life, Uncategorized

Trudge on.

We got it in the morning. A letter, in a white crisp envelope. Slipped under our termite infested wooden door.Written in bad hand writing, with a red pen that reminded me of my English teacher ( or is it teacher of English; doesn’t matter as long as you get what I mean) handing back my essay full of comments . He doesn’t know how to read, so I read it to him. A five day eviction notice of sorts, with a threat. Two months rent arrears, that’s what got us here. The caretaker had gotten tired of reminding him verbally. He now thought that a more official way would do the trick. It did not.

They came on the sixth day. Three lanky men with dirty looking masks. All looking tired and hungry. The care taker did not even bother to show up. He too wasn’t there. He had left early in the morning. He didn’t say where he was going, he never does. They did not bother to knock, the door was almost falling off. They just kicked it aside. They looked around surprised. The place was almost empty, just the bare minimum. A matress, jiko, a few clothes in a naija bag and some utensils. This wasn’t a three man job, but they didn’t complain. They needed the cash.

He came in the evening. I was seated,on a pile of our few belongings, in front of the one roomed house that we had been evicted from.The door permanently barred on it’s hinges. He looked at the house , then at me. He didn’t say a word , his face told it all. It wasn’t miserable. Just a face that had accepted it, accepted life as it was. His eyes , caved in , a trace of loneliness lingering on them. His lips dry and glued in. He doesn’t say much, I’ve never heard him say more than is needed to be said. His cheekbones , more protruding than ever.

I could just leave him. Run away from this poverty, run away from his problems. Yes I could, but I can’t . Thing is I only have him and my problems are much greater. My family threw me out after I got pregnant. I always had a feeling that they didn’t want me around, I was a burden to them. They needed a reason to get me out and they got one. I got pregnant, another teenage pregnancy statistic. He wasn’t the father.

Joakim is the baby’s dad. I really do not remember what pulled me to him. Come to think of it, he wasn’t even special. He was a tout who lived across the street from our place. He loved hanging around our house. I felt like he did it just to get an easy meal, times were hard. He was a talker , my family loved him, especially my step mom. She treated him better than she ever treated me or the others. It was as if she had feelings for him, easily trying to court him to her bed. He wasn’t dashing, just a little bit handsome with his finely groomed beard. He seemed not to notice. Maybe he did, he just didn’t show it. Instead, he noticed me.

I have never known what he saw. I look ordinary. You really wouldn’t turn around to give me a second look when I passed by. I don’t have any of the vanities that physically attract men to women, at least not the considered right size. She, my stepmom, once said I shouldn’t worry about getting raped. She doesn’t know that you don’t have to look good to be raped. A rapist mind doesn’t really work with physical attraction. This explains why old grandmother’s get raped. I didn’t tell her this, I never talk back . In a way, I’m like him.

Joakim’s style of courting completely caught me off guard. He did not beat around the bush. He went straight for the kill. He wanted to have me, fuck me. He didn’t want a relationship. In his mind , those were for losers. He wanted to do it unattached. I was a teenager. I should have been shocked at this but I wasn’t. It was the norm. In a neighborhood where parents spent all their time looking for the next meal, all sorts of things happened to their teenage kids. All my friends had done it. I could have, I just didn’t find anybody interested to go that mile with me.

I know I should have resisted , I actually did try. I valued myself. I didn’t want to do it with just anybody. I wanted somebody to like me, bore through my mind, my struggles and pains, fall in love with my scars, both physical and emotional. I didn’t find anybody, even in our mixed secondary school where relationships were rife. He kept mounting pressure on me. It didn’t work. He changed tactic.He took me out, a local eatery. It served chips and an occasional fried chicken. It’s really nice, the fries. I loved it . He got me a necklace. It was cheap, but I didn’t mind. Nobody ever gave me presents. I gave in. It was once , without protection,and that’s all it needed.

Next is what happens to normal expectant women. Missed periods, morning sickness , weight gain.. yadayadayada. She didn’t take long too notice. She didn’t even ask who the dad was, she kind of already knew. She was writhing in jealousy which led to my being thrown out. I had nobody to defend me. My dad isn’t around. He hasn’t been for a long time. He left , with no reason, just went out one morning and never came back. I was ten then. Now I’m seventeen. My mother died while giving birth to me . I see her a lot, in pictures she took . She looked nothing like me. I sometimes wonder who I take after. Definitely not my dad.

With no place to go , I walked to Joakim’s place. He didn’t let me in. He shouted obscenities at me, called me a slut. What did I expect? I broke down, not from what he said but from the realisation of what I had become, a helpless statistic.

Night came, I was still stranded. All my class friends couldn’t take me in. They all had their own share of problems and I couldn’t merit being added to that list. It was scary, realising that you are alone in this world. It’s even more scary if you have no money or any way of getting money. Life really does suck.

In comes my savior, and no it ain’t Jesus. He found me sleeping under an old shed. He had been hired to bring it down, somebody wanted to build up a kiosk there. He doesn’t say much, just shoves me thinking I’m some mad woman. I actually look like one. I’m dirty with worn out clothes. It’s been three days since I got kicked out. Most of it has been spent under this shed hiding, from people and from what I became. He takes a better look at me, and his face changes. I see compassion in it. He asks how long I’ve slept there, have I eaten. I tell him. He looks at me again, then asks me to follow him. I do.

It’s been two months now. Two months learning to live with myself,in solitude. Physically I do live with him, we even share a bed( not as husband and wife) , but I still feel I’m living alone. He brings food, I cook it , we eat ,he sleeps, I lay awake dreaming; he wakes up early in the morning to go look for odd jobs, comes in the evening with a meal and we repeat it all again. We never talk. I wish we could. There is a lot to talk about. Why is he this kind to me. He defaulted on rent just to feed me. He lets me stay without asking a thing. It pains me. I don’t deserve it .

The pandemic thing hit hard. Now we’re evicted. I’m certain jobs for him have been hard to find. We went hungry yesterday. Today it’s worse, no food and no place to stay. I haven’t even told him that I’m pregnant, he doesn’t know yet. The bump will soon show. I dunno if he’ll want to take care of it. I can’t get rid of it. It’s too expensive. Do I want to keep it , I really ain’t sure. I have not thought about it. For now I watch him walk towards the care takers house, his shoulders slumped in, a sign of defeat.

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