Abike rushed to her daughter’s bed as soon as they got to the hospital. Hurried mumbling was all that the girl’s teacher, waiting in the passageway, got by way of a greeting.
She hugged Foluke as soon as she saw her, bombarding her with questions she couldn’t hear herself asking.
“Mum, I’m fine,” Foluke said, plastering on a small smile on her face. “Please, don’t worry about me.”
“You scared me.” She tried not to focus on the hospital gown they had put her daughter in or the antibacterial smell that travelled straight to the back of her throat.
“They said you fainted. It’s all my fault, Princess. I shouldn’t have sent you to school.”
“Your daughter is fine,” said the nurse writing in the file beside the girl’s bed. She grinned and after telling them she would page the doctor, she put the file back and walked away.
“I don’t understand then, darling. What happened?”
Wale pointed a finger in her direction. “Madam, abeg stop panicking. Your daughter is fine. Abi, we should be telling the doctors to test your hearing?”
She let her shoulders relax as her daughter laughed with her uncle.
Seeing her daughter chat to them both helped her feel better. So when Wale announced he would be leaving soon, she decided to go to the hospital’s shop to get some chocolates and grapes for her, promising to check with the nurse-in-charge if she could have something to eat.
There was a middle-aged brunette at the nurses’ desk. She had the appearance of someone important on the ward.
The lady’s eyes assessed her when she got closer. It was the sort of assessing eyes she had seen in teachers at the children’s school.
“Are you Folu’s mum?”
“Yes. Can she have some snacks to eat? I know you are still doing your tests but chocolate is fine, right?”
“I’m Doctor Rose, one of the senior clinicians on this ward.” The woman inched her head closer. “Your daughter asked for a specific test when she was brought in.”
“A test? What test?”
“Your daughter asked for a pregnancy test.”
Abike dropped to the floor as soon as she closed the toilet door behind her. She couldn’t remember how she’d found it. But that didn’t seem to matter now because the one thing she wouldn’t be doing soon was rush back to the ward.
How could she face her daughter now?
How could she continue to tell Saheed’s people she had done her best?
She slumped to the floor because her legs couldn’t support her anymore and started to wail.
A sudden soreness had taken residence in the centre of her heart. It throbbed with each breath. The pain didn’t scare her. She knew it would eventually make her crumble and for once in her life, dying didn’t worry her. At least, this feeling of helplessness would disappear as death’s fog cloaked.
She felt the baby kicking. The kicks didn’t hurt but they were strong; reminding her that it was the man that she’d chosen who had committed this crime against her family.
A part of that man now existed within her. Living in her but existing. How would she love this baby knowing its father hurt her own daughter?
They chose not to find out the sex of their baby at the ultrasound. A decision that meant she hadn’t pictured herself with either a boy or a girl. The children had suggested they call it ‘The Baby’. So she called her swollen belly ‘The Baby’, as if it belonged to someone else. Something she now wished for desperately.
The thought of her daughter carrying her husband’s child even for a second filled her mouth with raw bile.
This was what gave her the strength she needed to get off the floor. Something had to be done. Abike wiped her tears and begged her heart not to give up on the way back to the ward.