The new face of my problem raised its ugly face after when I gave birth to Chukwuma.
He is the little boy who was supposed to be called mr. Toje’s son.
I like my culture. If any man impregnates a lady without paying her bride price, he is not entitled to claim the child until he pays it.
Since mr. Toje just impregnated me without any price, he is automatically my illegitimate husband who would only be known by my parents and I. My extended family see him as a mere visitor.
Even if he likes, let him sponsor me to a university, he must pay what others pay. He must pay education few as others.
As it stands, no one would like to suffer but all will like to enjoy. A year after when I gave birth to Chukwuma, mr. Toje saw me in the examination hall in Supreme College, Ndiechi and approached me. I felt the same way I did when we slep in his house but then, my body had got mature enough to ignore sexy men. I controlled myself and asked, ‘sir, do you know me? What do you want?’ He told me that he would meet me during evening lesson.
When he came to the lesson venue, he pretended to be reading some passages for me.
He started, “my dear, I am sorry for what I made you go through. I did all those things to spare my personality. Imagine what that would have caused if not that I was wise enough to spare myself the insult”. I wanted to pity him but something greater than his compassionate talks struck my mind. ‘could it be he spared his personality to my detriment?’ was the question in my mind. I gathered courage and asked, ‘sir what exactly do you want? Do you want me or my child? Do you want both of us?’ He talked to me like a man. At this time, he roared like a wounded lion. “young lady, what are you up to? Do I look like father christmas? This is your third child, are you expecting me to adopt all of them? God forbid. I am only talking of my child just because he is a boy. If not, what business do I have with you? Did I meet you for other two girls? They are for you alone. I only want the boy, gbagam”.
Though he humitated me, I still respected him. I wanted to insult him but remembered that he was my good teacher. I summoned courage as a mother I was and asked him if he still possessed his good thinking faculty. He snapped a word at me, “young girl, I will come to your people next week to pay as tradition demands on the head of my son. If you like, accept or not, I must claim my lovely son”.
Immediately he finished his utterance, he vanished to nowhere.
A week later, I heard a whispering voices of two men. I was sleeping in my room when I heard the noise. It was the voice of my father and another man whose voice was too difficult to my understanding. I had no other option than peeping through my door.
Surprisingly, when I peeped through the door, it was my father and mr. Toje speaking in low voices. I knew they were talking about me when they mentioned “she”. My heart started panting but it was calmed by the wailing sound of my crying baby. I left the door for my child.
Two days later, all the elders in our extended family gathered with mr. Toje in their midst. They called my attention through my mum . . . If they had not used my mother to attract me, I would have ignored them.
I honoured their call because I respected my mother so much.
When I got there, my father was the first person to talk, “my daughter, every joy of a parent is to enjoy the fruit of his labour. Five years ago, you weaned two fatherless girls without hopeful claimers. This third child seems to be blessing to us.
This young man came to us to claim Chukwuma, your child. He has paid all the necessary payments for him. You have to hand him over to him for his wife to train up since she does not have any male child”.
The next person to speak was uncle Jude, “my dear, since you left your teacher’s home, this child has been with us as if we are his parents. Now that the father is here, leave the child for him and continue your education; we are up for you. We shall use the money to support your . . .” When he wanted to give me hope, he was interrupted by Elder Ochie.
He is an evil man who does not welcome the progress of my family.
He started, “my daughter do not mind him. You and I know very well that girl child education is a waste to any family. Our plan was to make sure you seat for Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) which we have achieved. The money will be used to sponsor your younger brother, Brutus He is the only hope of this family. We have arranged Otenkwu, the prestigious palm wine tapper for you. He has paid half of the dowry which we shall add to mr. Toje’s to sponsor your younger brother. Get prepared for he he is coming for you this evening.”
All he said did not go down with my mother but she was helpless. She stood up to talk but was interrupted by Elder Ochie, “sit down woman. Women are made to shine their whims and not their eyes or mouth. The meeting is for men.”
You may want to know if I later married Otenkwu and the whereabouts of Chukwuma my son in Mr. Toje’s custody.
Next episode can cure your curiosity.