One evening, EseOghene came home tired. She had her bath and decided to take a nap. She always slept naked. When Mudipapa came back from work, he found her in a very inviting position. “Dinner” was served and without saying “prayer before meal” (foreplay) he started “eating.” EseOghene was startled from sleep, but Mudipapa was already busy. “It is not safe o, this one you are doing,” EseOghene protested feebly. But as they say, “when a man gets an erection, his brain goes on leave.” Mudipapa’s brain had gone on leave the moment he came into the room and saw EseOghene. It would start working again when he was done. To his credit after about 18 years of marriage, EseOghene still held him spellbound.
When he was done, EseOghene rushed into the bathroom. From the bathroom, he could hear her saying, “these daughters you are looking for, and want them by all means; I pray this impromptu action of yours does not lead to another pregnancy. You know what I went through with Edirin’s pregnancy. I’m too old now for pregnancy o!” EseOghene knew her cycle so well that she knew any pregnancy from the encounter would produce a baby girl.
The implication of what Mudipapa had done hit him. While he wanted more daughters, he had no intention of endangering the life of EseOghene. The anxious wait started. Seventeen days later, EseOghene did not see her period. Anxiety increased. Two weeks thereafter, Mudipapa came back from work and when he asked of EseOghene, he was told she came in much earlier and was sleeping. That was strange. EseOghene never came home that early. She was a workaholic. He was too scared to climb up. He stayed downstairs staring at the television until 10:30pm when he summoned the courage and went up. “What is it, baby?” He asked her. In his sub-consciousness, he heard the words he had been dreading: “I’m pregnant.” Everything, including his heart beat, stood still, except the room which was swirling round him.
That night, when he lay down, he knew he was not going to sleep. At
such times, he would go to the study to work, but it was of no use, his mind was in turmoil. He stared at the ceiling for nonexistent solutions. He was usually a man with great self-control; he cursed that moment of indiscretion. He wanted more daughters, but not at this time. Edirin, his youngest child, was already nine and they had closed the chapter of child bearing. This child coming when he was almost 48 years was equally going to disrupt his retirement plans. He had worked and was still working very hard, and he wanted a retirement unencumbered by school fees and child rearing. He wanted to travel all over the world with EseOghene, but how was he going to do that with a child who would still be in secondary school when he retires?
His mind shifted to EseOghene; how was she going to cope with what was clearly going to be a difficult pregnancy? The earlier ones, especially Edirin’s, were traumatic. How was this one going to be? What would people say? He remembered how Aunty Joyce and Uncle Emma advised them against having more children when they saw the pains EseOghene was going through during Edirin’s pregnancy. His heart sank. By 4am, sleep was still far away. Then it occurred to him that his thoughts were aimless. He needed to focus. “What exactly is the issue? Is it a crime to sleep with my own wife?” “No,” he answered himself. “Did I impregnate a domestic staff?” “Hell, no,” he continued. “So what’s the issue; tongues, which would wag because my wife got pregnant at almost 41? We do not owe anybody any explanations. There is only one issue really, EseOghene’s health and wellbeing,” he concluded.
By now, EseOghene had woken up. He apologized to her upfront for the pains she might likely go through. He told her that he would not stand in her way, if she decided to relocate abroad to avoid prying an inquisitive eyes and also get the best possible medical attention, but EseOghene brushed the idea aside. She would stay here and have the baby the way she had the others.
The pregnancy was difficult, but hell was not let loose as they had feared. The baby even did overtime in the womb, but EseOghene refused induced labour. One Sunday evening, Jacinta OmogheneOrien was safely delivered. She weighed 4.2kg, the most weighty of all of their children at birth.
Once Omo was born, all the initial anxieties disappeared. All her siblings were falling over one another to care for her; Mudipapa dubbed her “my retirement baby.” She was a sweet little girl, loved by all initially when she was very little. But as she grew older, she started getting on her siblings’ nerves. She was very possessive. She treated Mudipapa as if she was his only child. She was the only one who called Mudipapa ‘my daddy.’ The other children simply called him ‘Daddy.’ In the house and in church, she would come and sit between whoever sat closest to Mudipapa and say: “I want to sit with my daddy.” Her tongue was also very acidic. Mudipapa protected her and told Mado and Edirin to use her to learn how they would live with and tolerate their spouses in future. Privately, Mudipapa cautioned her to be respectful.
One of those days, Mado decided to give it back to her: “This one you are making noise, do you know you were born by mistake. That is why Edirin is older than you by 10 years. Mummy and Daddy said they thought they were through with childbearing, but you this little stubborn thing forced your way through. This family is better off without a trouble maker like you. How am I even sure, you are not another person’s baby who was exchanged for mummy’s real baby in the clinic? You look different from Tejiri (their older sister). Tejiri is dark like mummy, daddy and the rest of us, but you are light-complexioned. Where did you take your complexion from…?” Mado continued running his mouth.
Omo was wailing when Mudipapa and EseOghene got back from a wedding reception that Saturday. She was inconsolable; Mudipapa had never seen Omo,or any of his children, so traumatized. Mudipapa asked what happened, but Mado and Edirin would not talk. Then he changed gear and when they saw the raw anger in his eyes, Edirin chickened out… .
Excerpts from LIFE LESSONS FROM MUDIPAPA. Mudipapadebuts next month. Enquiries at [email protected], #mudipapa.