I am pregnant.
That is the story.
The rest is the detail.
The first time Dumebi hit me was the day I announced my pregnancy to him. After five misty years of casting out my net, I caught a baby. Those five years, while I drank goat milk from source and ate human poop, Dumebi hosted his friends in our house and drank wine and laughed and watched Champions frigging league. My pastor would always tell me, “Chinelo, obi gị dere du,” but she was talking to the crawling ants. How could I relax when my father’s coarse voice traversed weekly through sound waves, reminding me that I would never stand well in my home unless I had a son? Years later, he would say, “Even if it is a baby girl, we will manage.” My mother’s calls always started with “Any news yet?” as if I am CNN. Then there was Dumebi’s mother, with her big head and thin body like a standing fan, who said my ovaries were so light they could live in a floating barbule. In those five years, I scrapped my knees, crawling up the rocky mountain of Awhum monastery, praying the Stations of the Cross. These are a few of my least unfavourite things about that monastery, apart from the spelling of the name. For Jerusalem’s sake, the least a monastery of Christ could do was to spell their name truthfully. Awhum is the English spelling of Ọhụm, and, like every other name the British found impossible to spell properly, Awhum stuck and stayed with those who could spell it properly long after those who could not spell it properly had any say about the proper spelling of the name. After Ọhụm failed me, I gobbled prayer houses like a guzzler. That was how I ended up eating shit. The pastor said that the smell of the poop would make my children uncomfortable, forcing them out. I had stopped going to the hospitals because while the doctors’ confident lips declared us healthy, their troubled eyes flashed on Dumebi. Then when I finally took in, Dumebi slapped me hard.
“Who is responsible for the pregnancy?”
“What! Dumebi! Who else?”
Another slap. My eyes became blurry. His oily forehead shone under the light and the middle of his head looked like an oasis.
“I am asking you for the last time, you bloody whore. Who the fuck got you pregnant?”
His eyes seemed shaded with veils of pain. The veins of his neck plastered on his skin, looking like cracked land diagnosed with drought. Maybe it was my silence that made him shrink. His fingers and his toes curled in as he took two steps away from me. He fell to the ground and wrapped his arms around his body. His legs bonded and his bended knees touched his chest. He lay like that, shaking, crying Justin Timberlake a river. Then he jumped up, rushed to me, held my neck, and slammed me to the ground. While his palms worked hard to stay together around my neck till death did them part, his eyes punched mine. Those eyes were not the eyes of the man I fell in love with. The man, in a glorious dark blue suit, who rushed to help me up when I fell in the mall after my koi-koi shoes succumbed to overuse. Dumebi kept looking into my eyes, and while I struggled for air, it dawned on me that he would never again see me with the eye. My nose stopped functioning. I opened my mouth to take in air, but my tongue seemed to block everywhere. I pulled out my tongue to make way for oxygen. And when I stopped seeing the eyes of this monster, I felt a gush of air. Oxygen tasted like sweet red wine. Dumebi slapped me a third time. The bells were still jingling all the way in my ears when I heard his car screech out. My eyes leaked salty liquid. Dumebi had been the only man I’d known since we got married. I squeezed my eyes shut as I remembered the only time I gave the grass of the toothless goat to the sheep. The haves and the have-nots are hungry, but they hunger for different things. So that when the sheep’s eyes licked up my body in one quick scoop, while he welcomed me, I knew he was hungry. When he opened his brown eyes after praying, my bouncing, pulsating, juicy breasts welcomed him from the spiritual realm. I kept my eyes on Mr. Pastor, daring him to refuse. His Adam apple ran up and down the stairs. I imagined his penis rising to the occasion. He flung his Bible, grabbed my breasts, and pulled me across the table.
A thirsty man would rush to a running tap. It is common sense!