I got away from House 44 to the fourth floor of an old getaway overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. There, the whiz and whirr of the crashing waves would calm my nerves. There, I would meditate and be transfixed by the billowing waters. There, I would unfurl with new ideas that could blossom like willows. There, the continuous shushing sound of nature will shush away from me, the continuous condemnation of society. From there, I would breathe the fresh air salted with peace and not malice. And I’d be showered every morning by fresh sprinkles of the ocean’s dew.
I had tried to reconcile with Sheri, but Iwa was in the way. They kept on suing and counter-suing each other. Sheri had told me: the friend of my enemy is my enemy. Just like the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So, I resigned my appointment as a wedding planner for Iwa’s wedding.
At around 12 noon that Wednesday, I arrived at the resort which sat amid slanted coconut trees on the outskirts of Lagos. My room had a kitchenette, an antiquated box television, and a worn sofa, behind which hung loosely, the painting of the slave trade. Its huge window opened right into the maw of the restless waters— it was restless, but for me, it was restful, an escape from a reprehensive world. I would be lulled to sleep every night by its continuous shush and would wake up to taste its salty waters; an indication that my life could still have a taste.
I unpacked my bags, and dropped my scan result; the result that said I was expecting a baby girl and the psychiatry diagnosis that said I had bipolar and burgeoning schizophrenia. I didn’t quite believe that diagnosis, though. How a normal reaction to any distressing situation would be classified as a disease, beats my imagination! As far as I was concerned, nothing was wrong with me.
It was 1 pm and I was leaning over my window staring into the undercurrent activities in the vast and endless waters. And then my phone rang.
It was mummy.
“Adeshewa,….why are you doing this…you just cut off from everybody…. Aunt Rolake said you changed your number? Your dad had been worried sick for you…what’s going on,….when are you coming home to Ibadan?”
“Mummy!!!”’ I am so sorry, I had been very engrossed with work.”
“Try come home or at least let’s know where you are staying.”
After she dropped. I wondered and wondered why she reached me. Could this be an omen of something? Was I about to die? Would this be the last time I would hear her voice? Why now?
Nobody in my family knew that I was expecting a child. I could already predict my dad’s reaction.
Daddy held the exalted position as a deacon in the church. How would he manage to tell his fellow deacons that his daughter got pregnant out of marriage? And to worsen it, the father of the child was just a mere sperm donor, who picked race after the donation! How would daddy explain the scripture in 1 Timothy chapter three which says (paraphrased)? A deacon must be one that rules his own house, having his children in subjection. For if a man knows not how to rule his house, how will he take care of his church?
It would bring him too much shame and pain. I doubt that his love for me would be able to moderate the pain. I thus convinced myself that my decision was in his best interest, to protect his reputation, for if daddy knows, it might be the end of his eldership.
I looked again and saw the ocean waves gathering momentum and speeding up towards me, and like a conveyor belt they crashed and frizzled out like burst bubbles. Was I about to crash and frizzle out? Was I about to pass away like these bubbles? I have to find a way to tell my family about this secret. This child would be someone’s grandchild, someone’s cousin, or niece. This child deserves a family.
I picked up my phone and rather than call home, I started searching for other homes. I found a contact number of an orphanage. I called. The receiver who introduced herself as Irene gave me a description of how to locate their physical address.
I got there the following day and met Irene the tall, slender social welfare officer with a low haircut and with a low-key voice.
She took me around the rooms. The moment I entered, I felt a sense of peace and security in the company of those babies. In each of the cots arranged in rows, were babies snugly swaddled, sleeping, oblivious of the wicked and unjust world they lived in.
There was just something endearing, magical and balmy about them. Maybe it is their state of total dependency and harmlessness that evokes that feeling of worthiness and courage in the adult. Or their innocence and neediness that makes one feel needed.
“All these came in as newborns,” Irene said. Her voice was so deep, that I feared it could even scare the babies.
“I want a responsible parent to adopt my child……How soon can you find a parent for my child, and can I get to know them?”
“It depends on if you want to keep a relationship with them. Some women don’t want any ties with the adoptive parents.”
“I want to know them from afar. I just want to know if they are good people and that my child will be safe with them.”
“We have a handful of them. Some of them are childless couples. Some of them are victims of failed IVF. Some of them are older single women who just wish to have a child…..”, she paused, ran her eyes over me., and asked….
“But why do you want to give up your child?”
My heart fluttered and I feared I was about to be criticized again. “I’d appreciate it if I am not asked that question.”
“Oh sorry….,” she handed me some forms. “You don’t have to rush into giving up your child….its a big, big decision. I hope you won’t regret it.” She sounded as if I was doing something really bad. That left me walking out of the orphanage with a sense of both regret and relief.
Regret because those babies seem to have had a tenderizing effect on me, and I was about to give mine up. I felt even more worthless! Relief because my child could at least bring a smile to the face of a childless couple. How true is the saying: he that has a cap has no head and he that has a head has no cap! Me, I have a pregnancy. I have no home. They have a home, but no pregnancy!
“Thank you very much, Irene. I would give you a call once I am done signing the paperwork.”
At my next antenatal visit, Dr. Dotun told me to pack my baby bag in readiness as my baby may show up anytime.
Two days after, I leaned on my window as usual. The waves hastened towards me and frizzled out as usual. Lest my memory should frizzle out, I picked a pen and diary. And like someone writing her last wish, I wrote a birth wish; a letter to this baby. This baby I was about to meet to part.
- Dear Justice,
- I may not know you, but God knows you,
- I may not have created you, but I was your co-creator
- I may not know your destiny but I know your genesis
- I may not be with you for the next nine months, but I have been with you for the first nine months of your life
- I may not be able to provide you a lasting home, but my womb has been your first home
- I may not know your purpose in life but I’m supposed to help you fulfill it
- But I will help you fulfill nothing if I offer to keep you
- So I will offer you a family who will love you without reservation or reference to your history
- A family with competent parents who will help you compete and win in life
- Maybe one day you will the president of a nation
- Maybe one day you will be proud of me
- But always remember that you will always be a part of me, my flesh and blood
- Now we meet to part. But I’m hoping that someday we will meet to part no more
- For a mother’s love, even though tested and tried, never truly dies
- I love you
- -Your biological mother
With tears in my eyes, I stared at the custody-relinquishment forms and other parenthood-renunciation papers.
I texted Irene my expected date of delivery and the hospital address to pick up the baby once born.
(To be continued)
You can read the last edition HERE
“Unapologetically Shewa” is a story of Shewa and Sheri. Both of them are single mothers who live in a society which judges them. While Sheri keeps seeking where and what to hide behind, Shewa decides to stop hiding or withering under the condescending glare of society. She was ready to shed no more tears, but shed off the scales of self-judgement and begin a journey of self-actualization. Coming against societal norms, will she change the norms or the norms will change her?
Abiose A. Adams, a journalist, creative writer, and senior programme officer at Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation, can be reached on [email protected]
Author’s Disclaimer: This story is purely a work of fiction. Any coincidence of the characters with real persons is highly regretted.
Photo credit: Pexel
Copyright 2022 TheCable. All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from TheCable.
Follow us on twitter @Thecablestyle