FIONA by Tracy Nneka Osokolo
Tracy Nneka Osokolo is the author of “Red Pepper and English Tea” and a resident writer at the London 2012 Olympics Festival at the Southbank Centre. Tracy will be writing a regular column for LagosMums!
I watched her skip around the dining table as I tried to work. I gave up concentrating on my laptop and watched the way she made patterns in the air with her yellow dress. Her slim brown legs moved in circles and looked just like her father’s when he ever tried to dance. With a small smile at the corner of my lips, I wondered how biology worked in such a weird way. I stopped smiling when I remembered the journey I travelled to have her in my life.
In a few more months, I would become the ‘control freak’ mum in Festac who would be all crazed up while searching for the most perfect Crèche in the small town. The first time I carried her, she stayed for only three weeks. My first test said she was negative and that she wasn’t really there. But each time I googled a symptom that she gave me, I could tell she was there. I knew she was there; and my second test confirmed it. They called children like her “Abiku” in Lagos. I am yet to tell the other married women on my street that she came one more time before she returned, again. They will want to hear that because they call themselves my ‘friends’. I smile with them when they say that because I know that in a few years Fiona will need healthy playmates. I would rather she has her sleep-overs in a place that is within close proximity to our home, and with people whom I have studied for years, so that I would already understand if their parenting style was good enough for my little Fifi.
The first time Fiona came, I wasn’t sure that I wanted her. Her daddy kissed my stomach every morning and spoke to her at night when I returned from work. He had taken up extra responsibilities at his job, as he made plans for extra income to feed and clothe her. He told her on one of those nights that he couldn’t afford to birth her in the USA but that he’d take her to school there. I felt a pang in my lower belly as her reply.
“Mummy, let us go to Oxfam” she giggled in the setting sun’s rays, coming from our window.
She was poking her finger on my ipad’s screen. I usually would get angry when she does that, but I allowed her to distract me from work … this one time. I didn’t want to ever miss her again. I missed her in those months when I waited for her to come again. While I waited for the second time, my gynaecologist said I was imagining her pregnancy and that I should stop tricking my body into believing that it was carrying a baby!
How So? I knew she was there … though I didn’t want her, I knew she was there. She made me dizzy all the time. I slept so much at the office. My lower back and lower abdomen was constantly sore and my breasts were swelling. I craved certain types of meals. Then, I ate and drank water too frequently. I needed to sit within proximity to a toilet. Whenever I would complain about what was happening to me and how Fiona would take away my dress size 8 with her, her father would smile and say “All for the better, dear”.
Then I would fire back “So, you sef you want me to be fat too” and I would have that green-eyed monster look in my eyes while he would gently watch me, knowing that it wasn’t me talking but the hormones. By week 3 of her second visit, I didn’t know what to do about Fiona inside me. I was a new wife and I wanted to enjoy my life alone with hubby for as long as society would permit me.
I started to read.
I catalogued pictures of what she looked like for every week that she was inside me, and one Friday evening as I drove from the office preparing to face mile 2’s traffic, she pinched me and she fell. Holding the steering, I bent vertically into a semi-circle and saw her lying in between my pants … red, underneath my skirt. My eyes watered. She was gone again.