Two weeks had gone by after the episode with the pregnant teenager, and yet Nurse Regina felt uneasy. Thoughts of the girl burdened her mind for days. What was she doing? What was her mother doing about the pregnancy? Who was the father? How did she even get into this mess? Was she raped? Or was she just a plain naïve girl who decided to test the waters that seemed to be drowning her now? Those were the thoughts that pushed her to search through files for their address. Her shift was over, and she was on her way to their house immediately, making stops to ask questions since the address was not so clear.
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Illisan although a village had running water, schools and a health center. The people were also kind and welcoming. When she received her posting to the village she did not know what to expect, but the experience had been good for nine months now. The accommodation was from the hospital, and it was decent. As she approached the compound of the girl, she got confused. She stopped at a woman with a baby tied to her back, and two little ones holding onto both sides of her hand.
“Good evening, I’m looking for Eniola.” The demeanor of the bright woman who had just replied her greeting gaily changed. It was like a dark cloud settled over her face. She shook her head and uttered something in Yoruba. Gina became worried, this woman looked sadder than judgmental. She was about to speak when the woman cut her short,
“Eniola is dead,” she said sadly, then she moved closer to Gina and said in a hushed tone— “her mother took her for an abortion” she shook her head and left with her children. Regina’s chest tightened, and she could not breathe. Just two weeks ago that child sat in her office, and today she was gone because of a mistake her mother had tried to erase. Tears found their way to her eyes as her legs carried her slowly back home.
Gina looked at her watch for the umpteenth time, it was still raining heavily outside; she had to be somewhere. She lay down on the sofa and closed her eyes. Today was her day off from the hospital, so she planned to meet up with her friend Vanessa. The house was quiet besides the rain that beat heavily against the long span zinc over the house. Peace and quiet were good, but loneliness was not. Hers was an empty nest, and even if she could not wait for her children to grow up, it suddenly felt like they had grown up so fast.
Her son was in his final year as a medical student in Canada while her daughter left two years ago to join him. Her relationship with her daughter Kelechi was somewhat estranged. In the two years, the communication between them was nothing a mother and daughter should have. It was either she was busy with school work, or she just did not call or even answer the phone. Regina was worried at first; then she noticed her husband spoke to her all the time. Recently he didn’t talk much about his phone conversations with their daughter, and she knew it was to spare her feelings.
She didn’t understand how a child she loved so much could be avoiding her like the plague. Her husband was seldom at home these days; he was busy chasing a political ambition as a senator in his state. Work kept her mind busy but when she got home, it was like a cloak of emptiness was thrown over her. The calm outside told her that the rain had stopped. She stood up, straightened her dress, picked up her bag and left the house with an umbrella into the still drizzling rain.
She knocked at Vanessa’s gate which was just down the street, and a young girl, Vanessa’s help was quick to open the gate. She had spent one year so far with Vanessa, and she liked her.
“Good afternoon ma” she curtsied as she greeted.
“Afternoon dear, how are you?” she smiled at the girl.
“I’m fine ma” she walked beside Gina.
“How is school? I hope you are serious.”
“Yes ma, I’m preparing for my WAEC exams” she beamed proudly. From a home where she had to drop out of school, now she was about to become a high school graduate. It was something to be happy about. Gina’s heart warmed inside. She stopped at the front door and turned to the girl, “That’s wonderful, be studious Anita. This is not the time to play at all. Take this opportunity and use it wisely, make everyone proud, most especially yourself” she pulled her right ear in emphasis.
Tell Anita o!” Vanessa threw the door open. “Tell her, because she must pass her exams.”
“Thank you ma” Anita curtsied and scurried into the house. Gina laughed and shook her head as she walked into the house. “She’s a good one” she dropped her bag and made herself comfortable on a single settee. “I know, she just needs to be pushed, so she stays focused, not like that last busy body I got.” Vanessa sat on the couch adjacent to her.
“Just be gentle.”
“leave these small children, my friend, what would you take? Malt?”
“No, I’m okay.” The meeting between both women lasted for hours.
Vanessa escorted her out of the house, and they bid each other farewell. As she walked home, she took in her surroundings. She wondered what the community association was doing concerning security in the area.
She paid her security levy upfront, so she expected more from them. It was just the same everywhere; people kept blaming the government of inefficiency and corruption. Meanwhile, when they were given smaller responsibilities in their communities, they were the most incompetent, showing a perturbing level of selfishness. All they thought about was their selfish gain and how they could embezzle funds, talk about corruption.
“Good afternoon Aunty Nurse” the greeting from a young girl shook her out of her reverie.
“Afternoon Tinuke, how are you” she smiled at the girl.
“I’m fine ma,” she said and walked passed. Gina looked at the girl as she walked away. Her hips swayed with reckless abandon. She was no more than fifteen years old, but it was apparent that her body matured faster than her mates. She was sure she caught a glimpse of red lipstick on the girl’s lips. For a fifteen-year-old, Tinuke was too exposed.
Gina often saw her hanging around with the young boys that managed a betting shop at the shopping complex where she bought things. It had always been a point of concern to her. A child who got back from school did not go straight home but was hanging around with boys. Didn’t she have parents that were bothered with her whereabouts? And these young boys that were way older than her couldn’t they be considerate? She was just a child. She remembered how heavy-handed she was with her daughter; she knew where she was at all times and had given her a beating on various occasions when her whereabouts were not clear.
All those nonsense parties that were just excuses to meet morally defunct boys, she never allowed it. Her daughter needed to turn out straight. Was that the problem? Was she too hard on her without explanations? Kelechi should know that it was because she loved her. Three weeks later Gina drove her black Camry from the hospital. It was one of those stressful days at work. They handled four successful deliveries, all beautiful babies. Nothing brought joy to her than the birth of babies; it heralded new beginnings.
After nine months you birthed hope, a future, it was beautiful. They squalled, red like tomatoes, but all you heard and saw was beauty wrapped in a tiny package of a human being. It made her remember when she had her babies, and she re-experienced the joy she felt, only for it to be dampened by the recent happenings between her and her daughter. Babies didn’t remain babies forever after all.
She pulled up at the shopping complex to buy some provisions. As she got down, she noticed some faint noises coming from some people gathered. Whatever they were arguing about seemed serious. She walked into the supermarket and exchanged pleasantries with the owner. As she paid for the items she picked, the noise got louder; it seemed the argument was getting heated.
She didn’t want to ask the shop keeper about it. She walked outside and noticed people were pleading with a woman as she threw slaps at a young girl. She had her hand clenched to the front of the girl’s shirt, already the girl’s hair looked shorn like it sniped angrily with scissors, and her face already looked swollen. It didn’t seem like this short altercation inflicted those bruises on her. At second glance, she noticed it was Tinuke. What had Tinuke gotten herself into? She hoped Tinuke had not graduated to married men, and this was not an angry wife. She dropped her things in the car and moved closer; the words grew more distinct.
“If you think you will disgrace me, I will disgrace you first! Are you the only child I have?...’’ the woman was screaming on the top of her voice. Tinuke pleaded, her voice high pitched amidst the tears. All the pleading from onlookers was in vain. When they were finally able to separate them, Tinuke’s mother swore to kill her if she returned home with “the thing she was carrying,” and walked off in anger. She held her ripped shirt together crying uncontrollably.
People didn’t spare their show of pity, the boys she used to hang around with stared down from the railings that barricaded the first floor of the complex. Gina could imagine the shame the girl was going through. Returning home didn’t seem like an option; her mother looked like she would beat the baby out of her. She then walked towards the girl; she could be her daughter. She put her arm around the girl, but she cowered in shame.
“Tinuke, it’s okay, let me take you home,” she said softly. The girl shook her head continuously and cried harder. “My house Tinuke” the girl calmed a little and walked with her to the car. They got in, and Gina drove home in silence, except for the frequent sniffling coming from Tinuke.
Nurse Regina is a multiple-part series that will be published every couple of days on the website. The story follows a nurse who is looking for purpose amidst all the twist and turns life throws her way. Be on the lookout for this exciting story.
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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.To learn more about Uzezi, visit her Instagram pages on @uzaizie and @FlawlessFlour.