It has never been easy for her to hate. People hurt and disappointed her, but she could never work up enough resentment to slip into hate. Still, while she did not hate or even resent Amen, she didn’t feel sorry for her.
“Aunty, I can’t have a baby now. I’m too young. My mother will kill me.”
“These are the things you should have considered before opening your legs wide for a man, Amen. Every action has a consequence, I always told you that.”
“Aunty, I told Uncle. I told him that we shouldn’t do it, but he won’t listen to me.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” That part also hurt. “I took you like my own sister. I’ve been good to you. I talk to you; share things with you. Amen, why couldn’t you tell me when he approached you? Why would you accept to sleep with my husband?”
“I don’t know, Aunty. I was afraid at first and then I thought it won’t happen again. But he came again… Aunty, forgive me.”
She would have to, wouldn’t she? She would have to forgive both of them. But she couldn’t now. She might not hate, but she was hurt and angry.
“Your excuses are not good enough, Amen. You could have said no and continued to say no. You could have talked to me. Anyway,” she forced aside the yen to blame. “you’re not removing that baby.”
“I’m not supporting abortion, Amen. Two of you will not lead me into doing something I abhor.” She cut off the whining protest. “We have to go see your mum. She has to know what is going on.”
“No, Aunty, please don’t tell my mother. She will kill me. She warned me… she warned me oh.”
“Well, we can’t hide this from her. I’m not going to keep you here while you are pregnant for my husband…”
“Oh, Aunty, don’t drive me away!” She wailed. “Please, forgive me. I will never let him do it again, I swear. Aunty, please.”
“Amen, you have to go home. I can’t house a girl who slept with my husband. You can’t have your baby here…”
“I won’t have the baby.” She interrupted her again. “I will remove it and no one will know. I won’t tell anyone that I was ever pregnant for Uncle. I swear I won’t.”
“You will not abort the baby and you’re going home, Amen.”
“Aunty, please, don’t send me away. Please, I beg you. Please, forgive me.”
Belema felt sorry for her. She couldn’t stop the pity that wrung her heart. But she couldn’t let her stay. No, she wouldn’t. Letting her stay would be like welcoming another wife for Mike.
And she would never do that.
“Why do we have to take her back home? She’s old enough to go on her own.”
The selfish question didn’t surprise Belema. Mike was selfish. He thought of himself before and more than he thought of anyone else.
“We brought her here, Mike, and we are taking her back. Besides, we will need to speak with her mother about her condition.”
“Fine. But do I have to go?”
“How dare you ask me such a question?” Furious, Belema glared at him. “You impregnated this girl. You started this trouble. I shouldn’t even be involved because both of you betrayed me. I should leave you in your mess and walk out of this house.”
“Don’t Belema me!” She snapped, slapping away his hand. “You cheated on me with my maid, Mike. And while you may think it’s some African man right you have, it’s not!”
“I don’t think it’s any kind of right. I made a mistake, that’s all.”
“A mistake is slipping the wrong key in a lock, not burying your penis in the vagina of a nineteen year old hired to look after your children.”
“Jesus, Belema, don’t talk like that.”
“Don’t tell me how to talk.” Belema hissed. “You did this and I’m not going to clean up your mess while you sit at home and relax. We’re both taking Amen home tomorrow and that’s that.”
“Fine, we will take her back tomorrow. But I’m only worried about how her mother might react if I’m there. She’s bound to hate me.”
“That particular worry is your business, Mike, not mine.”
He should be worrying if she wouldn’t wind up hating him after this, Belema thought.
The drive to Abonnema was depressing as Amen sniffled, sobbed and muttered repeated pleas at the back seat of the car.
And because she wouldn’t stop the piteous noises and Mike was too much of a coward to even look at Amen’s mother, it was up to Belema to explain their sudden visit on a Sunday evening.
“You let man wey never pay kobo for your head touch you, eh Amen?” Mama Amen, as most people called her, asked her daughter.
The response to that question was a broken sob. And in a motion so swift, Belema didn’t recall blinking, Mama Amen rose and delivered a resounding slap on Amen’s cheek.
“Useless girl! Na wetin I teach you be dat? I dey ask you, na wetin your mama teach be to open leg for any man wey come near you, eh?”
Before she could hit the sobbing girl again, Belema held her and pulled her back to her chair.
“It’s okay, Mama Amen. Let’s all remain calm. Please.”
As if that plea was enough, Mama Amen inhaled, expelled the breath and nodded.
Belema sat down again.
“Sister Belema.” She called her that. “You know me, I be widow. I no get husband again wey go help me train this five children. I give una Amen to lessen the load wey only me dey carry. I send im senior brother to go learn work with their uncle wey dey for Benin.”
“Mama Amen, I know.” Belema felt sorry for the woman. They were both victims of Mike and Amen’s self-centred act.
“This thing wey you tell me so pass my power right now. I no go fit carry am.”
“Mama Amen, we’re not abandoning her. We will look after her and the baby. Mike will be responsible for the baby’s upkeep.”
“I understand dat one. But Amen no go fit stay here. She get bele for Brother Mike, so make im keep am for im house.”
“Mama Amen, I… I’m his wife. I can’t house a woman who’s involved with my husband.”
“I understand. I be woman and I know for my heart say you dey innocent for this matter. Na Amen and Brother Mike I blame, no be you. But Amen na your oga property now. She get bele for am, so na una house she go stay, no be here. I no get space for pikin wey carry bele outside.”
Belema stared at her. And in the tear-filled eyes, she saw unflinching resolve.