HALF IS ALL IT TAKES III by
Stella hits me on the shoulder.
‘Stop talking nonsense.’ She says.
‘First thing we should do is actually confirm if you are pregnant. We will go and get one of those P.T stripe things, alright?’ She adds, looking at me as though, expecting a reply. I give a curt nod. She gets on her feet.
‘Oya, get ready. Let us go and buy it.’ She says, with a vigorous wave of her hand, motioning me to stand, which I do. I delve into my wardrobe and pick out a shirt, which I pull over the camisole I have on.
‘Where do we get it?’ I inquire, as we exit the gate to my hostel.
‘Shebi, there’s a drug store some buildings down.’ She replies.
‘Noooo. We’ll find somewhere where no one knows me.’ I tell her. My voice comes out in a near shout.
‘Hia! Is he going to announce that you bought a pregnancy test kit? Do you know how many he sells in a day? This is a student environment, now…’ I clamp my hand over her mouth, but the hum of her voice can still be heard, as she tries to keep talking.
‘Shout it to the whole world, thank you very much.’ I say, sarcastically, my gaze going around to see if any passerby is paying attention.
‘Abegi, leave me joor.’ She says, walking faster. We walk as far away from my hostel as possible till we finally find a drugstore that I consider far enough. Then, we get it and walk back.
We get into my room and Stella pushes me into the bathroom.
‘Be quick.’ She says. I don’t feel like urinating but I go into the bathroom and do my best to squirt out small amounts of urine. I put the stick on the sink and as I move to get out of the bathroom, I kick down a bottle of bleach on the ground. The cork comes off and the liquid rushes out of the bottle like it has been looking for a medium of escape for long. I swear, the elements are conspiring against me, this period. I just got this bleach a few days ago.
‘Mscheew!’ I hiss, picking the bottle and corking it. Only a small amount of liquid remains. I leave the spilled bleach on the ground, to clean up later and step out of the bathroom.
‘Babe, which one be positive again, one stripe, abi two?’ I ask, as I sit on my reading chair, to wait for some minutes.
‘I am not sure o. I have not used it before but e be like say na one. Check the wrapper, now. It will have instructions on it, probably.’ She replies. I go to the bathroom to do as she suggested only to find that the wrapper which I had dropped at a corner of the bathroom has been messed up by bleach. Nothing on it is readable.
‘Ohhhhh, which kind badluck is following me, now.’ I whine, stepping out of the bathroom.
‘What is it?’ Stella asks, without sparing me a glance. Her phone holds her attention.
‘Bleach poured on the wrapper. Everything on it has been wiped.’ I tell her. She snorts.
‘Your village people are doing soft work on your life, right now.’ She says, with a laugh. I give her “the evil eye”, that clearly says, ‘not funny.’
‘No worry sha. E be like say na one stripe.’ She says, still looking into her phone, probably chatting.
After a few minutes, I enter the bathroom and take a peek. It is one stripe. I pick it up, forgetting that I had peed on it just a few minutes ago.
‘Babe, na one line appear o.’ I say, nerves evident in my voice. I push the test stripe towards her, so she can see. She jerks backwards.
‘Get that thing away from me, for Christ’s sake. You just urinated on it!’ She yells, her nose scrunched up, in disgust. That’s when it occurs to me that I am touching my own urine. I drooped the kit on the ground, immediately.
‘It showed one line.’ I say, not loosing sight of the matter at hand.
‘Err, I think that means you are pregnant.’ She says, her eyes wide. I sit on the floor, suddenly too tired to stand.
‘We can go and ask the guy we bought it from, just to be sure.’ She suggests.
‘So, he can get a good look at our faces? No need.’ I reply.
‘Nna eh, you care too much about appearances. That should be the least of your concerns, right now.’ She scolds.
‘I said, no need. The matter is clear at this point.’ I say, my voice rising with each word.
‘Fine. What do you want to do, now?’
‘I don’t know.’ I answer.
‘Just, don’t do anything drastic.’ She warns me.
‘I want to sleep.’ I tell her. She knows, this is code for, “I want to be alone.” She stands and starts to leave.
“See you in school, tomorrow.” She says. As she leaves, I curl up on the ground, pick up my phone and start browsing how to abort a pregnancy, using pills. I do this for hours. Of all the options I see, one seems the best fit. It is an arthritis medicine that can induce uterine contractions, to expel the product of conception.
I sleep off, only to wake up when Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank space’, blares loudly in my ear. I jerk awake and pick up my phone, which is lying very close to my right ear.
‘Hello.’ I answer the call.
‘Babe, strike dey o. ASUU just declare strike this morning.’ Stella informs me from the other end of the line.
‘So, no school now. Good.’ I say.
‘I dey travel now now sha. I just wan tell you, sha. You no go travel?’ She inquires.
‘Hmmm! With my current wahala? I need to stay as far away from home as possible till I decide what to do.’
‘Call Charles and tell him, sha. I will call you later.’ She says, then ends the call.
There is no way I am going home. My mother is suspicious of every little thing. One time, I had been sick and puking all over the place, the first thing my mother had asked me was, ‘when was the last time you saw your period?’
She had taken me to the hospital to get tested. It turned out that I had malaria. Going home is out of the question.
I think about what Stella said about telling Charles. How do you tell someone you didn’t have sex with that you are pregnant for him?
I fret over this for hours. Should I or should I not tell him? I lie down until about 11 a.m, when someone bangs on my door.
When I open the door, my mother is on the other end.
‘Mummy! What are you doing here?’ Surprise and dismay can be heard in my voice.
‘I came to pick you up. I and your father got word about the strike. Are you packed?’ She says, walking into the room. She gives her wrist watch a quick glance. She is obviously in a hurry. She looks like she came from her work place and needs to get back.
‘No.’ I answer her question.
‘Well, then, grab some things, let’s leave. I need to get back to the office.’ She says, sitting on my reading chair.
‘But, I was planning to stay back.’ I say, in a low voice.
‘Stop talking nonsense. You are not staying back here, when school isn’t in session. Pick the things you need. Let’s leave.’ Her voice leaves no room for argument.
Did I forget to mention that my mother is overprotective? Well, she is. She never gives me space. I pack up though, wondering how I will make sure my mother does not notice what has happened to me. You know, women know these things, especially mothers. I just finish packing my personal effects into a handbag when my phone rings. I rush to the bed and pick up my phone, before my mother will be tempted to take a look at my phone. And just in time, too. My mother had moved to touch the phone. It is Charles calling. I try hard not to betray the discomfort I feel answering this call in front of my mother. Not answering would make her suspicious, though.
‘Hello. Good afternoon.’ I answer, trying to sound formal.
‘What is this nonsense I heard this morning?’ He inquires, sounding quite agitated.