Having no choice, I drove into my compound and as I helped her down the car, I occasionally yelled out for my mother. Soon, she appeared but paused when she realized who I had brought home. She was shocked to see me bringing a pregnant mad girl to the house. “Mama, please, don’t just stand there. She’s in labour, you have to help her.”
Hesitantly, my mother helped take Zainab into our living room, reserving her complaints for later. Thankfully, her friend who had come to pay her a visit was still around. Both women got wrappers and laid them on the floor then help Zainab lie down on it. They began to help deliver the baby, telling her when to take in deep breaths and when to push. Zainab kept screaming in pain as she tried to push her baby out then she will stop and complain as tears flowed from her eyes.
“Is pain me… It’s pain me well well… Cut my belle like father Kaka. Cut it and bring baby out now now.” She would beg. My mother turned to look at me at the mention of the priest and without another word, she went back to urging Zainab to push.
After trying to give birth for more than thirty painful minutes, Zainab began to shake her head in tears in surrender. “I no pushing again… It’s pain me too much… I tire well well… I tire o… I no pushing again…”
“Bia Chike.” My mother beckoned me over. “Please you have to beg her to push. If she does not, the baby will die.”
Sitting down and placing Zainab’s head on my lap, I held one of her hands and encouraged her with a small squeeze without a word and as if her strength was renewed, she began to push again. At the fifth hard push and deafening scream of agony, the baby finally popped out of her and Zainab’s head tiredly collapsed back on my lap in great relief. My mother’s friend quickly carried the baby, cleaned it’s face and nostril and smiled as she said: “Jesus be praised! It’s a girl!”
Seeing her baby, Zainab smiled sadly with tears-filled eyes then she looked up at me. “Chike?”
“Baby fine like me, abi?” She asked with a weak smile.
I nodded, trying to keep my tears back. “Yes.”
She nodded in satisfaction and said again. “Call her Zainab. Tell her her mama tire for this world and wan go rest.”
I frowned in confusion. “What are you talking about?” I asked.
She simply smiled again and big tears rolled out of her eyes. “Chike bury me for that building…. Bury me there.”
“No, no, no…” I instantly got on my knees, trying to assure her that she’d be okay but there was nothing I could do. I watched the life slowly leave her body as she lifted a arm and tried to reach for her baby but she couldn’t. Her arm heavily dropped down by her side, indicating that she was dead! “Zainab…” I tried to wake her but she was still. “Zainab!” I called again but no response. Just now, I realised how awfully thin she had grown. Perhaps she had only stayed alive this long for her baby and now that she had put to bed, she had concluded that her work was done. “Zainab!” I lifted her upper body and desperately shook her but when my mother placed a consoling arm on my shoulder, the truth finally dawned on me. Helplessly, I let her go and slumped on my ass with my knees up and my hands on my temples as I stared at her lifeless body in disbelief. Zainab was gone! My Zainab was truly gone!
The baby began to cry while my mother’s friend tried to pet her. I was too shock to do or say anything. Only tears ran down my cheek. Anyway, I obeyed Zainab’s wish, I buried her in the land of the uncompleted building but not after running an autopsy on her. The autopsy result revealed that during Zainab’s last pregnancy, one of her kidneys were harvested by whoever had cut her open to bring out her baby and that was why she had grown so lean since the other kidney began to get infected by her poor hygeine. It was only the grace of God and my mother that stopped me from going after Kalu. I wanted to bash his head in with my car jack.
I adopted little Zainab. My mother took good care of her and as she grew, I completed the building Zainab had moved into before her death, named that street after her and made my mother move into the house with little Zainab. I returned to the States and only came back occasionally to check on my adopted daughter. It took me time to heal over Zainab’s death but she always remained in my heart. When I finally fell in love again and married, six years had passed but Zainab will always be my first love. Zeelove would always live on in my heart. As for father Kaka, he got killed in a mysterious fire that had razed his house down but his secret forever remained with me and my mother.
© Angela Okoduwa