When I first saw her, intimidation brewed within me. I suddenly squirmed in my seat, feeling rather small despite my heavy bodied exterior. I thought it was the grace in her body movements or her stunning features but as it turns out I was gravely mistaken. The intimidation came from her eyes, her piercing eyes that were a hue of warm brandy. They held a plethora of emotions and the one that stood out like a sore thumb was rippling rage. I smiled nervously as she offered a half smile whilst throwing a quick glance towards the two young men bowed down to their strewn books.
I shrugged at her inquisitive tone not really meeting her eyes. When I finally did, however, they sparkled with amusement. She had long brown fingers that gingerly rapped at the wooden table. I suddenly wondered how her skin was so perfect. Maybe after this she could give me some tips.
“Where do we start?”
I did not expect the quiver that accompanied the question but I chose not to insult her bravery with pity.
And so she started.
She had just turned twenty one and was celebrating her birthday at the safety of her room, alone with a cupcake and cup of tea. She had thought it poetic to grab one of the matchsticks which she lit and made a wish to before blowing it. She then ate the cake and sipped the tea in utter silence, as she took a mental stroll. She enjoyed picturing herself in another time which I personally found strange since most people tend to picture themselves in another place. Her selected time frame would be the year 2176. Though curious, I refrained to ask why, something told me I would eventually figure it out. She continued with her relay.
An obliterating pain emanated from her abdomen during her lucid dream. It was so bad she accidentally pushed the cup of tea, her birthday tea. Her whimpers of pain soon became hysterical screams and somewhere in between her screeching pleas her parents rushed to her aid. Soon after she was lying on their veranda. A local doctor was summoned.
“They are not big on hospitals, they are not big on anything modern at all.”
I bobbed my head picturing my grandmother’s scowl when I tried to get her to swipe a photo in my gallery. She sighed and continued.
The doctor arrived promptly since her parents were well known and were among the few educated people in the village. She got a thorough check up that mostly involved probing and sighs. She was still in blinding pain but she had a lot of pride so she bit back her screams. The doctor concluded she was pregnant.
“I actually forgot the pain for a while after the doctor announced that I was pregnant. Then to everyone’s surprise, I burst out laughing.”
Even now she chuckled. Her chuckles were infectious and soon my shoulders began bouncing with a life of their own. Her face suddenly became hard, her eyes forlorn. I could not help but ache for her, it didn’t take a genius to know that this girl was in some serious pain. And just like that, our shared chortles were over, she continued.
Her father blew a gasket. He descended an abysmal of insults on her then her mother. He disowned her, threatened to kill her and her “boyfriend” for tarnishing the family name. Before disowning her, however, he promised to marry her off to that “bastard boyfriend” of hers.
“For a minute I recall thinking how a man like my father, a well educated man who was considered a wise could be so…foolish.”
Again, I shrugged, not knowing exactly what to input. She sighed, throwing a broken look into nothing for a while. A fly buzzed towards us, and for a minute I was jealous, it probably didn’t have to face what we faced everyday at the mercy of our society. But then again it had a short life cycle so it wasn’t exactly living the life either.
Her mother’s eyes spoke volumes of disappointment. She wondered why, I mean she could understand her father’s reactions since he did not pay close attention to her but her mother? Had she not bought her pads a week ago? How then could she be pregnant? Her silence did more harm than good but then again it wasn’t her choice to stay silent, she had to, because of the heart wrenching pain in her stomach.
“It came in waves. One minute I would be staring daggers at my frothing father and the next I would be in a fetal position cursing my very existence.”
The doctor insisted that he test her just to be sure. At that point she really did not want to ask how he knew to bring a pregnancy kit to a mere house call. He did a quick blood test and the results were as she expected, negative.
“You should have seen their faces, deer caught in headlights is an under statement.”
Her victory soon vanished, however, when the doctor threw yet another tale to the wind. The doctor speculated that she had conducted an abortion that hadn’t gone well.
“All hell broke lose.”
Her father went into a state of manic destruction; hitting things with other things. Her mother released a staccato of screams that attracted the villagers’ attentions.
“Instead of them asking me questions, instead of the doctor doing a standard Q and A…”
This she said through gritted teeth, her long brown fingers now clenching at the edges of the wooden table. It was as if she was purposely stilling herself, containing the very well earned explosion of anger. I kept quiet, afraid to break her because at that very moment, her intimidation had melted into a state of delicate vulnerability. She did not take long to recover, she continued.
Some people came over to witness what had taken place. The doctor had made it his chore to welcome them into the compound while announcing her “abortion”. The pain coupled with utter anger was driving her insane, her parents had yet to approach her with questions. The villagers were talking loudly at once. Some wondered if this was the result of going to campus, some vowed their children would never step a foot on campus grounds.
After a while, the local pastor arrived. She expected him to start praying for her rotten soul but to her bewilderment, he had crouched before her and asked her what was going on.
“He was new to the village, a stranger. Yet these people I had grown up with had tossed me to the curb just because their dear doctor had deduced the reason for my ill fated condition.”
The pastor helped her get to an actual hospital but not after being hassled by her parents or rather, parent. Her father had retreated to their house and locked himself in.
“I was diagnosed with endometriosis.”
I quirked my eyebrow and she chuckled humorlessly.
“It’s a condition where the uterine wall tissues inflame.”
“That sounds painful.”
“ Ya think?”
She sighed and once again threw a glance towards the two men, her eyes narrowed at them.
“They are listening in you know.”
“It’s becoming a very usual trait among boys.”
She laughed at this and once again sighed. She continued.
Her parents didn’t visit her when she had surgery. She thought that their conscience was taunting them with guilt, remorse. Sadly, she later found out that it was shame, they were ashamed of her. Somehow, she had brought the disease upon herself and that her “boyfriend” and education were the cause.
“That quack doctor almost cost me my life and the fact that my parents took to his words like white on rice just makes me all the more angry. Why would you take on a responsibility such as saving life and then wind up destroying one? My relationship with my parents is estranged, the villagers still eye me with disdain and I am still under medication because the disease was spotted late.”
Her voice was quivering and I couldn’t blame her. A while later after she had dabbed her eyes with a crumpled tissue from my pocket, she stood to leave. The storm in her eyes had settled, almost as if telling her story had simmered her rage.
If you spot a quack doctor don’t let them hold on to their license, they are taking lives rather than replenishing them.
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