Gina honked at the gate of her house for the third time. Maybe Tinuke was asleep. The gate came open but it was her husband behind it. She felt a sense of foreboding; her maternal instincts were kicking in. It struck her that she had not felt quite like a mother in a very long time that she almost forgot what this feeling was like. She parked and got out of the car. She wanted to shout the young girl’s name from where she stood, but she withheld the thought and turned to her husband, he was strolling towards her.
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“Welcome, how was work?” he spoke first.
“Same, thank you” she avoided his eyes before he could tell she was disturbed. Her phone rang immediately. It was from Vanessa. They exchanged pleasantries, and she got into a short conversation with Vanessa.
“Oh, by the way. I just saw that your young girl leaving the complex. How is the issue with her mother?” her heart sank immediately. Just then the gate pushed open, and Tinuke strolled in empty-handed.
“Vanessa, I’ll call you back” she hung up immediately.
“Good afternoon ma, Good…” Regina cut her off before she could greet her husband,
“Where are you coming from?”
“I strolled down the street.”
“You little liar!” the words flew out of her mouth. Her husband mirrored the shock on Tinuke’s face. “You went back to that complex to seek out that stupid boy, don’t you have any sense at all?” her husband tried to abate her anger, but she ignored him, “I’m here trying to help you and just because I went out you went back there! How am I not sure you go there every single time I go out! What am I even doing? I am trying to save you and…”
“Don’t save me! You want this baby not me; I don’t want it! You are not even my mother!” the girl screamed and ran out of the house; she didn’t call her back. She drew in heavy breaths, her chest rising and falling with each one. Her husband moved to hold her, but she stormed past him in anger. When he walked into the house, she was seated with her hands massaging her temple. Her husband sat beside her.
“She can leave if she wants” she blurted out before he chastised her.
“Is that what you want?” he asked calmly. She didn’t respond. “What is this really about,” he asked again.
She sighed, “Her mother was at the hospital today to see the doctor” she with a resigned shrug. He sighed thinking
“So what do you want to do?”
“Really? What do I want? She has chosen her path. She’s not worth my efforts”.
He reached for her hand, and she let him hold her, “Sleepover it dear” he kissed her hand and then he left. She needed space to think. Had she been too hard? She thought, but how much did she know the girl, for all she knew she had not learned a thing and was not worthy of her stress. But were we ever worthy of anything, we get second chances even when we were not worthy, God had orchestrated it that way. She shook off the thoughts and went in.
8:45 pm and Tinuke was not back. Surprisingly she felt a little twinge of panic in the pit of her stomach. She dismissed it for the second time; maybe she was back with her parents. She wanted to check in, but she held on to her righteous anger. She locked up the house and slept but not peacefully.
2:45 pm and that motherly instinct she thought she had lost was on edge again. She felt restless in the office. She heard noises outside and went to have a look through the window. The police were outside. Her heart took a nosedive. She heard a knock at the door. She had been summoned by the doctor. She went to meet with them, trying to masquerade the shaking that was threatening to overcome her.
Gina was clueless as to where Tinuke could be. She had been given the 24 hours she pleaded for to produce her. She was even more worried about the girl than the threat of the police. She didn’t know where to start, and she didn’t want to call her husband as Vanessa asked her to. Her phone rang, and she picked up, it was Vanessa.
“Anita said she saw Tinuke at the school gate today. She left with some friends, not the good kind from what I hear” her heart plummeted. This was not good.
“Did she say she knew where they were going?”
“I’m afraid not.” This was not happening; she felt a sense of foreboding. Where would she start? She didn’t hear Vanessa calling out her name at the other end of the line. She jolted when she finally heard it.
“One of the girl’s mom has a shop close to the school, maybe you should check there” she nodded as if Vanessa could see her and she hung up. She received another call, and she reluctantly picked it up, the line was silent,
“Hello” still no answer, but she could hear breathing at the other end. She did not have the time for a prank call; she was about to hang up when she heard—
“Aunty Nurse, I’m going remove it” Gina panicked.
“Tinuke, hold on” she prayed in her heart that the girl was experiencing a moment of remorse.
“Can you tell me where you are?” Tinuke went silent again, and she let her.
“Aunty Nurse I’m sorry, I have to do it, I’ve caused so much trouble” she could hear the tears in her voice.
“Okay, I just want to talk with you; you can do whatever you want after that.” She was quiet again “Is that okay?” She told her where she was, and surprisingly it was the school.
When she got there the gateman let her in, but she could tell the school was closed from normal classes, only those taking lessons were left. She looked around for Tinuke, then dialed the number. Tinuke came out of the toilet with one hand clenched and her head down. She held herself from yelling at her as her instincts told her too. She led the girl to the car, and they sat in it.
“Why were you at the complex yesterday?” Gina asked calmly.
Tinuke sniffled, “I thought he had come back, I thought he would come to see my parents.”
She looked up with pitiful eyes, “Then my child would not be a Bastard like my mother said” her eyes welled up and it didn’t take a second to start spilling. As much as Gina didn’t want to feel pity for her but chastise her, she couldn’t.
“He’s gone Tinuke; you have called out the musicians, now you must dance. Would you be a coward and take out this baby while risking your life? You could die, or even damage your womb! Would you rather not be a warrior and survive it with a story?”
“I’m scared” she blurted out and her body wracked with sobs. What was she crying for? Gina thought she wasn’t scared when she was busy misbehaving. She waved off the thought as quickly as it came. She reached out and touched her shoulder in comfort.
“You’ll be fine,” she said, and she could tell that the look in her eyes when she looked up this time had hope in it. She stretched out her clenched hand, and there were pills in it. All kinds that Gina could recognize. She took them and threw it out.
“Let’s go home.”
In the weeks that passed with the help of her husband, she was able to convince Tinuke’s parents that she was going to enroll her to learn a trade while the pregnancy advanced. She was also going to find a family to adopt the child so she could get her life together. Her parents were willing to let the weight be taken off them. Weeks progressed into months and a blob of blood transformed into a baby.
It was one thing to help people through their antenatal and to birth their babies, but it was different to experience the growth. It was sensational. Warmth returned to her home, her husband could travel, and she felt the presence of two people in her home, a feeling that had once left home. Finding a home for the baby was proving difficult until one night when she stood in the kitchen with Tinuke, and she said the words that changed her whole world.
“Aunty Nurse, would you take my baby as your daughter” her breath caught at first. She had thought of it once, but it was what it was, a thought. A thought was now a reality as Tinuke spoke the words. She smiled and nodded.
Gina finally let out a breath of relief as she sank into the chair in the parlor. Finally, the baby was asleep. She had forgotten how much stress it was to deal with a baby, but this stress brought her joy. Tinuke was progressing rapidly in her tailoring classes. She has been making the baby dresses. She even made Gina a dress too. After the training, she would retake her WASSCE and Jamb. She felt at peace; she had two more daughters now. Her phone rang, and she looked at the caller ID, it was her daughter. She picked up damning all expectations.
“Good evening mom,” she said
“How are you?” she asked coolly.
“I heard we have a sister” she laughed slightly. Gina smiled in relief.
“I’ve missed you mummy” she could hear the tears in her voice that she assumed she tried desperately to hide.
“I’ve missed you too,” she said back. She heard her daughter draw in a sharp breath. She was surprised. At that point, she realized she may not have always been open to expressing her emotions with her children. Lately, she was a muddle of emotions. Her eyes filled up with tears.
“I love you,” she said, and she heard her sob loudly.
“I love you too mummy; I’ll see you in December” Gina smiled brightly.
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About The Author: Uzezi is a 25-year-old baker, caterer, and writer. She is a young lady of many talents. Her creativity spans across different aspects of life. Whatever she sets her heart to do, she accomplishes it. Her dream is to work with TLC’s Cake Boss one day, and she is well on her way, as she keeps honing her baking skills. Uzezi is also the Creative Director at Let’s Talk Nation for Short Stories, as she is talented in fiction writing. Look out for her stories, as they make their debut on LTN. To learn more about Uzezi, visit her Instagram pages on @uzaizie and @FlawlessFlour.