Yahimba Terkembe sighed yet again. She was at her bedside desk assessing her life as she did every year on her birthday. She was 25 today. Well, her body was 25 but her mind was old! She had been through so much in her young life that she felt way older than 25.
Two incidents kept tugging at her memory this year. Since she made those decisions, she locked the memories somewhere in the recesses of her mind and never looked at them. Today though, they kept flitting in and out of her subconscious, begging to be analyzed.
She didn’t want to! She knew how much pain she was going to feel and she couldn’t help but remember her low threshold for pain. The more she tried to shut the thoughts out, the clearer the images became. Oh! They were jointed and out of order but they were there!
Yahimba felt her chest tighten as she gently rubbed her head. She had the beginning of a headache and if she kept fighting her mind, she would be unable to do any productive work later on.
She sighed again and closed her eyes.
The memories flooded in.
Yahimba’s university days were filled with more fun, parties and craziness than it was with studying, research or general school work. She was 19 and dating a guy who seemed hard on the outside but was very gentle with her. Everyone wondered why she was with Ferdinand Katung, seeing that she was a beauty and he was just there. They didn’t know that where there saw ‘just there’, she saw mystery and that pulled her in. They had a great sex life and though they were mostly careful, they hated using condoms.
One year into the relationship, Yahimba had to treat an infection. Dr. Kayode Folarin, the young doctor at the community hospital near her school, ordered full blood and urine work. She waited in pains for the laboratory scientist to bring in the results. When the result was brought in, the doctor went over them and looked at her.
‘You have a urinary tract infection. I will prescribe some drugs and injections and you should be fine in no time. There is more though.’
Yahimba felt her chest clutch. What could be wrong? She opened her mouth but words wouldn’t come out.
‘Don’t look so worried. Remember when I asked about your marital status and your last period?’
Yahimba’s mind flew. She remembered the last time she had sex. Did she use protection? Did Ferdinand cum inside her? Did she take her morning-after pill? She felt sure she was anything but pregnant.
‘You are pregnant.’ Dr. Kayode announced. Her heart sank. Her worst fears just happened. ‘You are three week gone. Should I congratulate you?’
Yahimba kept shaking her head. Her parents were going to kill her…literally! Her life was over! She couldn’t bring a child to the world when she had nothing.
She made her decision there and then.
‘I will not keep it. What can I do to get rid of it?’
Dr. Kayode looked at her. ‘If you are not ready for babies, why are you having sex without protection?’
She didn’t want to hear that. She kept shaking her head and whispering, ‘I cannot have this child.’
The doctor looked at her and said, ‘Okay. I can help you.’
Yahimba raised her head up so fast she heard a snap. She didn’t care that there was a sharp pain creeping up her neck. All she wanted to know was how the he could help.
‘Come back later tonight and I will help you get rid of it. This is my number.’ he pulled his card and handed it to her. ‘Bring N5000 with you when you return. Call me at about 8pm and I will tell you when to come.’
Dr. Kayode dismissed her.
Even though her hostel was far from the clinic, she walked all the way. The pain from her left side no longer mattered; all she worried about was the life growing in her.
She didn’t want it. She knew the family she came from. Yahimba could see the look on her mother’s face when she found out her only daughter was pregnant. She didn’t need to try too hard to imagine her father’s reaction. If her mother didn’t strangle her, her father will beat her so bad she would die. She remembered how her parents had treated Amaka – their next door neighbor’s daughter – when she got pregnant. Her mother shamed Amaka so bad that she ran away from home. Yahimba knew Amaka’s mother held so much resentment for her parents but she couldn’t say anything because her daughter had shamed her.
No; she couldn’t bring a child to this world.
As soon as she got into the hostel, she picked up her phone and called Ferdinand.
‘Hi. We need to talk. I will be over in about 15 minutes.’
Yahimba showered with really hot water, as if willing the baby to come out with the dirty water. She was in the bathroom long enough to get scalded but she didn’t feel anything. An emptiness crept upon her that was deafening in its silence.
The smell from the next stall jolted her to reality. Someone was taking a dump and the smell was entirely rotten. Yahimba quickly exited the bathroom and rushed to her hostel. She got dressed and finally looked at her watch. She was more than 45 minutes late. Well, she couldn’t waste time any longer.
Ferdinand didn’t want a baby but he wasn’t going to make the mistake of saying so. He watched Yahimba with his usually aloof expression as she sat fidgeting opposite him. Oh! Yahimba didn’t fidget like other girls; she didn’t wring her arms or bob her head or tap her foot. To the untrained eye, she was as calm as the waters in the Bahamas, but they had been dating for a while, so he knew her nuances. The tiny twitch at the left side of her eye gave her away. THAT was his cue to say the most sensible thing or else be in the biggest trouble.
‘What do YOU want to do?’
Yahimba looked at him. Her expression was firm, determined and resolute.
‘I am not keeping it. We are not ready for that kind of responsibility.’
Ferdinand was relieved but kept his poker face intact. She was watched him closely. Instead, he walked to her, knelt in front of her and enveloped her in his warmth. He caressed her hair slowly as she leaned into him.
‘Whatever choice you had made, I would have supported you. I love you so much. I am sad that we cannot keep the baby but we also have to be realistic. I will get you the money and go with you to the hospital.’
Yahimba was disappointed. Ferdinand did not even try to convince her to keep the baby. The tears threatened to pour but she held them in. She allowed him stroke her hair as all emotions she felt for him gradually ebbed away. The emptiness widened further. She pulled away from him with her fake smile already in place.
‘Hey, let us watch some movies. We have more than 10 hours to spare. How about we relax a bit?’
Ferdinand got up and put on the TV. He gave her the remote control to pick a channel and they settled on comedy.
Ten minutes later, Yahimba was asleep.
At 9:30 that night, Yahimba was in the doctor’s quarters above the clinic. The room was spartan and had an antiseptic smell to it. She sat on Dr. Kayode’s bed as he sterilized his hands.
‘Take off your panties and spread your legs.’
Yahimba balked! Was he going to have sex with her? Why did he need her panties off? She remembered how he had turned the key in the lock and placed it in his trousers. If she refused, would he rape her? Could she scream? And if yes, should she? What would people say about her?
Dr. Kayode judged her hesitation correctly; she was scared. He smiled and touched her knee.
‘You have to take off your panties because the drug is to be inserted into your womb. Don’t worry, I have no evil intention and you are fine here.’
Yahimba smiled a bit and took off her panties. She was a bit self-conscious as she laid down on the bed and spread her legs. The coolness of the gloves as Dr. Kayode put his hand inside her was a bit shocking. She tensed and so did her vaginal wall.
‘You have to relax Yahimba. If you clench, it will take longer to get the drug through.’
Yahimba tried to relax but it was not working. How could she relax when she was about to take a life? Wasn’t killing her baby the worst thing ever?! How was she supposed to be calm when a doctor had his hands running up her vagina in search of the opening of her womb? She imagined the procedure going south and all the bad things that could happen. Would she die? Would she be able to have children again? What would her parents think of her? Would it affect her sexuality? Would God ever forgive her?
She felt a sharp pain and bolted up. The doctor removed his hand from inside her.
‘The drug has been firmly placed in your uterus. You can get dressed and go home now. In a few hours, you will begin to bleed. You will see blood…lots of blood…and some tissue matter. Don’t panic. Just wear a pad and change every hour. The bleeding will stop after the uterus has been flushed. After that, you will experience some spotting for a few days. Come tomorrow and I will check to make sure there are no complications. If the blood flow makes you so dizzy that you cannot do anything else, call me immediately. I will see you tomorrow then.’
He said as he open the door. Yahimba gave him the money and thanked him. She walked out of the hospital. Ferdinand was waiting for her. They walked to her hostel in silence. For all she knew, she was utterly and completely alone.
Yahimba finally slept at 12am. She had waited up for the blood flow and it was not forthcoming. Maybe the doctor had swindled her of her N5000. When she finally drifted off, her last thought was that she would go ham on the doctor in the morning, even though he insisted she never tells anyone he agreed to the procedure.
She was asleep for 20 minutes when she dreamed she was peeing on the bed. She jolted up and touched her bed. It was wet. She got her phone and turned on the flashlight. There was blood; LOTS OF BLOOD! Yahimba was scared! She had never seen that much blood in her life!
She gingerly got out of bed and tiptoed to the bathroom. She washed herself and ran back into the room. In the time it took her to stick a pad to her panties, she was soaked again. She was panicking so hard that she didn’t notice the sharp clenches she was feeling in her stomach. She ran to the bathroom again; but this time, with her panties. When she was done cleaning herself, she quickly wore her panties and rushed back to the room.
She got her sheets off the bed and took them to the bathroom. She soaked them and rushed back into the room. Thank goodness that her mattress was nylon covered. She took a rag and wiped the blood down. When she was done, she laid the bed with fresh sheets and went to the bathroom. She washed all the stained clothes and sheet, hung them out to dry and returned to her room.
The pad was full by this point. She got out another one and disposed of the used pad.
She went through five pads before the heavy flow stopped. In that time frame, she cried and begged and pleaded with God to let her live. She promised God that she would never have sex again, that she would never take a life again, that she would be good, that she would advocate with other pro-life groups, that she would be born again. She promised and promised until she finally fell asleep.
It was 3am.
In all this time, none of her roommates had awoken. No one in her room knew what had happened; no one knew that a child had died in that room and all evidence wiped out with clean precision.
When morning came, Yahimba made a decision; she was not going back to the hospital.
It wasn’t long after that Yahimba broke up with Ferdinand. The relationship ended on the day of her abortion but they pushed it for another couple of months. When they parted ways, she was relieved that she no longer had to stare her murder accomplice in the eye and pretend that nothing had happened.
She started dating a new guy who was a pillar of the community. They were going to get married and influence society. They did everything right and though they had their differences, they were willing to work it out.
She never told him about her abortion. What he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
Yahimba looked at the doctor incredulously. This couldn’t be happening! She had done all the right things! She had followed all the rules!
The tears flowed.
She had a cyst growing in her ovaries and causing her lots of pain, so much so that she couldn’t stand/sit up straight. Her colon was blocked and required drugs to allow her pass stool which was poisoning her system.
To crown it all, she was pregnant again.
To be continued…