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By the time Nneoma’s pregnancy was three months her condition became obvious enough to finally get her chased away. Expectedly, her madam disbelieved her story about who made her pregnant, even as the woman had decided to let her go in order to prevent a scandal. But Nneoma had nowhere to go and had pleaded with the woman to at least give her some money to return to her village. Her pleas were ignored and out in the street she was sent with no money, no protection and no hope. As she wandered off aimlessly, it then occurred to her to contact Sunday and his wife. They were her only friends in Lagos and the only ones that could possibly help her in her desperate time of need.

Sunday and his wife were empathic over Nneoma’s plight. So they decided to help her by at least providing accommodation. This is despite that the couple had no place of their own and were (as a matter of fact) squatting with a relative of theirs in a place called Ajegunle. They gladly extended an invitation to the helpless girl who then went in search of them.
Ajegunle was a terrible slum and, (having gotten used to the luxuriousness of Lekki) Nneoma could hardly believe the nature of the terrain she had to call home. It was as though the so called houses in that area were all designed to be disgusting. Putrid sewage water ran freely across the streets and the girl was disgusted when she had to step in the dirty water just to cross the road. The house Sunday and his wife shared with his brother was a two room apartment, and every night nearly ten people must find a way to sleep in it. The entire neighborhood was simply crowded, puzzling the pregnant girl as to why and how so many people could be living together in such little space! It wasn’t long before she realized that several tens of others slept every night in each household of mostly two rooms; people squatting with friends and relatives just as she was squatting with Sunday at his brother’s. It was a harsh living condition, one that was simply unbearable for her to get used to…


For nearly three days after getting to this not-so-fancy place, Nneoma refused to relate to the environment. She stayed indoors the entire time, avoiding all the drama that characterizes such Lagos apartment buildings rightly called Face-Me-I-Face-You. She simply could not bear the fact that of all the more than thirty human beings living in that cramped space only one toilet and one bathroom were made available. The first time she ventured into the toilet to defecate she was met by an awfully terrible stench which rumbled her stomach so badly and caused her to puke so hard she almost vomited the foetus from right inside of her. The bathroom experience is a totally different tale! So Nneoma kept her waste matters within her for days, preferring to eat nothing instead while trying to figure out how to survive in the place.

One night after her body couldn’t contain the waste materials anymore, she stood up from close to the exit door where she slept on a mat and stepped into the passage way. But with no electricity, she never knew there were people lying along the passage, and had gone ahead to step on some of them much to her greatest shock. Before long everyone was awake as those people she stepped on screamed at her for being such a idiot. She apologized profusely and then ran back inside the room; preferring to keep her urine and excreta much longer…


Nneoma was finally able to adjust. But this was not before a tragedy happened to her. She had gone in search of water, (a scarce commodity in the neighborhood) when an argument about whose turn it was to fetch water ensued. Before long shove turned to push and someone had accidentally kicked her so hard in the tummy and caused her to fall to the hard surface. It was almost like a bad drama, but then it turned out to be something serious as she writhed in pain; struggling for her dear life. Blood soon flowed from her private and the pregnancy aborted even before anybody could figure to take her to the hospital. That was the end of Nneoma’s pregnancy, but definitely not the end of her travails in life!

It was five months after coming to squat with Sunday and his wife in his brother’s place that Nneoma got informed that she might have to find another place. The entire family had decided to return to their village, and unless she (Nneoma) was willing to come with them to Cross River, then it was indeed time for her to get a place. Meanwhile before this time Nneoma had made friends with an Igbo couple who actually owned the building. They once offered her a job in their bakery which she initially failed to jump at. So she went to tell them she would accept the job, and in the course of discussion had narrated the story of her life to them. The couple showed sympathy and even extended an invitation to her to come live with them. She accepted their generosity. And immediately Sunday and his family moved back to Calabar she moved in with the Igbo couple. This would turn to be a rather bad cause of action!

~Emmanuel Benson
*This story is fictitious; a demonstration of the creativity of the above-named writer.
Kindly read the previously published stories in this series if you are a first time visitor of the blog. Also kindly subscribe via email so you can get subsequent posts.


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