Of Marriage and Babies and Bills and PTA Meetings…
She is walking elegantly. She is walking with the confidence of a queen and the boldness of a lion. Her hair is golden, like a mane. She does not seem to care that she has suddenly become a source of attention and the whole hospital waiting room has lost its control. All eyes are on her. All noses are perceiving her smell. All brains are processing the information. She is not normal. She is not ordinary. She is not from this world. She is a different being with eyes like Medusa, killing the man in every man and rendering him powerless and helpless before her beauty. She is Eve with a Mephistophelean look, the type that can capture the innocent heart of every Adam and erase from his memories all the instructions of Yahweh. She is a beauty with an inexplicable unnaturalness. I knew the moment I saw her that I was going to approach her.
I do approach her. It is all a façade. The Medusa eyes do nothing. I mean, nothing. They do not freeze you neither do they still. They only enchant you with pity anytime you want to go wayward. And since I am not one to fall for the sobriety of men, the eyes do not affect me. The look is not devilish in any way. In fact, it is innocent in a funny way, in a beautiful way that still puts me in charge since I have lost my innocence since my teen years.
We date, this girl that scattered the hospital waiting room with her magic. We have sex twice or thrice and I enjoyed it. I maximize her innocence and shape her to my desired nature. She is responsive and I am alive. She is one to enjoy forever.
She moves in with me and soon, we become husband and wife without the consent of a pastor. Daily sex. Weekly dates. Monthly surprise gifts. This is Nirvana. It goes on like this and my mother is already thanking God that I have ceased to call her every night, which means I have someone else my attention is focused on. She has already given testimony and special number in church that her only son is finally engaged. I laugh. The only thing I was engaged in right now was the nightly acrobatic sex I was having with the lady that scattered the hospital waiting room that fateful day.
I keep on enjoying paradise and shunning mother’s incessant calls until the lady tells me one night after one of our vigorous stunts that we should get married. I laugh. She doesn’t. I laugh again. She doesn’t laugh. I know now that she is serious. But why do ladies have to always think about marriage every time? Can’t we just go on like this? I am not a harlot, she says. Really, I want to say, after all the nightly violent ploughing we’ve been having?
It is nothing actually, this marriage thing. Isn’t it just walking down the aisle with your parents and all? I tell her if we are going to get married, it has to be quiet. She says yes. I smile. She smiles. Good. We are back on track.
We marry on a Saturday in a small event center. Father does not come. Useless man, he is still angry at me for not becoming a doctor, for deciding to do public health instead. Such flimsy excuse. I hire one of my uncles and he stands beside mother as I get joined with the lady. Good. We are one now. Can the sex continue please?
We continued our night duties without any stop. We are now husband and wife alright but really the only difference now is that I am guaranteed of eternal stunts as long as we are together. And really, what shall separate me from the love of this lady? Nothing.
Well, maybe nothing, but someone. It is three months after our official declaration of desire to continue the stunts. I return from one of our medical outreaches to children battling from polio and I meet the lady at home. This is strange and not supposed to be because she is a nurse at the hospital where I met her that fateful day a year or so ago now.
Why are you home?
She does not say. Instead, she hugs me and kisses me. I don’t care why she is home. I put my hand under her blouse. She does not give in. Instead, she chuckles and then withdraws, leaving me with wet lips. She then returns with a bowl of pounded yam and egusi soup. In another bowl, there are two chicken laps and a school of fish. I set down to work. I devour every thing in fifteen minutes and wash the plates with my lips. Done.
Then, the lady looks at me with calm eyes and say, I am pregnant, dear. We are going to have a baby.
A what? Why…why will we have a baby?
She is surprised that I am not happy. Why won’t we have a baby? She says. Aren’t we supposed to make a family together?
No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
This was not even on my mind. I have never really thought of being a father. But why, why is it now that I can no longer back out of this official arrangement that she is pregnant? Why wasn’t she pregnant while we were just ploughing ourselves every night? Why is it now?
What do we do now? I ask.
She looks at me with shock and shakes her head. You are now a father, dear. Be happy.
We do our stunts that night but there was no life there. She lies lifeless on the bed while I remove her clothes and go in. There is no joy, no moans, no pleasure. It has become a duty, an obligation. It is now as though I am obeying the command, Be fruitful and multiply. Oh, shit!
Six months after the confession, I rush her to the hospital in my Toyota Camry and stay in the waiting room until she starts to yell like her legs were going to be torn apart. I run out and wait outside. No, no. My lady cannot die. My lady cannot die.
She doesn’t. The nurse comes out and I ask what every new father asks.
Is she fine?
Is it a boy or a girl?
Yes. Two girls. She was carrying twins. Didn’t you know?
After four months, I get over the shock of being a father of two girls. I ask my lady why she did not tell me I am to father two kids. She claims she did not know. The scans showed only one child. I swallow the lie and begin to wonder when we started lying to ourselves. Has she forgotten that I spent seven years studying medicine? I really need to do my father’s will and become a medical doctor. This public health thing is not paying me.
Two bundles of joy. Two bundles of responsibility. One called Peace, another Joy. They look so alike, too alike that even I their father don’t know them apart. But the lady does. Only the lady does.
My mom comes over to stay with us. We can no longer have acrobatic sex, at least for some time. The lady has to heal and mother cannot be hearing scary sounds at night. She might think it is one of the twins.
The twins becomes expenses. There are so many things to buy and I have to buy them in pairs. I have to buy two tiny footwears that will become useless in a year or two. I have to buy two feeders. I have to buy two tiny woolen sweaters. I have to buy two woolen hoodies. I have to buy a million diapers. I have to buy baby food. I have to buy toys. I have to buy many things I never even knew existed. I do not want to die of frustration so one day, I call mother and give her fifty thousand naira to buy all that we need. At least, now I can rest.
I am wrong. Mother returns saying, E remain two baby seaters and de trolley.
Trolley? What trolley? What nonsense trolley? Where do I get the money for that?
The next day, Father sends a hundred thousand to my account and then sends a message saying, I am coming to see my granddaughters. Funny guy, that man.
OF PTA MEETINGS…
I survived those sexless months. They were expensive but they were fun. They mended my relationship with my father and brought upon me the mantle of responsibility which I now wear with pride. Sex has returned now; it is no longer acrobatic but it is fine. It is called purposeful intercourse. Maybe I am obeying the Lord’s command after all.
I go about boasting, giving advice to new couples and fathers whenever we go for community services until one day, the lady comes to me and tells me she does not know which senior secondary school to put our kids. I laugh and tell her to wait.
We will cross that bridge when we get there, I say.
We are there already, dear. Peace and Joy got their BECE results yesterday. They passed with flying colors. Now, they are resuming senior school in September.
It is a lie.
Peace! Joy! Come here.
Two girls come before me. They are matured thirteen year olds. Wow! So I have been a father for thirteen years and I did not die.
Come give daddy a hug, I say to my two daughters. They laugh and sit beside me on the couch. My lady sits on the Persian rug, her head between my legs. I am doing shuku on her head.
We cross the bridge and my two daughters enter senior secondary school. Peace wants to be a nurse like her mother while Joy is my true offspring. She wants to be a doctor. They are both in science class and since they inherited the brains of two medical practitioners, I do not have to waste money on lesson teachers. I spend that money instead on buying candles. My lady now likes the room lit with candles whenever we are doing stunts. Peace and Joy are in the boarding school so it is stunts all night through. Oh, I miss stunts.
We keep stunting and ploughing until one day, a letter comes home inviting us for something called PTA meeting.
What the hell does this mean, my lady?
It means the Parents, Teachers Association are having a meeting tomorrow by 10am and we have to be there.
So we are part of an association and we don’t even know it? Wow!
We dress well and drive our newly acquired Murano to the meeting. I doze all through the three hours of intellectual discuss and debates. After the meeting, they say we can see our babies. My lady and I go to the car and find Peace and Joy waiting for us. They hug and cry on our shoulders. I feel like a father once again. I pat their shoulders and use their clothes to wipe away my tears.
We have missed you, daddy, one of them say. I am not sure which is which again now. This twin thing is so confusing. I think it is Joy.
I love you too, I tell them .
We all sit in the car and eat jollof rice and chicken that my lady brought. We laugh and crack jokes. Joy tells us that Peace now has a boyfriend. Peace denies and says it is the boy that is chasing her. My lady expresses fear but I laugh it away. Teenage foolishness; it will pass.
I am right and two years later, my two babies return home fine. Peace confesses to having kissed the chasing boy once or twice but denies any other form of intimacy. I believe her. She is not lying. She does not know how to lie.
I am thinking it is fine to find them two handsome young men to marry them and also get them good jobs when my lady comes again and says she does not know which university to take them to.
But they just came back from secondary school, my lady? Shouldn’t they at least get married or something?
My dear, are you drinking again?
No, no. Of course, not, I say slowly, hoping the smell of beer coming from deep within my bowels will not betray me. It does not. I am fine.
Peace and Joy write a series of exams and they get admitted to the university. Peace to study Nursing and Joy to study Medicine and Surgery. They bring home their bills and my jaw falls off. Why can’t we go back to the days of PTA meetings? I cry.
I know I will collapse under the burden so the next day, I write to my boss at the public health institute and tell him it’s over between us. At the same time, I send two more letters. One to the hospital where my wife works asking them to take me in as one of their doctor, and the other to my father telling him that he won. I am now going to be a medical doctor. I am going to walk around a hospital and have patients. Funny man that my father is, he replies me with a sum of two hundred thousand and a letter saying, I am coming to see my son.
Written, December 26, 2018.