A few days after Lily’s first birthday, Danny suddenly became somewhat obsessed with protecting her from men. He walked into Ada’s room to sound notes of sanction for no known reason.
‘Darling,’ he called her, ‘henceforth, I wouldn’t want to see any man carrying Lily on his laps, or taking her beyond where you can clearly see them.’
‘What happened?’ She asked, embarrassed, looking at him for an explanation.
Danny’s voice became stern and tough. ‘Did you get that?’
Ada nodded, still looking askance.
‘Don’t allow any male child to call her my wife; not even a parent should call her my son’s wife. I am not betrothing her to anyone!’ He bit his lips furiously and turned to leave.
Ada quietly requested to know what begot the warning. ‘Honey, you embarrassed my younger brother last week just because he was carrying our daughter, his niece. What exactly is going on?’
Instead of responding to her question, Danny sanctioned even further: ‘Make sure she plays only with girls. Nowhere around male children!’
Ada angled her neck and calmly addressed him. ‘Honey, we know what we want for our child, but we need to pursue that in a rational manner…’
Danny strode out of the room without waiting for her to finish.
Three days later, Ada observed a few spots of blood on Lily’s diaper as she undressed her for a bath. Confounded, she quickly called out to Danny, who appeared in her room almost instantly.
‘Did anyone else enter this place, Honey?’
‘Meaning what?’ Danny interposed immediately, bristling with evasive rage.
‘Sorry. I just thought I should ask.’
‘Is anything the matter?’
‘Well, I am fine.’ She lifted her shoulders, flexing her numb hands uneasily.
Danny flounced out of the room without one more word.
Ada took a second look at the damp spot on the diaper and shook her head. ‘Good Lord, I don’t wish to think this has anything to do with an infection or violation. I wouldn’t want my baby to be placed on antibiotics now.’ She bent and closely examined her daughter’s privates. When she touched the bloody spot, the baby let out a loud scream. ‘Dada … Dada!’ She cried. That was the name she called her daddy and her grandma.
Mama had only left the house in the afternoon after her medical check-up. She had stayed back to watch over Lily until her son, Danny returned from work. Ada was working on afternoon shift. Mama’s presence had helped Ada make up for the nanny that went to visit her sick mother in the village.
For a while, Ada contemplated calling her mother-in-law but instantly decided against that. ‘Mama is a good woman,’ she told herself, ‘none can be kinder or nicer than she is.’
Though Ada didn’t wish to raise unnecessary alarm, the thought of the horrible things she had read about paedophiles and other ugly things she had seen as a nurse surfaced and tormented her mind. She struggled to hold her tears as she considered Danny’s reaction to her question. She wondered why he was being hostile. She then began to bathe the baby and afterwards retired to her room without bothering to join him at the table. All night, Ada felt as if something was creeping up on her, and that foreboding haunted her until morning arrived.
At the hospital, the doctor took Lily, removed her diaper and carefully examined her, asking Ada questions that fell in line with her earlier thoughts and fears.
‘Is she your first child?’
‘Yes, my one and only child.’
‘At the moment?’ The doctor played.
‘Yeah, for now,’ Ada admitted with a laboured grin.
‘Who else stays with you apart from your husband?’
‘The nanny, but she doesn’t live with us. She comes in the morning and goes in the evening when either of us is back.’
The doctor paused to check Lily’s finger nails. ‘Who lives next to you?’ He fondled her fingers before letting Ada carry her.
‘We live alone; the building is ours,’ she replied, becoming a little agitated.
‘Anyway, just be wary of domestic beasts,’ said the doctor jocularly, as he wrote his prescription.
‘There are no such things in my house. I hate pets.’ Ada smiled.
Somehow, seeing the doctor did the trick. The spotting ceased before they got home.
Eventually, Nkiru returned from seeing her sick mother, reducing the burden of taking care of Lily. Ada was gradually conquering her fears. But occasionally that foreboding would return to envelope her.
Friday evening; exactly three weeks after Ada took Lily to see the doctor. Nkiru had gone home for the day. Ada was in the kitchen preparing Danny his favourite food of garri and ofe nsala. She heard the cry of her baby, just as loud as she had cried when she touched the bloody part of her privates. Ada quickly ran across the kitchen into her room where Lily lay. Suddenly, she caught a glimpse of Danny tiptoeing into his room unaware of her presence. Goose-pimples overwhelmed her. She opened her mouth widely but words didn’t come.
‘What … what … what’s happening?’ She managed to ask, going straight to her daughter who was still crying out aloud.
Ada carried Lily and rocked her, but she cried out louder, writhing around in pains. She undid her diaper to see if she was wet. Her eyes bulged out in disbelief. Fresh blood! She rose to move, but staggered back to the bed for support.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
An author of note, Richard Inya is the Vice Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. He has three collections of poetry and a novel to his credit. His works have been adopted for use in schools by over seven states in Nigeria. His stories have also appeared in Ake Review, ANA Review, Ebonyi Review, etc. Richard loves cool music, poetry, flowers and doves. He works with Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo (FUNAI), Nigeria.