Every stage in a man’s life comes with its own joy, its struggles and its excitements. Exactly five months ago, I felt a joy indescribable, too much for words to explain when my wife, Amanda, told me that she was pregnant with our child, our very own bundle of joy.
From that day the way I walked changed, I walked around my office like a king waiting for his heir to be born. As a marine engineer, I stayed too long at sea, sometimes two to three months. When I heard the news I ignored my friends harmless teasing and took a short leave to stay with her. I was only given a two-week leave and in those two weeks I made sure I hired a nurse who would stay with her to keep her company for the first few months of pregnancy. I wanted the very best for my wife and my unborn child, nothing in the world mattered to me more than that. I went back to work afterwards but I made sure that I spoke to my wife over the phone at every chance that I could get just so we could make silly jokes about our new status as parents……
I watched Amanda’s stomach grow everyday and the bubbling in my heart would double each time the thought that I would soon be called, Daddy, in a few months time crossed my mind. What worried me was the rate at which the nurses who attended to my wife resigned. I had changed nurses almost every month, there was one time that I employed two nurses in two weeks who left even without asking for their pay. My wife didn’t seem to be worried about it, she felt that it was because they were not too experienced when it came to pregnant women. I finally found a matron who stayed with my wife for three months before the total lockdown of the country because of the Corona Virus pandemic.
When I heard the lockdown news, I was excited, it was exactly what I needed, a little peace and quiet with my wife and my unborn child. It was I who dismissed the matron just so she could be with her family which turned out to be one of the biggest mistake I ever made in my entire life. The first thing that welcomed me home was the rate at which she ate, before the pregnancy, I have always had to prepare a steaming hot meal of sweet and flattering words before she would eat. Now it was a new ball game entirely, she ate a bowl of food in every two hours, cracking the chicken bones mercilessly and tirelessly. Her stomach was much larger than the web cameras made me believe coupled with the fact that I dared not use body cream, perfume, even deodorant, else I would have her vomits to contend with.
Out of frustration, one day I said,
” Amanda, are you sure we have just one child in your tummy and not a dozen..”
” Awww….are you tired of your pregnant wife now? “
” Of course not. I—I’m just wondering why you eat so much…”
” That reminds me, Sweetheart, I want plantain, the roasted one with peppered chicken, help me tell the mama (an elderly woman) to add groundnuts, Biko (please).”
” Ehn ehn… Don’t even patronize me, abeg. I am tired, me too, I am pregnant! “
She laughed at me to scorn as I began throwing tantrums which I knew would end up fruitless, I just didn’t have the conscience to deny her. It would have been much easier for me if she did not use her irresistible kisses as bribes just so she could get what she wanted. My shoulders were still aching from last night’s cuddling even at that I still went out to buy roasted plantains. On my way, I prayed ceaselessly to God to make sure the task force officials who were enforcing the stay at home rule, wouldn’t get a hold of me. I had the empty streets to contend with coupled with the fact that I had to put on a face mask and hand gloves just to please my pregnant wife. If I didn’t do exactly that, my wife would go to the old woman’s house herself and sit beside the mama just so she could inhale the aroma of the roasted plantain all day long.
The old woman knew my wife like the palm of her hand, she had become her confam (very good) customer these past months, despite the lockdown she made sure she prepared my wife’s special recipe behind closed doors, at least she got good money for it and there was nothing to lose. I wasn’t surprised when she ate just the chicken and the groundnuts while she placed the roasted plantains on her protruded stomach just so she could get enough of the aroma into her system. All I wanted was to go back to work but I couldn’t because of the lockdown, I didn’t like my job because it drank my time a lot but at that point in my life, I wanted to go back to work more than ever.
At first, I thought she just did all that to punish me but when she smiled at me and invited me to sit with her, my heart softened and I thought, maybe I was becoming too mean which wasn’t the right thing to do. My shoulders still ached badly and just as if she was reading my mind, she got up, put the roasted plantain in the breast pocket of her loose shirt like a child shielding her favorite toy, while gave me a massage that worked like magic.
With a sober tone, she said to me,
” I know you’ve been going through a lot of stress lately because of me. I’m so sorry.”
My eyes were still half closed from the sweet sensations that I was got from the massage and just like Samson made Delilah a promise, I also made a promise,
” Amanda, I love you, okay? We’re in this together and I don’t mind doing all these for you and I promise to continue to stand by you forever.”
I got another kiss and the day went on peacefully as we laughed and chatted all day long. I slept that night with silly nightmares all over. I even dreamt that a roasted plantain became a man and stole my own wife away from me and just when I thought that the worst was over, Amanda tapped me out my sleep at 5:00am in the morning. She was nearly in tears like a child whose toy had been hidden away,
” Erm.. Sweetheart, don’t be angry o. I want to eat plantain a–and groundnuts. I can’t sleep without it–”
I looked at her face first, as a plethora of unthinkable thoughts ran through my mind. I had never been stressed like that in all of my life, I desperately need to call back the matron or else I might die of high blood pressure. How would I even do that when there’s a total lockdown, I was stuck in between a rock and a hard place. I placed both my hands on my head in uncontrollable frustration so much that I didn’t realize when I shouted with caked tears nearly spilling out of my eye lids in anger,
” Heiiiiiiiii, God oooooooooooo!!!!!!”