(In loving memory of my friend, Iember ‘Big’ Nor, a strong lady)
The half and half
Brings one full
As one leaves that the others should live…
* * * * *
He found himself in a white singlet and brown towel. There were people all around drinking. He was in a drinking hut? How had he gotten there? He heard the scream in the hospital across the road and ran towards its direction. He saw Dedoo. In the few seconds, he noticed that the worry lines on her face had grown longer and far deeper;
“Why are you not in there?” he breathlessly asked.
“Don’t worry. She doesn’t need me.” There was a lot of bitterness and sadness in her voice… “She_”
He hardly heard the last words as he dashed into the compound. He searched everywhere for the screamer, Adamma. He saw a group of his friends in the courtyard that divided the big hut from the other smaller one where the main business took place. He seized one of them by the arm:
“Where is Adamma?” They all pointed in the direction of the smaller hut. He let the man go as his heart rose in beat and speed. She had been taken to the smaller hut? He feared the worse as he rushed in the direction they had pointed. She was not even in there. He found her outside. She was lying on a mat by the back of the hut. There was an old woman by her side. The woman excused herself as soon as she saw him approach:
“Hey” she called out in a near inaudible voice, smiling as she raised her hand a little in offering. It seemed the scream had drained her of all her energy. He collected her hand as calmly and lovingly as possible. Had she forgiven him? He could see the pains in her eyes, even as a smile struggled to shove it aside. She was the most courageous being he had ever seen. How she ever agreed to keep the baby despite everything still amazed him. She tried to talk but he urged her to be quiet. She persisted:
“I told them there was no need to be kept inside after all.” She said weakly, even before he could say a word. What? Wait, had it been that long between the scream and now? Then he noticed her blood soaked wrapper. Shock and several other indescribable feelings came to his face. Too weak to look down, she mentally followed his eyes to the wrapper. She said nothing.
“What happened?!!” She shuddered at the loudness of his voice which calmed his own shock. He reduced the tone of his voice. It was almost a whisper to match hers now: “What happened?”
Tears answered him. He cradled her head in the crook of his hands and gently stroked her hair: Was the baby dead? Life sure had a way of changing things. He cursed himself for being the deep sleeper that he was. It didn’t help matters that he had been drunk that night. It was perhaps, the reason why she was here now. The memory of everything came to him vividly. It was much a tale he heard severally such that it no longer got his sympathy when he was told. Now, it was his to bear-
He had woken up in the middle of the parlour that day, shocked. His surprise wasn’t his position in the parlour. Well, he didn’t usually sleep anywhere except in his room but he had gone out with friends to drink that night. The taunts and all had gotten too much. By the way, there was no one who would mind it. He was a man now and even if he wasn’t, his parents had travelled out and wouldn’t be back in a long while. Adamma, despite his love for her and all, wouldn’t tell him not to. And he was going to be drinking palm wine which was not beer or alcohol in the real sense, right? He would take small, a single drink.
The single drink ended up in several calabashes of palm wine. He somehow found his way home. He must have been too tired to go to the room. Still, it was the way he woke up and felt that gave him his surprise. He felt spent. It also seemed that he had been sexually excited someway. There were testimonies to this on his private part. His trouser button was loose and his penis was out. He looked around quickly to be sure that no one had seen him like that and adjusted his property properly as ought to have been. It was then that he noticed Adamma in a corner. She seemed to be, no, she was sobbing. Had she seen him like that? He rushed to where she was:
“Adamma, what is it?”
The question only brought a wail. What was wrong? He did his best to comfort her but she pushed his hands and concerns away. He tried to get an answer from her without success for a long time. She packed out to Dedoo’s house. He kept checking on her but she had already stopped talking to him. After his continued pressure and visits, she broke the silence in a few words. She told him that two men had claimed her maidenhood unjustly on the night he had gotten drunk. It seemed strange to him that even as a listener to her tale, he felt it so strongly that he might have sworn that he had been there. Maybe it was the work of an overactive imagination. There was something more. She would not say any more.
Eventually, it was Dedoo who told him the full story as she had been told. The men had matched into the house with machetes. They did not take a single thing. They simply matched to the room and dragged Adamma out to the parlour and in a few minutes, proceeded to taking the mantle of her maidenhood. During their forceful penetration, he had come in. The men seemed to be too busy to care. Adamma had called on him to rescue her. He simply stared on in his drunkenness. After a while, from obvious excitement, he zipped down and began to massage his penis. It didn’t take him long to come. He smiled in satisfaction and fell to the ground, all spent.
Adamma soon discovered the inconvenience of Dedoo’s house getting too much. In addition to Dedoo’s room being a very small one-bedroom apartment, feeding became an issue. Then, there was the ‘girl and girl as roommates’ fracas that began to emerge. As soon as her parents came back to town, she moved to their place. The story remained silent till Adamma’s stomach developed a bulge. The shocked parents kept wondering how it all happened. On her part, she refrained from telling them the story. They considered disowning her but changed their minds, parental feelings coming into check. There was a bargain though; she had to abort the child. No one was going to give birth to a bastard baby in the house of the Church elders. She refused the offer. Not ones to be shamed, they put her in her rightful place, on the streets. After all, she wasn’t their only child. She stayed with Dedoo a while but the issues came up again. There was one option, the village. She took it.
He went to the old lady and asked what had happened. She was blunt and explained to him that Adamma had lost a lot of blood and they didn’t believe she was going to make it.
“Her organs were not ready. The vagina was also too tight…” He didn’t need, or want to hear any more. She shook her head in pity as the young man turned to leave.
He walked back to Adamma and saw her cradling the baby. The mother looked very weak. In her sitting position, it looked like she was doing the hardest task of all times. He knew she didn’t have much time. Hatred rose in his heart for the little thing in her arms. His fury burned at the parents who had thrown their daughter out in a critical time as this. Here she was, in the village. He had come to join her in the village after taking a long time to trace her whereabouts. He tried his best at doing what sponsoring he could. She hardly spoke to him at all. His guilt always remained. He swore never to drink again but the pains of Adamma’s sufferings kept getting to him… Maybe that was why he had found himself in that hut that morning. He couldn’t remember going there-
“Take care of my child for me.” She said, bringing him to reality. She lay on the ground again, the baby beside her. The full pain and all was very evident in her eyes. It looked as if she was using all her will power to stay alive. She looked at him with an expression he couldn’t understand, then, the stare became fixed. He let out a shout and heard some sobs behind him. He turned to see Dedoo. He looked at his twin sister’s face again. Though it had only been seconds, she seemed more peaceful now. He lifted his singlet to his eyes and mopped the free flowing tears. He turned to the bastard baby who had taken her life. The spite was evident in his eyes. Dedoo was wailing now…
He knew what he was going to do. He was going to kill the bastard who had taken his half away. How could he take care of the child of a useless robber who had done such horror? It didn’t matter. He was going to kill that child. He went to the hut where Dedoo was putting up. She went out to get something. In that little time, he mixed some poison in water and gave it to the baby. The baby looked into his eyes and chuckled. He shuddered. When she returned, he told her he was leaving to the city to tell their parents of their result. He stood up to leave immediately. She told him to stay a while so that the both of them would go together but he declined.
“I want to get to them as soon as possible and let them know what has happened. Perhaps they would be happy now.”
She did not particularly want to travel with him and so, didn’t argue further. She gave him a note.
“She told me to give it to you in case anything happened.”
He opened it. The message was in lines – a poem. It was just like the Adamma of old. She usually wrote him poems. One thing he had come to know was that she never wrote a poem out of boredom like many people would. It was always a strong message. Convenient to keep it till now:
It simply spoke of one man, never there being two to claim her prize. The man came in drunk and took that which tradition refused kin. A fool making half and half bring one as one left for the others to live. There was a P.S which was not so poetic. It simply made him know who it was.
It made sense then sent him senseless.
There were never two men
To claim my prize
The man came in drunk and
Took that which tradition refused kin
A fool making
The half and half
Bring one full
As one leaves that the others should live…”
It made sense, then, sent him senseless…
* * *
28th August, 2010