Those were her exact words, that gave me the creeps, fifteen years ago. Those words will ever ring on the bell of my conscience, chiming sounds of despair.
Chisom was my childhood best friend. We grew up in the same neighbourhood. Attended the same nursery, primary and secondary school. Our fondness for each other dates back to our primary school days. We would go to school hand in hand, our backpacks strapped on our backs and lunch boxes firmly held with the other hand. In class we sat beside each other and played together during break period. Classmates teased us. Some called us Ali and Simbi, others called us di nu nwunye (husband and wife) and so on…
In secondary school the boys in my class would call me woman wrapper because I preferred being with Chisom in lieu of hanging out with them or playing football during break time.
When I think of Chisom, chocolate is what comes to my mind. Maybe it’s because chocolate is her favorite snack or probably because of her dark brown eyes and ebony skin. She was a beautiful lass. I used to call her mammy water, tongue in cheek, she would laugh and retort back. Pappy water, she would say and we would both laugh at the joke like it’s the funniest we ever heard.
In SS2 something happened. She was at my family house, it was mid-term break and we were alone at home. We gisted and joked about school like we often do. About the new Mathematics teacher. The head boy that has his head in the clouds. The Principal’s address concerning punctuality. The Cowbell Essay Competition…
In the middle of our chitchat, she nonchalantly chiped in something which ruined the moment for me. “Hian! Can you imagine that isi ebuzu of an head boy is toasting me?” My countenance changed gear upon hearing the puffy head boy, Nnamdi, was making passes at her. She always tells me about her admirers especially those in our school. How they would plead with her to accept their advances and be their girlfriend. She would tell tell them that she’s married to her books and advice them to do same in a sarcastic tone. I used to find this funny but not anymore. Though she had told him off like the others yet I wasn’t amused like I always was when she told me such tales.
“Ogini, what’s the problem?” She stared at me surprised at my sudden mood swing.
What is wrong with me? I didn’t even know. Maybe jealousy. I no longer fancy other boys wooing her for fear that I might lose her to them. I want her to myself alone. To be her only boyfriend, and she my girlfriend. I didn’t know when I said it, I only heard myself after it was said. “I love you.” The words leapt out of my mouth before I could take them back.
I thought she would rebuff me, diss me like the others by telling me to fall in love with my books instead. I was about to apologise and fault it on my slippery tongue for allowing such words to slip out carelessly. Before I could say another word, she beat me to it.
“I love you too Ify m…” Her words waltzed through my eardrums in a lilting pace.
At that moment of emotional epiphany, I was stunned by the mutuality of our feelings. Speechless. There was no need to apologise anymore. It’s a dream come true. I leaned my head towards hers without saying a word, slowly our lips strayed apart. Like two fleshy magnets placed side by side, they united in an amorous attraction.
When it was time for JAMB we applied to the same university. As fate would have it we were offered provisional admission when the results was out, much to our exhilaration. She would be in the Faculty of Law while I would be in the Faculty of Engineering.
Though we were faculty apart, still we were always together like inseparable Siamese twins. We lived in the same off campus hostel, but in separate rooms because we didn’t want to cohabit. Despite having our individual rooms, we were always in each other’s room. I would go to her room anytime I was famished. She was a good cook and there was always something to eat in her room. We played games together. Our favorite was Chess and Scrabble. I was the Chess champ, she was the Scrabble skipo. It was a stalemate.
One Sunday evening we were alone in her room after a meal of Oha soup and Semolina. We laid on her medium sized Mouka mattress. Her head rested on my chest. The same chest she teased as dry. I leaned forward and planted a peck on her forehead. Another on her neck. Then on her lips. It was a sensual wetting of the lips. Our tongues mated and saliva drooled in ecstasy whetting our desire for more.
In a rush of sensual adrenaline I helped her undress while she unbuttoned my trousers. I cupped her bare breasts with my hands. It was soft and hard at the same time. When I bit her pointed nipples, she moaned in delicious pain. Her moaning metamorphosed louder as the pace of my hardness stroking inside her gained momentum. At the peak of our consummation we both screamed in a climaxing crescendo.
A couple weeks later I visited home for the weekend, dad had asked me to come home to assist him with a website project. I was in my room working on the interface design for the website when my phone beeped. I peeked at the phone screen to see who the caller was. My Bae. It was Chisom calling, seeing her call filled me with boisterous excitement. I get upbeat anytime I hear her voice whether on or off the phone.
“Hello sweet”. I cooed into the phone in a feigned sexy voice, expecting her hearty response, to tell me how she missed me and couldn’t wait for me to return back to school even though I had only been away for two days. Instead the voice I heard was unfamiliarly familiar. It was cold and shrill.
“M di ime,” she said in Igbo.
“What!” I exclaimed impulsively.
“I’m pregnant”. she repeated, steely, in English. The same way an elder would explain a cryptic proverb to a child, in a simpler way he should understand.
I was disconcerted. How could she be pregnant. It was our first time and it happened just once. It just couldn’t be. No! She can’t be pregnant. Maybe she has fever or some ailment and she’s misconstruing it for pregnancy. I wanted to tell her what I thought. That she wasn’t pregnant, maybe fever but certainly not pregnancy. Instead what I said was, “when did you find out?”
“Some minutes ago. I was feeling feverish so I went to the campus health centre for medications. I was tested and the result is pregnancy positive.”
Damn, it’s for real. She’s pregnant. I wasn’t ready for a baby neither was she. We were sophomore students and had a long way ahead of us academically. Having a baby now would only stray us from the path we had always dreamt about as kids. For me it was to be a Computer Engineer, and hers was an unrivaled passion for the law. We can’t just throw our dreams away, something has to be done. The earlier the better. I mused silently. The silence over the phone was resounding, I didn’t know what to say but felt I had to say something. Just say something, anything.
“What are we going to do about it?”
“Should we have the baby?”
“Are you out of your mind,” she snapped. “So what then becomes of my dreams and plans for the future?”
I thought for a while before responding.
“Calm down, I’ll be in school by tomorrow morning. We’ll talk about what to do next about the situation at hand when I get back.”
That night I couldn’t sleep, I kept worrying about the consequences of our actions and all we stood to lose should we decide to keep the pregnancy.
The next day I boarded the first flight from Asaba to Lagos. As we touched down on the Murtala Muhammed Airport’s tarmac, I cringed within. It was like the mechanical descent of the plane was a prelude of what my life would soon become. I hailed an airport taxi and headed straight to Akoka.
“Are you sure about this decision?” I was sweating profusely eventhough the fan in her room was rotating.
She shook her head slowly, “yes I am.”
“I’m sorry for putting you through this, if only I had used a condom…”
“You don’t have to be, it takes two to tango.”
We agreed to terminate the baby, for we weren’t even prepared for a baby’s arrival. Not yet. It was a sacrifice for our future. Posterity would understand for we had our backs against the wall.
Now, I’m happily wedded to the love of my life, Chisom. We have successful careers in our respective fields. My wife is a SAN (Senior Advocate of Nigeria) and is a named partner in one of the biggest law firms in the country. I’m an established computer engineer as the CEO and founder of a software and IT consulting company. We have it all. Success.
Yet in our ocean of prosperity, there’s a patch of desert in the middle. One that impoverished us with regrets. We won’t be able to have babies.