Although it was a new day and the sun was already high, up in the sky, Nkechi still felt terrible. Within few months, her condition seemed to have moved from worse to worst. Her parents refused abortion; neither did they agree to give up the child to the orphanage after delivery. They insisted on Nkechi having the child and raising her.
Nkechi felt frustrated, weak, stupid, down casted and at one time, cursed the day she met Alex.
How could he?" She asked, and not for the last time. "Why did he do this to me? What crime did I commit against him?"
"Forget about Alex, Nkechi." Bose said. "The deed has been done and Alex is nowhere to be found."
"I will kill him if I ever see him. I swear."
Bose walked over to where she stood by the window and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Hate him all you want. You're allowed to. But please think about your health. Think about the baby in your..."
"I'm not pregnant!" Nkechi cut her short.
"Oh yes you are. You saw the test results yourself."
"Those test results are not telling the truth."
"Well what about the scan, then?"
"All I saw in the scan was a disease growing inside me."
"The earlier you accept, Nkechi, the better. Its time you let go of me and allow your parents be your confidant. It’s the only way you can get better. Tell them how you feel inside. Let them know what you are truly going through."
"Are you ok? Bose. You want me to tell them?" Nkechi asked, as she turned around to face Bose.
"Only so you can be cared for. As it is you are seven months gone. Abortion is totally out of the picture.
"It's not." Nkechi insisted. "I will go from one hospital to the other until I find a doctor who can help me get rid of the disease inside me."
"It's a child. Not a disease." Bose sighed. "You are better than this, Nkechi. You are only going through rough times. The thing with rough times is that, they pass. This will pass too. Just be strong." That said; her form gradually grew faint.
"You are leaving me? Please don't go again." Nkechi begged.
"Get well Nkechi. You will be fine." Bose encouraged as her form finally faded into thin air.
"No please don't leave me." Nkechi fell on her knees. "You can't leave me, please!"
At the far end of the not so large sitting room, her mother watched with sympathy as her daughter lost touch with reality. She couldn't still accept the fact that Bose was gone. She and her family had moved north but her Nkechi couldn't take it. Before they found out about her pregnancy, Bose had been her only confidant and best friend.
Mrs. Okoji sighed. She walked up to her daughter, sat on the ground and hugged her close.
"Bose left me again." Nkechi cried as she sank into her mother's warm embrace. "She left me."
"I know. But at this moment she's only in your head my dear." Her mother said. "You have to be strong for the baby in your womb now."
"But I want Bose by my side." She cried.
"Bose will come. I will ask her parents to let her come after you have put to bed."
"I promise my dear. I promise." She patted her daughter's hair backward and plated a firm kiss on her forehead. Nkechi calmed down and relished in her mother's comfort.
The second week of the ninth month met Nkechi, her mother and two of her elder sisters in the labor ward of a private hospital. Nkechi's screams were heart wrenching as she pushed, gripping the sheets with one hand and her mother's dress with the other. Although the ceiling fan was in full motion, everyone in the room was sweating, especially Nkechi. She had been a labor for about thirty minutes and still the child had not fully come out.
"Ok we are almost there." The doctor said. “One more hard push, that's what we all need. So, ready?"
"Mummy, mummy!" She cried.
"Yes dear, I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere." Mrs. Okoji said, patting her daughter's hair.
"It's hard, I can't do it anymore. It’s painful." Nkechi cried.
"I know, I know. But you have to try my baby." Her mother encouraged her. "You heard what the doctor said. Just one last push."
"Just one?" Nkechi asked, doubting the authenticity of the doctor's words. "I won't do more than one."
"Just one my dear, just one. Trust me."
"Ok mummy, ok."
Pulling her strength together again, Nkechi gave the final push. Within seconds, the cry of a new born baby filled the room. The doctor and nurses smiled at a job well done, Mrs. Okoji and her two daughters laughed happily. Nkechi on the other hand, felt sore. But she was glad to be relieved of the pain between her legs and the weight in her stomach.
One of the nurses took the child into the in-built bathroom. Within the next thirty minutes, she returned with the baby, washed and wrapped in a pink flannel. Mrs. Okoji was the first to hold her granddaughter. She showered words of blessing on the new baby before handing her over to her mother.
Nkechi, out of curiosity, took the child in her arms. She looked very surprised at how little, beautiful, peaceful and innocent the child was. Instantly, she felt ashamed for calling the child a disease. She felt guilty for wanting to abort her and for even thinking of giving her up to the orphanage after birth. Tears streamed down her cheeks. How could she have planned to hurt an innocent child? The child wasn't responsible for her father's disappearance. She was as much a victim as herself.
"How do you feel holding your baby?" Her mother asked, smiling.
Nkechi looked up and her mother wiped the tears from her eyes. "I feel stupid mummy."
"But why?" Her mother asked, worried.
"I feel stupid because I thought of aborting her, of giving her to the orphanage. She's so little and innocent. I feel I have been a bad mother from the start."
"No you have not." Her mother said.
"The important thing is that you still have all the opportunity in the world to make amends." Her elder sister said. "Considering the fact that you started your antenatal very late, you should be thankful she's in perfect shape and perfect health.
"Yes. I am thankful." Nkechi agreed before looking down at her baby. "I'm so happy I have her. She's like a doll."
"This is the real deal my sister, not a doll." Her second sister corrected with a smile. "Hand her over. I want to hold my little niece; first in the entire family."
Nkechi gladly allowed her sisters take their turns to carry her baby. An hour later, her father, brothers and other sisters joined them. It was a happy day for all of them. Nkechi forgot all the pain and heart aches of the past months and started thinking of ways to ensure her daughter had the best of every good thing. She didn't want her daughter to suffer. She started to think like a mother. Not just any mother, but a caring one.
Bringing her mind back to the present, the studio room was still lighted up. The cameras faced her and the audience, as well as her hostess, were quiet. A sign they had been listening with rapt attention. It was then Nkechi understood that the audience, especially the pregnant teenagers among them really needed to hear her story, so as to pull strength from it.
"Although I knew I still had great challenges ahead of me," Nkechi continued. "I was determined to ensure my daughter had the best. She became my driving force, my reason to succeed and my reason to be happy. She turned out to be a huge blessing, rather than the curse I earlier envisioned. I can boldly say I am glad I had her. I love her so much. What I feel for my daughter is something I can't explain. To know what it is, you have to experience it. To the teenagers out there, if you abort that innocent child, not only will you miss a great gift, you will be no different from the man that put you in your family's way."