The hospital room is cold, with whitewashed walls hiding screams, pain, tears and death. The doctors are poking, prodding, invading, evacuating.
The weather in October is a battle between hot and cold. Harmattan is slowly approaching and the rainy season is struggling to let go. Almost as if the supernatural forces are in a power tussle as regards who will take charge of the skies today. The sky grows dark and lightning flashes across the room followed closely by a rambling thunder. It seems Ṣàngó has won the tussle after all. The air in the room grows cold and you reach for your robe, open the bedroom door and head downstairs to boil water for tea.
Your baby kicks rapidly within you three times, and you rub your belly soothingly in a bid to calm her down.
Your protruding belly grows bigger by the day. A sign of the presence of life, a signifier of your miracle baby.
As you reach the kitchen sink, you grab the silver-coloured electric kettle, fill it with water and plug it into the socket close to the dish rack.
The doctors are speaking but you do not understand their words. Medical jargon spilling out of mouths covered by surgical masks and white coats. Stethoscopes loosely dangling from necks and the bright light above you is blinding. You never liked lights. Darkness has always been oddly satisfying, bringing along with it a strange comfort in the knowledge that scrutiny is impossible in the dark.
You stretch your hands onto the windowpane, running your fingers across the glass to check for dust, then the unimaginable happens. Sharp pain in your abdomen, stinging, biting, rearing its head like a lizard on a broken fence. This pain demands to be felt! Its presence will not be ignored! Can not be ignored! You know this feeling, this pain has visited before. On multiple occasions, it has knocked on your door, walked in without an invitation and taken from you. And yet, here it is again, threatening to take even more.
Your hand falls onto the sink and you grab the basin so tightly, the cheap aluminium quivers. Just then, as you slip onto the ground because your knees can no longer carry the weight of your body, the kettle begins to whistle. It makes a shooooooooooo sound as the water evaporates into the air.
Water for tea is ready but you will not be making tea, not today, not any time soon.
Two male nurses dressed in grey scrubs wheel you out of the room with bright lights and into another room with sad coloured curtains, an old lightbulb dangling from side to side and a rusty ceiling fan that is turning slowly but still threatening to fall.
You place your hand on your belly and open your mouth but words do not come out. A light-skinned doctor walks in and tells you that you suffered a miscarriage due to cervical insufficiency and an evacuation has taken place. He asks if you can hear him and if you understand what he just said, you hear and you understand perfectly but you wish you didn’t.
It is April and thunderous nights are upon us.
The first time she visited, she pinned you down in your sleep and even though you tried to shove her off, she wouldn’t let go. She was tiny, pinkish, had a head full of hair and dreamy eyes.
When you spoke to your husband about it he said you were just traumatized by the events of the past months and dreams shouldn’t be taken seriously.
The doctors claimed it could be sleep paralysis and advised that you speak to a therapist to help you unpack the trauma, to help you stir emotions that you are too scared to touch, too scared to process.
Their assumptions make you mad and there is a certain violence to your anger, you do not know how to wield it, do not know how to control it, do not like when it possesses you.
No gentility in the way it takes over your body. Spreading like wildfire.
An untamed inferno.
So you do not tell them about the subsequent visits. Do not tell them that her sucking hurts your nipples or that when she cries her face turns red and you are sent into a frenzy trying to figure out why she’s crying and how to put an end to her tears.
She comes to you every night and you accept her with open arms. Carry her, feed her, rock her to sleep and recite her oríkì –
You are the love child of conjugation of storms
The daughter of pride and power
The one that visits her mother only under moonlit skies
The one whose beauty shames the sun
You, daughter of the most powerful warrior clan
Àbíkẹ́; Dúrótìmí. Stay with me
Share with me the intricacies of your growth
Let me hold your hands as you learn to walk and shield you from this wicked world.
And during the day you shop for baby clothes, lots of pinks, yellows and blues because they pop nicely against her skin tone. You buy her tiny diamond earrings and a pearl necklace. Hide them under the kitchen sink, your husband never goes into the kitchen so he’ll never find them.
You do not want him and his band of doctors to call you mad. They are the ones who are mad for not being able to see your baby. She’s alive and well, in flesh and blood. She’s just shy and doesn’t want people fawning over her, that’s why she visits only in dreams.
She will be three months old tomorrow, you have baked a cake to celebrate this feat.