My open mouth could not utter anything, not even a scream. This was my own sister, comfortable with dating a man who should be dead, for the good of all mankind. I really wanted to know his jazz man. Something was just not right.
“Ayotunde led a terrible life before. He was the leader of a big gang that went round robbing, raping and killing. He told me all these… even told me about the last operation they had. He miraculously escaped death. The other guys who were with him were shot dead by the police during the chase. It was that day he turned a new leaf. He figured God must have spared him for a reason. I know it is a lot to take in but I have prayed and I have my peace. By the way, sister Nike, how did you quickly know about his past?”
I looked at Ayotunde, realising then that even though Tinuke knew about his past, she did not know yet about the link between me and him.
More interesting was the fact that I never told Tinuke about being raped. I told her about sleeping with Tiwa, told her that he was robbed that night but couldn’t bring myself to mention being violated by the leader of the thieves.
Ayotunde cleared his throat, “I told her. Your sister is quite comfortable to talk with. Her reaction is also expected, every true sister will be concerned.”
At this point, I started sincerely praying that the baby will be for Bode. Tiwa was going to be fine, he just needed to find somebody who would love him and take care of him but that person wasn’t me.
While Tinuke and ayotunde were whispering to each other, a nurse came in with the tray of utensils needed for expressing breast milk. She asked both of them to excuse me and Tinuke used the opportunity to announce their departure. Ayotunde mouthed something I didn’t quite get before he left.
“Nurse please help me tell my friend Siju to come quickly.”
“Is everything okay? Do you need something?”
Yeah, maybe something like a time machine to go back to the past and wipe off just one night.
I smiled at her and assured her that it was nothing serious. Siju came in beaming with smiles. She was carrying a mini travel bag which I guessed contained clothes and some bathroom stuff.
“Your son is so cute and adorable…”
“Sijuade, save that one for later. There is fire on the mountain. Actually, there is fire in my bosom. My village people are not done dealing with me. They brought their A game.”
“Calm down Nike. Take a deep breath. What’s going on?”
“Remember the rapist thief? The one that came to Tiwa’s house that night?”
“Morenikeji…”, Sijuade moved closer to me and held my hand in hers, “have you been having those nightmares again? I thought you told me they stopped already.”
“Yes, they stopped. But… but this isn’t a nightmare. It’s Tinuke’s boyfriend… Ayotunde… he’s the A game of my village people.”
I think it took a full minute for what I said to register in Siju’s head. When it finally did, she stood up, shaking her head, “No now, that can’t be him. Nike please stop this joke. Did you see his face that… Oh dear… You told me he removed his mask… Jesus Christ!!!”
“You see what I mean? You see now?”
Fresh tears gathered in my eyes again. I hadn’t even properly mourned my dead baby, now this. “Siju… I can’t… I just can’t do this this… This is all too much…” I allowed the tears flow uninhibited and they were soon joined by loud sniffling, hiccups and rocking my body back and forth. Siju had come back to my side, hugging me and telling me everything will sort itself out.
“Does Tinuke know?”
I managed to explain the current complicated state of things to Siju who also shared my sentiment that the best thing Ayotunde could do was to break up with Tinuke.
“I mean, does he intend to keep it a secret from Tinuke forever? And when she knows… everything changes. Gosh! What do we do now? Babe, please just do the paternity test as soon as possible.”
I could only nod. My brain could not put any two letters together at that moment.
After about 30 minutes of silence, I spoke up again, “I need to see my son. Can I be taken to him?”
“I’m sure something can be arranged. Let me speak with Dr. Ganiyu.”
About an hour later, I was taken in a wheelchair from my ward to the Intensive Baby Care Unit. I was told to wash my hands and change my footwear before entering the unit. Siju was at my side, supporting me as I walked past all the mothers standing by their babies in the incubators.
What will be my reaction? Who would he look like? Will I still be able to bond with him?
“Nike, we are here. That’s your son.” Siju pointed at the second to the last incubator on the left side of the ward.
Babies are beautiful, cute and endearing. My baby… my son was all this and more. The sight of him was just overwhelming.
Baby, I waited for you for so long. You can’t imagine how long. I know things are quite messy right now but I promise you, it will get better soon. I promise.”
One of the Intensive Care nurses came to explain Kangaroo Mother Care to me. I could see some other women already practicing it and I so longed for it.
“So, nurse, if I get you right, I’d strap my baby skin to skin in front and carry him that way for at least an hour every day?”
“Yes ma, this will help with weight gain, your baby’s development and ease of breastfeeding once the doctor says that you can commence.”
I could barely contain my excitement and for some minutes, I was able to forget all the drama surrounding his conception and birth. This little bundle of joy was mine, all mine.
When I returned to my ward, I requested to speak with Dr. Ganiyu. I asked about getting a paternity test done.
“Mrs. Kuforiji, I am sorry to probe but why do you need one? Your husband is around, right?”
I gave her a blank look before proceeding to request again, “doctor, it is for personal reasons and I’d be testing for three men. I’d get the necessary samples…”
“The three men will have to come to the hospital. We would need to take samples needed by ourselves. Are these three men around?”
I nodded. The many questions Dr. Ganiyu wanted to ask were obvious in the way she tilted her face and rubbed her right palm over her left arm all through our conversation. I wasn’t going to give her any ‘juicy’ details. I just needed a paternity test done.
Why am I even bothering? That baby did not look anything like Bode… Or Tiwa.
When Dr. Ganiyu left, Siju whispered something.
“Siju, please come again, what did you say?”
“Ayotunde is the father, right?”
I nodded. The test was just me trying to hold on to a false strand of hope that what I knew was not true.