Ben came home the following weekend and was told of my predicament. He tried his best to comfort me but I was too distraught to be comforted. We held a sitting room naming ceremony for the baby. He was named- Oluwapamilerin(God made me laugh) by my father. The name was ironic to me because there was nothing to be happy about. My education was at a standstill, i had lost what made me a woman, mockery from neighbours and friends…
After the mini-naming ceremony, the two families had a meeting. My parents insisted that Ben must marry me after his schooling. He had no choice. After all, we were both involved in the act that led to my condition. More interestingly, his father signed the consent for my womb to be removed. My mother also insisted on having custody of the child. Ben’s parents were to provide money for the child’s upkeep and later, education.
Things went on well for ten years. My child grew to be a mini-Ben. Ben’s family relocated to their town in the east but they never failed to send money for Pam’s upkeep. I managed to have an OND certificate after which I delved into tailoring. I had always loved to sew, my hands were gifted in that. My parents provided me with the necessary equipment and I was doing great!
Ben became a lecturer in a University. He made sure his son, who lived with my parents, lacked nothing. Ben and I usually talked but it was more about Pam. I realized that the adult life is different from the teenage life. The initial romantic rush had disappeared like vapour, we were now faced with reality. Whatever, we had no choice than to marry. Who would marry a barren woman? I waited for Ben to make the move towards our marriage.
But something happened which set my whole world spinning…..
“Aunty Funmi, please I must retrieve this cloth before weekend,” Oluchi, one of my favourite clients said to me.
“Before weekend? You should have come before now. Today is Wednesday, you know I’m always busy.”
“Please, aunty. I don’t want to miss my lecturer’s wedding. He’s a very nice man.”
“Let’s see what we can do about that. Mary, take her measurement,” I said to one of my girls. I had six of them.
“Your lecturer must be a nice man indeed, for….”
Oluchi interrupted me. “He’s very nice. Mr Ben Nnamdi. He’s a very good lecturer. He’s also young and handsome! Ouh.”
I felt my head bang! It was as if some scales fell from my eyes. It dawned on me that Oluchi was a student in the same university where Ben lectured. I halted what I was doing.
“Really? Which department are you?” I asked to be sure enough.
My heart skipped a beat. My hands trembled.
“That’s nice. Where will the wedding hold?” I asked.
God bless Oluchi. She told me more than I needed to know. For the first time, I was grateful for her loquacity. I decided to set out for the journey early on Saturday. It was a nearby state. I needed to see things for myself. If my fears were confirmed, then Ben would never get married! Never!
I set out for the journey very early on Saturday morning. I learnt it was a 3hour drive from my town. I didn’t breathe a word to my parents as I didn’t want any hindrance. I wanted to fight on my own first before the involvement of my parents. After all, I brought this upon myself with the help of Ben.
Two hours into the journey, the bus I boarded broke down. All the passengers got down in order for it to be fixed. I was getting all impatient. I was tempted to rain invectives on the driver. Nigerian drivers are enemies of progress! I had known that. That was why I set out earlier. After 30minutes which seemed like the longest I’ve ever had to wait, the bus was restored to its working condition. The time was 9:30a.m. The church wedding was purposed to commence at 10am. This is the best time I’d appreciate African time. My heart suffered lots of palpitations.
After many directions, I located the church. The time was 10:40am. The bride and her train had just entered. Great! I needed to sit where I would have a better view of the groom. I felt my heart racing as I moved along the pew. I didn’t want to believe it was real. I found an empty seat behind the bride’s relatives. I was well dressed for the occasion, I wasn’t out of place. My eyes settled on Ben’s parents. Anger took the better part of me. How could they? After I lost my womb to their son?
“Let the intending couple step forward,” the priest’s voice pierced my thoughts.
“Get ready, Funmi,” I muttered to myself. I looked over the hundreds of heads in the church and braced myself for the drama that was about to unfold. I didn’t care about the eyes that would feast on me.
The hour I was waiting for came!
“Is there anyone here who for any reason objects to the joining of these lovers, if there’s any…..”
“Yes! Here!” I jumped from my seat and walked briskly towards the pulpit.
Ben’s expression showed that he wished there was a grave before him that could swallow him. I looked at Ben’s parents who were hiding their faces.
“Who is she?” the pretty bride asked. She was fair, tall, and beautiful, another reason that fuelled my anger. I wasn’t bad looking too. I needed no one to tell me I was beautiful. But what’s the point in a woman’s beauty without a womb?
Ben’s head dropped as his bride looked confused. That confirmed my suspicion that he hadn’t told her anything.
“You don’t know the man you’re getting married to. He’s a destroyer! He destroyed my life…..” I started. I gave the information that was enough to prove that the wedding should not hold. Before I finished my story, the bride fainted! Just like a Nollywood bride in the same situation. She was carried out of the church auditorium. That was the end of the wedding. Mission accomplished! I made my way back to my base. Revenge is sweet indeed! No man should dare mess with an angel
My handkerchief was soaked with tears as I journeyed back home. I couldn’t stop the hot tears that welled up in my eyes from descending. I was so hurt. How could Ben do that to me? He destroyed my life and wanted to be happy? He turned me to an empty basket and expected his life to be filled? I wouldn’t allow that. If I was going down, I was taking Ben down with me. I regretted ever engaging in youthful exuberance. I thought it was normal for every teenager to date. I heard that ladies are always at the receiving end of every sexual inappropriateness. I learnt that the hard way.
I narrated the stunts I pulled to my parents. They were so furious with Ben and his family. My dad called Ben’s dad and threatened to take a legal step against him. He apologized and promised to go by our agreed plans. I wept profusely. I knew Ben didn’t want to marry me. What about me? I didn’t know what I felt for him anymore. In fact, I’ve forgotten about what it meant to love. I intentionally refrained from romantic relationships and turned down proposals from eligible men because I didn’t want to start what I couldn’t finish. I didn’t want heartbreaks for myself nor for the men. What manner of man would marry me after knowing the truth about me? Certainly not in Nigeria. I didn’t want to raise my hopes, so I shut my heart against love.
I buried myself in my work. I was doing great. I had more clients day after day, reputable ones at that. I loved my job. That was my consolation. I nursed the idea of bringing my son in to live with me. He’s been with my parents since birth. I needed to establish a mother-child bond. At 27, I could be a good mother to my son. After all, he was the only child I’d ever have.
Two weeks after the incident, Ben appeared in my shop and did what did not only leave me shattered but also fuelled my desire for a sweeter revenge……
“How could you be so evil? How on earth do you think you can be happy by creating sorrow in other people’s lives? That poor girl is yet to recover from the shock and has nothing but hatred for me! For crying out loud, your son doesn’t lack anything. What else do you want from me? We both made a mistake as teenagers and we were both sorry for it. Are you that blind to see that we can’t marry? You’ll pay dearly for this, I swear!” Ben lashed out at me.
I couldn’t believe those words came from Ben to me and right before my girls. I rose and stood akimbo, stamping my feet in disbelief and self-defense. I ran into poverty of words. I was so overwhelmed that the only reply I could give him was a slap on his right cheek. My girls scampered to the inner room.
He smiled mischievously while rubbing the unfortunate cheek. “Nice job. You have wrecked enough havoc and I’m not about to take any more of it.” He dipped his hand into his shirt pocket and brought out a paper.
“This is a cheque of 1million naira. I worked hard for it. Do something good with it and forget about marrying me. I’ll always send money to you for my son’s upkeep.”
Hot tears streamed down my face as Ben extended the cheque to me. I collected the cheque from him and tore it into pieces.
“Do I look like I need your money? I’m not as miserable as you think.”
“Whatever,” he replied and stormed out of my shop.
I slumped into a cushion as I let out more tears. I wish I could cry my heart out but my shop wasn’t the right place for that. My girls knew better than to interfere. I got to my house and wept profusely.
I decided not to involve my parents in the matter anymore. I was old enough to take care of myself and make crucial decisions for my life. There was no need for further revenge. I didn’t want any more drama in my life. I took courage to face reality; Ben wasn’t going to marry me. There was no point fighting a defeated case. I’d accept my fate, raise my only child, and be a scapegoat to other young girls.
Aside my tailoring job, I found passion in encouraging teenage girls to live right and not truncate their future on the altar of youthful exuberance. It’s wise to learn from your mistakes but wiser to learn from others’ mistakes.
I closed my heart against love, buried myself in my passion and job until one day……