To say I was totally confused would be stating it mildly. I didn’t understand what was going on. I didn’t have the foggiest idea what Aunty was talking about. How could she be talking about asking for my forgiveness? Forgiveness for what exactly?
“But, Aunty, you’re scaring me and getting me confused at the same time,” I tried to express my state of utter shock. “You’re asking me to forgive you, over what, Aunty? You have done nothing wrong to me now,” I was close to tears now. The whole drama was getting me emotionally worked up.
“Okay, Rosie, I will explain to you now, but please, promise me you will forgive me and keep this between the two of us….” She expected a response but I couldn’t give her any because she still wasn’t making any sense to me.
“Rosie, please tell me you will forgive me and keep this between the two of us!” she raised her emotion-laden voice. I responded with a nod of my head. But inside me, I was starting to wonder, what’s going on here? Is this woman okay? Is she sick or something? But still, I kept my cool, waiting to hear what she has to say.
“My dear, when I said to you in the village that I would help you get medical help when we ge to Lagos, I lied to you, I didn’t plan to do anything like that!”
“But why, Aunty, you said you were going to help me….”
“That is why I am explaining everything to you right now, okay?”I nodded. She continued. “Listen, my dear, I know you must’ve been wondering why my husband and I really do not have any children. It’s not deliberate, we just found ourselves childless after over five years of marriage. We have tried everything we can but no luck yet. The doctors keep assuring us we are both okay, that the babies would start arriving soon but nothing has happened yet. I was almost giving up. It was last year that I got a glimmer of hope when three pastors, at different times, different locations, told me that the simple solution to my childlessness was if I could get a woman who had never given birth to a child before to give birth to a child right under my roof and the child should be raised in my house. All three of them assured me that, if I could make this happen, will get pregnant in no time because of the cry of that newborn baby would open my womb and bring forth my own child for me. And so, when your mum told me you were pregnant and wanted you to come with me to Lagos, at first, I didn’t see how that was possible because my husband and I had agreed that no relatives would come live with us. But, when suddenly I remembered the prophecies of the three pastors, I saw it as perhaps an opportunity God was trying to give me to make my dream of becoming a mother come true. Then I decided I would speak to my husband and convince him to let you stay for a while, which I succeeded in doing. Even my husband does not know yet that you’re pregnant, if he knew, he would never have allowed me bring you over.”
By the time she was done talking, my mouth was opened wide. It was like I was dreaming. It felt as though I was watching everything that was unfolding before me in one terribly bad dream.
“So, Aunty, are you telling me now that, because of what the pastors told you, you will not help me? So, you want me to keep the pregnancy so I can have the baby under your roof? But what happens to me afterwards? What happens to my future if I become a mother before I’m eighteen?” I began to cry, the tears flowing freely down my face.
“I promise you, Rosie, I will take care of your education and put you back in school, I promise you, I will,” she pleaded.
I was barely listening to her. I was as though some veil was lifted off my eyes and I realized I was being used. I realized there was no solution to my problem in Lagos or anywhere else for that matter. Once again, like Bobby’s uncle took advantage of my situation and used me, Aunty Florence too has just done exactly the same thing. Just like the doctor back in the village wanted to take advantage of my situation and I didn’t let him. It seemed everywhere I turned to for help, people were only willing to help if they could take advantage of me, even those I call family. So, everything was over. There was no way out of the situation I’d found myself in. There was no help anywhere. I was going to become a mother, whether I liked it or not. I was back to square one. I couldn’t take it anymore. I let out a loud scream, rose to my feet and dashed out of the house, racing into the street before Aunty Florence could stop me……
I was just running aimlessly like I had gone insane. I raced into the street, tears rolling down my face, my entire being in total confusion. People were staring at me. Some must’ve thought I’d gone stark raving mad, but I didn’t pay any of them attention. I was lost in my own world. I was alone in my state of abject hopelessness.
I must’ve run like three streets away from ours before I finally stopped and sat right in front of a shop that was unopened. There was a dusty looking bench in front of the shop, tired and overwhelmed, I sat down on it without bothering about the heap of dust on it. What should I do now? How do I get myself out of this mess? How do I stop Aunty Florence from using me as her spiritual bait for a child of her own? And even if I want to stop her, where do I go if she chooses to throw me out of her house? I can’t go back to the village, I do not have the resources to do so, so what other options do I have? God! I couldn’t believe Aunty Florence of all people could do this to me! The tears just continued to roll ceaselessly down my face…
Only God knows for how long I must’ve been in that state. I didn’t know when Aunty Florence got close to me and grabbed me by the shoulder.
“You this girl, you want to kill me?” she shouted, apprehension written all over her face.”I have been searching everywhere for you. It was one of the neighbours who told me they saw you sitting here. You want die?”
I didn’t say a word. I tried to bring myself to say something but nothing came forth. That very moment, I hated her with every part of my being. I trusted her to help me solve my problem and get me out of the mess I was in but he just chose to pull the rug from under my feet and take advantage of me.
“Listen to me, Rosie, I know I have offended you, I know I have hurt you deeply but please, I beg you, forgive me and let’s go home,” she said to me. She reached for my hand and pulled me up from the bench.
She took me back home. I had no other choice. I had no other place to go. Back at home, she pleaded and pleaded with me to help her.
“If you do this for me, Rosie, if you stay here and have this baby, I promise you I will do whatever you ask me to do. You know I have money. I am rich, my husband too has money, so you can be sure I will spoil you silly. Then, if I now take in, that’s more money for you. By the time I finally put to bed, trust me, you will have so much money you won’t know what to do with it, I can guarantee you that.”
I told her I had heard all she said to me. And I gave her the impression I believed every word she said. But of course, I would be stupid to do so. She just confessed she’d been lying to me all this while about helping me, so why would I believe her now that she would do the things she was promising to do? But inside my head, I was starting to think of other plans. And only one idea was ringing in my head. It’s my only option. But I would need help to make it possible, and the only person I could think of was Stanley, the young guy upstairs who had been eyeing me ever since I arrived Lagos…