What it means to be a girl.
“…a man will impregnate you and abscond.”
You stare in shock at him, speechless. You are hurt that he could say such a thing. It wasn’t so much about whether or not you really would get pregnant out of wedlock, but the way he said it as though you are wayward and actually stupid enough to get pregnant and jilted. You think to yourself that he should know you better. That he should know you are too focused on your dreams to get derailed by something as avoidable as the result of an unprotected sex.
**** **** ****
You are a 25-year-old girl hustling to make something of yourself. You have no plans to get married anytime soon, neither do you intend to be pregnant and jilted. You’ve seen the shit that is poverty and unwanted pregnancy, and you don’t want any share in it. The only shares you are interested in are the kind whose dividends are a lot of money, not a child.
You had first told him about your plans to move out and get your own apartment when you got back from your ‘solo tour ’ to 3 states.
“I’ll be 25 officially in a couple of months, and I want to get my own place before then. It’s time to learn to stand on my feet.” You had said to him that morning in January.
He had stared at you for what felt like 15 minutes, but was really less than 5 minutes and said,
“What neighborhood are you looking at?” He had asked.
It had felt strange that he didn’t ask any question of the questions you had expected, and at the same time, it hadn’t because he had never implied that you would never move out until you get married.
“I was thinking any of the villages around. House rent is cheap, and their electricity is stable.”
“Okay. I’ll ask around.” He had said.
You had gone on to plan your move, saving as much as you can so you don’t have to crawl back home, ever. You had imagined the bliss of the quiet that comes with living alone and planned out your life for the first one year of independence. You meet your target savings in March and inform him you are ready.
“Okay. No problem.” He had said. “But first, we will go see Alfa Kamaru”
**** **** **** ****
Alfa Kamaru is your father’s personal prophet, who always sees something ‘negative’ in all of his visions. You had thought you escaped him when your father didn’t mention him the first time you told him of your decision to move out. You cross your fingers and hope that he would see something positive this time.
Your father is religious. Not the kind of religious that abide by all the religious rules, but the type that worships the ground on which his Alfa walks. He had the kind of religiosity that does not allow one to truly live nor take risks but tiptoe around life, overly cautious and waiting for the other shoe to drop. The type that doesn’t take a step, except it was revealed to the Alfa to be safe.
“Be’ni! o’ma pade okunrin kan to ma fun’e loyun, o de ma sa’lo”
“Yes! If you move out now, you’ll meet a man who will get you pregnant and abscond.” Alfa Kamaru says in Yoruba.
Immediately, your father starts to give instances of how accurate Alfa Kamaru’s prophecies were, as well as tell tall tales of the people he knew who didn’t listen to Alfa Kamaru, and the price they paid. You are quiet and just stare at both of them as they corroborated each other’s story. Then you see the glint of triumph in Alfa’s eyes and you know instantly that the vision is a lie.
Being a girl means a lot of things. It means being exempted from hard chores when it has nothing to do with the kitchen. Being made assistant when you deserve to be the captain. Being given special treatment on a queue to board a bus in school. Being passed over for a deserved promotion. Being burdened with the task of keeping the family together. Being invisible, less, and more. Being a girl in this part of the world means a lot of things, and you thought you understood it all, until today.
As they ramble on, you hear the relief in your father’s voice, and you understand that he really wasn’t okay with your plans to move out after all. You wonder briefly if they had planned the fake vision together. You wonder if this would have happened if you were a boy. You doubt he would say something like, “don’t move out yet, because if you do, you’ll impregnate a girl and deny it.”
You smile because you know something they don’t. Something you’ve been keeping a secret because of the possible aftermath. But, you damn all consequences and decide to share it, albeit with a little exaggeration. All you can think about is freeing yourself from the society’s limitation, and opening your father’s eyes to his prophet’s fraud if he wasn’t in on the lie.
“How’s that possible? I…” You begin to say.
“That’s what Alfa Kamaru saw will happen .” Your father cuts in.
“But, it’s not possible daddy!” You snap. “I know for sure I can’t get pregnant.”
“Ki lo so?!” He asked. His voice rising a few decibels.
“I said I can’t ever get pregnant.” You repeat, locking your gaze with the Alfa.
“I was diagnosed with endometriosis during my service year, and it’s so severe, I can never have a child of my own.”
Bio: I don’t know what I’m addicted to more; writing, reading or movie-ing. I’m a microbiologist with an hyperactive mind, and a lot of time on my hands. Hi, I’m Sheedart, and it’s nice to meet you.
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