“The wind howls but the mountain remains still.” It’s what my cousin told me. It has helped me this far and I’m sure it would help me years from now.
The winds of time has blown on me, I have fallen yet I’m unscathed. Life has been fair every once in a while throwing me rays of hope here and there or pouring down heavy waters on me and then giving me a warm blanket.
I have a story. A story of what was, what is and not what is to come,for we know not what the future holds. A story of how I fell and rose. Tales of how I learnt the harsh truth of the world and lived my own truth. A story of me and how I sojourned and conquered .
I fell pregnant at seventeen. It was one of the saddest moments of my life. I was pregnant for my best friend. Yes, my best friend. We were friends from childhood. His mum often said we sucked the same breast. Why won’t she? We were practically siblings from different mothers. We grew up in the same compound,played with the same sand, climbed the same trees and even ate the same food.
Ken and I were so close, we were inseparable. Whatever brought us together made sure to add a glue that couldn’t be broken. Little wonder how we started kissing under the moonlight when our parents were out hustling,bustling and jostling on the streets of Lagos but they were just friendly kisses. Friendly kisses that made a baby ten years later.
My dad was mad, his mum was furious. My mum wouldn’t talk to me, his dad didn’t want to see him. We were nomads in our own home. It all started that cold December night. We both just came back from the university on break. His elder siblings were all married so he had the house to himself when his parents had gone to the UK for Vacation. That faithful night my mum and dad had gone to Ibadan to see my grand parents and had left their only child at home with the landlord’s son.
I went to his own part of the apartment as usual and we kissed. We had those friendly kisses. Only that this one was filled with lust, the kind we didn’t know of when we were kids. We explored each other’s body and did things our parents mustn’t hear of. We were both single youths ready to mingle. The moment he thrust into me and left something within me. I sensed immense danger.
The following months were of worry. I wrote him several letters expressing my displeasure and fear in words and letters. Something that made me a woman had gone missing and I had searched earnestly for it. I had waited and hoped for it for three months and the semester was already coming to an end. My belly was becoming protruded and I feared to go home during the holidays.
Soon, I was sent a letter from dad, to come home or face his wrath. Kenneth, my best friend also sent a letter to inform me that he would be coming to Obafemi Awolowo University,one of the most prestigious universities of that time to see me.
I was very happy to see him. It was much better than the hand written letters that took days to be replied.
“Tell me what do we do to this pregnancy” his eyes were swollen. He spoke cautiously one word after the other. “I don’t know” the tears rolled down my eyes like open tap in the bathroom.
“I don’t know” my mum repeated
“You don’t know who impregnated you” Her eyes were burning with anger. Her voice rose. Dad said nothing. He went into the room and packed my box.
“I don’t want her in my house” I could tell he meant it. His arms were folded across his chest. His face was different. He didn’t look like the gentle father I knew, something died In him that morning.
“Magret, tell me who” mum yelled. The land lady was already in the living room trying to calm my mum down. They were good friends after all.
“Tell your mother now.” Kenneth’s mum encouraged me with a smile.
“Kke…Kenn… Kenneth” I stuttered.
Hell was let loose. The two mothers stared at each other in disbelief
“Kenneth, my son” his mother said. Dad’s jaw was clenched tightly. He stared up at the rolling fan. His eyes were shut. I’m sure he cursed me under his breath. Mum’s eyes widened as she blinked rapidly.
“Kenneth, your best friend.” His mum was still shocked. It was written all over her face.
” Deborah go and Call Kenneth for me” his mum said to my cousin.
It ended sadly we were both kicked out. They said they had trusted us so much and we had shattered their trust.
Ken’s dad’s words replayed in my head. ” If you can impregnate a woman then you can take care of her. I can’t be feeding a child,it’s father and it’s mother”
After pleading with our parents for days we finally moved to Ken’s place in Ibadan. He schooled in UI, the university of Ibadan. We had to share bathroom and kitchen with twelve other people but that wasn’t our biggest problem. The main problem was feeding ourselves.
Ken and I were already used to each other so it wasn’t hard for us to live together. I could feel the pain in his eyes whenever he looked at me and my big tummy. I could tell he felt guilty for everything that happened.
He registered me for antinatal with his savings and used the rest to buy food stuff. He was kind to me. For a while I felt like we were married but we were not. We were never lovers. Maybe I had a little crush on him when we were younger but not once did he confess his love for me. So he was probably doing whatever he did out of pity.
Every passing week my stomach got bigger and so did my hatred for myself. I would cry myself to sleep whenever he wasn’t at home. Ken was a natural born hustler. He did all the oddest jobs he could think of. He worked as bricklayer, he sold pure water on the express road and he had to combine everything with school work.
Each day came with it’s own problems but Ken was always there to assure me that the future was still bright. I was really sad that I had become a burden for myself and for him so I started to think of how to help myself out of the bad situation. I thought of starting a petty trade in front of the primary school not to far from our little apartment. Ken refused. He said he didn’t want to put my life in danger and that be would make sure that I returned back to school as soon as I gave birth to our baby. I knew he loved me but I didn’t know how much.
He suggested that I learnt how to sew from Mama Ada instead. God bless Mama Ada. I wonder what I would have done without her. She taught me for free and made sure I ate and rested well.
” She looks exactly like you. Beautiful.” He smiled carrying her. Our neighbor mama Ada had taken care of me and taught me how to take care of the baby.
I hated it when Omolola cried. It gave me headaches but not as much as the one I got whenever mother doesn’t reply my letters. I always told myself that it was because she didn’t receive it. Ken had told me several times to stop writing home but I couldn’t bring myself to forget them. The last letter I ever wrote to them, was to tell them how I had put to bed and how I would be resuming back to school. I had taken a full year leave of absence immediately after one of the longest strikes the school had had. They never replied.
Iya Ada offered to take care of Omolola when she clocked six months so I could return back to school but the catch was that we would send her as much as we could to take care of her. Since Ken had bought me a sewing machine with the money his Elder brother had sent, I was sure I could make enough to take care of myself and contribute to the upkeep of the baby.
I faced my studies in school and worked hard with my machine and was able to pay my school fees and buy handouts with the money I made from sewing. I slowly moved from grass to grace. Things were hard at first but it got better as the months went by. Kenneth gotten a job with a pharmaceutical company.
On my twentieth birthday, he had surprised me with a Nokia phone. It wasn’t very common at that time. Only the well to do had access to it. The phone brought me even closer to the big girls on campus. They wanted me to sew their party outfits and they recommended me to even more clients.
By the time I got to my final year, I was well known on campus for sewing the most flattering outfits. My clients were professors, doctors and the richest of students. I was sure that if I hadn’t fallen pregnant no one would have known me. But you know what they say, when life gives you lemons,you make lemonade.
With Olalere Kenneth’s help I built a fashion empire. Whoever would have thought that a pregnant seventeen year old would become one of the leading women in the fashion industry. I started with one machine and owned more than two hundred in different parts of Nigeria.
Girls listen to me when I say it’s not over until it is over. You can create wealth out of nothing all it takes is will power, hope and vision. I have seen the worst side of life but I have only used it as a motivation. I have gone days without food but today I give out food to people like Mama Ada gave to me.
That you all are pregnant teenagers doesn’t mean you cannot make something out of your life. It doesn’t mean you can’t dream and be great. Twenty years ago I was a pregnant nobody with no family, except Kenneth. Today I Mrs olalere Juwon is a millionaire with a family. My parents looked for me. When people believe it’s over for you, rise up and change your story.