HELLO PEOPLE. I AGAIN EMERGE FROM MY HIATUS. I DUNNO WHY THE ‘HIATUS’ KEEPS OCCURRING SEF. ANYWAYS, ‘DOLAPO KASALI (@kaygeegal on twitter) WROTE THIS STORY WHICH WILL BE POSTED IN TWO INSTALLMENTS. I BELIEVE YOU WILL ENJOY IT…
Flooded labour room
Bearer of banished burdens
Sacrilege to the clan
Why not sons, hefty, in dozens,
Men, warriors of the enclave?
A girl again? Why, woman, why?
(Betty Abah (2012) ‘Go Tell Our King’ Xlibris Corporation)
I was so elated to see my husband coming through the ward door. I sat up to receive him with smile as I prepared to formally tell him about the arrival of the new addition to our family, a double one this time around. I had the desire, the wish to stand and hug him but I was tired as labour had taken its toll on me. Something was however wrong somewhere. I expected my husband to be all smiles, with happiness written all over him but that was not the case as he walked in sluggishly, with an emotion totally different from what I expected.
He went straight to our family doctor who was beaming with smiles when he saw him. They shook hands but I could not hear what their discussion was about as much as I strained my ears. He came to my hospital bed with the same gloomy mood and my hitherto high spirit sank to depths unimaginable. “This is not my husband”, I thought, “definitely not the sweet man I met several years ago, not the father of my two beautiful older girls and definitely not the father of my new born twins”. My mind was racing with thoughts.
He stood from the bed and went to stand in front of the bed, eyes fixed on me. I managed to smile pitifully as I tried hard to find my voice.
“What’s wrong dear? You are not happy”, I said, every word spiced with worry, though I knew the answer. He looked at me gave a half hearted smile.
“Baby, talk to me now. You are getting me scared”, I urged further but he remained silent while his beautiful black eyes bore into me. “He would not have lost his job now, right? He owns his company”, I thought to myself again, just wondering why he was so unhappy.
He moved closer and I steadied, expecting him to kiss me but he bent and whispered instead “how are you?”. He used his hand to lift up my face to his and said in that voice that has always stirred something in me – “you look tired sweets.”
“I am fine”, I smiled, a little relieved. Like I have always seen in his eyes, the love was obvious. I saw it written all over his facial features. I saw love, sprinkled with unhappiness. That in itself was confusing. I just gave birth to twins, I expected him to be happy, very happy.
“Tell me the truth”, his rich voice, a unique kind of baritone, brought me back from my state. He looked at me all over, as if looking for the damaged part in my body, making a mental note on who to put the blame on.
“Baby, I am fine. It isn’t my first or second time now”, I said again with a smile, trying my best to assure him. “You should go see the babies in the nursery and see how they are doing”, I added.
He stared so hard at me and made move to walk away. My heart jumped as the look in his eyes was strange. In fact, I had never seen that kind of look on his face in my years of marriage.
“Could you at least go see the babies please? They would love a visit from their father”, I pleaded
As if he was remote controlled, he turned angrily and blurted out, “Why should I bother to see them when they are still coming home! Why?”
“Why?”, I screamed. “Did you just ask why? Are they not your children? Isn’t that obligatory of a responsible father?”, tears were streaming down my face by then.
“Father of who? I told you several times that I want a male child, even if it is just one. I want a male child!”, he shouted at me. “How many times will I remind you of that?”, his voice was loud and had drawn attention by then. The whole ward had started looking at us as if they were watching Super Story.
Memories of my second childbirth came flooding. I remembered his reaction when I had my second child, also a daughter. It was not as bad as this. A year after the birth, he told me to get pregnant again and give him a male child. I told him I needed rest but my pleas fell on deaf ears, he would not listen. He was just adamant on getting a male child as if I could just walk into Shoprite, lift a male child off the shelf and pay for it.
“If you are not capable of getting me a male child, I will probably get it somewhere else”, he threatened.
He struck a nerve and I got really mad, he must have never seen that kind of reaction from me before. “Oh! Why haven’t you? Gbenga, I am asking you? Have you not tried? Or you think I don’t know about your hunt for your male child? Do you think I don’t know of your lies that you were going on one trip or the other? Gbenga, despite knowing all about your sex escapades, did I change towards you? I tried my best, my very best to be a good wife to you, to be a good daughter to your parents, yet your mother persuaded you, urging you on in the search for the elusive male child, the one you so crave as if I have not been able to birth you any child”, surprisingly I remained strong, I did not betray emotions. “Gbenga, I didn’t complain. I love you so much and I was praying for you to get what you so wanted”.
He was dumbfounded, looking at me in bewilderment. I knew the whole truth but he was not even aware. By now, I was on my feet staring back at him, harder than I have ever dared. The tiredness of labour left me with speed. I was boiling with anger.
“Your mother bothered you so much on having a male child and she forgot that she was the only child of her parents. Why did her father not remarry and have more children or probably hunt for male child as she urged you to do? Why did the woman she got for you not bear you a male child?”, I asked again, encouraged that my words were hitting him.
“She did not give me any girlfriend and am not having any extra marital affair!”, he attempted to defend himself, “you are just saying bunch of rubbish”, he retorted.
People in other wards had gathered by now, they were watching and enjoying the Super Story – doctors, nurses, patients and other hospital staff.
“Ooooh! Now my husband is lying to my face? Gbenga, you are lying and you know it”, I shouted.
“I am not”, he shouted right back.
I held my head in my hands as if it would fall off without support. Closed my eyes and took a lung full of air, “Gbenga, what about Titi?”.
I paused and looked up to see his reaction, he shuddered.