© The Klever Magg
The blasting of a car horn brought Maya to reality.
She was standing right in the middle of the road and had forced the oncoming driver to stop just inches away from knocking her over.
She stood dazed and confused. Her fear numbed her legs so much that she found it very hard to move any muscle.
The driver stuck his head out of the car window and shouted angrily at her to move out of his way. Maya hurried off to the pavement as the fuming driver and passersby rained insults on her.
She had just been inches away from being fatally knocked ran over by the truck. Judging by the efforts the driver made before he could stop, burning most of his tyres in the process, she was sure it would have been deadly. The thought of death did not unsettle her anymore. At least not since she found out she was pregnant and ousted from where she called home. She reasoned that death would have ended her dilemma and put a stop to her anguish. Everything would have been over then. The pain, the torture, the distress, sorrow and suffering would all have ended.
Growing up, Maya never believed suicide was an option. She believed God gave life for a reason and every life was worth saving no matter what hardships were encountered. At least her mother taught her to believe that. But in her present situation, she felt death would do her good although she was aware she would never be able to take her own life.
Maya walked for over two hours and still was undecided about what to do or what course of action to take.
She processed the option of an abortion for a while but that would still mean she would not be able to go back home. She felt her guardians were looking for an excuse to get rid of her and she had handed them one on a silver platter.
She knew no one else apart her family.
It was rumored that her parents had eloped when they were very young and married without their parents blessing. Her parents never talked about relatives. Her mother’s half-brother had joined them when they left home at that tender age and he was the only relative she had come to know. She had no idea where they hailed from.
She thought of going to the Church to see if she could be helped in any way. The only catch was the truth would come out and her Uncle might get punished for it, as he claimed.
It had always baffled her how churches had always punished the elders with the sins of their children and other members of their household. She felt it was very unfair. Her Uncle had no idea she was going to end up pregnant from the trip. She had done wrong. She was to be punished.
She dismissed that option for she had to strive to put her Uncle’s needs before hers. He needed his job and he did not deserve to be humiliated because of her.
She realized too late how irresponsible she and Prince had been in their night of passion. She had no clue she would end up pregnant. It was a spur of the moment thing and now as a consequence, she was to face the world alone.
In their escapade and fun, they had both lost track of one important thing, how to locate each other. They had not bothered to exchange addresses or possible contact details. In fact, they had talked very little about themselves.
All she knew was his name and the church he fellowshipped at. That was more than obvious because the church organized the camping for them.
The only thing she had to show for ever meeting him was the silver necklace and the success card he gave her. Of course, she kept the notes, the ones he had written, initialed and dated every day for her when they parted for the night. And of course, the baby that was growing inside her. The baby she had never dreamt of having, at least not at her age.
She knew zilch about pregnancies and babies. She did not even know what she was supposed to do or not to do.
All she knew was Auntie Serwaa was going to the clinic regularly when she was pregnant.
Prince had mentioned during one of their meetings that he and his family were taking a vacation to Europe sometime after his exams and was positive they would not be back for some time. He had mentioned something about his Dad landing a four-year project overseas and was likely he would further his education abroad.
She missed her period that month after the Aburi trip but she had thought the change of environment was responsible for it. She found herself sleeping at the least opportunity but since she was so busy with her exam and house chores she never dreamt she could be pregnant. It was Auntie Serwaa who questioned her after her exams about her menses, since she had not taken money for some time for the usual monthly sanitary supplies.
She had been honest and told her the truth. All hell broke loose that day and early the next morning she had dragged her to the hospital for confirmation.
A driver’s mate of a vehicle that had pulled into the bus stop a few meters from where she was shouted “Accra, Accra” and Maya thought it would be a good idea to take a chance and see if she would find Prince. She could start from the Church and see how it went. She only prayed Prince and his parents were still in Ghana.
The journey to Accra was unending. She slept half the time and was totally exhausted when they finally arrived. It was quite late but the city was bursting with people and activities. She could see hawkers lining up the streets to sell their wares, vehicles packed with people moving up and down and lots of people struggling to use what was left of the pavement. The blast of loud music and car horns were all around. The noise was deafening, something she was not quite used to.
The vehicle pulled into the filthy station after what seemed like an eternity. She had experienced her first traffic jam that night.
Maya was the last to get down since she was in the back seat.
She stepped into the cold night and looked around. She suddenly felt hungry but was scared to move anywhere. There were too many cars and people around. She felt she could disappear in the crowd or a car could knock her over. She looked over to her left and saw a pastry stand. She loved pastries especially meat pies. She moved closer and stood in line for her turn. She bought what she could eat and walked back to the station. She sat on a bench and ate to her fill.
Gradually, the number of people plying the station decreased and there was some quiet.
She stretched herself on the bench using her bag as a pillow and drifted off to sleep.
The movement of vehicles woke her up.
It was morning.
She looked for a public washroom and freshened up. She set off in search of any Methodist Church she could find. By the time dusk set in and the fringes of darkness ushered in the approaching evening, she had been to about ten Methodist Churches already. None was able to help her.
She still hoped one day she would find Prince.
The story had been the same everywhere she visited. On two occasions, there had been members of the church who had the Osei-Poku surname and she was asked to come by on Sunday to meet them. She was thrilled and hoped that one of them would be Prince’s family.
Sunday finally came and she went by the church as arranged. The Church service had taken longer than usual as it was loaded with birthday celebrations and send-off services. Finally, Maya got to meet the Osei-Poku’s but was disappointed to find out they were not Prince’s family and did not know Prince’s family either.
It then dawned on her that there would be a million and one Methodist Churches in Accra alone. And it would take a lifetime to go to each one of them if she even had the means. Slowly her finances were depleting and she needed a plan to survive quick.
That night as she lay on the bench at the lorry station, sleep evaded her.
She was really miserable and dreaded the future that was in store for her. She could only see doom and helplessness.
She was not sure how she was going to take care of herself and cater for her child.
She wondered what kind of work she could do to help her earn enough to take care of her basic needs taking into consideration her educational background and her present condition.
Many questions went through her inexperienced mind. The more questions that popped up, the more helpless she felt.
Finally, Maya drifted off to sleep.
A tap on her tummy got her to open her eyes. She saw a figure in a hoody leaning against the bench with a knife pointed at her ribs.
“Don’t make a sound or I’ll use this on you!” the stranger said.
Maya was petrified. She felt like dying. She had enough problems as it was.
“Please, don’t hurt me. I have a little money. Let me take it for you. Please!”
“Shut up, fool. I don’t need your money. I want you. Roll over to the floor towards me now!”
“No, please, no. I beg you. Please take the money and leave me alone, please.” Maya pleaded.
She was not ready to add rape to the list of problems she was enduring. Tears coursed down her cheeks as fear gripped her.
“Shut up, would you? Roll over or …….”
“Leave her alone,” a voice from behind them intoned.
The guy in the hoody turned around in a flash wielding the knife at the intruder.
“Come any closer and I will slice you into pieces. Walk away while you still can.”
“I said to leave her alone, imbecile. If you want to spread your legs, go find someone who has taking it upon herself to offer that for sale. Don’t come here and try to take it by force.”
The guy in the hoody rushed on the intruder and just then a police patrol team siren blasted to signal their presence. The siren was so close the guy with the knife took to his heels.
Maya sat up shaken. The stranger asked if she was alright and advised her to find another place to sleep the next day. He said with emphasis that the guy would come back until he got what he wanted.
Maya sat up throughout the rest of the night thinking. She needed a plan or she would surely die of hunger in no time.
On her rounds in search of Prince, she came across a store that needed a sales girl. She had stopped by to check it out but the owner was out. She was asked to come back some other time.
Early in the morning, Maya freshened up quickly and set off for the location. She missed her way a couple of times but eventually she made it and got the job. The salary that came with it was nothing to write home about but it was better than nothing.
She was to start work the next morning but offered to help out that day.
It was a supermarket in a developing residential area. The environment looked tidier and quieter than where she had resided since her arrival in Accra.
When everything was packed for the close of business that day, Maya pretended she was waiting for someone until all the workers left. The security man saw her bag and enquired if she had somewhere to stay. She was honest in her answer and he allowed her to sleep infront of the store shielded with tables and carton boxes.
For once, she slept like a baby.
The security guard woke her up and showed her the nearby public washroom and bath house early in the morning. Maya freshened up quickly and returned to the supermarket.
She found some sweeping brooms around and tidied up the place before the owner came to open the store, and the woman was impressed with her initiative and commended her for it.
Maya knew she would do just fine in the meantime.
She, however, feared what would happen if the owner found out she was expecting. Another thing that bothered her was her inability to attend antenatal clinics since it looked like they worked seven days a week and fourteen hours a day at the supermarket.
The owner mentioned an off day in a week but she was yet to see how it worked.
It had been two weeks already since she started work at the supermarket.
She was twelve weeks pregnant now but thankfully she didn’t have much to show for it. There was no noticeable bulge in her tummy.
As she worked her bones off to eat and get a place to lay her head, Maya became the favourite of all the rich customers that came to the supermarket. She was pleasant and very serviceable to all. She gave her all without expecting anything in return.
One fine day, a nurse walked in and after she was finished her purchases, Maya was detailed to take her items to her car. She encouraged Maya to start attending the clinic since her life and that of her baby depended on it. Maya was surprised she knew about her pregnancy because she could swear she had not told anyone.
The kind-hearted nurse took the opportunity to give Maya tit bits on how to take care of herself and the baby to ensure she delivered a healthy baby and minimized her risks too.
Nurse Araba gave her directions to the clinic she worked, which was a few yards away from the supermarket and told her the ante natal clinics were on Wednesdays.
Maya had misgivings about asking for days off to attend the antenatal clinics for fear she might lose her job. Coincidentally, that weekend the Madam discussed the days off and everyone was asked to give a specific day to take off. She had recommended Wednesdays and the Madam had agreed without hesitation.
On her first day at the antenatal clinic, Maya became overwhelmed with worry as the talk for the day confused her even more. She was not sure she was ready to become a mother especially at such a tender age. She was positive she did not have what it took to be a good mother yet.
She became more convinced that an abortion would solve half of her problems. She could keep her job and try and make something out of her life without worrying about a baby she had no idea how to care for. She could even go back home and lie that she lost the baby and everything would be back to normal. She had missed home so much. Even though her Uncle’s wife was not too fond of her, she still preferred home to where she was now.
She mastered courage and approached Nurse Araba.
After listening to Maya’s story, Nurse Araba was touched and felt very sorry for her. However, she did not think abortion was the answer. She told Maya that abortions, even if done by experts and under hygienic conditions, could still have dire and terrible lifetime consequences for some women.
She was able to convince Maya to keep the baby and if she did not want to take care of it, she could arrange for him or her to be adopted.
Maya continued to work at the supermarket until she was seven months pregnant. That was when the Madam found out about her condition. However, because of her hard work and the fact that most customers liked her, the Madam was ready to forgive her for keeping it a secret.
Madam Korkor, the supermarket owner, let her stay until she delivered but told her not to come back.
Maya found herself homeless once again and begged Nurse Araba to let her stay in the hospital and sleep in the out-patient’s after close of day since she had nowhere to go.