Tony sat behind the wooden kiosk, smoking. The kiosk was across the road, facing the estate gate where Tony’s sister’s family lived. He was surrounded by a wall and dozens of crates of empty bottles. No one could find him here. In saner times, Tony would have still feared that his witch of a sister would catch him here and raise hell. The world had gone crazy so Tony didn’t mind. Smoking was no offence compared to the treason of impregnating his step niece. The sin of smoking was pardonable; it was the sin of impregnating Olivier that would never be forgiven—it was a sin against his holy sponsor!
Tony took a puff from the Aspen. He looked at the cigarette and frowned. He remembered that he was used to smoking Benson. Aspen was a tasteless drag. He would buy Benson after this. He put the cigarette in his mouth.
Smoking was a habit he had dabbled into in his first year in the campus. He knew it was a bad habit and had been fighting to stop ever since. But like an undisciplined dog, he always found himself going back to his vomit of smoking. Four months back, he had gone to the Department of Fine Art to see a friend; there, he had seen a near perfect painting of a face with a cigarette in blackened lips; above the head was the inscription: ‘If you don’t stop smoking, Cancer will stop you!’ Tony felt it was harsh but somehow he didn’t smoke again since then. He returned to his cigarette this morning because he had nothing to lose, the wrath of Olivier’s father was worse than cancer. Tony might never see school again as Olivier’s father would never pay his fees and his effulgent journey in the faculty of pharmacy would end. The cure for aids would never be found!
Olivier’s father was already in the house. He had returned from the hospital just when his wife was leaving for school; she hadn’t told him about Olivier’s pregnancy yet. He knew his sister, she wouldn’t set fire and go away. She would tell him when she returned from school around two, so she would be around to fan the flame. Two o’clock would be his black hour. It would be the darkest two o’clock in his whole life!
As he smoked, he played the ‘if only’ game in his mind. If only the stupid university lecturers weren’t on strike, he would have been in school studying.
If only his father was alive, he wouldn’t be here.
If only he didn’t hate being in the village.
If only he was a responsible youth.
If only Olivier was fat and ugly.
If only Olivier had resisted him.
If only the stupid girl had taken the medicine yesterday.
If only his sister wasn’t a witch.
If only this… If only that… He sighed.
‘I am finished,’ he said aloud.
The kiosk-keeper showed his bald head. ‘You call me?’
‘Bring me two Bensons,’ Tony said with half-opened mouth. The cure for aids would never be found!
# # # #
Olivier was the last to leave the classroom. She didn’t know why at SSll, students still rushed out of the classroom whenever the bell for break rang. It was not as if they were running to the play-ground to play like nursery pupils or making for their flasks for their breakfast. The blockheads just loved the thirty-minutes-long break, struggling out of the door as though the bell had notified them of a time-bomb that would go off in thirty seconds! They would never grow, Olivier concluded as she leaned on the mango tree a distance opposite SSllB classroom. She was more sensible than all her mates because she alone had genuine reason for being outside; she was pregnant and the classroom nauseated her.
Pregnant! The term was still foreign to her. She couldn’t believe she was really pregnant. It was as though she was watching herself play this role in a horror movie. She looked at the bevy of girls walking about the school compound in their white shirt over blue skirt and wondered how many of them were pregnant. She wondered how many of them had step-uncles who were driven home from the campus due to the strike, and who deceived them and made them pregnant. She doubted if there were such girls here; the deceit of Tony had no duplicates. There was only one evil Tony on earth. Ruefully, Olivier decided that she was the only pregnant girl in the whole school, in the whole of Lagos even! Other girls had mothers and not step-mothers with evil brothers….
A big surge of nausea hit her throat and Olivier began to rush towards the toilet.
‘Baby girl.’ A boy of Olivier’s age but whose fat body made him look five years older blocked Olivier’s path.
‘I am in a hurry,’ Olivier said but the boy didn’t give way.
‘Come on, baby,’ he said, bouncing as though his body was inflated with air. ‘You proving hard to get but I can’t give up. My heart is everly beating for you baby, 24-7!’
Olivier sighed. ‘Emmanuel, please I-I have to ease myself.’
The boy frowned. ‘I am Nicholas not Emmanuel,’ he snapped. ‘But you can call me Nick.’ He flashed a big set of yellow teeth.
‘Nick, I need to ease myself!’
‘Come on baby, for once, let me just have your number.’
Olivier fought to keep her throat from breaking loose. ‘I will give you the number later, I need to go….’
As Olivier made to dash away the fat boy grabbed her wrist. ‘Baby, why don’t you give me the number now?’
Olivier had had enough. ‘Have it.’ She came closer and vomited murky tea on his face, neck, collar and white shirt!
# # # #
It was two O’clock. Tony knelt before his bed, ready to pray. He had decided to hand everything over to God. His sister would soon be back and would tell her husband that Olivier was pregnant and that Tony was responsible. At this stage, only God could help him. He closed his eyes.
‘Lord Jesus, I am in trouble,’ he blotted out. ‘My future is gone!’ He stopped himself. It was the wrong way to start. First, he needed to ask for the forgiveness of his truckload of sins, otherwise God wouldn’t listen to him. He sighed. ‘Father, I am a sinner. Indeed as You said in Your book, even if my sin be as black as charcoal you would wash it as white as snow.’ He wasn’t sure that the Bible mentioned charcoal and snow, but who cared! God understood! ‘Father, forgive your son for lying, fornicating, stealing, cursing, abusing, smoking, attempted murder—’ he paused. ‘Attempted abortion,’ he corrected himself and continued.
‘I am not worthy to kneel before you, but my future is hanging in the balance! Olivier’s father is a hard man and will soon throw me out. My future, father will be ruined. My future! Father, please! Even when she tells Olivier’s father about the pregnancy let him do nothing.’ He knew that this was impossible; if Olivier’s father heard this, nothing could propitiate him; all hell would be let loosed. The only thing Tony could pray for was for God to kill Olivier’s father or make him deaf and blind or anything! But if God let him live, Tony could swear that not even God would stop him from eating Tony alive!
‘I am finished.’ Tears crowded his eyes. He began hitting his fist on the bed.
‘Are you out of your senses?’
Tony stopped, turned sharply and beheld his sister at the door. She stood as rigid as concrete, her face shining with the mercilessness of justice.
‘You crying!’ The woman was disgusted with Tony’s tears. Tony didn’t shed a tear when their father died four years ago. Now, the bastard was crying. ‘Fool!’ she cursed. ‘We brought you here, feed you and you turn around and betray us! I can’t blame you. It is my fault; I shouldn’t have let an idiot like you come near my house!’
Tony had his eyes fixed on the floor. If he survived this, till his grave, he would never look at a girl again!
The woman hated talking to Tony. The issue burnt her heart like fire. She just wanted to report to her husband. But her colleague and confidant in school, Mrs Adeh had talked her out of it. ‘For God’s sake, he is your only brother,’ Mrs Adeh had pointed out. ‘The mistake has been made! If you tell your husband now, he would cut your brother off and your poor mother would be crippled with his school expenses! Open your eyes my friend!’
‘I won’t let the poor girl have an abortion,’ she had countered.
‘But that is the only option,’ Mrs Adeh pushed. ‘Your brother is like an uncle to her; this is incest! You can’t let the baby live! You must quietly get the baby removed.’
‘I will think about it,’ Olivier’s step-mother had concluded. And looking at Tony’s tears-soaked face, she knew she would never tell her husband this. She bent down to her leg, removed her shoe and hurled it at Tony.
# # # #
Olivier lay on her bed starring at the fan. She was sad that her father would soon learn of her pregnancy. Her father could be very hard but she wasn’t afraid of him. She was just sorry that she had let him down. Her step-mother was whom she feared; she had once threatened to apply grind pepper on Olivier’s pubic parts if she ever got pregnant. Now, Olivier was pregnant and heaven didn’t fall. Her step-mother didn’t even hit her. Olivier just prayed that her father would buy the idea of removing the baby because she would never give birth to Tony’s child!
‘Sister see.’ Andy entered the room, holding a dirty paper boat above his enormous head. The boy never knocked at the door; like his mother, he just barged in. Olivier knew she owe him a knock on his coconut head. But she didn’t have the energy. She just wanted to be left alone
‘Andy, go away, I want to rest!’
‘See my ship.’
‘It is a boat, blockhead!’
The boy laughed ‘kikikiki’ and fell on Olivier’s body. She slapped him on his shoulder and pushed him away. The boy was dashed. He knew Olivier was munificent with her time on the kids. She never did this. He began to force tears from his eyes. Olivier knew it wasn’t right to punish him for his uncle’s crime. ‘Sorry,’ she said. ‘I am not well, please go.’
‘You no well?’ The boy’s voice could be heard across the road.
‘I am well!’
‘But you say you no well!’
‘I am just pregnant.’ Olivier caught her breath; she was sure she hadn’t said these; the words just fell from her mouth. She eyed the boy’s blank face then she began to breathe. The boy was just five and didn’t know what ‘pregnant’ meant.
‘What is plegnant?’ the boy demanded.
‘Stomach-ache.’ She escorted him off the room and locked the door.
# # # #
Doctor Julius, Olivier’s father was a giant of a man, six feet tall with broad shoulders and heavy arms befitting a wrestler and not the surgeon he was. Tonight he was off work. He only worked four days in the hospital. And whenever he was home, he insisted that the family ate together in the dinning.
Dinner was eba and egusi soup. The kids, Tony and the couple were in the table, eating.
‘Where is Olivier?’ the man asked.
‘In her room,’ Olivier’s step-mother replied curtly.
‘Is she well at all? I haven’t set my eyes on her the whole of today.’
‘Daddy, she no well,’ Andy offered.
‘Shut up your mouth,’ his mother snapped. ‘I have warned you against talking while eating, haven’t I?’
‘But mummy it is true, she is plegnant.’
The moulded eba covered with egusi travelling to Olivier’s father’s mouth fell off his hand. Instantly, his hairy face crowded dangerously. ‘Boy, what did you say?’
‘Olivier is plegnant.’
Hey, bosses, I have come to the end of my first writing season. This is the end of my ink for this year. Look at the calendar, it is December! I am going home to spend the holiday with my mum! I haven’t eaten mama’s food since January and won’t wait. I won’t be blogging at home; I would just relax, read, eat, sleep and argue politics with my father. But I ain’t dying, you know, just taking a break. Olivier and that wild girl Sade would return next year. But nothing stops us from being in touch, sweetheart. I am @Oke4chukwu on twitter. Or you could just catch me on Google plus using email@example.com. But if you must hear my voice and you have credit to burn, why not? Call 08034106482. I wouldn’t type my account number here because I assume you have it.
I love you all. Can’t thank you guys enough for your love and patience. It was great having literary intercourse here. Now, take care of you and by all means have a merry Christmas and a great 2014!