I wrote this story in July, i wanted to write something playful and light. I’d be posting short pieces I wrote a while ago here, I can’t seem to find the inspiration to write anything now. I hope to get back to regular blogging soon though- I have Duru and Uju’s tags to answer
THE TENTH GIRL
He called her Nwanyidiuto, what else could he have named her? His tenth daughter and tenth child, he had to agree that females were a pleasure, and a daughter a sweet thing.
When his wife was pregnant for the first time, he wished for a daughter. A man’s first daughter was always his true love, the one who cared the most for him, the one whose love never faltered. He’d envied the bond that his father and his sister shared, how they didn’t need words to say the things that mattered. When his daughter was born he named her Ifunanya, because love had come to him.
When his wife started spitting again, he wished for a boy. The one who’d carry his name to the people of the future, the one who’d pour earth on his coffin. Nkeiruka was born on a Sunday morning just as the church bells rang for the second mass, her first cries complimented them. He knew better things were ahead, he would get his heir soon.
Mgbeafor was born on Afor market day, her mother went into labour just after giving ukazi to Cecilia to sell for her in the market. Her father didn’t have to think of what to name her, the day of her birth had made the decision for him.
When his wife told him she’d missed her last period, he smiled and started thinking of male names. He finally decided on Obinna, the child would be the fulfilment of his desire, of his fondest wish. When his mother told him his wife had given him another girl, he sat on the bench and covered his face with his hands. His mother told him Olisabinigwe must have His reasons for saddling them with another girl and no one could question his ways and methods. He named her Rapuruchi, he didn’t want to argue with God.
His uncles told him to marry another woman since his wife’s belly was full of girls, he told them it was what he planted that his wife presented to them, maybe his wife should marry another man he suggested, maybe then she’d finally produce sons. The popular opinion was that he’d been bewitched by the Mbaise woman he’d married, they’d known she’d place his brain in her Ikwe and pound it with her long pestle. When his wife was delivered of yet another daughter she named her Obumneke. Her husband smiled when she told him she wasn’t the God who created these girls and put them in her womb, he knew his uncles would squirm when they heard the baby’s name.
Kosisochukwu and Uchechi came together. Not so many years before, they’d have been killed at birth and their mother would have undergone cleansing rituals. At the time they were born they were welcomed and even desired by many. The man and his wife had no history of twins in their families, God had decided to give them two girls and they had to accept them.
The results of the Class six exams came out in May, Ifunanya was the best student in the school and she was given a prize by the headmaster. Two weeks later, a letter came from the federal government saying that Ifunanya had the best result in the whole country. The letter came with a cash prize from the government- enough money to buy twelve plots of land and with a scholarship for her secondary school education in the academy for brilliant children. Her father had a new spring in his step and the aura of sadness in her mother’s smiles faded a little. Two months after Ifunanya began secondary school in the capital city her mother had another baby, another girl. Her father named her Nwanyibugwu because his daughter had earned him the respect of his people.
On his way back from buying kolanuts from the men of the hills, he saw his childhood friend Emenike. Emenike had married four wives and still had no child, he told him he’d rather have twenty girls than none at all. The wistfulness in his voice made his friend grateful for the eight girls who worshipped him, who thought he was perfect. His wife’s pregnancy had been a difficult one, the older women said it was because her womb had never been empty for that long, he worried about her throughout the journey and hoped she wouldn’t have the baby without him by her side. The people in the radio had encouraged men to be in the labour room with their wives, he’d never done it before but he was going to do it this time.
He got home to see a new baby and a smiling wife, she’d been victorious in the fight for her life and for her baby’s too. Everyone called the child Nmesomachineke but her father called her Onyinyechi. To him, she was more than just a manifestation of God’s goodness, she was also God’s special gift to him.
Nkeiruka and Mgbafor had joined their sister at the school in the capital city. Like their sister, they expanded their father’s business and land holdings. At the beginning of the next school year, the whole family chartered a bus to take them to the international airport. After all the hugs and goodbyes, Ifunanya entered the metal ship that sailed in the air rather than water. The man already thought of himself as Papa Doctor but he told his wife not to call herself Mama Doctor until the girl came back with her degree. She didn’t follow them to watch Ifunanya enter the ship, the baby in her belly kicked too hard for her to stand too long.
During the worst thunderstorm of the year, he was at the corridor of the maternity clinic while his uncle’s wife Nkechinyelu was with his wife in the labour room. While he prayed for her safe delivery, he wondered if he’d finally get a son this time. He didn’t want a son like Ejike his brother’s child, anywhere that boy visited there was sure to be a missing goat. He also didn’t want a son like Chidi his uncle’s son, the one who’d impregnated seven girls and ran away when they all came to his house to tell his parents, no one knew where he was since he ran away seven years ago and his parents are struggling to support seven grandchildren. He didn’t want a son like…
“Your wife has given you another girl” his uncle’s wife said
He jumped up, thanked God for the delivery and ran into the room to see his wife and daughter. The woman was puzzled about his happiness, how could he be excited about another girl, about his tenth daughter. She moved to the door to look at her husband’s crazy nephew when he motioned for her to enter into the room.
“Come and see Nwanyidiuto” he said