Dedicated to every single Mum out there
Storge (/ˈstɔːrɡi/,: familial love refers to natural or instinctual affection, such as the love of a parent towards offspring and vice versa.
I held him close as he tossed and turned on the bed. There was a flash of lightning and then I pulled him closer to my chest; because I knew that lightning preceded thunder. I didn’t want him waking up to that harsh sound. After the third thunderclap, I released my arms to let him breath.
He turned to my side and smiled in his sleep. In that split second, it dawned on me that I could trade my life for this young lad. I knew, at once, that I was going to give him everything and anything. He was so dear to my heart; my all in all.
“Thank God I had kept him against all odds,” I thought as I looked up to the ceiling and smiled; feelings of gratitude rippling through my heart. The events that occurred a year ago were still fresh in my memory.
“Asi ocha, Adaku!” my father screamed.
“Lies, Adaku, white lies!” he yelled again.
“You cannot stay in my house carrying that bastard,” he said, hurling his Bible at me.
I ducked. Luckily, the Bible missed its intended target and hit the wall.
“Nkem, calm down. Your BP is rising,” my mum said as she tried to calm him down.
My father had already gone into hysteria mode. He was literally vibrating with rage; but who wouldn’t react the way Dad was reacting?
He had sent his only child to school so she could get a degree and secure a lucrative job; but what did I do? Just a few weeks to my final year exams, I came home with a 4 month-old pregnancy.
“Onye bu nna ya?”
“Who is the father?” Dad repeated with a voice that made me shudder and cringe with fear.
“If I repeat my question, Adaku, you will not like it oh,” he threatened.
He didn’t need to explain the repercussions of keeping mute. I, of all people, knew how short-tempered Dad could be— always getting angry at the slightest provocation. So now that I had committed a heinous crime, I knew he could even strangle me if I didn’t answer immediately.
“I don’t know Daddy, I…”
My explanation was cut short when I saw Dad advance towards me with a menacing look. I jumped up from where I was, sprawled on the floor, and immediately took cover behind Mum.
“You spolit her,” he said, pointing accusing fingers at my mother.
“From this day henceforth, I have no child. I have no one bearing the name Adaku Ahamaefula Odinaka. My wife didn’t bear any child, living or dead.”
My head began to spin as the reality of those words struck me. My father had just disowned me. The tears, which I had fought so hard to keep in, rolled down my cheeks instantly. They flowed uncontrollably as though my eye faucets were damaged. I saw Dad pick up his Bible and I knew he wanted to throw it at me, but I couldn’t move. This time, the church weapon landed on me.
“I’m sorry Dad,” I sobbed as I lay on the floor again, desperately begging for mercy.
“Dad, I’m sorry. Mummy help me beg Dad. Mummy, I’m sorry too,” I mumbled, rubbing my palms together as a sign of remorse.
“Adim s-sorry. It w-will not h-happen again,” I stuttered, saying nothing useful.
I was kneeling to beg them now. I was ready to assume any posture if it would make my dad reverse his decision, but my pleas made no impact.
“Adaku, I don’t want to see you here when I return,” he said, storming out the door.
“Mum, I’m sorry. Adim very sorry,” I begged my mum who had stood rooted to the spot throughout the whole scene. I could tell that she was shocked.
“Ada,” Mum called me, shaking her head and drying her tears.
I didn’t mean to hurt my parents. Who would have known that just one round of drunken sex would destroy me? It was even my first time! Maybe, if young girls were allowed to engage in family planning, I wouldn’t be in this situation. If abortion pills were easy to get, I would have ended this issue a long time ago.
“Ada! My question is, how long were you planning on keeping this from us?” she asked, trying not to cry.
“Like when were you going to tell me, your mother? You stayed back in school during the last holiday claiming to be busy with project and stuff,” she said, sniffing with a fake smile on her lips as I stayed kneeling and rubbing my palms together.
“If Doctor Janel had not known the family surname, would you have told us?” she continued to question me amidst tears.
Honestly, I did not know when I would have told them. I, probably, would have never told them; because the day I was to go to the clinic with my best friend to abort the pregnancy, my father bumped into his friend who spilled the whole story. Ill-luck! The bad thing about having a doctor as a father is that somehow, he knew other doctors and other doctors knew him too.
“Why did you choose to bring shame to us,” my mum asked, dabbing her eyes with the end of her wrapper.
“Do you know who we are?” she asked, picking up the Bible that was already looking tattered.
“I’m sorry Mum. It’s not what it looks like,” I blurted out in tears.
“We are respected people in this area. Did you forget that? Of course, you forgot that everyone knows the Odinakas. Now tongues will be wagging here and there,” she continued as she tried to install the television back into its position. It had fallen amidst the hysteria and I stood to help her carry the television.
“Don’t help me!” she shouted with irritation immediately I came closer. “Go back there and kneel down!” I obeyed instantly; it’s not like I had an option.
“I am the President of the Mother’s Union of the whole southeast; and your father? He is the Bishop’s warden. Not just any bishop, Ada! Not just any bishop,” she said, all the while emphasizing her and my dad’s hallowed positions in the church.
“It was a mistake Mum,” I cried. I had always lived a secure life with my parents providing all my needs according to their riches in glory. I was the girl in secondary school who always reported to her parents and the next morning, my parents would storm the principal’s office demanding justice. How on earth will I survive without them now?
“When you say it was a mistake, I expect you to also include that you were raped or at least give us the name of the boy that impregnated you,” she said rounding the big table to get the broom. “But you were obviously not raped and you seem to love this particular guy to be protecting him so much,” she said as she finished cleaning up the broken television.
“Your father will soon be back,” Mum informed me with her head bent and tears dried up.
“Please Mummy,” I sobbed.
“This is your road and battle, Adaku. Mine is with my husband,” she declared looking up at me who had been kneeling for over an hour.
“We have no child, living or dead and I suggest you leave now before he comes back,” my mum coldly proclaimed. She turned immediately and left me on the ground, crying.
That day was the very last time I saw my parents. I left the house with nothing but my transport fare. When I got back to school, I ran straight to my best friend’s house.
Ifechi was my only source of succor. She assured me that she would stand by me all through the process no matter the line of action I chose to take.
Of course, I wanted to abort the baby! What other better decision to make than that? The conception of this child had brought untold misery into my life and I was already entertaining evil forebodings about its birth.
I told Ifechi my plans for the unborn child and she went into her room to make the necessary calls while I paced about on the verandah, pondering over the decision I had just made.
“If I abort this cursed child, my parents will take me back,” I thought.
A thousand and one thoughts ran through my head at once.
“What if you die? You are not going to do this!”
“No, you just have to, you need to get your life back biko!”
“Thou shall not kill.”
This last thought was whispered by a very tiny voice and somehow, I knew that this wasn’t me speaking to myself. The voice was laced with traces of reassurance; it managed to spark flickers of hope within me— hope for the unborn child.
For the first time since I found out that I had a life growing inside of me, I touched my stomach and felt its curvy flatness. It seemed as though I wasn’t even pregnant; my stomach had not yet protruded with the 4-month-old pregnancy. I silently wished that it were all a lie; I just hoped that somehow, the pregnancy test result was defective.
“We are scheduled for 6pm,” Ifechi announced, interrupting my thoughts.
“The clinic is very far; it’s in town so we’ll have to leave early. We will leave by 5 and I promise to always be there,” she said, smiling and stretching out her arms to embrace me.
“You know I will still be here whether or not you do it,” she whispered into my ears as I stayed locked in her warm embrace.
“But I have to do it; I need my life back,” I retorted and immediately withdrew from her arms.
“No, you don’t have to do it; besides, there is no guarantee that you will get your life back,” Ifechi said as she found her way to the bench that was positioned close to her door, against the adjoining wall.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right, two sins don’t constitute a righteous act,” she said, looking up at me and gesturing for me to sit down with her on the bench.
“I thought you were supporting me,” I asked angrily, ignoring her offer.
“Yes I am, I will support whatever you want to do but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t air my view,” she said, standing up.
“Keep your views to yourself,” I hissed. “It’s my life, not yours.”
“Okay,” Ifechi shrugged, glancing at her watch. “It’s almost time.”
We ordered an Uber to take us to the clinic. I wore a black hoodie with a matching pair of joggers while Ifechi was dressed in a navy blue hoodie jumpsuit. We didn’t want to run the risk of having someone identify us in the clinic. Just like my parents, hers were respected people too. We had met in secondary school during a bible study class.
I looked out the window, watching the trees zoom past us. We had earlier told the driver to speed up so we won’t miss our appointment. My mind drifted to the abortion that was about to take place in less than no time.
“Two sins don’t constitute a righteous act.”
“Stop saying that,” I blurted out.
“Ada, I didn’t say anything oh,” Ifechi said, showing me the candy crush game she had been playing and we both knew that when she plays games, her whole attention gets glued to her screen. Ifechi is so obsessed with games to the point that playing them makes her oblivious to her surrounding. She’ll only stop to complain about how the level was hard or how the game was a scam but she wouldn’t still quit.
“Sorry,” I apologized and focused on my locked phone.
“The wages of sin is death.”
“Really? Ife? Really?” I cried out.
“Ogini? What is it again?” she asked, with confusion written all over her face.
“Stop talking na, stop judging me,” I murmured.
“Have I ever judged you before?” she asked me. “In fact, Oga, did I talk now?” Ifechi questioned the driver who shook his head to show that Ifechi had said nothing.
“Sorry,” I apologized again.
“The plans I have for you are of good, to give you hope and an expected end; not the type of end you are heading to,” the voice came again. This time, I knew the voice was coming from within and I found myself responding silently.
“Who said I am ending today?” I inquired.
“The wages of sin is death and…”
“That was then,” I interjected. “The Son died for us so we can live, regardless of our sins,” I replied again.
“Don’t twist the scriptures to suit your needs,” the voice said.
“I’m not twisting anything. Jesus died for all of us. The Bible said that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. His death has cleansed my sins— past, present, and future,” I reminded the voice in my head.
“His death is not a ticket for you to knowingly engage in sinful acts,” it said, hitting the point.
“Others do it and survive it. God will protect me.” I replied sternly, giving myself hope as I sat up and stared outside the window. It was getting dark already.
“Others have premarital sex and don’t get pregnant,” the voice gave me a hit back.
“Get behind me, Satan! I will abort this baby and I will live to declare the works of the Lord in the land of the living,” I said with a tone of finality. After that, the voice didn’t speak to me again.
A few minutes later, we arrived at our destination. As we walked into the compound, I held myself back from asking Ifechi how she found out about this illegal clinic. I didn’t want to see her get angry besides, she had done so much for me already.
The compound was surrounded by tall trees and the environment seemed to be enveloped by an unmistakable air of eeriness.
“It’s probably because of the large number of trees,” I concluded, trying to dismiss the weird thoughts that were tugging at my heart.
“Or many dead souls,” I heard someone say behind me. I spun around immediately to find out who said that but I didn’t see anyone.
“So it will be very cool if…” Ifechi’s voice trailed off as she stopped in her tracks and stared at me.
“Ada, what is even your problem?” Ifechi asked. “I’m talking to you and you’re acting as though there’s someone else you’re communicating with that I’m obviously not aware of. Who are you looking for?” she queried and I could detect anger in her tone although Ifechi was trying so hard to suppress it. She thought I was snubbing her.
“Ife, I’m sorry. I didn’t even realize you were talking to me. I heard a voice behind me so I turned to know who it was,” I replied.
“You’ve been acting strangely since,” she said, peering at me suspiciously. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Ifechi said holding my hands.
“Yes I’m fine, I’m doing this,” I said, reassuring both myself and the voice that had been tormenting me all through the journey. I tried to convince myself that I was doing the right thing.
We walked into the waiting room and Ifechi went to affirm our appointment; while I sat admiring the light blue walls of the room. Unlike other clinics I had been to, this one had no cute pictures hanging on the wall; not even the random baby pictures that seemed to be the trademark of most hospitals.
Ifechi was still talking with the receptionist and I was wondering why the discussion was taking so long. After what seemed like forever, Ifechi walked up to me with a disappointed look on her face.
“Ife, what is it?” I asked. “Sit down. What did the receptionist say?”
“We came in a bit late; so the doctor had to attend to another patient,” Ifechi replied. “The receptionist said we’ll have to wait for an extra two hours before we can be attended to or we’ll come back tomorrow morning. Can you imagine?”
“Well, we’re here already and the distance from your house to this place is too far. Let’s just wait. You can play Candy Crush while we wait for our turn,” I said, poking her in the ribs so she could smile. She was obviously exasperated by the delay.
“Poor Ifechi,” I sighed as I watched her pull out her phone from her bag. They say that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Ifechi had proved to be a friend indeed. She was handling the whole issue as though it was her personal problem. If it weren’t for her, I might have committed suicide after my parents abandoned me.
I made myself comfortable on the three-seater waiting chair, but I tried to be cautious too. The chair, although it seemed new, had a faulty armrest and it made squeaky sounds with every slight movement.
With Ifechi playing her game and the receptionist scribbling God-knows-what on a piece of paper, I was all alone and my mind involuntarily switched to “pondering mode.”
I remembered Psalms 127. My parents had always chanted that Bible passage each time they wanted to prove to me that I was a blessing to them. There was a verse that said: “Behold, children are a gift from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward.”
“Which verse was that again?” I wondered. “Was it verse 1 or verse 5? Well, who cares what verse it was,” I said to myself, rolling my eyes at my inability to recall the exact verse.
“But how come this Bible passage just popped up in my mind now? Of all verses to think of before an abortion. Could it be that God was trying to tell me something? Could it be that this child would be a gift too?” I thought.
“No way! Not after making me lose my parents. What sort of gift would make me this miserable?” I wondered.
Ifechi’s outburst made me snap out of my thoughts. “I finally moved to the next level,” she said gleefully; her eyes still glued to her screen.
I looked over at the counter and saw that the receptionist was still writing. Everyone was busy; no one was aware of my predicament. I was in the middle of a war and my mind was the battlefield. I really wanted to abort the child but it seemed like a force greater than me was slowly and steadily succeeding in convincing me to do otherwise. I remembered the other part of that same Bible passage that said: “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”
“Well,” I said to myself in a somewhat defeated tone. “Maybe this child will actually grow to be mighty. I am not God; it’s only God that knows what a child would become even before it is born and it will be unfair to end a life that I have no power to create. But how will I deal with the shame? Once my belly starts protruding, the whole world will know that I’m pregnant. No one will care to know how it happened. Everyone will become a saint and I’ll be the only sinner walking the surface of the earth.”
“The doctor said she’ll be ready to attend to you in 20 minutes,” the receptionist announced.
“Alright, thank you,” Ifechi, and I replied at once.
“Ada, are you ready? Are you sure you want to do this? You can decide not to, you know. It’s true that keeping the baby is not going to be easy for you but aborting it will not be the best option,” Ifechi advised.
“Ife, you’re saying all these because you’re not in my shoes. You know how much society frowns at unwanted pregnancy. I don’t think I will be able to survive the accusing stares and critical comments from people,” I said, my voice awash with distress.
“This is not about what people will say, Ada. It’s about you and your unborn child. Stop thinking about the world, for once. No matter what you do, people will always have what to say. Whether you abort this child or not, tongues will surely wag; that’s a certainty. Think about yourself and the person you’ll become after this abortion. Your conscience will be seared forever, Ada! Think about that! Consider your unborn child; if it had a voice, you would have heard it crying out to you to give it a chance at life.”
This was too much for me to bear. I broke down in tears and Ifechi came close to cuddle me.
“Ada, you are a strong lady,” she said, drying my tears. “You have God and you have me; you will walk through this fire unscathed. Don’t be scared okay?”
I nodded and managed to put up a weak smile.
“Okay ladies, the doctor has been waiting. Are you going through with the abortion or not?” the receptionist asked.
Ifechi looked at me, waiting to hear my reply.
“No, I don’t want to abort my child,” I told the receptionist.
While we journeyed back to Ifechi’s place, I thought about how I and my child will survive now that my parents had abandoned me. I knew Ifechi would be willing to help but I didn’t want to be a burden.
As I was nursing thoughts about the future, the reply my mum usually gave whenever I asked her what we would eat the next day dropped in my mind. She will always say: “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet our heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are we not worth much more than birds? Don’t worry my daughter; tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Let’s take care of today’s troubles.”
It’s true that my parents had disowned me when I needed them most, but I was grateful for the strong foundation they laid down for me as a child. I felt bad for disappointing them but I was determined to be a better person, with or without their approval and support. I went back to Ifechi’s house that evening with a strong conviction that I wasn’t alone; God was watching over my every step.
I graduated with a Second Class Upper and got my NYSC posting on a platter of gold. While I was still serving, I gave birth to Chancellor. Ifechi’s family helped me secure a job and whenever things got tough, I sought God’s help in the place of prayer. I always remembered Matthew 7:7.
I first felt the room get windy before I heard the rain falling. The “par, par” sounds that the heavy drops made as they hit the balcony railing seemed like music in my ears. I looked down at Chancellor, brushing his hair backward with my hands.
My life wasn’t as rosy as I had envisioned it to be while growing up, but I was still content. Chancellor gave me a better life filled with everlasting love and care. I will admit that being a single mum at such a tender age is a huge burden, but the troubles I’ve faced are much easier to bear than the eternal guilt that would have tormented me if I had aborted him.
Another thunderstruck and once again, I moved him closer to my heart.
David Vera Sorochi
Edited by a very special and important person
Thank you Golden Eze
You made this more beautiful.