Abowu District Episode 18
Becky lay on the bed in agony. A caesarian section had been performed to deliver the baby, as her pelvis was too narrow to deliver the child. Toye was furious with her, the nurse had hinted that they could owe as much as forty-three naira. He pulled out his pockets before her and showed how empty they were.
“You will have to stay here until I can get the money, and I hope I get it. I don’t know what you’re useful for. You cannot cook, clean or have a baby like a normal woman. You are a complete failure!”
There had been no talk of how she was feeling or joy in the knowledge that she had survived the ordeal, or that their son was the spitting image of him.
“Can you call my mother?” she managed to say.
“Where do they live?”
“I don’t know the place and I’m too busy to go looking for it.”
“If I describe it, can you send someone please?” Becky pleaded, unwilling to fight with him.
And with that he was gone. Becky stared at the ceiling and cried silent, bitter tears.
When Toye entered the police station, the corporals at the front desk saluted him cheerfully.
Soon, more people walked up to him, shook his hands and asked if it was a boy or girl. When he revealed the gender, they slapped his back and hailed him as a virile man.
Doyin was hunched over a pile of files when he walked into their shared office.
“The latest father in town!” Doyin hailed.
Toye ignored the greeting, slumped onto the chair opposite him and yawned. “Do you have anything to eat in here?”
Doyin studied him. “Are you not at all happy?”
“Happy about what?”
“What do you mean? You have a son…”
“A child I didn’t ask for. I didn’t want to be married, that girl trapped me.”
Doyin smiled. “Well, what is done is done and we must celebrate this in grand style.”
Toye laughed mirthlessly. “With what money? I haven’t even settled the hospital bill, and the more she stays there, the greater my debt. I wish I could tell her to run away but they know I’m a police officer, they’ll simply come here to look for me.”
“Well, I can lend you.”
“I’m already owing you thirty naira, I don’t know how I’m going to…”
“But you said it yourself, the longer she stays there, the more money you’ll owe. How much is it?”
“Forty- three naira, as at this morning.”
Doyin leaned back into his chair. “I’ll lend you. You will have to pay sooner or later.”
Toye sighed in frustration and said softly. “I hate that girl!”
Doyin laughed. “She’s now a woman.”
Toye waved his hand dismissively and called for one of the corporals.
“You will go to Apata for me…” he said to him.
Afonja Elewe was in a bad mood. He was broke and he didn’t like it, especially when he was owed money for a job well done. As he walked down the street, he didn’t see the young girls hawking fruits, the few young men in leather jackets on motorcycles and older men in air conditioned cars. He ignored the roadside traders persuading him to purchase one thing or another, and shut his senses to the smell of the food coming out of the restaurant he’d just passed. He had one goal, and that was to reach Uche without delay.
He stopped in front of an unpainted house with a grey gate and rapped it with a small rock. Uche opened it scowling.
“What do you want?”
“What do I want? Don’t you owe me money?”
“And haven’t I already explained to you that the boss is yet to pay the balance?”
“I’m tired of hearing that! I need money and I need it now!”
Uche sniggered. “And what do you want me to do?”
“Look for the money and give it to me, otherwise things will go bad.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“I’m telling you as it is. I’m tired of suffering! I want a good life too. Do you think I don’t know what to do with money? You think I don’t want a house of my own?”
Uche smiled sardonically. “You want your own house?”
“Alright, come in.”
Afonja stepped into the compound and saw that the building also wasn’t painted. As they approached the bungalow, he asked. “Are you not painting your…?”
Before he could finish the question, he was shoved against a wall. Uche’s glared at him and tightened his hands around his neck. Afonja struggled to break free but the other man had the strength of a bull.
“If you ever come here again, you will not walk out with your feet, I promise you that. When your money is ready, I will give it to you.”
“Don’t forget what I can do. You ungrateful thug that I gave a life-changing opportunity to…!”
The men turned to see Philomena outside the door, terror all over face.
“The children can see you!” she whispered harshly and pointed at the window that faced the wall he had shoved Afonja against. The latter was released and he dashed out of the compound before Uche changed his mind.
When he was gone, Philomena retreated slowly into the house, her children needed comfort.
“It is a good thing that the child looks like his father,” Rose muttered, looking at her grandchild lovingly.
Becky shifted on the bed, the pain on her stomach was excruciating. Her mother glanced at her.
“So he has not come here since yesterday night?”
“No, he hasn’t.”
Rose set the child beside his mother. “You should have been stronger. Don’t you know that an operation is expensive?”
Becky sighed. “Mother, I tried, but the pain was unbearable.”
“But it wasn’t painful when you were spreading your legs for him.”
Becky looked away, wishing that her mother would go. Her presence was discomfiting. A fragile looking nurse with piercing eyes came to them with a file, thermometer and a sphygmomanometer.
“Good afternoon,” she said to Rose and without waiting for a response, said to Becky, “How are you?”
“I’m in pain.”
She opened the file and glanced at it. “Have you been given the afternoon medication?”
“And you didn’t say anything? You just lay there?”
“I didn’t know…”
“That is the problem, you’re too young to know the serious things of life, talk of less what it means to have a child.”
Rose didn’t like the tone of the woman. “Nurse, she didn’t know. Can’t the medicine be given to her anymore?”
“Are you her mother?”
The nurse looked at her cursorily and shook her head. “No wonder…”
“No wonder what?”
“Nothing. I will bring her medicine.” She grabbed Becky’s arm and tied the sphygmomanometer around it.
Becky had been using the arm to cradle her child, so she made to use her other hand to draw the child to herself. But this upset the nurse who wanted her to remain steady so as to get an accurate reading.
“Why are you so fidgety? Can’t you stay still?” she shrieked, slapping her arm.
Rose shot to her feet and shoved the woman. “Are you out of your mind? Why are you beating her? What did she do?”
The nurse was irate. “How dare you touch me with your dirty hands? How dare you push me? Are you crazy?”
“You’re the one who is crazy, because ever since you came here you have been acting like someone whose senses are not intact!”
“You should be ashamed of yourself, how did this child get pregnant under your nose? What kind of mother are you?”
Becky could feel eyes on her and kept her eyes on her baby’ head.
“Oh that is your problem? Well don’t be so quick to judge me, you don’t know whether your daughter would do the same thing.”
“I don’t have a daughter and I won’t have one who will spread her legs for every man.”
“Well then, may your son impregnate as many young girls he lays his hands on.”
“I don’t have a son who will bring me such disgrace!”
Rose stopped, glanced at the nurse’s ring finger and then tilted her head to one side. “You’re married, you don’t have a daughter, and neither do you have a son. So what do you have?”
The nurse glared at her and Rose laughed. Two nurses rushed over to them and tried to intervene but Rose would have none of it.
“Now I see your problem. You don’t have anything and you’re unhappy that others do.”
“People like you should not have children, you don’t know how to raise them.” The nurse answered in a shaky voice.
“But I have them, boys and girls. I don’t think you ever will, your hateful body will reject them.”
Becky didn’t know whether to smile at her mother or cry for the nurse.
It was almost eight thirty when Toye left the station and headed home. The streets were deserted but he liked it that way. He wanted to be alone, he needed to reflect on his life and what he could do to stop the decline in it. As far as he was concerned, the only good thing he had going for him was Annabelle but even she would not hang around very long if he didn’t do something to improve his life. Doyin was right about this.
As he turned off the Abowu Anglican Church, he thought about Doyin’s proposition to close the case and started to think that it might be the best option for him, when he felt someone following him. He walked past the church fence, turned towards the commercial Aribisala Street and ducked behind one of the stalls when he saw the man looking for him. It was Afonja Elewe.
“Afonja,” he called, slowly bringing out his baton. “Why are you following me?”
“I have something to tell you, you will want to hear it.”