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