I got the news one late night that my sister had given birth. I said in my head, “Was it not recently that I saw this girl pregnant? Or pregnancy last for only two months these days?” My sister Babie, she had gotten married a year ago though she’s the youngest among the siblings. She got married at twenty-two. My mother didn’t want her to get married. My dad too. Even our senior sister said she was too young to get married. I was the only one who stood by her side and said, “Go ahead, girl. Marriage isn’t for the aged. If your heart tells you you’re ready and there’s a man who is ready, you go for it.” I was her support system throughout the various stages of her marriage. Because the others objected to the idea at first, she didn’t trust them. I was the one she called about the wedding. I was the one she called when something went wrong. No wonder I was the first person she called when she gave birth.
She wasn’t living with her husband. Her husband had a job in another town so when she gave birth, her husband wasn’t around. Early the next morning I went to the hospital to see her. She was kept in a small ward with another woman who also gave birth through CS. I was seated next to her bed when the other woman called me. She said, “Could you please lift my bag for me so I can pick something from it?” I went to her bed, lifted her bag up for her and she picked whatever she wanted to pick. She was crying. Something was wrong but there was no one close. I asked if I should call the nurse for her and she said no.
I spent close to an hour there, attending to my sister and the other lady until a nurse came to ask me to leave. I said goodbye to them and promised to visit in the evening too. I couldn’t go there in the evening. I went the next morning and the lady wasn’t at the ward. My sister’s face looked like someone who had cried. I asked, “Is everything alright?” She said, “The lady lost her child at dawn.” I screamed, “Oh, what happened?” She answered, “I think the baby was born with some complications. I heard the nurse talking about it when they brought her in.”
We were in the middle of the conversation when the lady walked in. She was crying. She lay in her bed and turned her face away from us. I went closer. I said, “Sorry about what happened. My sister just told me.” She didn’t say anything so I walked away to my sister’s side. Not too long afterward, she called for assistance again and I helped. She was still crying. I’m the sort of person who can’t stand to watch people cry. Because of that I hardly go to funerals. When I’m forced to go, I make sure I stay away from those who cry. I told my sister, “I’m leaving. When are you going home?” She answered, “Maybe today or tomorrow.”
I didn’t go to the hospital again until my sister got discharged. When I called her and we were talking I asked about the lady. She said, “Oh I called her yesterday. She was doing fine. She wasn’t crying when we talked.” I said, “I hope she never cries again but I doubt. She still carries the wound of the CS but has nothing to show for that wound. Maybe, when she heals, she’ll try to forget.”
Three months later, during the christening of my sister’s daughter, this lady came around. I didn’t even see her the first time. She was the one who approached and introduced herself. I was like, “Wow, look at you. You look good.” She said, “Thank you.” I said, “Sorry about your child. It really broke my heart.” She answered, “God does things in his own way. We are mere mortals. We won’t understand. There’s life so we can only move on.”
She sat next to me throughout the christening in the church. After the church ceremony, I went with her to see my sister. She asked, “I hope everything fits?” My sister gave her the baby and said, “Just look at her. It fits perfectly.”
So the lady has a big baby shop and she had been the one who supplied all the baby dresses for my sister’s baby. They had built that relationship while at the hospital. She didn’t go home with us so I walked her to the roadside where she took a taxi and left. We exchanged contacts before she left.
Weeks later, I was commenting on her Whatsapp status. They were mostly about baby clothes. I would say, “I want to get this one for my sister.” She would say, “Oh she has bought one already.” I was like, “It looks like that girl has bought everything.” She would send emojis. It would turn into a long winding conversation where I ask questions and she answers.
One day we were talking about general things when her baby issue came up. I asked her, “So how did the father take the news?” She answered, “Oh he wasn’t in the picture then. He didn’t believe he was responsible so he was waiting for the child to be born so he would conduct a DNA test. The child couldn’t stay to go through that nonsense so he didn’t have any reason to come around. I haven’t even set my eyes on him since pregnancy.” This conversation plunged us into her past where I asked the question and she answered. One day, I was at her shop. Weeks later, I had become her unofficial social media manager. I was helping with everything on social media so she could sell online too.
I asked her, “So, do you still believe in love?”
“Yes, I do. One person can’t steal my hopes in love. For all the good things I’ve witnessed in love, I can’t let one experience wash all of them away.”
“I’m in love with you. I want you to be my girlfriend.”
“Just like that? No, that’s too raw. My answer is no.”
“Why? Is it because of how I proposed?”
“No, not at all. I just feel like I”m not ready. I may appear very strong but deep down I still hurt. Some days the CS wounds hurt and I remember what I lost. I cry. Yes, I still cry. I don’t think I should be in love while I still cry about the past.”
“I will wait but it will be better if you allow me in to help you through it.”
“No, I”m not ready. I don’t know when I would be ready but currently, love is the last thing on my mind.”
I felt I didn’t need to push it any further so I gave her space but the more space I gave her, the more she tried to slip. She won’t pick up my calls and won’t reply to my message. At some point, I had to call her with another number before she would pick up. “Why are you doing this to me?” She would apologize and promise not to do it again but she would go ahead and do the same thing again. I had to bring my sister in; “You’re her friend. Maybe it’s me she doesn’t trust but she trusts you. Tell her how serious I am. Tell her how I can’t wait for us to start a life together. You know me. Tell her everything you know about me. Silly Babie. She asked me, “How much will you pay for all this job?”
We hatched a plan. My sister ordered some baby clothes and food and begged her to deliver them herself. When she came around I was there. She said, “I suspected this is going to happen. I felt it.” We sat with her for over two hours, trying all the tricks in the books. My sister said, “He can’t disappoint you, not when I’m his sister. If he dares, I would be the one to show you where the knife is. Later, I will meet you and the body at the edge of the grave I have dug. Just give him a chance and let’s see if we can get someone to kill.” She was quiet. She said, “I will think about it. Give me two days.”
Two days later, she called. She said, “Yes, but we need to talk. Meet me at the shop today if you’ll get the time.”
The “we need to talk” part took all the joy out of the show. I saw her in the evening. She said, “The only reason I kept you hanging is because of my ex. He’s back into the picture again trying to get me back. To be honest, the guy has done a lot for me regardless of the hurt. He’s the reason I own this shop. He got the shop for me and he imported the first batch of stuff for me but things got complicated along the line. He got himself a new girlfriend. In fact, he had three new girlfriends that I caught him with. I couldn’t deal so I asked for a breakup and he agreed. A month later, I was pregnant. I called to tell him and he said we should abort. When I didn’t agree, he did some maths and reached the conclusion that he couldn’t have been responsible.”
I asked her, so why did you say yes to my proposal?” She answered, “I wanted to resolve everything with him and see him off before anyone else comes around. I don’t like him. I only have respect for him because of what he has done for me. But the way things are going, it looks like he’ll keep coming around as long as I’m single. I’m saying yes while telling you my story. I love you so I don’t want to keep you hanging around. I see some sincerity in your choice of words. I believe you but this is my problem.”
We dated for three months. I spoke to her ex three times. Whenever he called and I was around, she would give the phone to me to talk to him. “Hello Alex, how long should I tell you to stop chasing my girlfriend? She blocks you and you call with another line. If you don’t take care, we’ll make a police case against you. Stay away from her.”
He won’t. He would go to the shop to create a scene. He would tell whoever would listen how he got the shop for her and how he set her up. She would scream, “Now you think you’re up there so you want to cut me off? Like I will close the shop.” It got very bad. At certain points, he sent me text messages threatening my life. He said, “If you love your life, you would run away from my girlfriend.” We put all these series of threats together and presented them to the police. We later got a restraining order before this guy stopped coming around. Even when he wasn’t in the picture, I walked around looking over my shoulders. I was scared someone might be following me. It was that bad but we were determined to fight it together.
Once he was off the picture, we started talking about marriage. We had dated for eight months. We didn’t want to go over a year without marriage so we planned our wedding to coincide with our eleven-month anniversary. We’ve been married for five years going to the sixth year. We have two kids. One named after my junior sister who made everything possible for us to be together. I couldn’t pay the money she asked for so I said, “I will name a child after you. Will that suffice?”
Our beginning wasn’t easy. His ex threatened to bring the relationship to its knee but once he was gone, everything else fell in place. Five years later, I’ve never had a doubt that I made the right choice. It all started in the hospital when she was crying but today she laughs and laughs from the deepest part of her heart because we’ve both found what makes us happy.