Later, his mother came to pick him but I’d told her to let him sleep. By tomorrow, we’d visit the shops at the roundabout together and buy his ball.
That night, I returned to bed but couldn’t sleep. My mind was troubled.
The black dog and owl I’d just seen didn’t make things any better. Silently, I recited a Psalm until I drifted back to sleep.
The next day was a Saturday. I did my laundry in preparation for work in the coming week. Later, I prepared to take Kabir across the road to the shops by the roundabout and pick up his ball. If I’d known the tragedy that would befall me, I won’t have stepped an inch outside. But like a blind man, I couldn’t see, I lacked the power to peep into the future and predict what was to happen. The frightful incident last night should have been a warning signal but I chose to ignore it. As a result, I lost everything and plunged headlong into death. It was tragic.
I left the’ house that day with Kabir tagging closely behind. He was wearing his Jeans shorts with T-shirt and a face cap. He looked really excited and I left him to follow at his own pace. He was enjoying himself. His mother had wanted him to stay home because of
his lesson teacher who normally came by 3’0 clock. but I’d insisted he came along since it would take another hour before his lesson was due.
Reluctantly, his mother had accepted. To disagree was to indirectly tell me that I had no right over her son. Together, we walked down the street until we came to the main road. Across the street, ‘a’ group of boys played football disinterestedly, I’d given them glance. Briefly, I looked back to make sure Kabi was following behind. Suddenly, I saw the blue ball sail through the air towards our direction. It bounced on the ground, rolled across the road and midway, it stopped. I ignored it and went on my way. But Kabir did not. Before I realised what he was about to do, it was too late. Immediately the ball stopped in the middle of the road, he went for it, not knowing there was an oncoming car speeding fast towards him.
He walked straight towards it. Everything was like a moving picture in slow motion. I could see his tiny legs as he crossed the road. At that same moment, I saw the oncoming car. I dashed forward, my hands out-stretched, my mouth opened in a soundless cry, my eyes wide with terror. Then the screeching of tyres as the driver tried to avoid running into him. But it was too late . There was a deafening sound as the car bumped into him, lifting him up into the air, then a loud thud as his body hit the ground. I ran forward towards the lifeless body but there was nothing I could do anymore, he was dead.
I couldn’t cry, I was beyond crying. I just stared at the body, not knowing what else to do. I didn’t know how I got home or who took me, but on getting back home, the consequences of what had just happened was overbearing. I knew the implications. The mother on seeing her son’s body fainted. She was revived. When she stood up, she took another look on her son, she went back into neighbourhood and shook with the sound of weeping.
The house was filled with people who came in large numbers to sympathise. When his father got home, no one could tell him. He trashed himself on the ground many times until people feared for his life.
That day, he cried like a woman. Me, I was just confused. I knew sooner or later, people would start insinuating I had something to do with the death of the boy, “because I didn’t have a child of my own. Forgetting that I loved him with all my heart and would have willingly given my life in exchange for his. Honestly, I would. But no one would believe me, least of all his mother.
That night, as I got to bed, I thought about my predicament. I mean this inability to have a child. If it had not been for this, I wouldn’t have found myself in this situation. I tried not to, I began to cry as the events of the day finally took its toll. Hot. jerking sobs surged through my body when I re-called that the source of my sorrow wasn’t of my making. Even the Lord who created me, created me fertile. It was because of what my father did long ago that I’m now barren, something I know nothing about, something which, I now bear the sordid burden. It was an evil thing which happened in an unfortunate past. A past which left my father dying silently on his sick bed, his eyes deep and hollow from the fear of death. And as death eventually crept in he turned, twisted, jerked, hoping he could evade the cold, gripping hands which was silently but unceasingly luring him, urging him on further and deeper into a dark bottomless pit, where the wicked shall live in burning torment until world everlasting.
Some years after my father’s death, I met and married Jubril. Three years after, I still couldn’t get pregnant. Medical analysis showed that I was barren.
We tried the local traditional doctors but nothing came forth from their medication.
By then, pressure from Jubril’s family had begun to mount. They wanted him to marry another woman which he bluntly refused, though his religion allowed him to marry more than one. I knew he didn’t want to hurt me. He loved me so much and he still does.
Our love was so strong and nothing could come between us. Not even my inability to have a baby could make him love me less. But one thing I knew he cherished most was to have a child he could call his own, somebody to make him laugh with the joy of fatherhood.
And I felt greatly disappointed that I deprived him of this happiness. This troubled my mind so much it made me cry, even in my sleep. With tears in my eyes, I’d gone home to my mother. It was then I discovered that frightful secret my father had kept from me all this while even until death.
“Peju,” My mother called.
“All this crying wouldn’t help you. What happened has happened and no amount of tears can make ‘water come out of ‘ stone. I would advise you to forget this incident and face life as if you never knew… ” . .
“Forget what ehn? I say forget what ?” I asked her with tears flowing ceaselessly down my cheek. ‘
“You think such a thing is easy to forget? That my own father would let this happen to me. Me ! His only child and daughter.
Oh mother … it’s terrible ….. ” I broke off as another spasm of tears shook my body.
Look Peju, your father loved you. He did very much. If not for that. things wouldn’t have been like this. It is better this way than for you to have died”
“Oho, so what he did was better, abi? Why do I have to be the one to bear his unholy cross for him. Did I send him to join a secret society? Now, I left to suffer. It would have been better if he had allowed them to take my life.
She was silent, not knowing what else to say. Really, whatever she had to say wouldn’t make any difference.
The deed had been done and nothing could change it. Except, of course, the special grace of the Almighty. I still hold on to that last rein of hope. That morning, when I got to her house, I’d broken down in tears as I narrated the ordeal I’d been going through in the hands of my husband’s family. I told her the severe hardship they imposed on me and how some sneered at my back while others called me names to my face. They treated me like dirt all because I couldn’t give their son a child. After I’d finished narrating my ordeal, she looked at me with eyes filled with sorrow and pity. Then she began to speak. ‘
“Peju, I’m sorry you’re suffering like this. I know what you must be going through. I would have told you this thing I’m about to ‘reveal to you long ago but I wanted you to make the first move just like you have done now. You see, I don’t blame you for what is happening to you because what has happened has nothing to do with• you. It was your father who brought this disgrace upon you. Though he did it to save your life. If not, you wouldn’t be here speaking with me.
As your father told me long ago, his father was a king in a remote village in the then western state. His father had four wives and when he died, there was a strong feud amongst the brothers on who was going to be the next king. It turned into a family war where “Juju’ and other such things were freely put into use. Your father was bitter about this, since he was the first son and rightly the heir to the throne. But because his mother who was the first wife had committed a grave abomination which made her become an outcast in the palace, the others joined forces to usurp the throne from him. In his bid to get back what was rightfully his, he joined a powerful and intimidating secret society. They, in turn, fought for him and through the use of supernatural powers helped him to get back the throne. But unfortunately, the oracle rejected him. Bitter and confused, he’d left the village to come and settle here.
That was when we met. Soon we got married and gave birth to a baby, you. You were lovely and looked every bit like a princess. Your father loved you so much he could do anything to make you happy. You were barely two years old when members of the secret society came to demand for you. It was an obligation to the spiritual upliftment of the society. To disobey was a taboo, in fact, an abomination to its totality. It would bring curse on him, his family, generation unborn; in fact, everybody who had anything to do with him.
He began to regret ever joining them. It was then he told me this secret what he couldn’t keep to himself any longer. There was nothing I could do. Then one morning, he came home and took you away. I feared greatly for your life. I thought that might probably be the last time I ever see you. But some minutes after midnight, he brought you back home. He told me he had given away all your unborn babies as his contribution to the society in replacement for your life. Thank God for your father’s decision because since then, I couldn’t carry a baby in my womb anymore even till today. The incident made him more resolved to quit. Unfortunately, he couldn’t because he had gone too deep, it was too late. Then he began to have this continuous spell. Today, would be well, tomorrow he would be sick. He eventually died still fighting them.
“ So there’s no cure to this thing?” I asked.
“If God in His infinite mercy decides to shower you with his blessings. I believe nothing impossible before God.
“But should I tell my husband? I mean tell him all these, the things father did to me, should I tell him? I’d inquired.
“Well, if it’s going to help the situation, I suggest him. At least that would, if not anything, make him know you weren’t born barren.
I stayed with her for a while after which I returned home.
At home, I told everything to Jubril as it was when mother had told me. At the end, he shook his head silently. His eyes set and deep in thought. Later, he said.
“And there’s nothing we can do about this?”
“No nothing except if you marry another woman who can give you children. Lots and lots of them.” I’d smiled. He stared continually at me, his eyes unsmiling. I didn’t smile too. I wanted to know what his decision would be. It was important that I know.
“Are you now telling me to marry another woman just as the others have been urging?” he asked.
“Jubril, I’m not suggesting anything. All I want is to make you happy, if marrying another woman would do that, then I’m in full support of it. At least, that does not mean I’ll love you less. I ‘always want you to know that even if you decide to marry four more women, as long as it makes you happy, than, I’m happy.”
He didn’t say another word, he stood up and went into his room. I stayed behind and thought about my future…
…To Be Continued