On this Sunday
“Lift up your hearts…”
“We have raised them up to the LORD.” And we all stood. (She too stood, but sat in a few seconds holding her head in pain and shivering visibly)…in less than a minute, she fainted. Two ladies, (Mimmo and Nkatha) seated next to her carried her out. From the back, I was hoping some gentlemen would rise to the unspoken call for help, but no one. NO ONE! They all turned their heads and looked at her with their sunken large eyes. But what do you expect anyway, ladies are stripped publicly and the best that men can do nowadays is take video clips, such level of ignominy. Extremely disappointed, I rushed out to help. The doctor came, said it was a simple case of shortage of blood supply to the brain. For first aid he said, “Position person on back with head on lower ground, loosen constrictive clothing; check airway to make sure it’s clear…” We did that, and she was back on her feet. They all opted to go back and catch the last bit of the service, I chose to keep her company and hear her story. Her name: Teresia. Second year module 1. (In reality, my classmate who deferred two years of study), Equity pre-university scholar and a mother of one.
“I was expectant when I joined the University, I did not know! I had just fallen out with my then boyfriend, he was a village boy with minimal education, but I loved him, I really did. Two weeks into first year, I realized I was pregnant. I went back home and told him. I saw him change into a monster…Look here, you and I break up, you go to campus, meet young campus boys, we haven’t talked since, and here you are telling me you are expecting my child, wow! (He then laughed mockingly for a long time)…. He said he had brains and could tell through a lying fool, he wasn’t responsible. That was it, he would not pick my calls, he did not want to see me anymore. My brothers quit school in primary school when Mom passed away, I was their only hope. My dad remarried, we have zero contact. She fights back tears successfully.
Abortion was not an option for me. Motherhood is a noble calling. But what would people say? Would Equity bank withdraw my sponsorship? Would my baby be healthy? Money? Too many questions, too many worries. Obviously I had failed my brothers. I wished Mom was alive; I missed someone to talk to who would understand what I was going through. I had made a mistake, yes, but abruptly all what I had achieved through the years was forgotten. 9 months of turning heads on roads and tolerating criticism from fanatics was not going to be easy. After leaving school, I resolved to farming in our small piece of land, fetched water every day to ‘irrigate’ the vegetables and personally went round begging people to buy them. It was really hard. I feared for my unborn child. Before birth, every expectant mother prays for a healthy baby, it doesn’t cross their mind that the baby might be deformed or have complications. No mother hopes for a baby with special needs. I was lucky, despite skipping numerous clinic appointments; my baby came strong and healthy. Equity bank came in handy, they allowed me to work again and save for my fees and baby’s needs.
Being a young single mom completely transformed my life. I no longer think of my life as my own, I work for my baby; I make numerous sacrifices to make sure they have what I missed as a child. People look at you differently when they know that you have a child. The reaction is even worse when they realize that the father is no longer in your life. Some will call you a whore to your face; some will ask why you couldn’t keep a man. We go through this all the time. (She shrugs her shoulders at this). It feels like having a man in your life constantly by your side is the true measure of a moral woman. Before I consider re dating, I put the comfort of my child first. I can only marry a man who will truly love and accept my child. It is never about me when my child is at stake…”
I listen to her story through to the end, full of mixed emotions. It is sad. Sincerely, I am one of those people who think that there is no such thing as an unplanned pregnancy in this day and age. I would never understand anyone who told me that it just happened. HOW?? It did not just happen, you had a choice and YOU had the final word after all. Not anymore …
Today, I look at young single mothers differently. They are heroines, they chose life over reputation, they live their lives for another, and they probably went through worse break ups. Nights of begging the man to stay for the sake of the child and hoping for one happy family someday. The many nights they would not understand why he did not want them back and what they lacked as women. Constantly being unsure whether or not they were still beautiful and putting up with nasty remarks from hypocrites. For all the days they were pinned down by life but they refused to give up, finally, defying all odds to make it, and eventually finding their way up despite all the torment… I have tremendous respect for such women.