Titi didn’t need a gynaecologist’s test to know that she was pregnant. She had been in this situation four times before and she knew the nauseous fever that kept her periods in check for six weeks now was a foetus forming inside her.
Titi frowned at the glass of creamy warm water on her hand. Her appetite was playing tricks with her. It would nudge her mixed with hunger demanding to eat a particular food, she would hurriedly prepare the meal then her appetite would wink at her and withdraw, leaving a puissant hunger to tease her. When she pushed this meal away, her taste would re-emerge, demanding something else. This tea was her fifth rejected meal. As she poured the tea out of the window into the murky green water in the alley, she swore not to eat anything today.
Her exams were a fortnight away and she didn’t know how to manage her truckload of revisions with this pregnancy. She had sworn not to have another abortion. It was her fault that she took in at all, but for the first time she knew who the father of her unborn child was. A cowardly consolation, but she was sure.
In the last two months, Titi had had two regular men in her life. Her course mate Wale was the official boyfriend. Reverend Father Cyril, the other. Wale and her had always had protected sex but the reverend hated condoms. As a man of God, you don’t expect him to walk into a shop and buy condom. So Titi began carrying condoms in her handbag on their dates. On special occasions when he bought her presents he insisted on ‘skin-to-skin’ sex. Titi reluctantly obliged and took birth control pills afterwards. Pills had failed her before but as these were a sporadic substitute she had little fear on that aspect, but she did fear contacting an STD from the revered paramour. Today, turning the issue in her mind, she wished she had contacted a curable STD instead of this pregnancy.
Titi placed the emptied glass on the table, sat on the bed and stretched her leggings. She had sworn against getting rid of babies but the thought of raising a child gave her palpation, and the more she considered it the more it sounded like a mere nostrum.
She sighed, rose to her feet and came to a stop before her standing mirror. She frowned at her pallid face and hissed. Instead of moping around she would call the priest of God and inform him of her pregnancy. She had never had the pleasant dreaded experience of telling a man ‘I am pregnant for you’; saying this to a man who had sworn an oath of celibacy was almost criminal, in fact a transgression. But she couldn’t help it; Cyril was a celibate and should have kept his penis inside his cassock. If he had decided to foul his oath, her avoiding would only had sent him to another bed. She was a hustler and needed his naira notes. What they had done was a travesty of matrimony but he was the father figure still, and must know about the seed he had sown inside her.
She picked up her GSM phone atop the fridge and dialled Cyril’s number. His ‘Paternora’ callers’ tune rang its full, no answer. Men have a way of been unavailable when they are most needed. She dialled the number again and again, he didn’t answer. Indignation was giving way to frustration and approaching desperation, but she wouldn’t let that happen. It was still early.
Titi slurred under her breath and began to type a text message.
‘Hey dear, I am pregnant,’ she typed. She narrowed her eyes on the screen and decided the text was too imploring. She erased ‘hey dear’ and added ‘o’ at the end of the text. ‘I am pregnant o’; no, this sounded too casual, like you would say to a roommate, ‘the water is boiling o’. After typing, erasing and retyping, she finally sent a message that read:
‘I wonder why you are not picking your calls. Anyway, I called to inform you that I am pregnant for you.’
Message sent. Delivered.
Titi reread the message and regretted the phrase ‘for you’. This could be misconstrued as meaning the pregnancy could be for someone else. She shrugged; there are never perfect text messages.
Seated on her bed with her legs crossed like a road-side trader before her wares, Titi allowed her mind to drift to the murdered girl found in front of their compound this morning. Who was the girl? Who had murdered and mutilated the body, and why, of all places, was her body dumped here? Titi wondered. And the police had searched her room! She had never been involved with the police before and it struck her as bad omen for her room to have been searched the day she informed her lover of her pregnancy.
Titi rose to her feet and began to walk short circles. The air was thickening with forebodings. Was the murdered girl and the police symbolic, a yellow light on her being? Perhaps the girl was pregnant and someone had murdered her to shut her mouth. She felt a prickle of ice down her spine and she quivered for a moment. Quickly, she forced the thought out of her mind. Reverend Cyril was decent—or, in spite of his flirtations, was no murderer. But she knew that she wasn’t convinced. Who could tell what was in a man’s heart? A man capable of breaking a vow made before God, his very sanctity was capable of—
Titi’s phone beeped, the arrival of a text message, from Cyril:
‘Hey girl, I am busy right now. But as soon as I make out I will send you some money into your account so you can termite it.’
By the time Titi read the message a second time, there was no strength in her legs, so she leaned on her anger and fought to keep the tears inside the tank of her eyes.
‘Go to hell,’ she finally shouted as she crashed her phone on the wall in a paroxysm of disgust… and hate.
The above story is an excerpt from one of my abandoned novel manuscripts (I have abandoned quite a dozen). I was reading through documents and decided to share this. Titi is a character I fancy a lot, and despite the odds, I dare say you haven’t seen the last of her.
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