Story Written By Ogechi Alabi
Auntie Nneoma was not satisfied with the Chiamaka staying in her home. “The sight of that girl irritates me. “She is a useless girl. She is staying with Akwaugo and will soon spoil her. Why don’t you send her to one of your family members to stay? I don’t want her here”
“I will send her. I will tell them your precious son, Amanze, has put a girl in the family way and we have to hide her until she has the child”
“Why do you have to call Amanze into this matter? Why can’t you just say her parents rejected her? They will gladly take her since you will be sending money for her upkeep”
“And they will ill-treat her. This girl is not a nobody; she is from a comfortable home. Her father is being hotheaded but when the baby comes, he will calm down. I know how this works”
‘I don’t want her here”
“The only other place I know she can go and I am certain she will be treated well is your brother’s place. If you agree, I will call him and appeal to him. Any other place is out of the question”
“My brother? Why my brother?”
“He will help set her straight. During the Christmas holiday, Akwaugo will take her there and spend time with her. We are going to the village this year so Akwaugo can’t stay here alone and I don’t want too much talk at home if they see her”
“That’s even good. She will stay in the village. My brother will not allow her out. That is if she doesn’t go frolicking with the village boys as she doesn’t have sense”
“Your brother and Agnes will set her straight. They won’t judge her rather they will show her love”
“What are you trying to say?”
“You and your brother are two different people. I don’t believe you are siblings”
“Michael is soft and I am not”
“Have you agreed?”
Chiamaka had stayed with us for three months before I went to the village with her. I helped her settle down in my house. I was happy the house was very comfortable for her to stay. Mother insisted she stayed with me in my room and not the guest room. When we all go back, she will be alone in the house with our parents but it was better than the receiving all that negativity from auntie Nneoma.
Uncle Emma insisted on supporting father for the care for Chiamaka even though he refused. He tried to explain who Chiamaka was and what happened but father stopped him saying, “You trusted me to help with a problem and I will. I need not know the details. When it is the right time, I will know”
Every month, he sent foodstuff and provisions which was more than what was required and money for Chiamaka’s care through me. I was sent to check how Chiamaka was doing. Her spirit was high. She enjoyed staying with my parents. She learnt how to cook and clean from mother. She learnt how to pray and depend on God. She went to the farm with mother even though she was not allowed to
work, she helped in carrying somethings. She never complained. She attended antenatal at the Federal Medical Centre in Abakiliki and mother still took her to the health centre for check-up so we don’t take chances. My parents never asked questions, they didn’t judge her, they only supported her.
Auntie Nneoma never asked after Chiamaka whenever I travelled to see her. I felt bad at her behaviour. But uncle Emma made me understand she would come down from her high horses when it is discovered the child is Amanze’s. She will be a grandmother and can’t run away from the scandal when it happens”.
Rendering help to Chiamaka created a rift between auntie Nneoma and I. she felt I took sides with a stranger over her.
I heard rumours about other girls that were involved with Amanze. The same story of the condom tearing and them having s£x without protection. One fell ill and according to the story; her mother took her to abort it. The other one hadn’t resumed school yet; she was in SS 3. No one had heard from her and she wasn’t at home. This wasn’t a good reputation for the family.
I asked auntie Nneoma one day when she attacked me. “Auntie, have you stopped to think; what if this girl is telling the truth? What if she is actually pregnant for brother Amanze? How will you manage the scandal? How will you face your in-laws? The church? Society? It won’t be Chiamaka that brought you shame; she brought shame to her own family. It will be Amanze that brought you shame” I paused, struggling with myself whether to go on but then I knew I had to let her know. It was time. “I have a confession to make auntie and I pray you will forgive me. Chiamaka is not the only girl brother Amanze was with. They were many from my school. They give me letters to give him which I do, he replies to them and I give them. I did it innocently, it never occurred to me it was anything intimate. This case shows there might be many more. I am confessing because I heard some stories in school. I think you should ask brother Amanze if there are others”
My auntie was weak. She dropped on the chair and for the first time, I heard her weep. She was completely subdued. “My son has eventually brought my leg out in the open. This boy and girls. Where did he get his womanizing from? God, please let there not be another pregnant girl”
“What do we do about Chiamaka?” I asked her.
“Let her remain in the village. After the DNA test we will know what to do” she replied.
“But she needs baby things for when she has the baby. She has no money to buy them. Auntie, she is almost six months gone, why not buy all she needs let me take it to the village for her. You won’t lose anything if you do”
Auntie Nneoma sat quietly for some time. She was deep in thoughts. I waited for her response only to hear from behind me,
“Nneoma, it took this girl to get you back to your senses. Do you have an idea what I have done to save your face? I investigated and discovered it was not only Chiamaka he was with. One of them wanted the pregnancy aborted and I gave them the money. The other girl took abortion pills given to her by your son. She almost bled to death. She had to carry out an operation and she is lucky her womb was saved. Her mother is a widow and she begged me to help her send her daughter to join her sister in Lagos to write her examination which I have done. I had to ‘settle’ them. Amanze is getting out of control and we both know it. Let us not wait until someone dies to do something. Chiamaka needs baby things and you know them. Buy them for her, go and give her. Don’t wait for a positive result to be human. God said, whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers; that you do unto me….”
“I have heard nna anyi. I am a terrible mother; I didn’t raise my kids well. I will get the things she needs and give them to her. My heart is broken. Forgive me nna anyi, I want to go and rest”
I became worried. I have never seen auntie Nneoma like this before. I wanted to go with her but uncle Emma stopped me saying, “I will go with her. She just needs to rest. Go and find something to do”
I went outside to meet uncle Chike. Since the incident, we haven’t really sat down to discuss in details. He was the one that told me how he stopped the other parents from coming into the house but instead gave them uncle Emma’s number so he will manage the situation. I was wondering how he knew; this explained it.
“Amanze like woman. Since I have been with here, there is no househelp Amanze hasn’t slept with. I used to advise them, but they will report me to him and he will fight me. He even asked his mother to sack me, saying he caught me peeping into his room. Meanwhile, I was at the gate. It was his father that refused. I was a soldier until I was injured when I went to war. Chief Emma employed me and allowed me to earn good money. I will always look out for him. But that Amanze boy, it is like a curse. But it is not his fault, they agree to follow him. If they were well brought up, will they?”
“Uncle Chike, brother Amanze is very convincing; he knows what to say to make the girls follow him. But then, truly, we shouldn’t fall into such temptation. It is happening even in the village. Every girl wants to experiment”
“What of you? Don’t you want to experiment?”
“No, I don’t want to. I want my husband to meet me at home just like my father met my mother and uncle Emma met auntie Nneoma”
“Smart girl. Any man you give it to will never leave you alone. He will cherish you forever and ever”
“That’s what my mother said, so it is true”
“Very true but girls of nowadays don’t care. See how small girls are messing themselves up. What will they do when they are in their twenties?”
It took auntie Nneoma awhile to purchase the baby things for Chiamaka in preparation for her delivery. Uncle Emma wanted Chiamaka to come back home before she had the baby but auntie Nneoma refused saying the scandal would be too much.