Justina decided against telling Achema about the blood covenant for fear that he may not want to marry her after wards.
Achema: “I am still on my knees. Please say yes”.
Justina: “Yes, I will marry you. You are the only man that I have ever truly loved”. Achema excited, slips a cheap engagement ring which he had bought from a man hawking jewelries on his head on her finger. She notices how cheap the ring is but she conceals her disdain.
Achema: “I promise to do my best to make you the happiest woman on earth and I know that soon we would have children, who knows, God may even give us Yusuf back”.
Justina: “How is that possible? The poor boy is dead”.
Achema: “Ah, don’t you know that with God all things are possible? Haven’t you heard of reincarnation before?”
Justina: “Oh, I see what you mean”. Her heart pounding at the thought that she could never have more children.
They plan to leave for the village against Justina’s wish.
Justina: “No, we can’t go back to the village. I have saved some little money; we can use that to rent a place and stay”.
Achema: “Why should we waste the little money you have to rent a place when we have a big house of our own in the village? You can use that money to start up a business instead of giving it to Abuja landlords”.
Justina: “You don’t understand. I can’t go back to the village like this. I will be the laughing stock of everyone there. I promised my parents that I would never return there until I make enough money to take them out of poverty. Let’s stay here and live our lives quietly as husband and wife”.
Achema: “I have told you several times that you do not have to worry about what people say about you if you want to be happy in life because people will always talk about you no matter what you do. I am sure your parents will be more than glad to have you return to them after so many years, what you bring home will be the last thing on their mind. Besides, we need to have your parents’ permission and blessings for this marriage to work. I am here for you; let’s go back to our roots”.
Exactly a month after they returned to the village, Justina and Achema got married traditionally. Their marriage was blissful for the first few months as Achema tried his best to provide for her from the little money he makes from his carpentry business. Justina on the other hand had opened a provision store somewhere in the market with the money she saved while she was working in the city. Despite the fact that Achema never spoke to her about her inability to conceive after seven months of their marriage, she was beginning to get worried for fear that he may find out one day that she is the cause of the problem. Her inability to conceive was a cause of serious distraction to her and she was finding it very difficult to sleep at night. One night, as she was tossing around on the bed, Achema who had been quietly noticing the changes in his wife got up.
Achema: “My love, you are restless. What is the matter?”
Justina: “Me, no. I am fine. It’s just these mosquitoes that are everywhere coupled with the hot weather, else I am fine”.
Achema: “No, it is not just about tonight. For few weeks now I have been studying you. Something is eating you up. The fire in your eyes when we got married is no longer there. I am your husband, whatever it is, tell me”.
Justina: “I have told you what the problem is, too much mosquitoes and heat in this room”.
Achema: “I am sorry that I can’t afford a better place than this house for now but be patient with me, things will soon change for good. Please don’t leave me, I see myself spending the remaining days of my life with you, the mother of my unborn children”.
Justina at the mention of children flared up. “Oh, just stop calling me that, Achema. Which children? Are you being sarcastic or are you indirectly reminding me of my plight? It’s been seven months after marriage and not even one miscarriage and you say I shouldn’t be worried? Very soon people will start laughing at me and referring to me as a barren woman”.
Achema: “Seven months is not seven years. You need to relax, were you not taught that anxiety reduces your chances of getting pregnant?”
Justina: “Seven months is more than enough time for any woman to get pregnant. Look at my cousin who married some months after us, she is already heavily pregnant. She told me that she got pregnant the month she got married. So, what are you telling me?”
Achema: “That is why you are Justina and not your cousin, everybody has his or her own time. Just relax, our babies are on the way, who knows, you may even conceive tonight”. He drew her close in her tight hug and reached for her lips, enveloping it with his. At first she was cold, allowing him to do the kissing alone, then she tried to resist him but he reached for her pants and she succumbed. Minutes later, he climbed down from her having deposited his seeds deep inside her. They made love all night until the early hours of the morning and he prayed, silently in his heart for her to conceive so that she could regain her cheerfulness.
Justina was in her shop one day when Tolu, her friend who had taken her to the quack doctor for abortion years ago came visiting. Tolu had ended up marrying a village farmer and she had 7 children which she and her husband were finding difficult to fend for.
Justina: “Ah, madam Tolu. Na your face be this? You scarce sha o”.
Tolu: “Which one come be madam wey you come dey call me now? I old pass you? Forget say I dey tie wrapper these days o, if I knack bum short and small top now, you go no say I never old”.
Justina: “You and this your mouth, Tolu. You will never change. Please sit down jare. Make I give you cold pure water take cool your throat?”
Tolu: “No, e ma worry, jare. What is happening to you, my friend. I purposely came to meet you here so that we can talk without your husband listening to us. You are losing weight, you are not your usual cheerful self, you don’t even visit me like you used to when you got married anymore”.
Justina: “Hmmn, you are my friend and we have come a long way, I won’t hide anything from you. My inability to conceive after marriage is getting at me”.
Tolu: “Hmmn, I thought as much. But what could the problem be, is your husband not man enough?”
Justina: “It has got nothing to do with him. For the past weeks, we have been having marathon sex every night thinking I will conceive. This morning, I woke up to see my usual monthly flow, meaning I am not pregnant. I haven’t even told my husband”.
Tolu: “Talk to me, what is the problem, you know I can help you”.
Justina: “I am telling you this because I trust you. I haven’t told my mother and my husband. This secret should be between me and you”.
Tolu: “Who will I tell? What will I get from telling anyone? You can trust me, is there anything about me that you don’t know? So, why can’t you open up to me?”
Justina: “Okay. I entered into a blood covenant with one hajiya when I ran away from the village”. She narrated the details of the blood covenant to Tolu who listened attentively. “That is it o, my sister. I swore that if I ever tell anyone about it, I will never give birth again”, Justina concluded letting out a heavy sigh.
Tolu: “Hmmn, this is a serious issue. But why did you have to let out the secret now?”
Justina: “The Police was on my neck. They threatened to torture me and charge me to court for the murder of my son, I had to speak up, I never knew that I would even get married again, talk more of wanting children”.
Tolu: “Don’t worry. There is nothing under the sun that doesn’t have a solution. I know this very powerful baba in a village not too far away from here. We shall go to see him in 4days time, just make sure you have the sum of N50, 000 on you when we go there, that is his service charge. You will conceive after you see him”.
Justina: “N50, 000 what? That’s too much now. What does a village native doctor need that for? I mean if I take N50, 000 away from this shop, what will be left?”
Tolu: “You think breaking a blood covenant is a small thing? Which is better, having money with no children or spending money to get children?”
Justina: “Okay, I will try and get the money ready”.
Tolu left with a scorning laughter on her lips. When she got to her house, she threw herself on the bed giggling.
Tolu: “So, that foolish Justina is stupid enough to tell me her innermost secret. I will use this against her, she may have forgotten how she snatched Achema from me years back. Now is payback time. Let’s see if Achema will still want her as a wife after I tell all I know about his wife”.
Question: Was it wise of Justina to confide in her friend? Will Tolu betray her friend? What will be Achema’s reaction?
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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