Two weeks after that visit, in the dead of the night, Chiamaka went into labour. They couldn’t reach the taxi driver that usually takes them into town so mother rushed out that night to call a midwife who lived a little distance from our house. She went herself so she could get the woman to come with her immediately. Father, Obinna and Ikenna stayed with Chiamaka praying as they waited for mother. Chiamaka managed her pain to an extent as she didn’t scream while the contraction came but the men could see her countenance changed when it came.
Chiamaka shared the details of that night with me. It was a night she would never forget. The midwife arrived with her nurse bag to the house with mother. She asked mother to use a new pot or a clean kettle to boil water for the delivery. Mother brought out a new blanket and several towels. She was prepared for this eventuality. A birthing station was prepared on the floor of my room. The contractions were getting closer. The midwife refused to check her in order not to introduce any infection. She went to take her bath while mother stayed with Chiamaka. She came in and changed into new cloth. She checked Chiamaka when she noticed the contractions were very close together and she was now unable to bear the pain in silence anymore. She was ready. Chiamaka was delivered of a bouncing baby boy at 3:35am.
Auntie Nneoma knocked on my door and announced to me that Chiamaka had given birth. I was up and ready to leave for the village by 5am the next morning. I was ready to skip school for the week to see her and her baby. I spoke with her on the phone and she sounded very tired. She was in labour for five hours. Mother said it was short labour for a first-timer.
Before 8:00am, we were in the village. I rushed into the room and there they were, Chiamaka and her son. The room had been turned to a nursery. The baby cot was set up by Obinna and Ikenna. The baby cupboard and bath were also in the room. Auntie Nneoma insisted on taking her to the hospital in Abakiliki for a check-up. She went with Chiamaka and mother while I waited at home to watch the pepper soup that was on fire. They came back in less than three hours and they were certified in good health. Chiamaka took some pepper soup with a little pounded
yam and slept. Mother advised the baby should be bottled fed more often if we wanted Chiamaka to go to school. Auntie Nneoma agreed.
All this while we had not really looked at the baby. Auntie Nneoma seemed to dread looking at him but we knew we had no choice; soon we will look at the baby. I had to keep my things in the guest room with auntie Nneoma although I slept with Chiamaka. For that day, only mother was allowed to touch the baby. Chiamaka needed her rest.
Father called auntie Nneoma into his room and they had a long hearty discussion. When auntie Nneoma came out, her eyes were very red. I tried to find out what the problem was but I couldn’t ask father or mother. I just observed. Chiamaka’s mother promised to come over her that weekend.
By the third day, Chiamaka was stronger. She could eat well and also express milk. The baby was bottle-fed with her br**st milk as one of the things auntie Nneoma graciously bought was a br**st pump which worked effectively. Chiamaka was glad mother was caring for the child. She hardly held her baby or cared. There was something wrong. Mother didn’t allow us to carry the baby. She insisted the baby needed to be a week old before we could.
When Chiamaka’s mother visited, I understood why Chiamaka was acting the way she was. Her mother insisted on carrying the baby. When she did, I had the opportunity of seeing the baby. He gave a smile and then I knew what we had always suspected happened; he had dimples. Amanze could not deny being the father of this child.
I looked at Chiamaka and said, “he has dimples just like his father”
“I wish he didn’t” Chiamaka replied.
“He is the father; he can’t deny it”
“What does it change for me? At seventeen I have a child out of wedlock. What does that say of me?”
We didn’t know auntie Nneoma was at the door until she spoke saying, “You chose to take responsibilities for your action and not hide your sin by aborting the pregnancy. Chiamaka, I respect and admire you. I have wronged you and I seek your forgiveness. Like my brother said, I wouldn’t want you to marry Amanze, not because you are not good enough but because he is irresponsible and will only ruin your life. Please Chiamaka, don’t look down on yourself and your very handsome son. I am here to support you; we all are here to support you. The only thing you will promise me is that you won’t make this same mistake again”
Chiamaka burst into tears as auntie Nneoma gathered her in her arms. It was a touching moment; a moment of reconciliation. Chiamaka had made peace with her son’s grandmother. We were all happy.
Chiamaka chose to stay with my family in the village for ‘omugwo’. Mother took very good care of her and the midwife came to check on them regularly. Mummy made sure Chiamaka did not add weight while caring for her baby. We visited often and we were all happy. Chiamaka named her son Kosisochi meaning as it pleased God. Everyone loved the name. Father gave him a Christian name, he called him Paul.
Chiamaka gained admission into the university. She left her son with mother and visited every month to check on him. She was a responsible mother to the amazement of everyone. Auntie Nneoma was also a regular visitor. Kosi was growing fast and was loved by all around him.
Amanze was informed about Chiamaka’s delivery. He didn’t come home; he didn’t call or show any interest. During the strike, he didn’t come back home but went to be with his brother in Kaduna until the strike was over. He thought it was business as usual.
When he didn’t get his monthly allowance and he couldn’t reach his parents on their lines. He was worried. With no other option, he came back home.
“Is it hunger that brought you back?” auntie Nneoma asked him when he came in.
“What’s going on mum? Why have you forsaken me?”
“Were you informed that you have a son?”
“That child isn’t mine. I didn’t have unprotected s£x with her”
“Are you sure?”
Amanze was confused. What had happened to his mother that she was so cold. “I am sure mum”
“Ok. Are you hungry? Wait for me in the parlour”
As he entered the sitting room, he was shocked. His baby picture and the picture of a new baby were placed side by side. The two pictures looked like the same person. He was confused. He came back to his mother in the kitchen. Before he could ask, she asked him,
“Are you sure you didn’t have unprotected s£x with her?”
“How is it possible?” he asked confused.
“There is no need for DNA; he is your son. He is your carbon copy. Are you still denying? Are you ready to tell me the truth? If you still insist you didn’t have unprotected s£x then if we do a DNA and you are the father, we will remove the cost of the DNA test from your school fees”
Amanze was sober. I was eavesdropping on this conversation; there was no way I would miss this. Auntie Nneoma was being a real mother for the first time. She didn’t smile; she had on a straight face. It was interesting to watch.
“The condom may have broken”
“May have? And you continued? Why didn’t you stop and change it?”
“I was carried away; I didn’t believe she would get pregnant”
“Was that what happened with others? I know you gave one pill to abort, was it the same story?”
Amanze didn’t expect this line of interrogation when he came home. He felt uncomfortable discussing such with his mother. She was indifferent. It was time to set things straight with her son.
“You are a father now and you will behave like a responsible father. We will be going to see your baby tomorrow. Your allowance will be divided into two, half will go to providing for your baby. Unfortunately, you cannot travel for your Masters’, who will take care of your responsibility if you leave? When your father comes back, we are going to apologise to Chiamaka’s family”
‘What are you talking about mum? What’s all this? Because a girl had a baby for me, I have to forfeit so much?”
“It is an honour, a thing of pride for you to put a girl in the family way. Why did you deny her if you were proud of what you did? Look, if you decide not to follow my instructions, I don’t have a problem with that, I will just disown you and use your son as replacement. You are not ashamed. You impregnated three girls. I taught you to use a condom so you do not get anyone pregnant or catch a deadly disease but flesh to flesh was hungrying you. The six weeks you stayed here you wreaked havoc. I will not argue with you. If I am ready to leave for Umuoji by 7:00am tomorrow morning and you are not by the car, count yourself out of my family. Any of your brothers that decide to help you will follow suit. I have no time for nonsense”
Amanze looked completely defeated. He stood there looking at his mother. He must have thought her behaviour very strange. She completely ignored him and continued cooking. He left for his room. When food was ready, auntie Nneoma called uncle Chike to take the food to Amanze. “Tell him this is all I owe him for the meantime”
The next morning, we got ready to travel. Auntie Nneoma was out to leave at 7:00 am. She didn’t send anyone to call Amanze. As she was about to climb into the car, Amanze came out. He had on a pair of navy blue jeans which laid below his waist in a sagging manner, a white designer crested singlet and a shirt. He looked very cool and smelt nice. Even with all the issues on the ground, Amanze was still
dressing to impress. Who was he going to impress in the village? Was it father or mother or the baby?
There was no conversation in the car on the way to the village. Amaze concentrated on his phone while I read my books. Auntie Nneoma prayed her rosary.
We got to the village in record time. We were welcomed. Amanze entered the house still feeling very cool with himself. Auntie Nneoma went inside. She was there for a while. I was in the kitchen with mother, I had to give her the latest gist. Next thing I heard was,
“Hey hold him. I can’t hold him. Why are you giving him to me?”
“Because you are his father. It is time to meet your son and be responsible for him”
“What are you talking about? I don’t know how to care for a baby”
“The same with Chiamaka but she had to learn. She didn’t know how to have a baby, she had to have the baby. She didn’t know how to care for a baby, she has learnt. You will learn too. We are going back with the baby. You will stay back for a month and care for your child. You will wake up, feed him, change his diapers, bath him and generally take care of him”
“Please mum hold him, I am wearing a white designer inner, I can’t afford to get it stained by the baby”
“By the baby? Did you just say by the baby? Whose baby is he? I asked you a question, whose baby is he?”
“He is mine. He is my child. I get it. I’ve learnt my lesson. Can we end this now?”
Father responded, “It never ends son. You have to step up and be a father. You can’t even deny the child. So, who do you want to hand over the responsibility of your actions? Did you have s£x with the mother? Did you have unprotected s£x with her? When you were informed she was pregnant how did you handle it? Did you deny being responsible? Now you have found out you are the father, what
have you done? You came here to see your child dressed to kill. You wore boots to visit your son. My dear boy, you have acted irresponsibly. Now hold your son and get to know him. You are in your third year while his mother is about to start her first year. Both of you are in school. So, for this holiday, the baby will be with you. You will tend to him. the long holiday, it will be shared between both of you. You are a man now. Having a son is supposed to make you a man”
Amanze sat down holding his son in his hands. His son was almost three months when he saw him. When baby Kosi cried out, Amanze was given a bib and bottle to feed his son. He went through training that day. He had planned to stroll through the village as he was around but he was told he had to stroll with his baby. Anywhere he went he was to go with his baby. It was tiring and annoying.
When the baby pooed, he wanted to give the baby back to his mother but she refused and directed him into the room to change him. That was where he saw Chiamaka. She was crying. Amanze appealed to her to help him. She changed the diaper and he stayed back for them to talk. Amanze for the first time without prompting apologized to Chiamaka. They had a long discussion which I wasn’t privy to. We allowed them to be. They were in the room together for almost three hours. They ate there too.
Auntie Nneoma was worried they could be intimate again being left alone but father said to her, “Not the Chiamaka inside there. She will never allow”.
It was true. Chiamaka was a whole new person. She looked better than when she got pregnant because she was eating quality food rich in essential vitamins and minerals. She ate mostly fruits and vegetables. Mother tied her tummy the old fashioned way and in less than two months, you wouldn’t believe she just had a baby. She was attractive again and I understood auntie Nneoma’s fear but Chiamaka could see a future for herself and her child. Why would she jeopardise it by having s£x again with the guy who got her pregnant and denied it? It would be stupid of her and such stupidity couldn’t be found in my home.
When it was time to leave, Amanze promised Chiamaka he would be back during the holiday to stay while she sorts out her registration. We were all astonished at his decision. He was beginning to take responsibility. This made auntie Nneoma very happy. I was too but I knew that bad habits die hard.
There was a blowout in the house when Amanze wanted to return to school. He was given half of his allowance and asked to come back every weekend. He wasn’t having that. His father put his feet down. He didn’t believe all that ‘he had changed’ tale.
“Is it the first time? How many cases have we dealt with? Your son has a disease and it needs to be cured. He needs help. He has a son now so he needs to live up to his responsibilities towards the child”
“I am not supporting him; don’t think I am. But just try him this time. He is in his final year, if he messes up, don’t give him a dime in for his second semester. Not even a kobo. I will support you then”
“I will give him the money but he must come back every weekend and tend to his son”
Amanze agreed to it. He was given his full allowance. He went back to school. We never heard from him until the break for the first semester. He came back home, packed his things and went to the village to stay there for the three weeks. Uncle Emma was upset with him but when he went by himself to Umuoji, he calmed down.
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At Umuoji, mother told me he got along with everyone. He put his son in a stroller and went for walks with him. he seemed a proud father. I was not deceived. I worried Chiamaka would fall for his charm. Mother said Chiamaka will not; she has had a heart to heart conversation with her and made her realise that she is an easy target for Amanze right now. She should show her superiority by maintaining a healthy distance and discourage any form of intimate relationship he might recommend. She went the extra mile by teaching Chiamaka about Billings’ method which Catholics recommend for birth control.
Chiamaka didn’t need much talking to as she found out what Amanze was up to. He went out with his son and he was able to hook up with some of the girls. They would come through the back gate to his window. He would then meet them outside. Chiamaka saw him with a girl one night that was when she wrote him off. He had tried to get them to be close again since they had a child together but she
told him s£x was off the table; she wasn’t ready to risk having another child. He promised to use protection which she told him failed them the last time. She wasn’t interested but didn’t want to tell him off.
He was with another girl under the tree where we sit one night at about 8pm. Mother went out to do something and saw them. She went there, dragged the girl all the way to her house creating a scene as the went along. It was the most embarrassing scene the village had experienced. Mother was naturally a quiet person but when crossed she can be aggressive. She dragged her to her compound and called out her mother
“Your daughter came into my compound and was frolicking with my husband’s nephew under the tree. Please, hold your daughter. If she gets pregnant, he will not marry her as he has already put someone else in the family way. He hasn’t married her and has no plans of doing so. I don’t know why our girls are not sharp. You see a boy with a baby and you don’t ask questions. He has a son and if he wishes to marry a girl right now, it will be her because she is in his class”
“Agnes it is ok. I know we are poor and do not have class so he will not marry her. It is not your fault she is the one I blame. She shouldn’t have come to your house”
“You cannot blame me. Teach your daughter to keep her body for her husband. If what she is doing is good why is she hiding in the dark to do it? She was under the tree with a boy that has a reputation at this time of the night. She did not knock on my door to greet but went to hide in darkness for a boy to play with her body.
Tufiakwa! I don’t want to see your daughter near my house again or I will treat her like a thief”
“The boy in question has a case to answer. He is wayward and disrespectful but you are hiding that fact”
“Hiding? I am saving your daughter; he has nothing to lose. I am happy you mentioned the boy, not my sons. Have you seen my sons in a dark corner with any girl in this village? If you see them, they will be in my compound during the day not hiding from anyone. For now, it is only Chika that comes to see Obinna and I have met her mother and promised her my son will not disrespect her daughter. That is how it is done. Not a girl throwing herself at a boy. Let me tell you, if your
daughter gets pregnant you will go to Enugu to sort the issue out. I have warned both of you”
Mother left them and came back home to face Amanze. He didn’t expect her reaction. She landed him a resounding slap while he was sitting with father in the sitting room. Amanze was too shocked to say a word.
“In your life don’t ever desecrate my compound. You have not come out of one mess you want to create another. You cannot stay at my house; your coming here was a cover so you can freely commit your atrocities. You can never change. I don’t want to ever see you in my house again; stay clear”
Father was unaware of what happened. He was shocked at his wife’s reaction. He called out to her, “Agnes, Agnes. Calm down. I have never seen you this angry before. What happened?”
“Your nephew was under the tree with Loveth’s daughter. Can you imagine? I saw them clearly. He was fondling her. How she entered the compound, I don’t know. But she came in and they met under the tree. We have not finished with one he is looking for how to create another. I don’t want him here again”
Her loud voice attracted Chiamaka’s attention. She heard everything. She thanked God she refused to agree to his advances. He must have planned to come here and have free access to s£x with her but her refusal made him go outside. Was he a pervert or what?
“Agnes, it is ok. Go inside. Everyone go to bed. I will sort everything out”
Amanze was still holding his cheek where mother slapped him. He was in shock at her reaction. He believed she would have ended everything with dragging the girl but coming for him was a first. His mother always puts the blame on the girls not him so he believed he was immune. Now his gentle auntie landed a heavy slap on his face which showed she wouldn’t tolerate his misbehaviour. He was surprised.