She wanted a child and it was as if the craving for it had amplified since finding out she may never conceive with Eze. Obiajulu didn’t want to do what her mother-in-law had suggested, for that reason, she had been avoiding her. But she couldn’t avoid her thoughts and every single day, they ran wild with contemplations of what she had to do to have a child.
She didn’t want to leave Eze. She was tempted to, she had to admit, but she didn’t want to do it. It would be wrong. It meant she couldn’t stay with him for better or worse.
But would he stay with her if the tables were turned?, her mind wondered now.
She didn’t see the possibility of that happening. Men, most men, often tossed a wife considered barren out of their lives to bring in a fruitful one. Society and culture even encouraged them to do this.
But if a man shouldn’t continue in a marriage without a child to bear his name, why should a woman? Why should she live without children of her own because Eze was incapable of giving her any?
The sharp call of her name startled her out of her thoughts. Realising Mama Ije was banging at the door and shocked that she didn’t hear her, Obiajulu ran to open it.
“I’m sorry. I was inside and didn’t hear the knock.” She hastily gave the excuse.
“I can’t see how you couldn’t have heard them, I knocked repeatedly and loudly enough.” Mama Ije said in a grumpy tone before sitting down. “Anyway, get me water first. I’m thirsty.”
Obiajulu went into the kitchen and returned with a bottle of water and a drinking glass.
“Thank you.” Mama Ije said after taking a glass and half. “Sit down. We need to talk.”
“I have been expecting to hear back from you.” She continued after Obiajulu sat. “Have you carefully considered my suggestion?”
“I told you, Mama Ije, I can’t…”
“I know what you told me.” Mama Ije interrupted with impatience. “What I’m asking you is if you have carefully considered the advantages of what I suggested?”
“What advantages are there in me committing adultery, Mama Ije?”
“Didn’t I tell you not to look at it from that angle?” Again her voice was impatient. “It’s not adultery. It’s doing your duty to give your husband a child, or children.”
“I want to do my duty, but it is my husband who cannot give me children.” Obiajulu retorted. “Our incapacity to have children is not my fault. He is the one who is infertile. And he’s the one who won’t accept that we do an IVF. Mama Ije, IVF is our solution. It will solve our problem without me having to break my marriage vows.”
“I have heard that thing barely has a fifty per cent chance of success. Besides, it’s expensive, we can’t afford it.”
“We can if we ask others to help.”
“Ask others? You mean you want to expose your husband’s weakness to outsiders?”
“I was only thinking of my family, Mama Ije. They are not outsiders.”
“Have you told your parents about this then?”
Mama Ije gave a nod of approval. “That is good. Some things a woman learns to keep to herself to protect her husband and home. But about IVF, forget it. It’s chances of success is not encouraging enough for us to waste money we don’t have on it. In any case, it will be the same thing, won’t it? I mean, the hospital will need to use another man’s sperm to fertilize your eggs, won’t they?”
“Yes, Mama Ije, they will be using a donor sperm, and in a way it looks the same, but it’s not. I won’t be having any physical contact with the man who owns the sperm. We won’t know him and everyone, except us and the hospital, will believe the baby is mine and Eze’s. And legally, it will be.”
“You think about it, Mama Ije.” Obiajulu urged as she noted the older woman’s thoughtful frown. “If I go outside, meet some man and conceive a child with him, he can decide to fight to recover his child. No reasonable man wants their children given off to another. But with IVF, these sperm donors are mostly anonymous and they never know who uses their sperm. And as a added bonus, it’s a legal way of having children and no one will fight us in court over anything.”
There was a long moment of silence where Mama Ije’s thoughtful frown deepened, and Obiajulu’s heart pounded with hope she dared not clutch on.
Finally, Mama Ije said. “Have you spoken to Eze about this?”
“Yes, I have. But he objects to it. I don’t think he fully understands it. Maybe you can speak with him.”
“I will not, because you must know by now that your husband is often adamant after he’s made up his mind about something.”
“But you’re his mother, Mama Ije. He sometimes listens to you.”
“He won’t in something like this. I know it.”
“So, what are we going to do?”
“What I told you, go outside and get your husband children.”
“And your son who objects to IVF will accept this?” Obiajulu asked unable to help the scorn in her voice.
“Eze understands the provisions of our culture and would honour them.”
“Is that so? Well, I will have to speak to him and hear him say so myself.”
Mama Ije shrugged. “If you want to, go ahead. You will find I’m not leading you astray on this. I would support IVF is we had the money and there was a greater chance of it succeeding. But this way has more guarantee. Go ahead and talk to Eze, then get back to me.”
After she left, Obiajulu wondered if it wouldn’t be altogether better if she left her marriage. What was the need to commit adultery when that might be held against her one day?