As he stepped through the gate of his house, it was as if it was premediated, because we all literally swooped on him, shouting “Congratulations” “It’s a baby girl!” “You’re now outnumbered in your house”, the older women around chipped in.
Through all these greetings and pettings Jomi was getting, he smiled and calmly said, “We lost the baby!” My heart broke! In the space of a few minutes, I had gone from hilariously happy to downright sad. I felt like I should just hug him tight and not let go.
Obviously, not all of us present that morning heard him, as most continued with the merry-making and calls to inform more people that Jomi’s wife had given birth. He spoke louder in Yoruba, “Ati lose Omo yen!” (We have lost the baby!).
Now, there was a pronounced change in the atmosphere. We were all visibly affected by that news. At that moment, I wanted to be back home, but before then, the now important question was if the mom was doing fine.
When someone asked how the wife was doing, Jomi said, she was fine but was not yet aware of the fact that her baby had died, even though she had been asking about her. My heart bled for her. Imagine going through all that nine months of drama, and not being able to carry the baby at the end of the day? It’s quite sad.
We were commiserating with Jomi over his loss, but at the end of the day, he said, “My wife is more important! It’s not as I we have not had kids before. We have a boy and a girl, and since this one has decided not to stay, no wahala. I just thank God, that my wife is fine.”
I couldn’t help but see his point. With his wife alive, they could try for another baby, if they so desired, or just continue to raise their two kids. You know at those times, people have a lot to say, stories to tell and plenty to say tufiakwa over and over, and even more to thank God for, that it was not our portion or rather, Jomi’s portion.
As Jomi left us to get some things from his apartment, so he could return to the hospital, the stories started to flow. They told stories of a man who lost both mom and baby, during childbirth, not once but twice, and that led to people being suspicious of him, as they wondered if he was using his wives and babies for some diabolic practices.
According to the mama that was narrating the story, the man in question was as poor as anything. He even found it difficult to cater for his pregnant wives and had relied heavily on the kind-heartedness of family and friends. So the question was what he could have possibly been using them for, because it couldn’t have been to get rich.
When this man’s first wife had died at child birth, there was so much outpouring of concerns towards him. Here was a man who had gotten married at an advanced age, thank God he was blessed with a child early in the marriage, only for both his wife and child to die at childbirth.
The story was different when, after several years, he finally married another lady, who got pregnant soon after their marriage, only for him to lose her and the baby at childbirth again. Eyebrows were high up there and he was being x-rayed.
Some other person also shared the story of the man who lost his wife, while the baby lived. It was that time, that Jomi came back out and he said, “Thank God, that is not my portion. Who is going to be taking care of the baby?”
We asked him when he was going to tell his wife that their baby had died. He was visibly shaken, as obviously, he hadn’t thought about that fact. He just mumbled something about letting the doctor do the honours.
One of the mamas said he should just tell her the baby was fine but needed more medical attention and that he (Jomi) was seeing her, at least, until the news was broken to her.
Jomi nodded as he headed back to the hospital, but the drag in his footsteps showed the whole thing was getting to him. I wish I could help him to carry his load, but this one, he had to do by himself. I wished I could visit his wife in the hospital but the moment was not right, even though that had been my intention when I left my house that morning for Ikorodu. I couldn’t do it again.
To me, Jomi was, and is, a special person. He had gotten married while in the University, because his then girlfriend, now wife, had gotten pregnant and they would not even think of terminating it. His mom had suggested that his girlfriend have the baby and that she would take care of it until they were ready. It was a great offer, considering they were both students, but Jomi told his family he would prefer to marry her, since she was the lady he would like to marry anyway.
That was how Jomi became a married man, while still an Undergarduate. Even though it was tough at times, they were committed to each other. They were the epitome of young love and that was how we became buddies and have stayed in touch, even several years after our Uni days.
Reminiscing over his statement later, I realised, for a man like Jomi and my experience with him, his wife would always be more important. That was the love of his life. She was his life and I did not envy him one bit, his position of having to tell his wife that their third child, and second daughter, had died at birth.
Such love is the sweetest there is, and I’m glad he found his rib early in life and did not go seeking for something else afterwards.
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