It was 3 months to THE wedding.”There will be no wedding.” The words rang out loudly in her head,words from the woman she should have been calling “mother-in-law in a couple of months. Words that meant there would be no future for her with the man she had loved so deeply for four years,the man she wanted to grow old with,the man whose baby she was carrying .No,this must be a dream,some horrible night mare from which she had to wake. The sudden pain in her head told her plainly that this was no dream.
Onome hurried along,casting several glances about her as she clutched the little bundle. It was a cold night and the moon shone brightly. She was determined to find a suitable spot to deposit the 3 weeks old baby girl. This was the second time she had to have a baby out of wedlock. The first was a boy who was now five years old. She was determined that Life was not going to end because she had become pregnant again and nothing,not even the baby would stop her from picking up from where she stopped. After what seemed like an endless walk,Onome stopped in front of a carpenter’s shed and carefully placed the baby who was still fast asleep in a little wooden box .Casting one last look around,she hurried away.
Onome was a perfect picture of elegance,one that could turn the head of a statue. She had grown up being aware of the fact that she was one to be described as drop dead gorgeous. Being an only child raised by a single mum who had practically pampered her from birth,she was as free as the wind to do as she chose. Her good looks always got her an extra slice of cake from the opposite sex,the extra slice of cake which eventually earned her the 9 month trip. At 18,she had a son. That didn’t dampen her wild life style and at 20,she was back again on the ante natal journey;a journey which she had put to an abrupt end with a badly done abortion that almost cost her life. One would think she would turn a new leaf after her gory experience rather at 22,she got pregnant again. With a badly done abortion 2 years before,she had to have the baby. Leaving her son with her mum,she had gone off to a friend’s,away from home and away from her town where she had become well known to have the baby.
“I just have to do this and get on with my life.” Onome told her self over and over again as she hurried back home. She had made up her mind to complete her education and another baby would be a very bad idea. For some strange reason,she left a mark right on the baby’s forehead. Not like she planned to go in search of her some day. With the bundle behind her, Onome did all she could to shut out the feelings of guilt that suddenly swept through her. She tried to justify her actions with the excuse that the baby deserved a better mum. Well,now I can forget yesterday and face a new tomorrow,she thought as she got home and shut the door behind her.
Her world had just crashed right before her eyes. The wedding they were eagerly looking forward to was never going to take place. She had been beside herself with joy about the wedding. Finally,her son would be getting married. She was determined to love whoever he would bring as wife like her own daughter. She was also doubly excited to know that she was carrying her grand child already. Something deep down her wanted to atone for the sins of yesterday. The agony of her childless marriage was untold,a marriage she eventually lost after 15 years of pain. Her son Charles was all the joy she had left and seeing him getting married was such a delight. Charles couldn’t stop talking about Grace,the girl he had met while in Aberdeen for his Masters degree. She was kind,intelligent,beautiful,mod -est and the very perfect picture of a wife.”Mum,she actually looks like you in a way”Charles remarked every now and then.
Mrs Onome Nwabueze stopped as a wave of panic surged through her entire being as Charles walked into the living room with the very beautiful Grace. She just could not place a finger on the cause of this sudden panic.
“Mum,meet Grace,Grace,my mum”
“Good evening ma’m”
His mum seemed dazed and didn’t respond to the greeting,rather she just starred at Grace.
“Mum,is every thing okay?”Tugging at her hand gently,he jolted her back to reality.
“Oh!Its N..nothing. I was just taken aback by my future daughter in-law’s grace and carriage. You’re most welcome dear. Do make your self comfortable”.Still visibly shaken,she turned around and collapsed. Panic struck as Charles and Grace tried to revive her.
The scar on Grace’s forehead told the whole story. This just couldn’t be coincidence. She had dumped a baby on a cold night 25 years ago and here was her son introducing a 25year old lady who strikingly looked like her with that scar right where she had made a mark on her baby.
Grace’s parents arrived two hours after Mrs Nwabueze regained consciousness. Seeing them was the very first request she made as soon as she could bring herself to speak.
“There will be no wedding.” The first few words she would say as soon as Grace’s parents took their seats beside her hit them like a thunder bolt. Still very puzzled,Grace,Charles and Grace’s parents starred at her,wondering what all the sudden drama was about.
“I need you to tell me everything ,every tiny detail about your daughter Grace especially the circumstances surrounding her birth”
Still wondering what all this was about, Grace’s mum didn’t hesitate to tell her very remarkable tale. 25 years ago they had picked up a 3 weeks old baby girl from a carpenters shed one fateful morning in their home town. They had visited for a friend’s wine carrying ceremony when they came across the kind hearted carpenter who had given them directions on the day they arrived. Stopping by at the carpenter’s shop to thank him for his help the previous day,they had met him with an infant he found early hours of the day. He had 5 children to care for and they barely got by with his carpentry and his wife’s petty trade. Fate must have smiled down on them after 8 years of being childless. They decided to take the child and raise her as their own when none of the villagers could trace the roots of the baby. Her mother had disappeared without a trace. Grace proved to be a God sent as her adopted mother conceived a year later and had a set of twin baby boys. A lovely daughter followed 2 years later. Their joy knew no bounds and they determined to give Grace the very best of education and a good life for bringing so much joy to them.
Then painfully,very painfully Mrs Nwabueze narrated the events of her life that had led her to abandoning a 3 weeks old baby girl 25years ago in a Carpenter’s shed. There were no further questions.
A dazed Charles stood up and walked out of the room as his mum concluded her tale. Grace was his sister and was carrying his baby,their baby. Grace trembled all over as her parents sat in silence,shocked at the implications of the discovery. Suddenly,the house maid screamed.
Grace,her parents and Mrs Nwabueze rushed out to the guest room where the screams had come from. A shocking sight met their gaze. Charles lay still in a pool of his own blood with a knife protruding from his chest. Grace collapsed into the arms of her bewildered parents. Charles’ mum suddenly broke into hysteric laughter at the sight,laughter which was suddenly replaced by a piercing scream.
Onome woke up still screaming,drenched in her sweat. Her heart pounded wildly as she reached for her torch light. Her baby lay fast asleep beside her. Lifting her off the bed,she held her close when she realised it was all a dream. Glancing at her wrist watch,she realised it was some minutes past 2am.She had decided to go dump the baby some where and move on with her life. With her mind made up,she decided to take a nap which obviously became more than just a nap. Still visibly shaken, she held her baby close. “No,I won’t do it. I’ll keep her. I know this will be tough but I’ll keep her.” Tears coursed down her face as she said the words over and over again. For the first time she looked closely at her baby and felt love,deep love welling up from deep inside her. I’ll start over again and do it right from here. A deep feeling of peace washed over her as she put her baby back on the bed. Feeling like a weight had been rolled off her shoulders,Onome went back to sleep,this time there were no night mares,no bad dreams but a peaceful sleep that broke into dawn,a brand new dawn.