“My very intention was to attend the Fresher’s welcome program. It was never in my plans to walk into trouble; but then again, who plans for trouble?”
Friday 16th March, 2012 was the day I met Fred. It was a cool Wednesday evening after classes were over for the day, Liz and I strolled leisurely to Chapel to attend the Medilag Joint Campus Fellowship (MJCF) program for newly admitted students. I remember being really excited about it, telling Liz that I was going to join a fellowship at the end of the meeting and I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed myself from the praise session to the sermon session and loved the fact that they didn’t exceed the promised two hours. The program ended well and it was time to familiarize with the oldies and get to meet people and ask questions. That was when Liz nudged me.
“Ejiro, that guy has been staring at you like almost throughout the program, I’ve been watching him.” she said, gesturing with her head towards a tall lanky fellow who seemed currently engrossed in a friendly banter with another feminine specie. “I think he likes you,” she teased, her eyes glinting with obvious mischief as she pinched my arm. “But, I don’t like him. He’s too tall.”
I laughed and pinched her back, shaking my head at her fierce opinionated character, but I didn’t share in Liz’s opinion; to me he looked cute in a weird sort of way. I was about to tell Liz this and add that the person she was talking about seemed quite engrossed with another female and it was possible she saw wrong, when ‘Mr Lanky’ walked up to us and introduced himself. His name was Fred, he was a 500 level MBBS student and all he wanted to do was talk about his fellowship.
“Ejiro. I’m a 200 level Physiology student and this is my friend, Liz.” I said, my voice sounding squeaky and foreign to my ears.
Liz smiled politely, asked some questions and excused herself. I was left with Fred and we began to talk. Somehow, the chat turned out interesting and I began to loosen up. Gradually, the conversation began to move from fellowship to other things like school, friends, family, God etc and I ended up talking with Fred till almost midnight. Liz was long gone by the time we were rounding our conversation with exchange of BB pins and numbers. Fred pinged me that same night and subsequent nights after and it wasn’t long before that became a pattern.
We moved from chats to daily meet-up with the excuse of him coaching me. Sometimes, Liz came along, other times I went alone. We would talk for hours and hours unending and it was no surprise to anyone when we finally started dating in second semester. We did everything together – attended fellowship together, prayed together, went for evangelism and other church programs together; even school functions and dinner parties, we attended together. Everyone in school knew us as an inseparable item and we won best couple twice in a row.
Our sweet, intoxicating love continued on till I was in first semester, 400 level, in my finals and Fred was already doing his house-job in LUTH, or so I thought. I went to visiting, as usual, one Saturday evening in his new apartment where he lived with a friend and colleague, Tonye, and found him all alone. Tonye wasn’t in and wasn’t coming back for the weekend and this did not bother me because it wasn’t unusual. However, Fred begging me to pass the night over was unusual, but I still agreed to. Somehow, things led to another during the course of the evening and we had sex. I felt terribly bad and guilty about it afterwards, but pushed the thoughts away because in my opinion and in the opinion of so many, Fred and I were as good as married.
Spending the night over at his place and living like couples became the latest trend in our relationship and this continued for months with nothing seeming out of place till I started noticing some disturbing changes in the shape of my body. Nobody needed to tell me I was pregnant for me to know I was. I had never been so alarmed and scared in my entire life as I was that day when the test was confirmed. I was really worried about Fred’s reaction because he had being the one hammering on how unprepared he was for marriage and how he still had to fulfil his dreams before he tied the knot with anyone. My greatest fear was that he was going to call off the relationship when I told him. I summoned courage, regardless, and told him some few weeks later and as expected, he was angry. All he kept saying was that he was ill prepared for such a great commitment as fatherhood and that I wasn’t fit to be a mother. He then suggested abortion. I was aghast!
“Are you crazy, Fred?” I remembered shouting at him, even pushing him. “Is that what your bible tells you do? Outside Christianity, do you want me to die?” I was so upset, I began to cry.
Fred came around to cuddle me till I calmed down. Gently, he talked me into agreeing to an abortion. He said he was going to do it himself, it was going to be painless with very thorough aseptic technique and I wasn’t going to die. He also told me that God was going to understand after all, we were as good as married. He ended his persuasion with: “Ejiro, if you love me, you will do this for me.” And that seemed to melt my resolve. The marriage part also calmed my nerves and though I was scared and apprehensive, I agreed to do an abortion; provided he was the one going to do it.
The abortion was done the next day on his bathroom floor, with very little pain. But I was very hysterical after it was all over. I was just overwhelmed with shame and guilt. Whenever I closed my eyes, I heard a voice calling me a murderer. I was beyond restless. Fred had to sedate me for days because I just wouldn’t calm and when it finally seemed I was getting over it some days later, I began to bleed heavily with very sharp abdominal pain. I was all alone in the apartment when it started, so I made an emergency call to Fred who was at the clinic at that time. He rushed over to take me to the hospital. By this time, I was not really aware of my environment anymore but I noticed that Fred had driven for long to the hospital. I was alarmed. We finally got to a hospital which wasn’t in anyway LUTH and wasn’t close to it either. I passed out.
I kept waking at intervals and Fred was always there. It reassured me and propelled me back to sleep. I didn’t know how long I slept but the next time I woke up, another doctor, a female, was in my room. She was the one who told me about how they had to remove my womb in order to keep me alive because there was a fast spreading infection around that area. I couldn’t believe my ears! I was too shocked to even cry. I demanded for Fred and she informed me that he had left since yesterday for work and hadn’t shown up ever since.
“Look, Ejiro, if I have to be honest with you, I don’t think Fred is coming back here for you,” she sat on my bed and looked straight into my glassy eye. Hers was gentle as she took my hands and held it firmly. “You will soon be discharged from here because you seem to be healing just fine, but I will advise you to go back to school and forget about Fred. What has happened has happened and you need all the strength in the world to move on in life.” she gave me a gentle squeeze and whispered as she stood, “You’ll be fine. I’m sure you will recover quick enough to figure out what to do with your life. You seem like a strong lady.”
I thought she was speaking Latin, because nothing she said made much sense, but that was the least of my problems; I needed to find Fred so he could explain things to me. The inner voice was back now and quite louder than before. I laid on that hospital bed overwhelmed with sorrow and weak with guilt for the next two days. As soon as I was discharged, I headed straight for Fred’s place. He wasn’t in, but Tonye his friend was. It was Tonye who sat me down and explained things to me. He started by telling me to forget Fred because Fred had relocated to Benin to do his house-job.
“I don’t understand, what has he been doing in LUTH the last five months?” I asked, already filled with dread.
“Erm….well he had just been keeping himself busy while waiting for his letter to be accepted.”
I was stunned. Immediately I demanded for Fred’s address from Tonye and after a back and forth argument of why I should just move on with my life and forget Fred, Tonye finally gave me. I took the first available bus to Benin the next day, I was so determined that things between Fred and I wouldn’t end so abruptly, not after he had ruined my life and rendered me incapable of giving birth. One of the biggest shock of my life I discovered on getting to University of Benin teaching hospital, from Fred’s own lips as he begged me to return back to Lagos and never contact him again, was that Fred had a girlfriend who was already a doctor and they were engaged. I fainted on the spot. After I was revived, I made sure the whole world knew my story, especially the staffs at the hospital. I didn’t leave till I met Fred’s so-called girlfriend and narrated my story to her. We had a bad fight where she nearly killed me and Fred right there in the hospital. It was such a messy situation.
Somehow, I managed to return back to Lagos, but I was a different person. Life seemed to have no meaning where I was concerned. I already had an extra year because I had missed a lot of tests and even some exam courses while I was running around chasing after Fred. But school was the least of my worries, I had no peace. Everytime, I closed my eyes, there was a baby who kept crying and shouting murderer. I thought I would run mad. I felt all alone. I quit attending fellowship because I was ashamed to face any of them. Truth was, I was too ashamed to face God because I felt like the world’s greatest sinner, so I wallowed in my misery for a long time, finding it hard to neither forgive myself nor Fred.
Liz was the vessel God used to reach out to me. We had grown distant in the months I had started living with Fred because she was totally against the idea. But after I returned to the hostel, disoriented, shattered, lost, with no purpose in life, she took up my case and kept ‘disturbing’ me, praying for me, telling me to go back to God and make things right. She didn’t know the full gist of what happened, but she wouldn’t let me be, always visiting and encouraging me with bible verses. Sometimes, I listened to her stories like I had never heard them before, other times I just simply shut her out.
There was no doubt she kept praying for me, because one day she came to my room to preach and I just spilled the entire story, including how I had committed abortion and lost my womb in the process. I also told her about the baby in my dreams, the one I felt was God’s messenger of punishment. I told her that the baby was all the indication I needed to know that God was never going to forgive me. Liz immediately began to address the issue. She started with 1 John 1:9 – if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness – then she prayed quoting so many scriptures that seemed to break my resolve of never going to God to disturb him with my filth.
Liz told me to let go of all the hurt I felt and let God into my life. She asked me to forgive myself and forgive Fred and turn it all to Jesus. At first I was reluctant and shy, but that was the best decision I had made in a long time after I obeyed. Somehow, I felt a reawakening in my spirit and a reason to live. But that didn’t stop the baby from haunting my dreams neither did it stop me from feeling weird whenever I wanted to pray. When I told Liz about this, she told me to keep confessing God’s word to the situation until I was finally over it. She also invited me to her church which I blatantly refused. I couldn’t bring myself to fellowship amongst believers, because I felt like a hypocrite amongst them. Liz helped me tackle this feeling till I finally started going to church again and somehow managed to become better. I graduated, got a job and even met another Christian brother who loved me despite my past, who endured my trust issues and patiently waited for me to see the huge difference between him and Fred and decide that he was in many ways different from Fred.
In conclusion, there is healing power in the word of God. At first it might seem like a waste of time or you just whiling away time, wishing you can buy God’s love. At times, it might seem so overwhelming that you just want the ground to open up and swallow you. But God is faithful and His words are true and He loves us indeed, so my advice is hang in there and wait for God. Don’t mistake God for a magician, that will erase your entire past like things never happened, God isn’t a vacuum cleaner. If you let Him, He would heal you such that even when you remember the past, you wouldn’t hurt as much as you use to and you will be filled with gratitude to God for saving you out of that situation.
Pic credit: Artist: Pascal Okafor. Follow on IG: @Pascal_greg