(Read the first part here).
The next morning, Chikanyimma sat by her dressing table, bible in hand, looking through the window. Down the street, Iya Ibukun settled on the floor by the gate of the uncompleted building, with Ibukun tottering by her side, both shivering. Her usually unkempt hair was newly done. Several tattered pieces of wrapper hung on her waist. She unwrapped an oily parcel, and she and her son were soon licking the oil off their hands from the hot akara laced with stew.
Iya Ibukun wandered the streets of Oluti. No one knew exactly where she came from or who she had been. She overnight became part of that community. Iyaletiko usually explained, “Bi otie je were, ko le se nkankan.” She may be mad, but she is harmless.
It was about four years since Iya Ibukun took delivery of her child. Very early in the morning that day, she trudged down the street swaying heavily from side to side, her wrapper tied loosely around her waist when she stopped and leaned against a wall, her face contorting in pain. Iyaletiko recounts that before she could reach across to her from her stall, the baby had slipped out. At first, Iya Ibukun refused to allow any one take the child from her. She crouched and picked up the baby, wrapping him in her torn wrapper. She sat nude on the floor save for the slack tank-top that limply covered her full firm breasts, and cradling the newborn, she cried. The crowd that had gathered stood back watching her like a movie flick. They could not tell whether the tears were of joy or of pain. After she had stayed put that way for a long time, Iyaletiko firmly took the child from her. “I will bath him now and bring him back to you immediately. I promise, I won’t be long.” Iyaletiko did not tire of recounting this tale to her customers whenever Iya Ibukun wandered past. She painted her role as very heroic.
No one knew who the father of the child was, but severally Iya Ibukun pointed to various cars as they passed and exclaimed, “Na him be that.”
Chikanyimma only realized she was crying again when she felt her shirt damp against her body. She did not deserve an abnormal child. Down the street, Iya Ibukun walked away with her normal son, both barefeet. Chikanyimma’s tears were not of rage, only sorrow and regret.
She remembered the evening after dinner when Kachi told her he had a surprise for her.
“What is it?” she asked brimming.
“Close your eyes,” Kachi said, leading her to the full-length mirror in their bedroom. From a fragile box, he took a piece of jewelry and humming gently, hooked it around her neck.
“Ta-da,” he said, and she flipped open her eyes. They widened in glee and she turned to face him. Holding his face tenderly, she kissed him deeply.
Admiring the stone, she turned to the mirror again. “It’s so beautiful. Thank you so much, but this must have cost a fortune.”
“It did, but baby, I’d spend my last kobo on you. You are worth it.”
Chikanyimma blushed, “This is sapphire, I guess. I’m not sure.”
“Yeah, it is. Would you have preferred ruby?”
“No, darl. This is perfect. Just perfect.”
Kachi turned her to face him, and she rested her head on his chest. He kissed her forehead before speaking, “I wanted to ask…” He paused.
“Yeah?” she urged him on, lifting her head.
“Can we… errr… please try for another child? I mean, can we have another baby?”
Chikanyimma was first silent. “Are you kidding me?” she asked sotto voce. She searched his eyes for traces of humour, and when Kachi looked away she asked in a loud angry voice, “Is that what this gift is about? You think you can just buy me out? And my opinion is a piece of trash?”
“No, baby, I swear. I saved a whole year to get you that. And I’m not trying…”
“We agreed, Kachi,” she interrupted him. “We agreed two children and no more. You do not just wake up one morning and make decisions that suit you only.”
“I did not just make this decision alone. Mummy says it won’t be a bad idea if we try again…”
“Try again for what? A son? So it’s my fault now that we don’t have a son, okwa ya? Since when did I get married to your mother? Listen Onyekachi, I am not responsible for your family problems. I will not have another baby. Be a man!” Chikanyimma stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
For two days, neither of them spoke to each other. On the third day, they both sat heads bowed on their corners of the bed. Kachi moved over to where Chikanyimma sat, and went on his knees, his hands clasped on her laps, “I’ve been foolish, I know. Stupid even. But I need you to help me through my weaknesses. Please forgive me. I’m sorry for upsetting you. So sorry for spoiling our plans. But please, just this once, indulge me. Please. The twins are three already. I know they’d love a younger sibling. I promise nothing of this sort will ever happen again.”
“I’ll think about it,” Chikanyimma said. “By the way, the last time you knelt was when you proposed.”
Kachi let out a laugh of relief. He sat beside her and leaned close to kiss her on the lips.
“What if it’s not a boy?” Chikanyimma asked.
“Then I’d never disturb you again. Never ever.”
Three months later, Chikanyimma sat on the bath tub holding a pregnancy strip. Two red lines. She sighed.
P.S: C’mon, don’t be in a hurry to get to the end. We shall find out the crux of all this matter in Part 3. Relax and let’s enjoy this journey together.