I did not know the devil that gave me the loquacious apple who began to spread it around. I thought I was confiding in my friends but they advised me otherwise. It was one of my friends who made the realization dawn on me that if I ever allowed the baby to come to this world before I gave birth to my own, the child whether male or female, would play domineering role over my kids and that would be very unfortunate and the aftermath grievous for me.
I reasoned along that line and I became convinced that what she told me was the bitter truth. The fear of my husband stopped to exist in me, I almost succeeded in killing the baby when he was four months old. How was I to know that the little life had a spirit and it was that his spirit that boldly and timely intervened to save his soul.
When the baby was living with me, my husband was still ignorant of my mischief.
With that conviction, I took the devilish path to demolish the baby through all avenues open to me but I ended up killing the mother instead. The mother died about eight months ago, two months after the birth of the baby, who turned out to be a boy.
Helpless and hopeless, as he felt it down on his bone marrow, my husband became emotionally deflated that the baby’s mother died at a very tender age. Without exaggeration, he was dead inside and I knew it.
Right from that day, tentatively, I had dubbed myself a murderess and the name had come to stick. It was not as if the ghost of my husband’s mistress haunted me but I could not control my thinking. More so, the baby was brought to me to be taken care of. They failed to understand that I could kill the baby the way I had killed the mother. Anyway, they were ignorant of what I had done then.
My friends did not stop advising me to kill the baby when it was brought to me. That would have looked suspicious. More importantly, I did not want my husband to use that flimsy excuse that I had killed a baby to divorce him because life meant nothing to me then.
Nothing lasts for long. No matter how hard I tried to conceal the secret, it kept disturbing my mind. Helplessly, in order to endure a peaceful coexistence with my spirit and my husband, I called him the way he had called me that day and I told him myself that I was responsible for the death of his mistress or second wife.
O God, his reaction that day is better imagined than verbally expressed. He went really vile and mad with rage but I believed that to conceal the secret longer than necessary would be far more disastrous than uncovering it. At least, my conscience rested briefly, although happiness eluded me. I knew the eternal consequence of what I had done. Damnation. But hiding it longer was far more dangerous.
Because of that, he had to invite his mother from the village to come and live with us. Since then, my husband had neither allowed me to touch the baby nor even better still come close to the baby. That made me feel guilty the more. I was like a prisoner in my matrimonial home.
Sometime last week, when I returned from the office, my husband looked at me and grinned. I knew what that meant. It was not his first time since I told him about my deed of taking another’s life. The next thing I was expecting after that leering grin was his regular question, the question that defied answer but always carried a note of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. And each time he asked that question, and I reflected soberly on what I had done, I always felt painful remorse. I have lost count of the number of times I had had to tell him sorry but he would not forgive me.
That day was not to be an exception because when I returned from my office and saw him babysitting, I knew trouble was floating in the air cheaply like a balloon. Any credulous and gullible person would have been conned into believing that I was implementing in my house what was discussed and agreed in China during that Beijing Conference of last year. But was entirely out of it. Thank God I did not bring Mabel, my friend home that day from the office as she would have been more than shocked to see my husband like that. I had wanted to bring her but my instincts decided otherwise. I had the premonition that my husband was going to lash at me when I got home. Before I left the house that day, I knew that this baby-sitter was terribly sick and as it was usual of him, he would rather kill himself than allow me to go close to the baby, much less touch him. On such occasions he did the bathing and cleaning of the baby himself and I was not in the least surprised to see him singing to the baby, yodelling and throwing the little boy playfully into the air and catching him. That was usually followed by cuddling him and cooing lullaby into his ears to coax him to sleep. Quietly, he would dab powder on the little life’s back and then lay him to sleep. That was almost a routine he learned from his mother and he was deft at it as if he was a nurse himself.
He leered again and I got set for his verbal attack. My heart began to beat faster than normal as he called out my name to make sure I was listening and at the same time sizing me up in his gaze like a principal would look at a restless and recalcitrant truant.
“Prisca” he had said, nodded and continued. “I hope you are happy to see me do what I am doing now. Aren’t you? Daily, I pray to God not for the safety of this boy as you are still here, because I know he is safe and secured, but for your soul that is destined to hell, for its safe delivery to the bottomless pit of ruins. For how can you convince God to make Him change His mind, to make Him save you from the wrath of his judgement that you have incurred for yourself?” he said, his face still fixed on me. He was almost crying as his eye-balls whirled but he brought himself under control. He behaved like the man he was, as tears almost became an impossibility for him.
“Prisca,” he called again and shook his head mournfully. I fixed my gaze on his face but that needed a lot of courage. As soon as he finished, tears began to trickle down my cheeks, making them wet with sympathy.
“I am sorry, Collins. Please, forgive me.” I had not called his name for a long time.” I am sorry, please.”
Ask God for forgiveness and not me. Ask the mother of…o God, you shouldn’t have created woman at all.” He sighed mirthlessly.” Prisca, so you are this heartless?”
I could not answer him. I could not control the flow where I was sitting, wiped my tears and walked up to him where he sat by the dining table. I knelt down by his side, closed my tear-filled eyes and began to beg him to forgive me and forget about the whole thing. He insisted that forgiveness comes from God and that I should ask God to show me His mercy. I wanted to open my eyes then, to look at his face as he preached his sermon but I couldn’t, I was afraid of my timidity when I reflected about my dastardly act of taking another person’s life.
“Leave this place, Prisca, before your woeful and wicked tears burn this life in my hands to ashes. And do not let me vent my bottled anger on you.” He spat out his verbal vermin. “Heartless woman.”
…to be continued