As I sat in the doctor’s office and listened as she threw her scary jargons around, something about ‘hyperstimulation’ all I heard was that my ovaries had a mind of their own and I was not going to be pregnant this month. Tears rolled down my brown cheeks. I rushed home to put away all of my unused pregnancy test strips. The ones I used certainly didn’t prove that I was finally going to feel like crap for nine months. My period was just late and the doctor had made it clear I wasn’t pregnant. I just had an hyperstimulated ovary. Lucky me.
I had a bath and got ready for bed. The hubby was away so no need for dinner, I said to myself, ‘I would just drink garri later’. The cassava paste always made me feel better. I could hear my sister Fati say ‘jenebu it is only you that can drink garri at night’.
My name is Zainab, but Fati couldn’t pronounce it as a baby and then Jenebu stuck because it was the local and easiest way to say it. Everyone calls me Jenebu except my husband Amir. He calls me Zainab.
I have been married to Amir for 10 years, but he stopped being the love of my life 2 months after the wedding. He was the first man I knew and married him at 16 fresh out of high school. After my first menstrual period in my matrimonial home, I watched my darling turn into a monster. By my second period, he had divorced me. Luckily my aunt got on her knees and begged him. She even played the ‘orphan’ card. You see my parents died 2 years prior.
I have not only been insulted but also assaulted and violated and I have borne it all because no one else would marry a barren woman. I have been called a lot in these 10 years, but only one has hurt. He said I was unattractive, that I was like a man to him after which he forced himself on me. Once I was so excited about my friend’s wedding, he banned me from going and said, “After all, they all get pregnant and then you tell me you want to go for naming ceremony”. I never went to any weddings again except his family members to which he always accompanied me. There too, everything has to be linked to my barrenness. Like this time where I mistakenly broke a tumbler as I was doing dishes when his mother said “Shegiya! How can you hold cup when you can’t hold on to your husband’s semen?”. Another time, he bought a different brand of rice and I cooked my normal measure. The final quantity was not as expected so I said, “This rice doesn’t swell” and he replied, “It’s barren like you”.
He had ended my relationship with everyone except Juwayriah and Nneka my best friends. We go way back and they understand. After my 3rd year of marriage, Nneka advised me to try something new more like someone new. The next year, Juwayriah helped me speak to a mallam who needed my husband’s semen. I did not go through with both offers.
I was diagnosed once with PID short for the pelvic inflammatory disease just after my wedding, but the doctor said it was because I wasn’t cleaning up well after intercourse. I was naive that way and I did not know better back then.
To speed my chances to procreate, I took Clomid for the next 18 months after the PID was treated. The doctor stopped prescribing after six months because she did not want to put me at risk for cysts, but I went against medical advice. Lucky me no cysts instead I am stuck with an over stimulated ovary. So now you get this picture.
Amir came back from his trip and stopped talking to me or eating. So this blessed day, we attended a wedding with his pregnant sister when she choked as she was eating in a bid to pour her a glass of water in a hurry, I spilled some and she said “Amir, this woman is useless, marry another one, we aren’t barren in our family; after all, this is the 9th child am carrying”. He responded as he averted his eyes from her, “I’m working on it”.
That day as I said my prayers before bed, I wept my heart out asking Allah to take away my problems. I woke up the next morning and realised I did not hear Amir go to the mosque so I went into his room to wake him. We have not slept in the same room since he pronounced the first talaq ten years ago. He just summons me when he needs me and I leave to my room when he was done. I called his name a few times and he didn’t respond so I shook him. Then I realised he was ice cold and not breathing. Fear sat in heart and I started trembling. I shouted for help and the neighbours came in and we rushed him to the hospital. The doctor confirmed him dead. He had a heart attack. I started crying not because of my loss but because that was the answer to my prayer that I wanted…at least a part of me.
Four months later, I was putting his clothes into boxes when an envelope fell. I opened it and saw a test result pronouncing him infertile due to the total destruction of cells by an infection. I looked at the date… 21st July 2005. The same day he pronounced the first talaq. I hugged myself and wept.
Two years later am staring out my window with my hand on my bump as I feel the twins scramble for space thinking about this joy I feel at 26 after 10years in hell when my new husband Umar walks in with a tub of my favourite ben and jerry’s chubby hubby ice cream. “What are you thinking of?” He asked. I replied, “How blessed I am”. “Masha Allah” we both chorus at the same time and laugh. A thought crosses my mind. ‘eleven years later and my Clomid is paying off ‘. Then my heart whispers…”Alhamdulillah for early marriage”.
Shegiya – An abusive word meaning adulterous daughter
Mallam – A man people believe to be knowledgeable in the Deen but sometimes is just a native doctor.
Talaq – divorce which is usually final when pronounced three times in Islam.
I wrote this a while back. It is my first work of fiction ever. Please let me know what you think. I am open to criticism.