Telling Chima

Nkechi gazed at the paper in her hands with a mixture of joy and trepidation. For ages she had waited to see these words. It was exhilarating and yet terrifying. Two days after she missed her period she had bought a pregnancy test kit from a pharmacy near the market. Rex pharmacy was just down the street, but she hadn’t gone there. No. She had deliberately chosen a drug store where she was not known. Then she had waited until her husband left for work before she stole into the bathroom as though a camera watched her move to urinate into an empty Vaseline container that had been washed again and again. She dipped the strip into the urine and with her stopwatch proceeded to wait the recommended thirty seconds. Her heart raced with the passing seconds, but before she could collapse with anxiety, two lines appeared telling her she was pregnant.  To be absolutely certain, she had gone to the hospital where blood was taken and after an hour she was given the paper she now had in her hands.

She took her time about making lunch. Thick egusi soup with cow leg, shaki, dry fish and stock fish just the way her husband liked it with pounded yam. Next she took her bath, put on a dress, and splashed a bit of perfume behind her ears.

He came in a little after 6:00 pm. “Something smells good,” he said with a grin. “And someone smells good, too,” he added as a whiff of perfume went to his nose when she gave him a hug.

“I’ve run your bath, why don’t you freshen up while I serve dinner?”

“Dinner smells good. I think I’ll just eat first,” he said, going straight to the table.

Nkechi served dinner on her best plates.

“What are we celebrating? he asked the moment his eyes fell on the tray.

“Why not eat first?”

“I can’t. Curiosity won’t allow me to enjoy the food. Come on, tell me.”

“I’m pregnant.”

“Ehn?”

“Here,” she said as she dug out the laboratory report from her pocket. She held it out to him with a smile on her face.

“Is it mine?”

The question remained unanswered and her outstretched hand fell as a defeated look came to his face. He shifted back his chair and stood up.

“What?” she asked, drawing out the question. “We agreed.”

“No, we didn’t,” he said.

Nkechi stood up angrily. “We talked about this the day we came back from the hospital.”

“We talked about it and you suggested it but I never agreed.”

She frowned, confused now. “You didn’t agree initially, but when I pushed further, you agreed.”

“I never said yes.”

“You didn’t say no either.”

“And you thought my silence was a yes?”

“Well…yes.”

“Then you should have known better,” he said, leaving the table.

Nkechi followed close to his heels. “You really expected me to stay childless because you can’t father a child? If the situation had been reversed, you would have married a second wife.”

“Then you don’t know me.”

“You can say that now.”

“Do you know how it feels for me to know you have been with another man. If you thought I agreed why didn’t you tell me when you found someone?”

“I wanted to spare you the pain.”

“Well, you failed,” he replied.

“Come on, Chima, this is the way of our people. Our people don’t approve of adoption.”

Chima turned back angrily, grasped her shoulders and shook her. “I am not our people, I am Chima.” He let go of her and stormed off into the bedroom.

Nkechi heard things falling and being kicked, but she remained where he had left her.

Finally, the bedroom went silent.

Nkechi walked softly into the bedroom. “Chima…,” she called to him quietly. He lay face down on the bed.

“Chima?”

“Who was he?” he asked, raising his head from the pillow.

“He was nobody. Nobody you know. He is out of our lives.”

“He is not out of our lives if his baby lives inside you.”

“This could be our baby. It will only be his baby if you allow it.” She sat on the foot of the bed and gently touched his leg. “Please don’t make this worse than it is. It was nothing but business. He doesn’t matter.”

“You don’t understand.”

“I think I understand that it makes you feel less of a man.”

“And you made it worse by sneaking behind my back.”

“I thought you understood that I wanted this. I want to go through pregnancy and childbirth. If I can, why shouldn’t I? It could have been the other way round.”

“If it had been, I would never have gone behind your back.”

They sat like that for a long time. After a while he stood up and went to the wardrobe. She watched him bring out some of his clothes.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “Where are you going?”

He continued to go through his clothes.

“What are you going to tell people when they ask you?”

“I am merely moving into the guest room and don’t think for a second that if I wanted to move out the opinion of people would stop me.”

“You know all I did to get this pregnancy before having to do this,” she said.

Four years of trying for pregnancy had taken its toll on them, but Nkechi had borne the brunt of it. Orthodox and herbal drugs had been taken. Churches and prayer homes had been visited. Ritual baths and midnight incantations, fasting, and feasts. Someone only had to recommend a place, the next moment she would be there. It had gone on and on until now.

Chima stopped at the door, then left the room as Nkechi watched. There was still opportunity for him to turn him around, she thought, holding her hand to her abdomen.

 

___________________

 

Nwamaka Osakwe



58 thoughts on “Telling Chima” by osakwe (@osakwe)

  1. Well, Im very Nigerian, and my take is,THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL STORY!!! We see this happening every time and like Nkechi said, when the tables are turned the guys usually take off to get their babies from wherever…Chima seems a decent guy though, and I get the feeling they’ll work things out. Big kudos on this one Osakwe, keep the stories coming.

    1. That’s not true and that’s not fair.

      Dang. I hate it when people generalize.

    2. My feeling too was that they would work things out. It must have been very painful for him though. There are few things more painful than betrayal. infact I can’t think of one right now.

  2. Well. Seems to me she’d already made up her mind to have the baby whether he approved or not. What the heck? She took his silence for a yes…on such a sensitive issue?!?! I mean..if she had any regard for him…this is not some dry-run-in-the-freaking-park we’re talking about here…we’re talking about raising another man’s child!

    For crying out loud…what if the dude comes back?

    Far as I’m concerned…she did not consider his feelings…she was very selfish. ‘nothing matters as long as I have a child’. Then she don’t love him. End the marriage. Finish.

    Shaking my pissed-off head.

    Your story is wonderful jaree…I like the way you drew us in without letting us know just how much of a big deal her bele would be.

    Well done.

    1. @seun i am with you jare. how can you take my honeypot to someone else just like that. persin go die

      1. Speak for us man-kind, my broda. Which kain ting be dat? No way Chima will chill with dat type of behavior on Nkechi’s part. 2 strikes already: adultery and pregnancy without husband’s consent. Abeg…

        I understand if Chima is upset. He no good what Nkechi did.

        Good yarn, Osakwe.

  3. @Seun…Haba cool it na. You noticed I said Chima seems to be a decent guy. I wasn’t implying that all guys are bad o..I said most times the guys react that way. If she didn’t love him, she wouldn’t have made all those rounds of churches and babalawo thing. So sorry If you thought my remarks were insensitive…

  4. i loved the story…and the guy should please take a chill pill biko!!! she stayed with him didn’t she? In this country, if it was the other way round, most men would be out of the marriage faster than spit dries in the Sahara!!!

    1. He should ‘take a chill pill’. Really.

      So…what she did is okay. Abi?

      No yawa.

      1. errr…was it right? maybe not… did he proffer another solution? no…so really she just saved him a lot of shame…he should take a chill pill!!!

        1. ….Maybe not? Hmm….Insight….God abeg make we no fall enter this situation abeg oh!

  5. well the story is good but the girl must be damned stupid to go and do it behind his back. how could she say she took his silence for acceptance. she is a damned fool.

    i have a question though. what happened to artificial insemination abi sperm donors don finish for town?

    well they should have contacted @seun for deliverance before going to that extent *lol*

    1. Ehm…alagba ijo…abeg na which Seun be that one o? Abeg give me im contact…I get some runs for am.

      1. the same @seun wey we get for NS noni.

  6. Lovely story, but very, very sensitive too…She shouldn’t have taken his silence to mean consent and like someone else already mentioned there’s also the option of artificial insemination….you wrote it very well too, apart from the one thing I think should be written differently : “Nkechi followed close to his heels”, should be “Nkechi followed closely at his heels”

    1. I think she didn’t want to give him an opportunity to refuse. thanks for the correction.

  7. Lovely and sensitive piece. Well my take? I think the lady should be thoroughly investigated. There’s more to her than Chima knows.

  8. Very touching. Nice attempt, keep writing, you have a good start.

    1. Thank you. I got the idea from a school project.

  9. Hmmm…Seun…impatient, funny and explosive guy.

    Hmmm.

    1. Hmm…na only me you describe with all those adjectives?

      Allow me add one more…’darn good looking’!

      1. behind dat mask, abi?

  10. Correction:

    “She took her time about making lunch. Thick egusi soup with cow leg, shaki, dry fish and stock fish just the way her husband liked it with pounded yam. Next she took her bath, put on a dress, and splashed a bit of perfume behind her ears.”

    Would a woman who is at an early stage of pregnancy (her first one at that after several attempts) risk it by pounding yam? Take another look babes. Unless we talking ‘poundo yam’ here.

    I choose not to drawn into the other issues generating a hot debate here.

    1. yeah, didn’t think of that. should have used semo. Women do pound yam during the first stage though but i don’t think anyone would do that for a long sought pregnancy

    2. @shai women with a history of miscarriages do pound yam. the pounding is no big deal, it works for me.

      she is elated and could do anything for her husband

  11. Really nice story Osakwe.I didn’t expect the twist.I agree with Xikay that they could have chosen artificial insemination.She shouldn’t have gone behind his back,especially considering that she could have gotten sick and transmit it to him or to the child.Also I don’t see how a man could raise another man’s kid without having agreed on it first.His ego would be bruised irreparably. Trust has been broken and it is the most important in marriage.Without trust,there is no bond. Resentment is surely going to build which will destroy the relationship with his wife and probably damage the one with the kid too.
    However it was widely accepted before that a man could leave his wife if she couldn’t bear children and nobody would care to find out whose responsibility it was.I believe that some men would still walk away from a childless marriage in today’s time but I wouldn’t generalize.

    1. artificial insemination is an opportunity now available but let us not forget the cost. how many people can afford it? maybe I should have brought out the issue of affordability of these technologies. Also artificial insemination only works if the man has viable sperms and sometimes there is none in which case a donor is sought. there is really so much involved in these techniques but the greatest restraint is cost.
      I agree with you that there are men who will remain in a childless marriage no matter what

      1. i can arrange ARTIFICIAL artificial insemination in my own bedroom

            1. @Xikay… hey, Xikay next time you go tell us say if woman shake your hand she go get belle abi?

        1. HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

  12. This clearly depicts the agony and trials of a childless woman. She can do anything within her reach, though very few of them follow the path of adultery. No matter how you look at it, she has soiled the marriage bed. It also points out that we shouldn’t go with the silent consent or refusal. God gave us mouths so we should use it to say a loud yes or no. never think the other person should know what is on your mind. Some people don’t give a verbal consent because they want you to do what is on your mind. but the woman dey over worry herself shaa. She is just 4 yrs without a child n she is that desperate. One of my aunty was childless for 16 years before she got her son from her husband.I know she went thru hell but she survived it. Like Igwe said, she should be investigated.
    I love Chima. He wanted to be his own man even under the circumstances. He is the kind of man that would stand by his wife come what may. @Shai, pounding yam is the least of a pregnant woman’s wahala. Good story.

  13. @ Ada remember in this case a diagnosis had been made and there was a problem. back in school i did a study on infertility and people in the villages i did the study told me outrightly that if a man is unable to impregnate a woman the wife is expected to go out. sometimes the man even makes the arrangement. my mother even told me they used to have ‘natural sperm donors’. As for whether it happens, it does. Artificial insemination, IVF and HIV has reduced this greatly. i know a case of a woman in the late 90’s/early 2000 whose father in law told her “we want a child. anyhow you want to do it we don’t care just give us a child.” her husband was sterile and it seemed he had told his parents

  14. I wonder why you felt the need to tell us this was published in a foreign magazine? And what was their own take on it if I may ask? That piece of news has actually left a bad taste in my mouth as if you want to compare my reaction to that of oyinbos and judge me.

  15. @Myne…no vex my sister…you know old habits die hard…..we keep learning daily.

  16. @ myne whitman sorry you took it that way. some things that we understand that goes on here is a novel experience for them and so its easy for them to be intruiged by it. For us who might have heard such things before i wondered if we would consider the plot interesting enough. why did it bother you so much? besides i didn’t want to be accused of plagiarism since i didn’t know if NS checks for such things. you sure took it the wrong way

    1. I probably did, but surely you could’ve achieved that by putting a link?

      Not that it bothers me per se, but when people say things like foreign compared to Nigerian take, it’s as if one set is human and the other is not.

      Wives or husbands betraying each other is a universal theme if you ask me, the writer only has to stay true to their own experience and write in a way everyone will feel their story.

      Keep writing.

      1. it was a print mag not online. I positively agonized over it before I added it and I only did it because I had it flagged as a plagiarized work recently.

        I hope to keep writing. I have always written for fun but this year I decided to venture out and its great!

  17. Nice depiction of a sensitive issue. See d debate wey U start here already, hehehe…

  18. No be small thing. some people don even forget say na fiction.

    1. You should be happy that your story feels real enough to generate this kind of debate. Hmm. Okay o.

      1. I concur. Its an engaging story and also an expose into the plights of a family searching for a child to call theirs.

  19. For me,That would be the end of the marriage. If not the end of ‘certain’ lives.

    1. I feel you my brother.

  20. I loved the spin on the story…didnt see that coming but I gotta ask:
    A) if Chima is Nigerian, do u not see his reaction a bit too docile? men cannot take that lightly…and then, he moved into the guest room…he moved…I don’t see that happening. I see him asking the woman to move…this is Naija
    B) She slept with a man and Chima’s just…not even screaming down the heavens to know who that is?
    I think that you would have gotten a great review from the foreign press…they love to see and hear the the depraved about Africa. I go with Myne Whitman on this…

    1. my writing was based on a study i did in 2005 on infertility. men told me outrightly that if a man was sterile his wife was expected to go out. I know of a woman whose father in law told her to get a child from anywhere. IVF has changed a lot of things but don’t forget that many people cannot afford it. these things happen.
      Not all men scream but don’t take all docility as weakness. Besides she was counting on his not wanting people to know he was sterile.
      Please drop the foreign thing I already explained why I put it. it was a small print mag. No reviews okay

      1. @ Osakwe…foreign thing dropped!

  21. Sad situation but she should not have gone ahead and done it all without discussing it fully with him. I mean this is an important change that will affect all their lives and its not something trivial like grocery list.

  22. Osakwe,

    This was a straightforward, easily readable story. I would have liked a tighter resolution – we know Chima isn’t happy, but it’s not obvious what he’s going to do.

    1. yeah, that was the idea. sometimes the short story leaves you with questions. at this point Chima doesn’t even know what he’s going to do.

  23. Wow, lovely story. The lady’s head dey there jare, if she’s the one in the man’s situation he for don marry another wife dts if his ‘family members’ don’t kill her with humiliation and marry ‘fertile village’ wife for him and let nobody tell me not all men are lyk that bcos nothing is not as important to a man as having someone to ‘carry’ his family name after he’s dead. Even those dt pretend to be faithful on the basis of loving their wives for better for worse still go out nd mess up, they just don’t marry the ‘mother’ of their babies.Xcept for decent pastors sha…Nice work @osakwe. Now I’m too intimidated to write. (LOL)

    1. For wetin, my sis write o. Nobody else will tell the stories you want to tell the way you want to tell it. We all get better by writing, writing, writing and of course reading, reading, reading.
      @Bibbie thanks for reading and commenting on this old post of mine.
      Like I said earlier I am waiting to read your next post.

  24. Great story. With all the shout about the woman’s infidelity, if the tables were turned, nobody will advice her to move out o. It would be “At least he didn’t throw you out” or “Pray, ehn, pray.” I think more than just highlighting the plight of barren couples, you opened an avenue for us to see clearly the stark differences btw society’s expectations from men and that from women. As I said, great story.

  25. @osakwe
    reading belatedly but finding it belatedly interesting………….

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