ROSALINE was attending her company’s usual monthly briefing when she was called out to answer a call. “I knew straight away that it would be a distress call,” said Rosaline. ‘The secretaries had strict instructions not to pull any of the sales executives out of a meeting to answer any calls except such calls were important. When I picked up the call, it was my daughter’s school principal on the line with the news that it looked as if something was wrong with my daughter, Vivian. She was going to be 15 soon and in SS IT, living with my mother. What could be wrong with her?
Determined not to panic, I drove to her school.
“When I got to her school my mother was already there looking as if someone had died. She told me the school had tested Vivian and she was six months pregnant.
‘How could you have let it happen?’ I shouted at my mother. Because Vivian’s school was nearer to her house, I had let her stay with mum so I wouldn’t have the stress of running around to pick her. I’d had her when I was 23 and was married to her father. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t work out and she’s an only child. I could see my mother was indignant about my outburst, but she said nothing.
When I eventually saw the principal, she said Vivian was at least six months pregnant —too late for an abortion. But how could she be that far gone without anybody noticing? Teenage mothers often deny that they feel their babies move when the pregnancy is at the advanced stage. It’s part of their general denial of their pregnancies, said the principal. “But the baby is alive, the doctor assured us. However, there was no way of telling how the baby could turn out as she hadn’t attended any prenatal clinic! It was a nightmare! In a few weeks, I would be 39 and a grandmother! My daughter would have turned 16 then.”
“How could this be happening to me just when I was getting a better grip of my life and finances? When I eventually saw Vivian, it was obvious she wasn’t aware of the enormity of what she’d done. When I scolded her for not letting us know, she said she wasn’t even aware that she was pregnant.
According to her, ‘I knew I’d had a few dizzy spells especially when I took part in sports but honestly, I didn’t think I was pregnant. How could I be pregnant? I wasn’t fat and my periods were as erratic as they used to be. Besides, we had sex only once!”
“Sex with who? It turned out she’d had sex with the 17-year-old jobless boy who lived two houses from my mum! She started understanding how different things were going to be when I told her she would have to drop out of school to have a baby. She was shocked. We returned to my mother’s house and it was decided that she should continue to live with her. We went to see the boy’s parents and they seemed scared. The boy was sullen and said it only happened once, how could he be sure he was the father? I wanted to hit him and my daughter started crying again, so we left.
“Two months later, my daughter, a mere child herself was in labour. I felt helpless and frightened. A child giving birth to a child—this was a moment when I couldn’t take on her pains. In the end, she gave birth to a healthy boy. I felt such a relief that I even smiled with pride. My own flesh and blood! This was my grandchild! I wanted to scream to the world. But when I looked at Vivian, I came down to earth. She looked vulnerable, and there was the financial burden of looking after a brand new baby. How would I pay for all the things this new little baby would need? And how would I help my daughter grow up overnight?
“I was surprised when the father’s parents showed up at the hospital. Titus (the baby’s) father looked as if he’d done the did himself—he was so proud.
I guess it had to do with the fact that the baby was a boy—he said he was a splitting image of male children in the family! Titus just stood, round-eyed, looking at his son as if he was an alien!
“That was last year. We found another school for Vivian and she will be finishing secondary school next year. She is a brilliant child and her son now lives with mum so he could be near his other grandparents. He’s spoilt rotten and it was a relief when Titus’ parents offered to be responsible for some of the financial expenses. I’ll soon be turning 40. It hasn’t sunk in yet that I am a granny. Maybe when I cut my 40th birthday cake with a grandson in tow, it will sink in. I only pray that Vivian learns some good lesson from all this….”