You wrapped it in a pink towel, tucking the ends of the towel in the folds that had formed in the towel as you wrapped. You placed the pink bundle in the Ghana-must-go bag you bought from Iya Lukman this morning after you had stopped crying. It took all of your will to clutch the zipper until you got to the end of the bag and sling the handles over your shoulder.
“See as you dey shine for this recession?” Mama Emeka hailed you as you walked out of the compound.
You gave her the thumbs up sign because you could not trust your throat to work, the weight of the bag felt like fire on your right shoulder but you continued to walk with it, you even welcomed it.
The fire on your shoulder had faded a little when you got to MRS filling station at Lawanson, you suddenly remembered Jide the pump attendant who had called you a pretty girl when you were fifteen and offered you money to follow him to his house after work. With the money, you bought a pair of dirty jeans trousers and three wispy blouses from Mummy A’s shop at Olatilewa, then you told your elder brother that Jide had tried to molest you. His careful avoidance of you when you passed there on your way to Idi-Araba market told you that your brother had delivered a fearsome message.
He wasn’t there this afternoon; neither was your husband Charles. He was in Escravos drilling for oil he said, you couldn’t even spot the place on the map even though he had repeatedly showed you the spot his rig docked. He had probably sent everyone he knew to the house to check on you and would be grinding his teeth as the prerecorded voice told him again that your number was switched off. You switched it off just after calling him, it was the hardest thing you had ever done.
You had crossed the road into Abati George street without even knowing, what if you had been knocked down by a Danfo? Would it hurt any less than the vice that gripped your heart, kidney, spleen and liver? You walked on while your legs gained weight with every metre you walked, soon you had to stop, your legs were too heavy to walk with.
“Iyawo, how is baby?” a woman called out and you turned to see if you knew her but when you turned, there was another young woman with her with a baby strapped to her back. You began to run into the market, in the direction of the canal until you got to the end of the market where cattle egrets dotted the refuse heaps like angels shimmering in a wicked world.
Your breasts heaved and tingled as milk filled them, cutting them off felt like a good thing to do because you did not need reminders about motherhood, you ignored both your breasts and hoped they would not let down milk while you were outside. You did not want even want to think about tomorrow and about unwanted and unused milk.
Instead, you thought about how the handles of the bag lanced your right shoulder with its edge of a freshly sharpened cutlass blade-pain and you thought about the games you and Chu—Chu had played this morning as you fed him, how he knew to blink three times when you blinked twice. He was only seven years old. You slid the handles off your shoulder and arched your back in preparation for the impending shot into the canal.
In your mind’s eye, you could see the wrecking ball hurling towards you to take you to bedlam. It hit you just as you flung the bag into the canal and watched it sink into the black stinky poto-poto and bury your baby’s body forever.
You staggered, you did not fall.