The sun beat down on me like the raw anger of some scorned woman. It made me sweaty and thirsty, but i continued to walk. I watched as a hen jumped off the dusty road, just missing the tires of a speeding corolla. It clucked angrily before walking off, as if certain that today, was not its end.
“Lucky hen” I thought, as I kicked the dust with my feet. I wiped the sweat from my armpits and disregarded the quizzical looks of passersby. In this very time and space, I considered that, of the two of us, – the hen and myself – she was for the better.
I saw the chemist’s sign just five paces away. The initial dread I felt in the morning, when I mulled over my decision, crept back into the depths of my bowels.
This was the third time.
But I have made my decision.
That was the name of the chemist. The name choice heightened my trepidation. I rubbed my eyelids, and squinted. The feeling heightened and my heart raced, causing my palms to shake slightly.
Inside the chemist, was a show glass of several medications – most of them – malaria remedies. On the top were two grey containers for “counting Vitamin C” and a brochure deck for fertility related issues. I averted my eyes from the pack of condoms and considered the nurse who was standing behind the counter with knowing eyes. She was small statured, but you could tell from the fine lines on her face, that she was not a rookie.
We’d already had the conversation the day before. But yesterday, I was still uncertain. Even now, I wasn’t sure. She didn’t care of course. I’d paid her ten thousand naira so it wouldn’t concern her, if I wanted to back out.
“Shey you drank only tea and bread?”
I nodded, fearing that my words would give me away. That if I spoke, the anxiety will have me fleeing the stuffy chemist, into the sunlight and my life would end, unlike the hen.
“Oya, remove you jeans” she ordered.
I gulped. Why was I so afraid? Haven’t I done this before? Was this not the third time?
The questions were a dare. A dare to unravel the mixed feelings hinged on what tomorrow would bring.
I watched as the nurse fondled with the syringe so that it spurted liquid from the end of the attached needle.
She’d closed the chemist’s doors, so the only source of light was from her Nokia torch, which she held between her lips. I placed my palms firmly on the wall, and closed my eyes.
The needle’s sting was what I needed. That slight pinch to pull me away from the dread of what would come. She was done in seconds. I flinched when she placed a cotton wool on the spot. My mind floated aimlessly as she gave me instructions. Something about making sure I had more tea, and wore a thick pad.
I nodded mindlessly and made my way to the small self-contain apartment I shared with my friend. I slipped the pad on, my tears blinding me.
“This is the last time” I said to myself, sniffing and wiping snort from my nose, “I will not remember this day”
That night, the bleeding started.