The scintillating aroma of the egusi soup tickled your nostrils as you poured the shredded fish into the bubbling soup. You stirred it before you ladled out a little and poured it on your open palm, you quickly licked at your palm before the hot slurry could scald it.
Yummy. She would definitely love it.
A verse of the scripture popped into your mind;
How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street
It was a verse from the book of Lamentations and you felt it was heavens lamentation over you.
After making up your mind to terminate the pregnancy, you were faced with the problem of how to go about it. You had never aborted, neither had you ever known how it was done and you were living in a country were it’s illegal.
You thought it back and forth and you only had one option- Isabella.
Isabella, your neighbor, was a runs girl and she definitely would know a lot about such, but how could you demand such favour from her?
She, like everyone else, knew you to be a serious believer, she even called you mummy G. O.
You knew you had not much time on your side, so you couldn’t afford to dilly-dally. You had to do what you had to. And in good time.
As you cooked the soup it mocked you, the sight, the smell all of it mocked you. You wished you didn’t have to go through all these, but then you had no choice. This wouldn’t be the first time you’d be cooking for Isabella, you had done that a couple of times before, but the motive was different this time. Erstwhile, you did to show the love of Christ but now you were doing to get a favour from her.
From lady evangelist to prospective aborter. Amazing transformation isn’t it?
You let out a brittle laugh, your life had become a droll!
You put the two wraps of pounded yam into a colander and ladled out the egusi soup into another. You put both colanders in a basket and covered it with a clean napkin.
You remembered the story of Esau and Jacob, yours was so similar to theirs and at the same time so different.
Esau sold his birth right for food and you were selling food for how to take the birth right of the unborn.
You dismissed all the thoughts and went out of your apartment. You were too resolved to just chicken out.
“I made you pounded yam and egusi, just like you love it.” You said taking off the napkin.
“Mummy G. O na why I like you be this. You na correct person, you go preach dey do good. You no be like other yeye Christians dem.” She husked, unwrapping the pounded yam with unwashed hands, ready to devour.
Her words smote you!
“Bella, I need one favour from you oo.” You said, fumbling with your hanky.
“Eh ehh? Talk, I dey hear.” She mumbled, turning off the stereo that was blasting Iranu abasha, iranu abasha. You wished she hadn’t, you hated the awkward silence that now filled the room and the ramblings of whoever the singer was would’ve taken that away.
“I dey hear o.” She prompted impatiently after swallowing a fistful of soup-sullied pounded yam.
How could you put it into words?
“I wan flush pikin.” You forced out belatedly.
You couldn’t believe you’d just said that. Hearing those words I wan flush pikin in your voice made you almost jump out of your skin. You weren’t the only shocked person, Isabella was too.
She burst into a boisterous laugh, a real throaty cackle.
“Yeah. You have every right to laugh, you are justified to condemn me. After all, the only use of salt that lost it’s savour it’s to be trampled under foot. You should laugh, it’s funny, it really is. Even I laughed before coming here. It’s funny how I came here few days ago to preach and here I am asking for abortion recipes. It’s funny.” Your smile was bleak. You didn’t mean to cry but you just couldn’t hold back the hot fluid.
Isabella withdrew her hands from the food and turned to you, she held your hands with hers though they were soup-stained.
“If anybody wan judge you, e no fit be me. Shebi na person wey dey without sin suppose throw the first stone.”
You sniffled as your nose was runny. Isabella tipped your chin so that you could look into her eyes.
“Mummy G. O, nor do am!” It didn’t sound like an advice like it sounded like an instruction. Isabella looked away from you.
“Tomorrow, I go yarn you my tori. I no fit talk am except I dey shayo.” Her mouth tipped into a rueful smile.
You nodded sheepishly, your head bent.
“When you show tomorrow I go give you the water wey you go use flush the shit.” She added derisively.
“Thanks.” You mumbled on your way to the door.
All through the night Isabella’s words kept ringing in your mind Mummy G. O, nor do am! Her warri-accented, deep rumbling voice reverberated in your head.
You couldn’t seem to shake off the look in her eyes. Though you could only get a blurred image of her through the lens of your tears, you didn’t miss those eyes;
Beady, honest, serious. There was an unnerving shrewdness in those eyes, an I-know-what-I’m-saying kind of look.
You couldn’t sleep, you spent the whole night anticipating the next day, tossing and turning in bed.
You coughed and spluttered the moment you entered Isabellas. The room was stifling as a dense cloud of smoke lingered in the air.
When the mist of smoke cleared a bit, you were able to see her better.
She had a tank top and a pair of denim bum shorts on, revealing a good amount of her lustrous, coffee-coloured skin. Her hair was cut short by the sides and a weave was attached to the middle of it, her ears were void of rings. She sat on her bed, legs crossed and before her was a stool on which sat an ashtray, a pack of cigar, vodka, a cup and a lighter.
She dropped a cigar stump in the ashtray.
“You are here.”
You nodded, covering your nose with a hanky.
“Sidan!” She ordered.
She poured herself some vodka and slurped it.
“There,” she gestured to the vial on the fridge. “Na the water be that.”
The weapon to murder with! A voice in your mind said.
“I was born in Warri, into a good family.” She downed the content of the cup in a gulp. “Life went on smoothly until my Dad died. I was in SS1 then, life became really hard for my Mum and I because we lacked cash, my Dads family took everything from us.” She smiled, picked up a cigar from the ashtray and lit it, looking down on the rod held by her lips.
“We struggled on, until my Dad’s step-sister stepped in.” She laughed without amusement as she puffed. “She said she’d take me to the city to further my education and to take care of me. My Mum was so grateful, she prayed and blessed her. Little did we know. When we got to Lagos, she enrolled me in a secondary school. After the first term, she told me I had to earn my fees and just like that she introduced me to prostitution. She had a number of us she was helping further our educations.” She dropped finger quotes around her last three words.
She inhaled a lungful of smoke and released it slowly through pursed lips. She washed down with some vodka.
“Soon she said school won’t allow me focus on my career, prostitution, the education I came to further, and I was withdrawn!” She gazed longingly her eyes bloodshot.
You wondered how someone could be so wicked.
“Hmm.. The fist dream was ruined! The dream of becoming a lawyer someday.” She shook her head vigorously, like she was trying to shake off a thought. “I was made to sleep with various men and at a point I became pregnant.” The corners of her mouth tipped into a bitter smile. “Of course pregnancy is bad market so, Aunt Eloho took me to a man she called ‘Baba Physician’ to terminate the pregnancy. It was really painful.” you could see the pain etched in her eyes. “Few weeks later I started bleeding.” She shut her eyes and took a long swig of her drink, your cheeks were wet with tears. You could only imagine. When her eyes popped open, it was glassy.
“This time around my Aunt was scared that I might die so, she took me to a hospital. The Doctor said I had an incomplete abortion that had resulted in an infection. Alas, a hysterectomy was carried out on me. I lost my womb.” She sighed convulsively and quickly downed her drink. “I can never forgive Aunt Eloho. Even though the child was a bastard, I wanted to keep it but all she cared about were the customers that wouldn’t take anyone but me and of course the extra pay she got from the services I rendered. The second and third dreams were shattered! The dreams of becoming a mother and a wife.” She shrugged puffing smoke.
“And so till now my life is only useful for the education Aunt Eloho introduced me to.” She blinked.
“I’m sure yours isn’t a bastered. Brazen up and take responsibility for what you did, that’s courage.” You nodded repeatedly as the message sank. She guffawed. “Isabella don turn counsellor, preacher sef. Abeg if this few points of mine never concieve -abi na convince- you reach, just carry the water go flush the shit.”
You shook your head. The story of Balam and the horse came to your mind. Just like Balam, your senses were blocked and God had to speak to you through Isabella, the horse in this case.
Somehow you knew she spoke beyond herself. You had never heard her speak as coherently as she did. It just had to be God speaking through her.
You and moved to the corner of the room where your colanders were, unwashed and stinking. You cooly picked them and headed for the door.
“Mummy G. O” she called behind you, you turned.
“Queen, please call me Queen.”
“Why? You feel say you no dey worthy?”
How did she know?
You nodded hiccuping sobs.
“You’d always be mummy G. O to me, no matter what.” She said smiling. “Before I forget, your food been dope. The best I don chop in days.”
You nodded and left for your apartment.
Next episode comes up on Sunday, thanks for following.