They were outside the Emergency Unit for a little over an hour before a doctor strolled out to speak to them.
“Well, she finally told us that she mixed some things to cause the abortion.”
Even though she’d suspected it, Belema’s heart still sank. “But what things?”
The doctor gave his shoulders a lift. “Lime, dry gin, 7up and a couple of abortion pills. It’s a common practice among teenage girls who are pregnant and often, they get away with it without much complications. But her pregnancy was about seven weeks, and likely the reason for the severe cramps and heavy bleeding.”
“Oh my God!” It shocked Belema that Amen would go to such lengths to get rid of the pregnancy. “The abortion pills, how did she get them?”
Again, the doctor gave the slight shrug. “Unfortunately, these are over the counter drugs that can be bought in most pharmacies. Or chemists, as we say here.”
“I… ah, is she going to be all right?” It was better to focus on the most important thing right now. They would deal with blame and self-recriminations later.
“Yes, she will be. While she’s still bleeding and likely to do so for another few days, we have her in a stable condition and she’s lucky to have not suffered any lasting aftereffects. We will keep her here for a day or two to properly ascertain a clean evacuation and then you can take her home with prescribed medications to further assist her healing process.”
“Thank you, doctor.” Belema said.
“Yeah. We will have her moved to a regular ward presently and thereafter, you can see her. If you will excuse me?” With a nod, the doctor turned and strolled down the long passage way.
“I didn’t help her get those drugs, or any of those things, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
Belema looked at Mike and wondered how his thoughts could still be so self-focused at a moment like this. “I wasn’t thinking that. I was thinking about Amen, something you should also be doing since you got her into this.”
He had the grace to look ashamed. “I suppose I should be. But it’s just that I don’t want you thinking that I encouraged her in any way or assisted her to get this abortion. I didn’t want her staying pregnant but I wouldn’t have had her taking this risky way to get rid of it.”
“Any way would have been risky as no form of abortion is hundred per cent safe.” Belema retorted.
“I guess you’re right.” For a minute he stayed quiet, and then he said. “I am sorry about all of this, Belema. I really messed up.”
“This is not the time for recriminations and apologies, we will talk about this later. Let’s just focus on Amen getting better. I think I will call her mother to let her know what’s going on.”
“She will think we did this.”
“But we didn’t, did we? Anyway, I’m sure Amen will tell her the truth.”
She stepped away from him to make the call and afterwards, insisted on seeing Amen alone after she was taken into the ward.
“Amen, how could you do this?”
She didn’t respond and kept her eyes turned down.
“Do you know that you could have done a permanent damage to yourself? Didn’t you think about that? Didn’t you consider the risk of losing your womb?”
“No, Aunty.” She looked at her now. “I didn’t think of anything. I only thought of you.”
“What?” Belema frowned. “Are you saying you took whatever mixtures you did to effect this abortion because of me?”
“Aunty, you have been so good to me. I shouldn’t have let Uncle… I should have told you the truth. I should have said no and meant no.” Tears slid down her cheeks. “I can’t have a baby for Uncle because he’s your husband. It won’t be good.”
“So, you had the abortion to please me or to save my marriage?” When she didn’t respond, Belema shook her head. “No, you didn’t, Amen. You may think you did, but you didn’t. You did this for yourself. You had this abortion because you didn’t want the baby, not because you were thinking of me. And I hope you will be able to live with this choice you have made because killing a child is not as easy as people think it is.”
If she had a conscience, and Amen did, this will hurt her for a long time, Belema knew that.
Life had no guarantees. That something started well didn’t mean it would end well.
Belema decided it was one of the lessons recent events had taught her. Their life with Amen had started four years ago after she’d had her last baby and had lost her first nanny and maid. She’d been a mere fifteen year old and Belema had been reluctant to take her in on account of her youth. But her mother had pleaded with them and Belema had instantly liked the well-mannered, innocent looking girl… So, they’d taken her home with them and she became a part of the family.
Now, she had to leave them and in this way that was heartbreaking and sad.
“Aunty, I want to say again that I am very sorry.”
They were both in her bedroom and seated on her bed. It struck Belema that they’d sat together in this way a number of times and to talk about a number of issues… One of them, about sex.
“I am very sorry too, Amen.” She was sorry that this had happened to her while she’d been in her home. “I feel like I didn’t protect you enough. You were under my care and… and it was my husband who pushed you into doing all of these.”
“No, Aunty,” Amen shook her head. “Don’t blame Uncle Mike. It’s my fault. I should have remembered all that you and my mother taught me. I should have shouted and ran to tell you when… when it first started. I should not have agreed with him. But I did and now, everything is ruined.”
“Not everything is ruined, Amen. You are not ruined. Your life is not ruined.”
“But it is, Aunty. I am no longer a virgin and I have now committed abortion for which God will one day punish me.” There were tears in Amen’s eyes. “And worse than this, I am leaving you people today. That is just the worse thing for me, Aunty, because nobody has treated me as well as you have since I came here.”
“First, God is not going to punish you if you truly repent of what you did.” Belema spoke gently. “Secondly, while not still being a virgin is sad, it’s not the end of everything. You are still a beautiful young woman and one who will be loved and admired for who she is. And finally, Amen, you might be leaving this house but you’re not leaving our lives. We will still remain in touch. We still plan on taking care of your training and helping you set up your business in future. This is not the end for you, it’s just a different beginning from what we all first dreamed.”
“But I don’t want to leave this house, Aunty. I don’t want to leave you.”
“Oh Amen, I hope you understand that I can’t let you stay.” She wished she could, but Belema couldn’t. “It’s not like I blame you alone or that I just want to punish you alone for this. But it’s just that…”
“You no longer trust me. I know, Aunty.” Amen cut in. “I know this is because you can never again trust me.”
It wasn’t just about trust. Even if she believed Amen would never err in this way again, she would never be comfortable having her in same house as Mike.
But aloud, Belema only said. “Let’s not talk about never, Amen, because it’s a really long time. Everything will still work out for you. The Fashion school you’re going to has hostel facilities and you will be staying there while your training is ongoing. Afterwards, we will decide what next to do and where you will be staying. Okay?”
Amen nodded. “Okay, Aunty. Thank you very much. I know that what you are doing for me not many people will do it. Many would have cursed me and driven me away, Aunty, but you didn’t. You didn’t even blame me alone and I know many women would have done so. You even fought for me to keep the pregnancy. Aunty, you are a good woman and that is the biggest reason I regret doing this.”
“Enough of regrets, Amen. It is time to move on.” Belema covered her hand with hers and gave it an affectionate squeeze. “Remember to take care of yourself. Remember this is a chance to do something great for yourself. Remember that the choices you make affect your life, so always choose wisely.”
“I will remember, Aunty, and I swear, I won’t make this kind of mistake ever again.”
“Good. Now, pick up your bags and let’s go.”
After she left, Belema took her own bag and the children’s and strolled out to the car.
“Where are you going again?” Mike asked.
“Back to my mother’s.” She said, got in the car and drove off.