Another pre-farafina story. The last thing I wrote before the workshop, actually. The plan was to edit and develop it into a proper short story, but, you know, fuck it! I’m letting them all go.
What’s money without fulfillment? What’s fulfillment without a child? I was tired. Spent. I couldn’t do it anymore. It. Life. I just couldn’t. It was like everywhere I went there was a woman with a baby. What’s worse, my little sister who had a baby as a teenager called me to complain that her teenage daughter birthed what were to become her twin grandchildren. Grandchildren! And I didn’t even have one child to call my own. The world is such a cruel place, life is so unfair. I went to every fertility doctor anyone could recommend, they all said there was nothing wrong with me, nothing wrong with my womb, yet, I was there, childless, no offspring to call my own. It hurt. A kind of pain I expected no one else to understand, no one who wasn’t in my shoes. The churches, all of them, I went to them. White garment churches, Pentecostal fire brand churches, even priests promised to intercede countless times, but all my efforts were met by a brick wall. A brick wall as obstinate and impenetrable as my womb. Old Muslim clerics with white beard and short trousers tossed their beads. Eggs were boiled and offered, while standing with white sheets around my breasts on three way junctions. Chicken heads were cut off on nights with a full moon, crescent moon, new moon, old moon, gibbous moon, and even on nights with no moon at all. I was still without child. Why me? I just wanted a baby. My own baby. To toss in the air and tickle and feed off my own two breasts. It really wasn’t too much to ask for.
They say the idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Must be why all my children, the entire twelve of them are so wayward. It really wasn’t my fault, my wife and I were jobless, well, she sold fruits in front of the uncompleted building we called home, while I rode the NAPEP Kunle’s wife gave to me after his untimely death in the hands of the infamous Magun, and paid her in installments. But you can’t really call those jobs, can you? The tricycle was never not faulty and the house was too far off the end of the street for Mummy Lade to make a profit off her sales.
It’s only natural, when you have that much time on your hands, there’s nothing left to do but play games with your wife. Love games. I didn’t like the feel of condom and she was too fertile. It really wasn’t my fault.
Things weren’t supposed to be like this. I had plans, I had a future, I even sent myself to a college of education, paid my own tuition with my own sweat. But life had other things in stall for me, but still I was where I was. Where I am. No money. No money at all. I needed money.
It was Banke’s idea. Banke, my ex-husband’s sister who also happens to be my closest friend. It wasn’t something that could germinate in my mind. Banke is very loose, and had sided with me when her brother decided to leave me because I couldn’t give him a child. She is unmarried and was at that moment sleeping with her mechanic, Ibrahim. Apparently Ibrahim knew someone. I didn’t even understand her at first when she was explaining it. She had to retell it thrice. The idea seemed so alien to me. “Buy a baby,” she had said. I didn’t get it. Buy? How? Then she explained. People were willing to give up their children for a paltry sum of money. Ibrahim knew one of such people. All I had to do was pay them something, and the kid was mine to keep. Wow. I couldn’t believe she was telling me that. Buy a baby? How would I live with myself? But weeks passed and Banke continued to pester me about it. “How is it any different from adopting from a home?” She had a point. “I was only holding on to Ibrahim because I thought you might change your mind.” That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had to give in. Signs of menopause and this was possibly my last chance. I caved. How was it any different from adopting, truly?
It was Ibrahim’s idea. I was shocked Ibrahim could ask me such a thing. The last one who seemed like he could at least turn out well. Our favorite. The apple of Mummy Lade’s eyes. Did I seem that desperate? But he pressed. What was one out of twelve? Mummy Lade was still youngish, what was stopping her from having more? And the boy didn’t even look much like me, if we were being honest. A woman was offering me N500,000 for him. Five hundred thousand naira! With that money I would buy two NAPEPs and rent them out. We wouldn’t have to live hand to mouth anymore. Mummy Lade would finally rent a shop in front of the street. I could even become one of those chairmen that sit in the garage all day while my boys ride for me. The woman was going to pay Ibrahim agent fees, not me. It made sense to me all of a sudden. All I had to do was tell his mother that he was going to foster at one of my step-aunt’s house. It was too easy. I was finally stepping up.
I was happy when Baba Lade said Dara was going to his aunty’s place. She was rich and was going to send my Dara to school. My three year old Dara. I had always known he was the one who would uplift this family. Eyidara, I called him on his naming ceremony. He was always different from his wayward brothers and sisters, just as I had known he would be. Even his birth was with ease. Prophet Lasisi had seen his good fortune when I went to him with the pregnancy. He was going to be sent to school, the best the rich aunty could afford. My darling Eyidara.
But my favorite boy was with his aunty for six months and I did not hear a word from him. My son. The good one. Since the day my son was given to that woman, I didn’t hear pim from him. I was sure that woman did something with my baby. Eyidara temi nikan. Even on his birthday, I disturbed Baba Lade to call his aunty, and let us speak to my Eyidara, but he just rolled on the bed in the house like he usually did since he bought the two kekes. I had to do something.
I asked my new landlord, the one whom I rented the shop from. He had been disturbing me for friendship, so I told him about how I hadn’t heard from my son, how I was scared his aunty had done something to him. He asked what my husband said about it, and told me women were worriers when I told him Baba Lade said there was no problem. But I continued disturbing him about it anytime he came around trying to jest. He also became worried when a year passed and my son was still missing. He and the tailor in the shop beside mine, whom I had also confided in decided to see my husband about it.
Baba Lade came home later that night, and beat me. That was when I knew something was wrong with my boy. The tailor, Baba Hafusa suggested I go to the police. Mr. Agunbiade, the landlord, had a police friend. We went to meet him. He told me I should have come earlier, and followed me home to arrest Baba Lade.
They didn’t even have to beat Baba Lade much, before he started confessing. He had sold our son. He had sold Eyidara. I, Eyidara’s mother, had no idea. My son was sold and bought for a year and I was sleeping and eating. My own blood. And I did not have sleepless nights. I had failed as a mother. How did I not suspect? How did I not know? My own son I carried for nine months and two weeks, exchanged for money. He was now owned by someone else. Ahh. And I wasn’t dead.
It was a woman like me. I shouted and screamed and pinched and slapped both her and Baba Lade, while the police tried to hold me back. But I had my son back. My Eyidara. I had my son back.
She told me to call her mummy. Why was daddy’s aunty telling me to call her mummy? But she was nice. Her house was so big and fine. She had a television that was so thin, bright and colorful. She bought me toys and sweets they advertised on the television. So I called her mummy. I liked her. I liked my new mummy’s house. She said it was now my house too. But I missed rolling tires with Dami, and playing table tennis with Alaba and Itunu. I even missed brother Biodun even though he was always beating me. And aunty Lade and her slaps. I wanted to see my first mummy. When I went to see Father Christmas and they asked me to give a shout-out, I gave her one. But I don’t think she saw it, they usually watch just Galaxy anytime there is light in my former house. Daddy did not even call me on my birthday. Then one day daddy came, and I was very happy. But he was there with policemen, and my new mummy started crying. They took all of us to the police station, and I saw my first mummy crying there too. She started beating daddy and my new mummy, shouting and spitting. I didn’t know why. That day we slept at the police station, and they said I was going to go back to live with my first mummy. I was happy I was going to see aunty Lade and brother Shina, and brother Biodun and sister Tilewa and sister Eniola and brother Joseph and Taiwo and Kehinde and Alaba and Itunu and Dami. But, I was going to miss mummy buying me sweets. They didn’t even let me carry my toys. Was mummy going to continue to send me to my new school, or would I just sit at home and roll tire with Dami? It was when we got home, that I saw Idowu and Itunu playing table tennis. They were good at it, so the egg would be going back and forth for a long time. I watched the egg fly, the way it was dancing between them. I realized I was just like the tennis egg, going back and forth between my two mummies.