By Somi Ekhasomhi
The girl had been crying all the way from the clinic. She had emerged after the procedure, red eyed and limping, but Monica gave no words of comfort, no shoulder to lean on. She had her own tears, raging and tearing at her insides like a wild, salty sea. In the car, the girl sniffled and stared out of the window. She was eighteen. Monica tried to remember what eighteen felt like: youth, inexperience, and so much hope. It stung to think about it now, as she took yet another girl, another young house help, home from the abortion clinic.
This was the third one. For the first, she had been heartbroken. For the next, she was merely puzzled. Now, the word she would use was resigned. She had tried male servants, but he did not want those around his daughters. She tried older, unattractive women, but he complained and nagged and even slapped one of the women once. Young girls were easy to get. Their poor parents hoped that the host family would also offer some sort of training or education that would improve their daughters’ future.
They were also the easiest to take advantage of, to rape, to impregnate, to use and discard. She had become an accomplice. How else could she describe her actions, the trip to the clinic, avoiding the knowing gazes from the nurses, paying for the procedure? She had become a criminal, because it was still illegal. And she had also become a sinner. “Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. I facilitated an abortion. And another one! And another one!! And I will do it again because I’m married to a man who has no honour and no control, and my conscience has become the sacrifice for his lack of shame.
She picked up the children from school, and they filled the car with their chatter, oblivious of anything, but the fact that they were children. “Mummy, why is Favour crying?”
“She’s not crying” Monica snapped, her voice harsher than intended. Silence, then the chattering and playing resumed. Children were quick to forget. At the house, she let the girl go to her room, made the children their afternoon snack, and started on dinner.
What would she do now? Another girl! She could keep this one. He’d get bored of her after a while, but how do you trust someone around your kids, when your husband is her rapist? He came home finally, after the children had their dinner, avoiding her eyes, his shoulders drooped as if in shame. It was his act whenever he got caught. The children gathered around him excitedly, disappointed when he went early to bed.
She found him there, curled up on his side. As a girl, when she still went for mass every day, one of the richer parishes would give all single people freshly cut, red roses on Valentine’s Day, imported roses. Now she imagined all those flowers, cut up and in pieces, like each of his children she had helped to kill. This is what hate feels like, she thought, watching his body move with each breath and wishing, that he was the one cut to pieces instead, his blood all over the sheets, pouring through her fingers like cut rose petals.
She prepared for bed, and when she lay down on her side, he stirred. “What?” he said, his voice rough with sleep. “Nothing,” she replied. “Happy weekend!”