Baby Merchants 6

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As I sat waiting for the program to start, I kept thinking about the proper name of the secret home, its legality and safety. Even though I wanted a place to hide from the mocking world, I cared about my life and its safety as well. Rebecca assured me of good stay if I could keep to The Rules, but, to me, that’s conditional and not enough. I hated ifs before a necessity.

“I welcome you all to the First Evening Gathering.”

I looked up to see the man who attended to Rebecca and I that evening at the reception. He looked different in his traditional attire. His bulging stomach hidden within his loose kaftan, almost invisible. I wished I knew his name.

“Countless healthy babies get their lives forcefully terminated around the world each day before they could make it into the world. This happens at the same time married men and women desperately try in vain to have their own.” he addressed us – the pregnant girls and we listened, hypnotised by his eloquence. Someone else addressed the couples loudly and I tried in vain to eavesdrop what he was saying while listening to the speaker before us.

“Some of these couples,” he said gesturing at the men and women over at the couple’s row, a melancholic expression across his face, “have sought for years in vain to have their own kids. Do you know that most of them over there are the ones shouldering a sizeable portion of the financial burden of this home?” I drifted away from the speech to think about the possibility of those couples actually shouldering the so-called financial burden without an eye for the gain. I waved the thought away when I recalled I was only sixteen. My mom would always say, “what do you know Chetachi? You’re just a child.”

“We are here to protect the unborn babies and prevent the dumping of those innocent, helpless babies in the bushes, gutters and refuse dumps. We take very good care of you during this journey, to make sure that you and your babies are fine at the end of the day.” he paused to wipe the sweat beads all over his face.

Why does this home also keep girls like me whose family members do not know their whereabouts? A question popped up in my head but I refused it exit.

He continued in his speech smoothly, with flawless eloquence while questions, many questions in my head fought for a chance to be heard. Questions like;

What’s the name of this firm..company.. home ..?

Can I be allowed to return home whenever I feel like I don’t want to stay anymore?

Can I go out to visit my friends, go shopping?

Even though these questions had been answered in The Rules, they still pop up in my head.

I saw myself raising up my hand for a chance to ask my questions but was totally ignored. I recalled what ‘auntie’ said about asking questions and calmed down with plans to find out from her especially the name of the home.

Rebecca walked into the hall. I wasn’t expecting to see her again that same evening. Is she one of the staff? Was a question I asked myself. I would later find out. However, she looked stunning in her black evening dress, evidence of good living written all over her. A couple followed closely behind her holding hands – a stoutly built man whose female companion towered above. I watched them walk to the couple’s row and Rebecca took her seat behind them. I made up my mind to meet with her so we could talk. I would love it if she took me to her home.

After the man’s speech, a formidable man emphasized on the importance of standing by The Rules after a brief summary of its content. Next on the program was the interview. When it was announced I wasn’t so comfortable with it.

The interview period was exhausting. A plump woman in his mid-forties with a title and initials Dr.Mrs C. O as her name waved me to a seat and handed me a false name, Miss Gugirl, written in block letters on a pink sticky note. I looked at her questioning. She said that was my name and it’s meant to protect me. I didn’t go further to ask why because I suppose I knew why. She asked many unnecessary questions to which I either nodded or shook my head. Then the last question came;

“Would you like your baby to have a home and caring parents or be kept in the orphanage?”

I told her clearly that I wanted this to be over, have my normal life back and go back to school. I didn’t care a hoot about whatever they, the management might decide to do with my baby afterwards. She looked steadily at me and smiled as though she was amused.

“It’s okay,” she said.

Finally, she gave me a two-page document to sign and without going through it, I signed it. She wrote down her phone number in a yellow sticky note and said I should always come to her for a friendly chat anytime I needed to. I thanked her even though number was as useless as her name. Outgoing call was not allowed.

I searched the hall for Rebecca but she was gone. Thoughts of seeing her filled my mind. Apart from the need to go home with her, I needed someone to talk to as well. My interviewer promised to organise a meeting with Rebecca. But I was led away immediately after the interview before others began to leave the hall, I was already in my room casting a frequent look at the wall clock. At 9:15 pm, I felt the bump in my lower abdomen harden slightly.

As I lay in my bed tired and lonely, I thought about my parents and home and had to cry that even though I wanted a place to hide my shame, I couldn’t be allowed to live my own life.

No access to phone calls. That made me very sad. I never knew I could be this lonely. I wondered what next.

I, Gabriel 4

When Jennie comes over to where I’m learning to sit from a lying position, I cease the chance to talk to her.

“Hi, Jennie?” I whisper and she presses her purple teddy tightly to her chest, immensely blown away. I place my pointer over my lips and give her a prolonged ‘sh’ sound as a sign she shouldn’t let the cat out of the bag yet with her eccentric hysteric mannerism. She gets it and calms down a bit but still looks apprehensive. She sure knows babies my age only gurgle and coo. They don’t converse meaningfully.

“How are you,” I whisper again to get her flap her tongue but her main focus is my mouth with an intermittent glance over her shoulder at my mom and hers, probably wishing they could wiretap my eloquence.

“How could you do that? You’re just a baby” She asks, her voice shaky. I feel happy that she responds.

“This is okay Jennie. Some babies talk early and some earlier than others. I know I’m freaking you out but understand that this is how I am.” I whispered

She keeps mute, looks at me as if I’m one hell of an unearthly being and back at them and makes to skedaddle.

“Don’t go away, Jennie. You can talk to people, right? Say your mind, ask questions, contribute to discussions, right? I’ve been longing since I turned two months to express my opinions just like that but I don’t want to scare them. It’s not everyone that can stand an eloquent infant. That’s why I chose to talk to you, Jennie. I feel you’re strong at heart.” I stop when I notice her eyes bulge and her face become disorganised by the horror movie before her in such a way that amuses me but when she slumps on the floor fainted, I freak out. Mum and Elina rush to the scene and carry her to the sofa. Mum calls the emergency and as we all wait for the paramedics to arrive, they both ask, “what could have happened to her,” and mom keeps asking if she was ill.

As I look at her lying there as though dead, a thought crosses my mind. I know that when she wakes, it will never be the same again, I will always be a weirdo, she might stop coming to our house too.

Well, I guess I didn’t quite know Jennie well. Now that I know she shakes like a leaf too, just like all of the – mom and others, I’ll never distress her with my eloquent chatter. I only wish my self-revelation living in her memory could vanish with her present unconsciousness state so that when she wakes up, it will be her usual peaceful happy childish life.

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I Gabriel 3; Someone To Talk To

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Previous: Obstacles I face

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Elina is mom’s closest friend and confidant. I’ve watched them cry on each other’s shoulders for not less than three times since my birth. They share little secrets and terrible awkward moments. I have also watched them sprawl on the kitchen floor, laughing their tear filled eyes out and amused the cold out of me.

Elina has cute little daughter, Jennie. She is 5, and very smart. I like smart kids, there are very few of them around in Zuika. Anyway, I like Jennie. A lot. She’s like a sister to me; I just like her. She smiles a lot, plays with me and feels sad when it’s home time.

So today, I have a a thought on my mind. I need to share my secrets with someone – someone I can trust, someone who doesn’t shake like a leaf and I think Jennie will be that perfect someone, if only she will be courageous enough to stand me talking sense at five months. My mom should have been that perfect but I’m sure she can’t see my talking sense to her at my age as normal. She’ll definitely fret.

I’ve been doing lots of research lately, With mom’s laptop , I sneaked it into my room hoping she won’t look for it soon. She hardly uses it anyway. So, during one of my researches, I discovered a very wonderful application called Robo-exp3Dfg. This app is a wonder and perfect for my special multitask robot’s construction.

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Next; Jennie gets scared

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Baby Merchants 5

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I rushed through The Rules with high interest as I waited for madam to come clear the table as promised and for ‘auntie’ to take me to The Gathering. And like thriller, it spread its captivating tentacles all over me and made my whole world of freedom disappeared. I gawked at the content, numbered not less than twenty with subs. It dawned on me that where I was, was a highly restricted and secured place, not in a way that could be appealing to anyone, but terrifying.

Rule numbers one and two grabbed my attention the most:

  1. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MUST YOU TALK TO OR WITH ANYONE (BOTH WITHIN AND OUTSIDE THIS HOME) OTHER THAN THE STAFF ASSIGNED TO TAKE CARE OF YOU. YOU SHOULD BE PUTTING YOUR LIFE IN DANGER BY DOING SO.
  2. NO MOVEMENTS BEYOND THE WING YOU STAY IN for AS LONG AS YOU STAY HERE. EVERYTHING YOU NEED IS AVAILABLE WITHIN YOUR REACH: ASK FOR IT AND IT WILL BE GIVEN. YOU COULD BE PUTTING YOUR LIFE IN GREAT DANGER BY DISOBEYING. MAKE IT EASIER FOR US TO PROTECT YOU.

Well, by now I had realized how I walked myself into a prison cell. All I wanted was a place to stay for a while to hide from the mocking world. I thought about Rebecca, who could be tucked away somewhere in Trans-Seculu, having a sound sleep in a house she owned. Why didn’t she take me to her house? I could pay her and could never be a burden. In my desperation to secure a place to stay, it didn’t occur to to ask her for the favor that flood my mind. I wished I could be given a chance to get in touch with her.

“Why? Have you conducted any tests on her?”

“No, doctor.”

“Do that first thing in the morning. She hasn’t submitted anything to prove she qualifies to stay here.”

I could clearly hear them talking, standing very close to my. The man opened my door without any prior signal and walked in and it hit me – no privacy. What man would dare enter my room in my father’s house? Doctor entered and Auntie followed meekly. They both walked to my bedside where I lay on my back clutching at a copy of The Rules. I dropped The Rules on the bed to focus on them and greeted him, he responded and looked at The Rules wearing a frowned face.

“Miss Janet, The Rules is not for everyone. It’s for those who are qualified to be here.”

“I didn’t know she wasn’t qualified Doc,”

“Did you receive any document in her name?”

Yes Doc.

“Did you check if there was anything to show if she’s pregnant? Please be careful next time.”

“But I presume that anyone whose file gets to me qualifies.” I watched the second drama since I arrived and wondered why they didn’t mind my presence.

” Will you stop talking and start listening,” he shouted

“Yes Doc.”

“One more thing, it should be given during the first evening gathering after orientation and the necessary instructions,”

Yes Doc.

The moment I heard I was not supposed to it, it made sense to me; I shouldn’t be reading that all by myself – I should need someone to make some explaining and tell me why I should be confined in a cellar for eight months. Doc. extended his hand and gently took it from me and asked me to follow him. I got up from my bed and followed him with no hint of where he was taking me to and in less than a minute we walked into a highly equipped laboratory where a very meek and humble girl bent over a microscope.

“Conduct a pregnancy test on her Miss Clara,” She took my urine and inserted a test kit in it.

“Positive Doc.,” she said, and he smiled, nodded and walked to the door. I followed, and he led the way into a mini hall with dark blue plastic chairs where many other expectant mothers both girls and young women were sited in the right row and men and women who looked like couples sited in the left. The others sited behind them, looked like the workers, among them were madam and auntie. I looked at the high table and saw the first man I met there the time I walked in with Rebecca. His protruded mid-section seemed to have enlarged to an extent from uncontrolled evening meal.

I read the theme of the evening written boldly on a flier; THE FIRST EVENING GATHERING in red print and white background. I looked back and saw the girl whom I saw at the reception. I tried to smile at her but she wasn’t looking at me. A guard came to me and warned me to keep my head steady and mind my front. I obeyed.

My Grey Haired Groom

I heard a familiar voice talking with the feiry man Ukadi kept at the gate and drew the expensive golden blinds apart for confirmation. My father stood there looking disturbed. I frowned my face a little in annoyance towards him, for not takingg the necessary action to rescue me before dusk the previous day and for affirming that I be kept in Ukadi’s house all through the weekend.

Wearing an exaggerated sad face, I walked into the common room where my father perched in one of the luxury sofas uncomfortably. When our eyes met, he stood up and said in a whisper; “What are you doing here, Amaka? Has it come to this? Do you realize you’re not properly married to him and that sleep over is not allowed?” I stood rooted to a spot surprised at him. Did Ukadi not say to me that he told my father I would be spending the weekend in his family house?

“But father, he forced me here and said he told you I was in his house,” I said as tears rose to my lower eyelid.

“What happened?” it was a command to speak up fast.

“He manhandled me on my way back from school, forced me into his car, drove to this place and locked me up in a room….Did he tell you he took me to his house?” I questioned and listened, my ears lobes enlarged

“No.” he said and I felt his anger boil but this time for Ukadi. I braced up.

“He treats you like an ant father, as if you worth nothing. We all are like ants before him because he feels he’s richer than us,” I looked towards the staira to make sure no one was listening and continued to lay all of Ukadi’s crimes before my father hoping it would bring the marriage plans to abrupt end.

“Dont talk like that Amaka. If he is richer does he feed my family?”

“No father, sorry for that but his actions proved to me that he has no respect for you,” I said forcefully and looked in the direction of the stairs again and wondered what Ukadi and his mum were up to, they were supposed to be downstairs to welcome my father.

“Did both of you sleep in the same room?” He asked after a thoughtful silence.

“No, father.”

“Did he touch you?” He asked looking at me through the corners of his eyes. I bent my head, looked at my entwined fingers as I gently rubbed my right thumb on my left palm sniffing.

“Get your things. Let’s be on our way, I feel very sad about this. We need to be on our way” he said

I increased my sniffing from two sniffs a second to six, rubbed the tears that crowded my eyes off as I flew upstairs before Ukadi and his mum would come downstairs to make my father change his mind with their affluent charm.

As I stepped on the fifth step, I came face to face with Ukadi and his mother who followed behind him like his tail. I waited on the count of ten and tip-toed back to the general room, hid myself behind the giant flower vase close to the foot of the stair to watch the expected drama secretly.

Both men met exchanged greetings while Ukadi extended a handshake and to my greatest amazement, my father reached out for the handshake, grinning like someone whose president of his country paid a surprise visit. I expected a loud brawl capable of bringing the neighbors to Ukadi’s doorstep. Not grins and whispers. Disappointed, I withdrew and hastened upstairs.

My ideal hero on rescue mission was supposed to leave with me in a hurry, rejecting pleasantries in the bid to show off how annoyed he was and of course should rebuff Ukadi’s every offer including to take us home. My father seemed to treat lightly the grave sins Ukadi committed against him and the whole family.

He offered to drop us off in his flashy Acura MDX and my dad jumped to the offer without considering how I felt about the whole thing and when we reached home, everyone treated him like the purest diamond, with all of their teeth exposed in a smile meant to please him, I realized how deteriorated they had turned because of his affluence

I didn’t utter a word but waited for him to leave so I could sit with my captivated family. I needed to tell them all that marriage with a man thirty-three years older than me won’t happen.

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