The room had a damp smell; something akin to dirty or unwashed clothing, or if you are very imaginative, like unwashed bodies. Only a ray of sunlight penetrated but with it I could just make out the dim outlines of human beings. In my stupor, I couldn’t make out if they were male or female but one thing I was certain of was that none came close to me.
As the fuzziness cleared and my vision became sharper, I noticed that I was in a cell with inmates who looked on me with incredulity and sheer horror etched on their faces. I heard shuffling feet and a female police officer called out my name.
What was I doing in a police cell of all places? Why are there bloodstains on my clothing, and why was the officer looking at me as if I was a disciple of the devil. I grappled with these questions as I was led to a bigger and brighter room. Another police officer, this time a male sat across me and I was given plain papers to write my statement. At first nothing seemed to jell, and then the horrible events of the past five hours came rushing back.
The world is not exactly a happy place and you don’t have to look far to see one form of evil or another. Suffice to say I’d had a fair share of life’s troubles but by and large, I had fared better than most of my peers and friends some of which are yet to take a foothold on life even in their thirties.
Nkechi and I had been firm friends almost from the beginning. We lived in the same neighbourhood, went to the same primary school and kept the same circle of friends. There was brief lull when we parted ways to attend different secondary schools, but got back together again in our university days. She was of a cheerful disposition, taking what blows life threw at her with quiet dignity. Unlike me, Nkechi had passed through very difficult times to complete her education as her parents are of the low income bracket. Added to this was the little issue of intelligence; she was of average intellect, but never had she had cause to repeat a course for she was always diligent with her studies.
As time went by, I had the singular fortune of securing a husband; my being beautiful, brilliant and having well-to-do parents has its advantages and in no time, my husband and I had relocated to Akure from Ibadan. For a while I lost track of my friend, but couldn’t be too bothered as I now had the needs of a husband to cater for.
About six years later I was in my living room having breakfast when the security man handed me a parcel. On opening, I found a wedding invitation and a gentle chiding from Nkechi. She had finally met someone who loved her sufficiently to want to make her his wife. How she got my address was beyond me but the marriage was slated for a fortnight and she implored me to come with my entire family.
Now that was one area I had not been lucky at all; I mean children. I have been married for seven solid years and yet there was not even a single miscarriage to attest to my fruitfulness. Based on the fact that I had no ‘family’ to present, I declined the invitation and instead sent her a terse text basing my decline on health grounds.
My actions cropped up some misgivings, not between Nkechi and me but within myself. I always was the Sunday school type and would not want to make trouble or cause emotional hurt to anyone, much less a bosom friend. Congruently, I reestablished contact with my friend and over time we came to be close again.
Our blossoming cordiality did not reduce the shock I had when I received another invitation for Nkechi, this time inviting me and my entire family for the dedication of her twin baby boys. Wonders shall never end! Look at poor Nkechi that just got married yesterday! What is happening? And I thought I was the one with all the lucky breaks!
Like many others before me, I just cannot understand the Almighty sometimes. Here was I looking for the fruit of the womb. I have everything it would take to feed, train, clothe and generally cater for the needs of twenty children and yet children had shunned my womb and the Lord had blatantly refused to hear my supplication. On the contrary, Nkechi had personally hinted that she and her husband had been praying children do not come now as they are not yet ready for them, but surprisingly they are the ones being favoured with male twins. Like I said before, wonders shall never end.
Be that as it may, I cannot but be happy for my friend and her husband and so made arrangements with my husband to travel back to Ibadan a day before the dedication so I could stop over at my parent’s home before the occasion.
My friend was all smiles when she saw me and though those invited were many as was the custom of the Yoruba’s, she made found us a comfortable seat in the overcrowded living room. See what I mean; they couldn’t even afford to hire an event venue but had to make guests climb the four flights of stairs to their lodgings on the second floor! It seemed we missed the dedication proper and made up for our absence by giving Peter and Paul, that’s how the twins were christened, the sum of one hundred thousand naira. Nkechi let out a gasp and with a grateful smile and outstretched arms, gave peter and his brother, Paul to me.
Now I had always longed to carry a baby of my own for the past six years, but when the twins were handed to me, I experienced a strange feeling. One moment I had them smiling and wriggling in my arms and the next moment I had thrown them from the verandah of the two storeyed building and the last thing before they crashed to their death, was my husband trying to prevent Nkechi and the other guests from lynching me.