It was a cool evening on 5th October, the same week Nigeria got her independence and transition spirit filled every street of Aba. Helen’s twenty-first birthday was on the way, in addition to that, she was bursting with the loveliest news. When she tapped on his door, he opened it. She jerked on seeing his scary face.
‘Sit down. We need to talk,’ he said. She dropped her bag on the cemented floor and lowered herself beside him in the colourful fabric cushion. her eyes were glued to his eyes, searching for a clue.
‘Is there anything you would like to let me know? Concerning your background?’ her mind raced and her eyes rolled and the only secret she kept from him popped up in her mind. She was not going to tell him. Not now, not ever. A month ago, he proposed to her and she was not going to end the fascinating relationship with the truth.
‘Nothing that I know of?’
‘Are you an outcaste?’ she pulled her eyes from him and cast them on the floor before plopping her knees on it sniffing.
‘My great grandfather was. He’s long gone. Does that make me one?’
‘Yes, it does and you knew this and didn’t tell me all along. Marriage between us is impossible.
She stood up.
‘What if I told you that your child is growing in me?’
‘That doesn’t change anything. Nothing can. You know what to do–’ he went the door and opened it for her to leave.
She went on all fours and crawled his feet and clutched on them. He stooped and held her shoulder and looked into her eyes.
‘Marriage can’t happen between us because of who you are. Understand this and leave.’
‘What about our baby?’
‘I can’t have it. But if you want to keep it, that’s your decision. I’m not and will never be a part of that child, ’ he plucked his hands off her shoulders, opened the door wide, picked her arms and dragged her to it.
When she anchored her hands and feet on the door frame. He left her. She staggered back to the room. He rushed at her and pushed her out and slammed the door shut.
When he threw her bag out through the window, she knew it was over. She went crazy in the street. Residents peeped at her through their doors and windows. She knew what they thought of her; she was nothing but the girl who threw her body at a man who had not paid her bride price. She was shamed as she went home.
Four days later, she went back to his apartment but to her surprise, he had moved out. Someone else occupied it. He was nowhere to be found.
Her tears fell on her mother’s laps for weeks. Eight months later, she had her baby girl.
She later put her in the convent where she would never experience the humiliations due to the people of her kind.