I am washing up at the sink after taking Gabby to school, and listening and humming along with Lara George’s voice over my tiny phone speaker, as she belts out ‘The rest of my life’ in that soulful, high-pitched voice of hers.
Ijeoma had asked me earlier to come pick her up after her antenatal, so that we could hang out as we used to do. And I am still trying to make up either my mind or a story. In favour of making up my mind, I need to ask for her opinion on how to handle Leti-Chioma. Being a mean girl herself, I trust Ijeoma to devise a cool way to deal with that two-faced tramp. In favour of making up a story, I just want to lie down and sleep. I yawn at the thought of sleep. I don’t understand why I have the urge to sleep so often these days.
“Ada, good morning,” Ifeanyi pulls me out of my musing with his greeting.
The song coming from my phone had changed to Juanita Bynum’s ‘God of a Second Chance.’ I wipe my hands on my apron and reach out to pause the music. Turning, I face Ifeanyi with a grim expression. “What do you want?” I ask flatly.
“Erm… Erm…” he stutters.
“Your food is on the dining table, if that’s why you’re here,” I cut in, turning my back to him to continue washing up.
“I have finished eating,” he replies.
“Oh!” I say, before turning again to go and pick up his used plates.
I come back, and he is still standing at the same spot. I am not moved with empathy for him. It is my turn to be angry and sulky. Let me give him a little dose of his medicine.
“Erm… Ada, please…” he starts.
“What?” I ask, cutting him short again.
He gulps and tries again. “I wanted to say… Somebody will be coming to drop something for me. So, I need you to receive it and keep. I’m going out.”
“Well, so am I,” I reply curtly, my mind quickly made up in favour of going to see Ijeoma.
“Where are you going to?” he asks.
“Hmm!” I snort. “Ajujuka,” I add with a scoff, before turning my music back on, and tuning completely off from him.
“Where do you want to go?” I ask Ijeoma as I drive off, away from the gate of 82 Division Hospital.
“Can we go to my house? I feel so tired already,” she says with a yawn.
“No problem. How was your antenatal?”
“Just there jaré.” She yawns again. “I can’t wait to be free of this load.” She rubs her tummy as she speaks.
“When is your – Wait! Your EDD has passed!” I exclaim. “Was it not meant to be on the 22nd?”
“It was oh! But you know it’s give-or-take two weeks,” she says.
“Yeah, you’re right,” I concede.
“Anyway,” she continues, “they said if I don’t go into labour by next week, I should come and be induced or opt for CS.”
“Ok. That’s cool,” I say.
“What is cool?” Ijeoma snaps, rounding on me.
“Ewo! What did I say now?” I ask, instantly getting defensive. “You don’t want to deliver the baby again?”
“How can you say CS is cool? God forbid!” She accompanies the shout with an outraged snap of her fingers. “I will deliver like the Hebrew women! My God has already promised me that safe delivery is my portion. My body shall not be broken in any way or form in the Mighty Name of Jesus!” she finishes.
I concentrate on the road, feeling a burning stir inside me and willing myself to keep my mouth shut, as I do not want to start another quarrel.
“You will not say ‘Amen’ to my declarations?” she asks.
“Were you declaring for me?” I throw back.
“I don’t get you –”
“I don’t get you either,” I say, cutting her short. “So, birth by CS is unsafe, abi? People like me that had their babies through CS do not have God’s promises, ba? See, Ijee, I don’t want to argue with you. The only thing I’ll say is this, if the doctor advises CS, try and take his advice.”
“I am not dissing you oh! I’m just saying, the devil must not win again by compelling either you or I into doing CS –” Ijeoma tries to explain.
“Oh! My son is the devil’s winning trophy, eh?” I interrupt again, keeping my eyes on the road so she doesn’t see the spark of irritation lighting up their depths.
“Noooo! Understand what I’m trying to say now!” she says in an exasperated tone.
“It’s ok, biko. I understand exactly what you’re trying to say. And please, let’s drop this topic before it leads to quarrel,” I say with finality.
“Ok. But let me ask you. What is ‘safe delivery’?” she queries.
“It’s simple. Safe delivery is when the mother and the baby are both alive and healthy after the delivery,” I return.
“That is a very mediocre definition, my dear. We should have enough faith to endeavor to give birth the way God has ordained it. THAT is safe delivery,” she lectures.
“Where and when exactly did God make this ordination?” I ask, turning briefly from the windscreen to glance at Ijeoma.
“Which ordination?” she says.
“See ehn? Let’s end this discussion here. I just pray you don’t kill either yourself or your baby while you await the ordained method of delivery,” I say, trying not to let on that I am fuming.
“No! Make your point, let me understand with you,” she says, obviously misconstruing the sarcasm in my words for flippancy.
“Do you still go for antenatal at that hospital in Coal Camp?” I ask, determinedly changing the topic.
“No, not really. I’m just keeping that one for emergency purposes.”
“It’s ok,” I respond, not knowing what else to say to my friend.
We drive in silence till we get to Ijeoma’s house.
“Here we are,” I say, stopping in front of the gate.
“Are you not coming in?”
“Nope,” I reply, suddenly finding myself struggling with a yawn. “I need to get home. I want to sleep.” I yawn again, this time sighing at the end of it.
“Come and sleep in my house now,” she offers.
“Is your visitor’s room okay? Because I don’t want to sleep on a couch.”
“Mba oh! Do you know when last I entered that room to clean? Don’t worry, I’ll bring out a pillow for you.”
I cringe inwardly at the thought of sleeping on a couch, before saying, “Nnem, rapu. Let me just go home. I’ll come out and visit tomorrow.”
“Okay now. I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow o,” she says, opening the car door and making to step out.
“Certainly,” I say, already dreaming of burrowing under the duvet on my bed with the air conditioner on.
Driving into the compound, I notice that a brown-coloured 1999 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4WD is parked right at the spot where I usually park my car.
As I hesitate over the decision on where else to park, I notice the gateman standing close to my car, signaling that I should bring down my window.
“Person come here today with this car,” he says, pointing at the brown SUV. “Him talk say he wan drop am for Oga Ifeanyi.”
“No problem. Ifeanyi dey house?” I ask.
”No madam. He comot,” he replies.
“That’s okay,” I say, turning my head to take a closer look at the car. It must be the car which Ifeanyi has been anticipating from Let-Chioma’s friend who we thought must have conned Ifeanyi.
So, this is what this guy paid more than two million bucks for? Odiegwu o! I think, as I steer and pull up my car beside the other vehicle.
Written by Adaku J.