoria took one look at them coming out and knew immediately that something was wrong but she said nothing. Mrs. Adegbite led them to her office inscribed, “Head Nurse”.
“Sit down, let me get you water,” she told Anjola, walking to a small refrigerator against a wall in the office.
She came back with a glass of water and Anjola took it but dropped it on the table. Mrs. Adegbite sat down opposite them and buried her face in her hands.
“What…happened?” Victoria finally asked.
The older woman raised her head and said quietly, “She’s pregnant.”
Victoria gasped and placed a hand over her mouth. “Dear God… Oh, God.” Whether she was crying or not, Anjola couldn’t be sure. Everything was just a distant sound to her. She felt strangely detached from all that was going on, like she was watching a horror movie or reading a scandalous book.
“Both of you stay here. Let me go and take permission to leave and get someone to fill in for me. I’m coming,” Mrs. Adegbite said, standing up.
When they heard the click of the door, Victoria turned to her.
“Don’t. Please, don’t,” she said without looking up. The last thing she needed was another talk about God’s oh-so-perfect-but-mysterious-and-elusive plans. Plans that looked to her more and more like a child’s careless, confused drawing.
Victoria said nothing again after that but held her hand in hers, her soft palm warming hers.
After a while, one thought pierced the thick fog that had risen around her: What would she do? And with that thought came a gradual landing into her new reality.
She was going to be a mother.
It was insane. She had spent years blaming her mother for making her live without a father and blaming her father for leaving and yet now she was about to repeat history. What would happen to Law? What would happen to Harvard? What would become of her? How about her dreams? What would people say when they found out? The thoughts made her head pound so she blocked them out again.
She felt a warm wetness trickle down her face and realized they were her tears but she didn’t bother to wipe them off.
“Alright, let’s go,” Mrs. Adegbite said when she got back. She led them out of the hospital to her car, parked in the parking lot.
They drove to her house in silence, commenting briefly on necessities: buckle your seatbelts. Shut that door properly.
When they got to her house, she took Anjola to a room she assumed was her daughter’s and told her to lie down. She obeyed without a word. As she lay on the soft bed, she shut her eyes and willed her mind to do the same. Maybe if she slept and woke up, she would find it was all a dream. A dream she would laugh at, shake off and leave behind to continue with her life.
Yes, a dream.
* * * *
Nike Adegbite was not sure what to do. This was beyond her. It was easier to counsel Anjola when the common tie of abuse bound them together, it was easy to offer the comfort she had received herself but what comfort could she give now? She hadn’t gotten pregnant from her abuse and left to fend for a child as a teenager.
“Oh, Father. Why this?” she whispered, not really expecting an answer. God would expect Anjola to say that but not her. Yet, what possible explanation could there be?
She ran a palm over her face and closed her eyes. She tried to think of something reasonable, something that could somehow bring relief in the face of such shock.
“What…do we do?” Victoria asked, giving voice to her own questions.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know,” She shook her head. “The only thing we can do right now is to pray. Come.”
They stood up and held hands but said nothing for a while before Nike spoke up.
“Dear God,” she paused. “We…thank you for who you are. Yes, Lord. You are good and faithful. You are perfect in all your ways. Your wisdom is unsearchable, and your ways are so much higher than ours. You are the Lord God Almighty and there is nothing impossible with you,” her voice was rising with vigour.
“Father, behold your daughter, Anjola. She is yours, Lord and has been since the day she came to you. Your word is full of promises of your presence with us in our trials and we trust that you are with us. Lord, you have beautiful plans for Anjola and we are asking that you would cause them to unfold and help her trust you through the process.
Father, we ask for wisdom to know what to do. Help us Lord to establish your counsel in this matter. Let your Spirit have His way. Lord, we give this mess to you, turn it into a beautiful message and testimony of your faithfulness all over again.
You have done it before and you will do it again. Thank you Father because this is the assurance that we have in you: that anytime we call on you, you hear us, because we’ve prayed on Jesus’ name.”
“Amen,” they chorused.
Right then, Nike knew a deep peace that flooded her heart and saw it reflected in Victoria’s face too. God would certainly help them and she knew with a certainty that all would be restored. She only hoped Anjola would come to see it that way.
She called her husband and told him what happened. He was as shocked and pained as they had been and promised to be home earlier.
She went to the kitchen and cooked rice along with the stew she had made that morning. She had asked Victoria to stay with Anjola in the room.
“Mummy!” Emmanuel called from the living room. He was back from school.
“Yes! I’m in the kitchen.”
“Good afternoon ma,” he greeted her as he walked into the kitchen, prostrating halfway. She and her husband had tried to instill as much of the Nigerian culture as they could in their children.
“Welcome dear. How was school today?” she asked, reducing the heat on the food.
“Cool. I thought you were on duty today?” he picked a carrot from the refrigerator and chewed noisily.
“Yes but I had to see Anjola.”
“Oh, that girl who came to church on Sunday?”
“Yes. She’s upstairs.” She and Bode had decided it was best to be discreet about Anjola’s situation.
He shrugged. “Let me go freshen up,” he started to walk out but stopped abruptly and turned to her. “Mum, I have a game tomorrow.”
Emmanuel was a basketball player and played with his school’s team but had not played since the accident. And she had assumed it was still on hold till he fully recuperated. Apparently not. Though his recovery had been quick and nothing short of divine; he looked okay and had stopped limping, but still…
Nike raised her brows, “You’ve been training?”
He gave her a sheepish smile, “Yes ma.”
“Are you sure you’re ready?”
He nodded and she sighed. He was after all a young, vibrant boy. “When daddy comes back, I’ll tell him.”
“Alright.” And he left.
She took the food up to Anjola. But she was still sleeping and Nike was relieved. She hadn’t thought she would sleep.
“Did you meet her sleeping?” She asked Victoria and she nodded.
“I’ll leave her food here. Should I bring yours?”
“Oh, no! I’ll come get it myself,” she sounded shocked, as though she would rather go hungry than have her pastor’s wife serve her.
Nike shook her head and smiled. “I’ll get it for you,” and when she saw she was about to argue, added, “Someone needs to stay with her.” And with that she was gone.
She really hoped the sleep would calm some of Anjola’s nerves.
“Peace, Lord. Peace,” she whispered.
* * * *
Anjola moaned and opened her eyes, peering through narrow slits at the unfamiliar white ceiling. She raised her head and took in the pink walls, the curtains, bedspread and one chair all in pastel colors. The room had a smell of something subtle and exotic. The light in the room was bright but the sky behind the soft curtains was darkening. Where was she? How long had she slept?
“Hello dear,” she heard the familiar voice of Victoria and turned to her. “How do you feel?”
And suddenly she remembered. She flopped back on the bed and curled in a fetal position, finally letting the pent up tears go, as a matter of necessity. Victoria immediately came and held her hand saying nothing as she wept.
She cried for her crushed dreams. She wept for the child without a father she was about to bring to the world. She wept for her lost innocence. She wept for the vintage dress she would never wear and the grand buildings she would not see. She wept for her broken heart. She wept gut wrenching tears, till she was sure there were no more tears.
Beside her, Victoria was also crying and somewhere in her mind, she registered the sound of a door opening and Mrs. Adegbite coming in.
The room fell into a prolonged lull. Then Victoria asked her if she wanted to eat and she shook her head no.
“You have to eat something,” Mrs. Adegbite said. “For the baby.”
And suddenly she was angry. “If I starve myself, will it die?”
The older woman exchanged a look with Victoria and shook her head. “You shouldn’t think that way.”
“Well, I didn’t ask for a baby! I don’t want a baby!” She was hysterical and she knew it but was unable to stop herself.
“I know. You just have to take this one step at a time,” the woman’s voice was soothing, cautious, like she was trying to dissuade a drunk man from shooting himself. “And the step right now is to eat. You need your strength. Please. Do it for me.”
Anjola relented, feeling terrible for acting up at the people trying to help her. It wasn’t like it was their fault. She nodded and accepted the tray.
She ate the food without really tasting it, eating only to please them. As she downed the food, she wondered about what she asked before. That was a possibility she hadn’t considered in the slowness of her mind. But now it stood, stark and loud in her mind.
What if she could get rid of the baby?
* * * *
There it is…episode 15. You’ve come so far…oya, clap for yourself 😀 I’m proud of you. Hehehe.
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Have a beautiful weekend.
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