Caught in the middle 5: Life’s unpredictable twists
The pain of losing a child cannot be explained. It is better imagined than experienced.
The death of Uloma’s son while she lay next to him all night was horrifying.
She grabbed her son, shook him vigorously, but Onochie was cold, dead and gone.
Uloma let out a piercing cry that shook her neighbourhood and woke up her neighbours early that fateful morning. She lay her dead son on her chest while tears were streaming down her face.
Uloma kept asking God why He was punishing her. She was looking up to heaven, questioning him why He would allow her son to die after she went through hell just to have him. Her soul was filled with pain.
Not even Nnenna’s comfort and hugs did her any good. For Uloma, the death of her son meant the end of her life. She refused to be consoled.
Uloma told people who thronged their apartment just to commiserate with her family that she would die and join her son in heaven. It was like darkness has descended on her family once again and she was in pain.
“We have to go bury him, Odogwu told her calmly, trying to wrestle his dead son from her firm hands.”
Protesting and holding on to her dead baby tighter, Uloma refused.
“Allow me to die with my son, she begged.”
“My life is meaningless without my sunshine, Uloma wailed.”
Angry that she was disrespecting him before strangers, Odogwu slapped her hard across the face.
“Give me my son’s corpse, he yelled at her.”
Uloma released Onochie’s body immediately after taking a long, sad, look at his lifeless body. His face was peaceful. It was as if he was just sleeping.
Uloma’s neighbours, Ijeoma and Bisi who have become her friends, gave Odogwu bad looks for daring to slap a woman mourning the untimely death of her son.
They rushed to her side, wiped her tears and assured her that everything would be fine. But the pain Uloma was feeling blinded her to their soothing words and kind gestures.
“I don’t want everything to be alright, she shouted.”
“I want Onochie to come and suck my breasts. Someone should wake my son up for me, Uloma wailed.”
But her neighbours consoled her even when she spoke rudely to them. They understood that it was her pain speaking and not her. They took turns to stay with her for days. They came with food and urged her to eat so that she could regain her strength.
Ijeoma and Bisi stood by Uloma. They were happy to learn that she was expecting another child but she warned them not to say anything to anyone. Uloma didn’t want to jinx this pregnancy.
“You people should not tell anyone what I told you, Uloma warned her friends.”
“You have to trust us, they chorused.”
“We won’t say anything, we promise, said Bisi as she looked at Ijeoma begging her to keep her runny mouth shut.”
“I just pray I have another son, said Uloma in a whisper.”
“God will not let you down, said Ijeoma.”
But things were not easy in Uloma’s home after Onochie passed. Odogwu became more angry with her and blamed her for killing their only son.
He would look for any opportunity to hit her while Nnenna screamed and Ifeyinwa rushes to stand between him and her cousin, Uloma begging him not to hurt her.
Odogwu was out of control after Onochie’s death. He refused to even have sex with Uloma. He kept calling her a witch who brought nothing but bad luck to him. He was disgusted with her presence around the house.
He told her that she would leave his house because she kills her sons and doesn’t want to give him a heir. “Daughter of a witch, you must leave my house, he yelled at her one night after she served him food.”
Odogwu preferred Ifeyinwa to serve him food and draw him his bath after a hard day’s job. He would ridicule Uloma before her cousin and she kept taking it because Odogwu was the only family she had. She had no place to go if he threw her out.
One day, he slapped her after tasting the Egusi soup she specially prepared for him. He said it was too salty. “I am sorry, nna anyi, Uloma apologized.”
Nnenna watched as her father continued maltreating her mother and hated him for it. She also couldn’t stand Ifeyinwa. She didn’t like her and didn’t hide it from her. She called Ifeyinwa a snake but no one understood why. Ifeyinwa too didn’t hide her bhatred for Nnenna who pinches at every opportunity she gets just to provoke her.
Uloma continued hiding her pregnancy from everyone until Odogwu found out. He was livid. He accused Uloma of cheating on him and that’;s why she kept the pregnancy a secret. He blamed Ijeoma and Bisi for corrupting her.
He told her that she should get ready to go to the village with him. But he didn’t tell her why they were travelling. Uloma feared the worse and informed her friends about her impending journey to the village. They didn’t find the news funny. It was troubling to say the least.
“He wants to go dump you in the village, Ijeoma told Uloma.”
Looking at her with eyes that could kill, Bisi said he just wanted to go report her to her family and nothing more.
“Uloma, don’t listen to Ijeoma, she talks without thinking, Bisi quipped.”
‘I know what I am saying, Ijeoma insisted.”
“Write down our numbers and call us when you get to the village, Bisi said.”
“Don’t worry, everything will be alright, Ijeoma assured her friend.”
But everything was not alright.
Ijeoma was right all along.
Odogwu took Uloma back to her uncles house and told them to ke her back and he was no longer interested in the marriage.
Uloma cried and begged him to give her another bchance to right her wrongs and give him another son, but he refused. He pushed her away in the presence of her uncle and his wife and came back to Lagos.
Uloma was devastated. She was pregnant, alone and penniless. The pain she felt was enormous for one person to bear. But her nightmare was just beginning. Life had many terrible things in store for her and they started unfolding one after the other.
Watch out for part 6…