Aunty Florence was silent for several minutes. She was weighing the request mother had made of her. In my mind, I was actually praying she would say no. What I preferred was to stay back in village, find a solution to my problem and move on with my life. I would’ve thought a more outgoing and educated woman like Aunty Florence would see things differently and persuade mother to arrange to abort the pregnancy for me. What would I be doing in Lagos? Apart from her, who else do I know in Lagos? How am I going to survive in a such a big city like Lagos? And would happen to my education? These were the flurry of questions that raced through my mind.
“I would love to, sister, but you know I can’t take that decision by myself,” Aunty Florence replied after thinking about it long and hard. “My husband pays the rent, not me. He is the owner of the house, so I will need to return to Lagos and discuss with him,” she explained. I was pained. She should be looking for ways to help me get rid of the pregnancy, not agree to take me away to Lagos to become a mother. At what age? Are they are not even thinking of my education at all? I was silently boiling inside me as different kinds of thoughts flooded my mind.
“But, sister, even if I take her to Lagos now, is it for her to go and givebirth in my house and then my husband and I will begin to care for her and the baby?” she asked mother.
“Look, Florence, I just need you to help me take her away first, when we get to that bridge we will know how to cross it…”
“Which bridge, sister?” Aunty Florence shot back at her. “We are already at the bridge. Before you know it now, her stomach will start bulging and soon, she will put to bed.”
“Yes, Florence, I know, but lets even get her out of the village first,” mother responderd. “I know how difficult it will be for her to be going round the villagewith protruding tummy. She can do that in Lagos where nobody knows her. Maybe when she’s close to the time she’ll put to bed, she can return to the village, what do you think?”
Aunty Florence shook her head. “To be honest with you, sister, I can’t see the difference that will make. But if you ask for my candid opinion though, I will say you should abort the prergnancy for her because it will only complicate matters to the poor girl in future when she is ready to settle down with a man.”
“But my conscience won’t let me do that, Florence,don’t you understand?” Aunty Florence did not answer. She was probably wondering how she would wriggle out of the situation sher had found herself.
“So, are you helping me or not?” mother asked her.
She took a long look at me and slowly shhok her head. “Its going to be a bit difficult, sister. You are not only asking me to take Rosemary home to live wuth us, you’re asking me to take responsiobility for her condition,” she’d begun. “I don’t know if I will be able to guarantee that I will be able to watch over her all the ti9me because I also go to work. And besides, I will still need to run thios through my husband. He has the final say on his as a matter of fact.”
Mother sank further into her chair. I was somewhat relieved to hear her say she couldn’t just take me away. Mother was simply being rigid with her religious beliefs. Any sensible and reasonable mother would simply have done the needful without waiting to consult the enire family before taking a decision. But not my mother.
”So, you can’t help me? You can’t take youyr sister with you to Lagos for just a short while, Florence?” mother said wiuth a voice laden with emotion.
“No, sister, I have not said I can’t help you, all I am saying is I can’t take the decision on my own,” Aunty Florence explained. “I don’t pay the rents, I have a husband who does. Let me talk to him first, then, I will let you know what has been decided.”
“Okay, so what do ypou suggest I do now?”
“We wait till I speak to my husband,” she returned. “I will return to the village in two weeks and we talk.”
“Okay, my dear, please, try for me, I beg you. My only problem now is how to plead with her father to give me more time,” mother lamented.
“But do you even hink he will allow me top take his daughter away from here? Do you think he really means what he said about not waqnting to see her in his house unless she agrees to abort the baby?” Aunty Florence asked.
“Ah! He meant it o! Every word,” mother answered promptly. “He is hell-bent on her aborting the pregnancy. It is no threat, he will throw her out.”
Aunty Florence shook her head in disagreement. “Don’t be too sure about that, sister,” she cautioned. “When a man is angry, he can say anything. You will see a different side to him if you now do something contrary to his prefere3nce.”
“So, what are you suggesting now?” mother was confused.
“You must discuss this option with him first, sister, and hear what he has to say,” she advised. “Until he says you’re free to do as you wish, there is nothing we can do.”