The story of a young woman who gets pregnant after a long wait and experiences, and the events leading to her delivery.
“My child, do you need more of the orange juice?”
Jane smiled, but felt like crying; tears of joy.
“No ma. I’m yet to finish the one you just poured. Thanks.” Jane politely declined with a smile.
“What about some pineapples?” The elderly woman persisted.
“I am full already, I’ll have some later. Thanks ma,” Jane replied.
“Okay my dear. And I’ve told you several times, you can call me mom.”
Jane nodded and smiled again.
Miracles do happen indeed, Jane thought to herself. Her mother in – law referring to her as ‘my dear’ was nothing short of a miracle considering the relationship they had in the past. When she told her she could start calling her mom two days ago, she pinched herself.
“How do you feel now? Do you still feel weak?”
“Not really, thank God,” Jane replied, rubbing her rounded belly.
Jane picked up her bible as her mother in – law settled into the sofa and picking up the remote control from the stool flicked through several stations till she got to Jane’s favourite —TBN; a gospel channel. On the little stool beside the sofa Jane reclined, sat a bottle of anointed olive oil which was given to her by an elder in the church to help pursue evil spirits that may rise to harm the baby in her womb.
Jane was not the extremely religious type, but in the past few years, she had worshiped in many denominations of the Christian faith— The Roman Catholic, The Anglican communion, The Deeper Life, The Christ Embassy, The Cherubim and Seraphim… the list continues: she believed one had to seek God earnestly in times of need as you never could tell for a fact the exact denomination where he was really based. When she was growing up, God was in The Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witness. But when her father threatened to get a new wife to bear him sons, her mother started seeking seriously for God in various churches: her mother became obsessed with finding God, or rather, bearing a male child that she forgot all about her six daughters. She later found God in a new age ministry: “The God that gives offspring ministries”. She gave birth to twin boys who looked like the minister in charge of the ministry. Her father sent her mother packing. He later married a new young wife. The new wife never gave him a male child, but she added four females to the flock of daughters.
Jane in her quest for a baby—baby of any sex, had started seeking God like her mother did, but she was careful in the way she went about it. She didn’t want a baby that will be subject to controversy. She had managed to convince her husband to come along with her on most of her religious trips— something some people would call ‘church whoring’.
Ifeanyi vehemently refused to continue with the religious trips after the Uzoakoli deliverance trip incident. Her friend, Angela, was confident that the woman of God at Uzoakoli would be the final bus stop to her baby quest. It was said she could hear God clearly; that God spoke to her in human tongue and not in parables or spiritual tongues. She was known as a Davidess; a female version of the biblical King David known as the man after God’s own heart.
Jane had managed to convince her husband to take a leave from work to enable them travel to Uzoakoli, Abia state. They were pretty desperate at that stage, so Ifeanyi her dearest husband obliged her. They packed up a little bag and bade Enugu bye.
The woman of God received them well and told them where they travelled from and why they came.
They were impressed.
She proposed a three day prayer and deliverance program to enable them deal with the demons at work in their lives ruthlessly and thoroughly.
They were impressed again, but they feared it would be impossible to stay away from their Jobs that long; Ifeanyi works in a bank and the bank’s working policy had no space for such freewill decisions; he was lucky enough to have been granted a day off. They explained the unfortunate circumstances to the woman of God.
The woman of God wasn’t impressed.
They had pleaded with her, and she considered them on the condition they forge an all night spiritual battle to attack, overcome and retrieve all the devil has stolen. She gave them a room to rest after a tiring journey in preparation of a more tiring one that lay before them later in the night.
12:00am that night, the woman of God had roused them up for the battle. They sang and danced to weird songs composed by the woman. She made them join her in the awkward dance steps—like people possessed by a force—like junkies basking in the glory of ecstasy. By 4:00am, the woman of God announced that the war was at the climax stage, and then asked them to rid themselves of their clothing and lay face down to the floor.
‘What?’ They both asked in unison, shock etched strongly on their tired faces.
The woman of God stopped dancing, looked at them and smiled. The effect of the smile didn’t exceed the parting of her lips. Her eyes were left out. She turned her head slowly, from side to side. Then she fixed her eyes on them with a pitiful expression.
“Are you questioning divine authority?” She asked.
“I think I am through with you—” she started.
Jane looked up to meet her husband’s gaze which showed his disapproval. She mouthed a silent plea accompanied by teary eyes. He reached out for her hand and gave it a strong squeeze.
“Thank you,” She whispered.
“I Love you,” He whispered.
Jane proceeded to lift her nightgown over her head. Ifeanyi with tears dancing around his eyelids joined in the striping, slowly unbuttoning his pajamas shirt. Completely undressed, Jane looked into his eyes and seeing the pain in there, let her tears flow freely; as Ifeanyi saw the tears trickling down her face, he looked away and continued undressing. He didn’t want her to see him crying.
The woman of God produced two bundles of broom which she immersed into palm oil and then went on to flog them on their backs while she chanted and danced her frenzy dances. She occasionally quoted what appeared to be a seriously edited verse from the Bible—Matthew 11:12: “from the days of John Baptist, the Children of God suffered violence and lost their blessings to the hand of the demons; and through violence are we— the children of God, taking back our blessings…”
Ifeanyi had held Jane in his arms through the remaining hours of the morning till daybreak. They dressed without a word, paid the woman her dues and left for Enugu.
They had travelled the whole way in silence; deafening silence…
Jane shuddered and felt the hair on her body stand erect as she called her thoughts back to order.
Ifeanyi assured her of his love for her after that incident and promised her undying loyalty all his days—Child or no child.
Ifeanyi kept to that promise, being her strength at all times; even when his mother terrorized them.
Ifeanyi’s mother had become a regular visitor to their home after she lost her husband, Ifeanyi’s father. They accepted her whenever she came around and tried their best to help her deal with her grief. They had hoped her constant visits and their contributions to alleviating her grief would help bridge the tear in the family bond and maybe she would begin to show Jane a little love and desist from taunting her on issues pertaining to her inability to conceive.
She had gotten worse instead, but Jane was patient and endured the scathing remarks excusing her mother in– law’s attitude; she believed the poor woman was having a hard time accepting her loss. Her husband was all she had to herself after Ifeanyi got married…
Jane endured constant hell from Ifeanyi’s mother— hell that got hotter per second.
Few months ago, she had felt what seemed like malaria symptoms despite having taken anti-malarial medications before then. So she went over to the hospital for checkup.
“You are positive. Congratulations.”
“What? How do you mean doctor?” She had asked; bursting with excitement but not wanting to get ahead of herself.
“You are three weeks pregnant,” the smiling doctor explained.
Jane screamed and almost jumped the doctor down in an effort to hug him.
“Finally!” She screamed.
Then she closed her eyes and let the tears flow………
Thinking back made Jane smile considering how bad things were once upon a time; her mother in –law now pampered and treated her like an egg—a golden egg.
She rubbed her protruded belly and smiled. Very soon, she would be a mother—A proud mother. After 10 years of marriage. Taking a sip from the glass of orange juice her mother in law served her, she smiled and closed her eyes to sleep.
* * *
Ifeanyi panted up and down across the hospital’s waiting hall. His mother sat down on a seat watching him, she then brought out her catholic rosary beads and started making a silent prayer for her first grandchild……
Meanwhile in the delivery room, the nurses and doctor encouraged Jane to exert more force in pushing.
“Mrs. Okoro, I can see the crown. Push harder.”
And Mrs. Jane Okoro pushed as hard as she could. Few minutes later, Jane was done pushing.
“It’s here. Congratulations!” The doctor announced.
A tired sweating Jane relaxed and let out short slow breaths.
“It’s a boy!” A nurse announced with smiles on her face.
Jane smiled as a nurse gently squeezed her shoulders congratulation. The delivery room became silent that one could hear a pin drop—the baby was yet to cry. A nurse held the baby up and spanked him lightly on his behind.
The light spank was met with silence.
The doctor took the baby from the nurse and spanked him.
The doctor then peered closely and checked for vital signs.
“Stillbirth.” He announced in a cold professional tone.
The nurses tried to console Jane but she shook her head and thanked them; she wanted to be left alone.
Jane cried, but felt like smiling—she was a woman after all; she could conceive and grow a baby. Her dead baby was proof of that.
She smiled bitterly, and then she cried and cried and cried.