Brale woke up that morning feeling light headed. The third trimester wasn’t as easy as she she’d seen on YouTube videos. She was due in three weeks and it was beginning to seem like forever. She just wanted to get the heavy weight off her legs and peer into the eyes of her first daughter. She’d heard about the flood of unconditional love and inflammable emotions that overcame mothers when they had first contact with their newborn. She couldn’t wait to experience it.
Brale stood from the bed and went into the bathroom like she had been doing in the past 33 weeks. She stood in front of the mirror and stared at her huge belly; she could feel her angel kicking. A smile spread across her face.
‘A few more days Bona’ Brale spoke to her child.
They were going to name her Bona because the child was going to be a star, an unforgettable one. Brale considered it a privilege to carry this gift. Brale walked back into the bedroom to find her husband; Tamuno awake. He had a towel around his waist.
‘You spoke to Bona’ he said with a smile. Brale nodded as she walked towards him and caressed his hairy chest.
‘And she kicked for me like always. Sleep well?’
‘I had you by my side.’ He said then kissed her lightly. ‘You want a ride to the Doctor’s?’ Tamuno asked. Brale shook her head.
‘I’ll take a cab. I want the hot sun rubbing my face.’
‘Hot sun you always complain about?’ Brale shrugged.
Tamuno shook his head as he went to the bathroom; Women and their complexities.
Tamuno threw the last bite of his akara in his mouth as he got off the dining table. He planted a kiss on Brale’s chick and rubbed her belly.
‘I’ll see you two later’ he said before he walking out.
Five minutes later, Brale was at the bus stop, waiting for a cab. A total of six cabs passed her by and with each passing; her hope soared then was trampled upon by the haughty stares of occupants in the cab. The sun was slowly poking its head and it wasn’t long before she began to wonder what demon had possessed her and made her refuse a ride from her husband. She decided to wait for another ten minutes. If no empty cab passed, she would call Tamuno to come get her.
At nine minutes, 47 seconds, Brale whipped out her phone. She unlocked the phone and was about to dial Tamuno’s number.
The hoot of a car horn got her attention. She looked up from her phone to see a middle aged woman with a smile that could light up a room full of war casualties.
‘The sun is coming out.’ the woman said the moment she locked eyes with Brale. Brale nodded. ‘And you are pregnant.’ Brale nodded again. She didn’t engage in meaningless conversations with strangers except when necessary. And this petite woman who looked like she needed a pillow to reach her steering wheel had been saying only obvious things.
Brale waited for her to drive off, but she didn’t. Instead she smiled; in an attempt to be civil, she managed to smile back.
‘So what is a pregnant woman doing on the street when the hot sun is on its way?’
‘Can’t find a cab’. Brale replied.
‘Blame the office goers.’ She said with a smile that was beginning to look like a permanent feature. ‘I can help with a ride.’ The woman added.
‘Ah no need. I’ll call my husband now.’ Brale replied raising her phone.
‘You don’t have to be afraid. My name is Kona. I know you are going to the hospital.’ Brale raised an eyebrow wondering if she was talking to some kind of Psychic.
‘How do you know?’ Brale asked. Kona chuckled lightly at the question.
‘We see each other all the time when we go in for antenatal.’ Brale wondered if this woman was crazy. She had never seen her. ‘I’m 7 month gone’ Kona added.
Brale instinctively looked to Kona’s tummy; it appeared she was pregnant. Brale took an instinctive step back. Minutes ago this woman’s stomach was as flat as a mat. Brale took another step back but found herself looking straight into Kona’s eyes. She wanted to tear her eyes away and walk off but for some reason she couldn’t. The word ‘Witch’ began to form in her brain but they refused to come out of her mouth.
‘Get in. I drive you down.’ Kona said.
Brale wanted to decline but it seemed she was no longer in control of her vocal chords. She felt her legs move towards the car, all the time her eyes glued to Kona’ s like magnet to steel.
Brale found herself opening the passenger’s seat, sitting and shutting the door.
‘I’m having a boy. I will call him Rago.’ Kona said right before she turned the key in the ignition and started the car.
The drive to the hospital was a quick one. Kona told Brale how she had wanted a child for so long and felt lucky to be having a boy.
‘My boy will rule the world’ Kona said with a sweet smile. Brale smiled back at her. ‘What you think your girl will be when she grows?’ she asked Brale. Brale did not remember telling Kona the sex of her baby. She turned to Kona to tell her that but instead the words that came out were
‘Whatever you want her to be Kona.’ Kona nodded and touched Brale’s hands lightly then proceeded to touch Brale’s Stomach.
‘Your mind can’t fathom what she will be.’
* * *
Tamuno walked into the house. Looking quite calm for a man who had received a panic call from his pregnant wife. He got these calls all the time, only to realize it was nothing serious, but for the sake of love, he still responded.
‘Brale?’ he called as he searched for her around the house. She was seated on the bed. The moment she saw him, she jumped into his arms, holding on to him like a shell to egg.
‘Are you okay? How was the doctor’s place?’ Tamuno asked.
‘He says the baby is fine’ Brale told him with a shaken voice. Tamuno pulled her out of his arms slowly and looked in her eyes.
‘Have I ever told you about a Kona woman I met at the hospital?’ Brale asked.
‘Maybe. I don’t remember.’
‘I met a woman at the bus stop today. She said her name is Kona and that I know her, but I did not.’
‘Okay?’ Tamuno waited for Brale to say the exact problem.
‘When I first saw her, she wasn’t pregnant. And then all of a sudden, she was pregnant. Like she spoke the pregnancy into being.’ The fear in Brale’s small brown eyes was evident as she spoke but Tamuno couldn’t help a chuckle. Brale was being hysteric over nothing again.
‘Funny?’ Brale asked. Tamuno did not know if this was a trick question. He cleared his throat.
‘Maybe you did not look at her stomach well the first time.’
‘I did. And she made me enter her car. She hypnotized me then touched my baby.’ Brale began to cry. Tamuno moved closer and drew her into his arms again. He still didn’t understand why she was crying, but he held her anyway.
The clock ticked. It was 6 am. Brale and Tamuno were still in bed; asleep. Brale hadn’t awoken to go to the mirror and talk to her baby girl. Tamuno’s plan to take a warm shower last night had gone down the drain because Brale had been paranoid all evening. He had to cuddle and sing her to sleep.
They both lay there. Asleep, not dead. Tamuno was lying on his side while Brale lay on her back, stomach bulging. The wrapper she had used to cover herself had slid to the ground and so she was half naked. Brale’s linea nigra began to budge, like it was a thin rope controlled by wind instead of a static line on the stomach of a pregnant woman. Gradually the line began to split in two. It split like a faultless surgeon was using his dissecting knife to cut through. Red began to escape from Brale’s stomach. Little at first then lots. Lots of red. Lots of blood. The line kept separating and her stomach was parting like the red sea. Brale still lay there; non feeling; asleep not dead.
The tear got bigger and the red was now flowing like an ocean. Soaking the bed. A head popped out of the stomach. The head of a baby. The blood had flowed towards Tamuno, soaking his sides. Tamuno felt the wetness from his sleep and turned groggily to see what it was. His groggy eyes swiftly widened when he saw the all the red, all the blood.
Men shouldn’t scream like girls but what Tamuno’s eyes witnessed made him scream like a little girl. The scream made the baby jump out of Brale’s stomach and right on to Tamuno’s face. She began to scratch at his eyes. This thing on him couldn’t be his baby. He tried to pushed it off but this thing had claws for fingers and they were sunk into his skin like leeches. He began to scream in his pain and horror; this did not wake Brale. Maybe she was dead, or in a very deep sleep. A sleep that only a charming prince could wake her from.
The house stood quiet. Tamuno, lying in a pool of his own blood; Brale still asleep. And on their immaculate walls were the words, written in red. ‘KONA WAS HERE’.
The baby began to giggle, Finally Brale awoke from her sleep with a startled glare. Trust the voice of the child to awake its mother. The first thing Brale saw was her beloved baby, bloodied, sitting by her side, chewing on her daddy’s intestines.
“Hi mummy” the baby said
Brale began to shiver. She opened her mouth to scream but her vocal chords had stopped working once again.