Growing up they called me Ogbanje. You know, the child that goes and comes back over, and over. Yorubas call us Abiku, Hausas call us Barmani, but Oyibos call us sicklers. Grandma said I had returned six times, but this time around they made sure I stayed. There were all sorts of incisions on my body.
I was very frail. Mama used to hide me so that people don’t taunt me. My head was bigger than my body and my eyes were perpetually mustard yellow like well-prepared starch served with banga soup. With every year, we feared I won’t make the next. But grandma was determined that I won’t leave before her again, so I was subjected to all sorts of prayer meetings, concoctions and scrutiny. By the time I made it to my 15th birthday, Grandma had passed on, but not without a warning. She had told me she would die without revealing the charm she had planted to keep me on earth and threaten I wasn’t permitted to follow her to heaven. Honestly, I didn’t plan to follow grandma anywhere, her trouble on earth was already too much. I wasn’t sure I could cope with that much trouble in heaven, seeing that our being together over there was going to be till eternity. So I told myself that I was going to live long enough and have a family of my own.
Kudos to my parents. They did all they could to help and so I blossomed. From my 15th birthday, I went on to celebrate my 21st and then my 23rd. I met Jideofor at the supermarket while buying groceries. He was an orobo. You know, well rounded cute tear-bear. Being one who was constantly sheltered from the world, I was very shy meeting him. Our meeting was purely coincidental. He was standing in front of me at the cashier’s paying for his items when he accidently farted. (laughs) Geez! The fart was loud enough for me to hear. Honestly, I wasn’t irritated after all farting was perfectly a human action, and it showed good bowel movement. I knew he was embarrassed when he turned and saw me staring blankly at him, he muttered something that sounded like an apology and quickly faced forward. As I came out of the supermarket, he was waiting for me by his car ready with another apology.
“Not to worry”, at least it didn’t take me out,” I had replied, we both burst into laughter. That was the beginning of our five-year courtship. Jide as I fondly called him wanted us to get married, but I was reluctant. I was SS. I wasn’t ready to put him through the pain.
“ My genotype is AA and I love you”. He had insisted. “Moreover, you haven’t had any crisis since we met, why give up on your happiness now?”. Jide was right, the last time I had any serious crisis was when I turned 14. I was fine, very fine.
Four years into our marriage, I had not conceived. Jide didn’t seem to care. “Perhaps, it’s your condition. I’m contented and I see it as my lot”. He had said. Those words weighed heavily on me. I wanted kids, I wanted to give this man I loved children. Jide did everything to dissuade me; lavishing me with gifts, taking me out, anything to get my mind off the matter. But I was determined. I sought every available help. The doctors told me I was fine and that I just had to be patient.
Some months later we were moving homes and had to go through the rigours of packing. Jide had an urgent business meeting and so left me to do what I could. While arranging his things, I came across his old album tucked away, intrigued, I opened it and a paper fell out. It was a medical report of Jide done by his mother while in secondary school. The report talked about an illness resulting in the possibility of him becoming sterile or something like that. I searched further and discovered a short note from a doctor to his mum explaining the chances of sterility for Jide if he ever recovered from the illness. I quickly Googled the illness… Had Jide lied to me all these years? But why? At that moment, Jideofor walked into the bedroom holding a bouquet of flowers.