By Kathryn Kazibwe, Uganda:
Shit! You don't know how much more of this you can take. The pain comes in waves, starting from your belly and radiating down all the way to your toes. You're bent over the lower bunk of your double-decker, your sister next to you, rubbing your back. She says something, but you cannot hear her over the voices in your head.
“Oh dear Lord, please make it stop! I swear I'll never…”
“Take that, you whore! Next time you'll….”
“Don't forget, deep breaths. It numbs the pain…”
You do not know which one to listen to. You don't have a choice anyway, because the fist won't let go of your womb. As it gets to its worst, you crawl to the bathroom. The smell of blood assails your nostrils as it lands in the loo with heavy plops. You hold your head in your hands and fight the urge to scream. It'll soon be over. This is the easier option. The other road would have been tougher to take.
The image of your sister comes into your mind; her suspicious eyes as they had probed your face a few weeks ago when you failed to keep your breakfast down.
“Are you fine?”
“I'm good. I've just had a tummy ache since last night…”
You had let the sentence drift and hoped she wouldn't ask any more questions.
That was the day you accepted the fact you had tried to hide from yourself for so long. You had felt the signs for a while already; the tell-tale spotting days before your period was supposed to start.
It never did start.
The general malaise that had overcome you: 'you're so lazy these days!' your dad had exclaimed.
The fact that you suddenly attained superhuman sense of smell: You could smell your lecturer's sweat from the back row in class. He stank. You stank. Everything stank. Suddenly you couldn't stand your sister's presence in the room you shared with her. Her vegetable salad breath practically ruined the day for you.
That was the day you decided it was time you told Ken that his aversion to condoms had borne fruit. You couldn't bear to call him. You have never been a fan of phone calls. You never know what to say, and the news you had wouldn't make it any easier. So you decided to send him a text.
“Hey, hope you're good…”
Hope you're good? It sounded silly considering the bombshell you were about to drop on him to make him feel considerably less than good. You deleted that line and tried again.
“Hi. We need to talk…”
The classic four words that scare the shit out of all guys!
No, no clichés.
Ah, just get on with it already, Jenny! Delete. Try again.
“Hi. I think I'm pregnant.”
You pressed send before you could start over-analyzing everything again. The reply was quick in coming.
“What? Are you sure?”
“You took a test?”
“No, but I'm sure.”
“We need to talk. Let's meet.” There's no escaping clichés, is there?
He took you to a seedy restaurant in Kamwokya. Of course he came with a home pregnancy test, always the logical one. Of course it came out positive. You already knew, but that pink line made it so final. You cried. He hugged you and told you it was alright, you would fix it together. Fix it. You both knew it could only end one way.
He found you a doctor who told you how lucky you were. You weren't too far gone. Pills would do. Nothing too painful. Very lucky girl. You thanked God. All you could think about was the kind-eyed doctor peering at you down there, crudely-shaped tool in hand. But the gods had smiled on you, and all you had to do was push two little pills as far up 'there' as you could, put another tiny pill under your tongue, and wait.
A sharp knock at the door pulls you back to the present. It's your sister.
“Are you OK in there?”
“I'm fine.” Just carrying out a little murder. Nothing to worry about.
“You should come drink your water now; it's just the right temperature.”
Warm water with a pinch of salt, your mum's remedy to tummy aches. You wish you could tell her the truth about what kind of tummy ache you have, but that wouldn't do anyone any good. You get up and stare at the mess in the toilet bowl. The Red Sea, you think, and almost smile. Almost.
The pain has subsided. The calm before a storm. You find your cup of tummy-ache remedy at the bedside stool and drink it, wishing God would wave a magic wand over you, knowing God had been pushed out of the picture the second you chose emptiness.
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