“Ejiro, please finish those budget documents soon and start on these. They all have to be on the director’s desk by the end of the day.”
Moyore glanced across the room as the supervisor placed a large stack of folders on her co-typist’s desk. She made a sound of relief, thanking her luck that he’d somehow overlooked her desk, even though she was closer to his office. At this rate, she would be able to finish her own shrinking mass of short-hand notes within the hour. Perhaps then she could take the rest of the day off. Moyore smiled in anticipation, stretching her legs underneath the desk as far as they could go. She shifted this way and that on the thinly padded swivel chair, trying to find a comfortable position for her aching back.
It was a few minutes past three o’clock and she hoped to beat the rush-hour hold up on Eko Bridge. Friday traffic in Lagos mainland was a real nightmare. She stifled a yawn, guiltily looking around to make sure no one saw that. The secretary would certainly frown upon such signs of laziness but it wasn’t Moyore’s fault; she’d barely had four hours of sleep last night and even that brief spell was constantly interrupted by trips to the bathroom.
Speaking of interruptions… she sighed and shook her head, pushing back the chair to plant her feet on the ground. The bones in her ankle and knees popped in protest as she slowly got up, her rotund belly standing out like the bow of an immense flagship. “Two more months to go,” Moyore whispered to herself, taking the first of many slow steps out of the office and into the hall.
The pregnancy had been a relatively uneventful one, until she hit the second trimester and the baby started kicking. She hadn’t had a single moment of peace in the past three months. It was as though the moment he gained use of his legs, he decided to start practicing how to walk with a vengeance. Unfortunately, he did it with no regard for his poor mother, who now felt like the business end of a punching bag. It wasn’t enough that her perfect figure had gone down the toilet from day one… Moyore cast her eyes to the ceiling as the baby kicked extra hard, as though in defiant response to her thoughts.
“Excuse me Madam Caro, I need to use the toilet,” she murmured bashfully to the secretary on her way out.
Madam Caro looked up as the younger woman waddled out of the room. That was the fifth time she had gone to the toilet in less than an hour. A small frown formed on the elderly woman’s brow as she quickly calculated back to the days the bump became noticeable. It didn’t seem that long ago but the girl’s behavior could only mean one of two things.
She decided to wait, watch and confirm before she said anything more. Presently the girl returned and the first thing Madam Caro noticed was her shortness of breath.
“Moyore, come here.”
She obeyed, quailing under the intensity of the older woman’s gaze. “How far along is your pregnancy?”
“Seven months ma.”
“Really?” Madam Caro raised an eyebrow. “And since when have you been using the toilet so frequently?”
Surprise flickered in the young woman’s face and she shrugged. “Not often at all; it actually started early this morning.”
Madam Caro nodded sagely, gesturing to the desk and pile of papers on it. “Now I want you to forget about whatever is left of your notes- take your purse and go straight home.”
“G-go home, you want me to leave early? But I feel fine.”
The older woman chuckled and shook her head. “Of course you do. Da mi lohun jare, ki o te te gbe bagi re ko de ma re ‘le- ni sin sin ni mo so o!” She said no more, turning back to her desk and her paperwork.
Moyore blinked in confusion at the secretary’s abruptness but nodded meekly all the same. “Yes ma, e je kin te te ma lo.”
She scooped the notes into one neat pile and picked her purse, pausing long enough to say good bye to Ejiro and Madam Caro before making for the exit.
Ademola casually looked up to the giant statues of rearing stallions dotting the terrace of the Tafawa Balewa square. The impatient honking of drivers mingled with the cacophony of music blaring from several speakers and the raucous calling of traders in the market area just across the street, making for the beginnings of an almighty headache.
It was barely four o’clock and the scene on the streets was not looking good. This part of town was going to be a grid lock within thirty minutes and he wanted out while there was time. The problem was that Moyore didn’t close from work until five. Transporting a pregnant wife, who was temperamental in the best of days and close to a hellion in the worst, through one of the busiest roads in the state was not a favorable prospect.
Ademola sighed and shook his head, making for the small streets that led into the square proper. Tafawa Balewa, or TBS as it was generally called, stood right next to the old national assembly building—now defunct since the nation’s capital was moved to Abuja—where the remnant of the presidency still functioned. It was also where Moyore worked. He crossed through the quiet sidewalk and past the green lawns, taking a side gate right into the assembly building.
The men at the switchboard knew him by now, waving him along the long line of people signing in at the front desk. An acrimonious smile touched Ademola’s lips as he hurried into the closing lift door. Half of Lagos island knew him, ever since his wife got pregnant. It would be too long if he never showed his face in this part of town for the rest of his life. Office traffic must be light today, he commented to himself as the lift quickly skipped the first two floors before stopping on his. The door slowly swung open, only to reveal Moyore on the other side.
Her eyes widened with surprise and a little pleasure to see him, but then she remembered their morning tiff and the warm feelings fizzled into the air. She walked in and pressed the door close button. “What are you doing here?”
Ademola sighed inwardly; his wife was famous among her sisters for holding onto unresolved issues but he’d never been on the receiving end of her ire…until now. So much for his hoping for a quiet weekend. “I was heading home from work when I remembered uncle Bode wanted to see me. I thought since I was in the area, I’d just hang around until it was time for you to close.” Then, he noticed that she was already packed to leave and frowned. “Are you done already?”
Moyore nodded, leaning back against the lift wall in a bid to ease her sore back. “The secretary all but ordered me to go home. I don’t know why everyone keeps making a fuss because of the pregnancy, but even after I told her I was fine she still insisted that I leave.”
The frown on her husband’s face became even more pronounced and crossed his arms. “You’re sure that you don’t have any pain nor cramping…are you feeling any more tired than usual?”
“Can it have to do with the fact that I didn’t sleep well last night?”
The lift came to a stop and she walked out as soon as the doors swung open, evidently not distracted by the new topic. Ademola shook his head and caught up with her by the main door, taking her hand and forcing her to look around. “Moyore, I’ve already said I’m sorry…” His words trailed off as he peered intently into her eyes, his expression more serious than conciliatory.
“Kilo de, why are you looking at me like that?” Moyore took a step back but he shook his head, pulling her closer.
“Are you sure you are alright?”
She hissed in annoyance and jerked out of his hold, pushing the swinging doors open with more force than intended. “Look, I have told already that I feel perfectly fine. All I need is peace, quiet and sleep!” She burst into the sunlight outside, nearly colliding with a pair of dashiki clad gentlemen making their way into the building. “I’m so sorry, please.”
The men shook their heads, smiling indulgently at her belly.
“It’s alright, Iya Ibeji, just take it easy.”
“Yes, mama biu, ba komei.”
They walked off and she rolled her eyes. What was it with people and pregnancies? Moyore was fairly certain that she could get away with murder just on account of her ‘condition.’
Ademola found her waiting by the car and breathed a sigh of relief. He opened the passenger side and dumped her bags in the back. “I’m taking you to Randle right now.”
“No, you’re taking me home,” she sharply retorted and he resisted the urge to tear his afro out by the roots.
“Woman, will you just listen to me for once? You don’t look good and I think you should go to the hospital.” Moyore opened her mouth but her husband cut her off, anticipating her reply. “Yes I know I’m not your obstetrician, you never tire of reminding me, but I am a doctor and I know what I’m talking about.” She couldn’t see what he saw; her face was drawn and pale, her eyes were vacant and pupils dilated beyond normal. But of course, he just had to get himself saddled with the very epitome of stubbornness.
She sighed and entered the car, grumbling all the way about nosy old women, fussy husbands and the cruelty of fate that left her helpless to a kicking parasite. Ademola suppressed his smile and quickly followed suit, kick starting the car and pulling out of the parking lot post haste. Hopefully they would make it to Surulere before traffic really became a quagmire.