by: Francis Ikuerowo
After you’ve finished from secondary school or graduated from a university, a college of education or even a polytechnic, even without a stable or decent source of income, you make a mistake and impregnate a girl or you get impregnated by a boy.
It’s a mistake because you forsake your brain before the coitus and refused to use a condom. It doesn’t matter if you know you’re in your fertile period as a woman. Maybe you don’t even know how to determine your safe period. It doesn’t matter, too, when you know you can take some pills to neutralize the content in you. It doesn’t matter to you as a boy to encourage the girl to take some pills to avert a looming crisis. You both simply abandon your brains and revel in the sheer recklessness of youthful exuberance.
You discover you’re pregnant while still in your parents’ house and still being fed by them. You tell the boy. He, too, is confused about what to do. Just like you, he still lives under his parents’ roof. It doesn’t matter. He’s completed his first degree, and heavily underemployed. You as the girl have also got your diploma or even first degree. And you’re still managing somewhere, perhaps as a teacher or a small-scale business owner. Both the girl’s future and yours look bleak.
This is not the time to blame each other, though.
You know you cannot resort to abortion as that’s not your last resort. Besides, it is killing, punishable by law, and your religion also forbids it. You can keep the baby. I’d rather keep the baby, you assure yourself. The boy supports your resolve, though he has no inkling how this baby would survive when it arrives. How the future of the baby would look like.
We can manage, you both tell each other. We will support you both, your parents are solidly behind you. You have no idea how expensive child care is, and it no longer occured to both of you that you still go broke every month with your meagre salaries and how you beg friends and relatives for financial assistance. You both have even sworn not to call your uncles and aunts again because they are stingy, wicked. You know they owe you a lot for simply being uncles and aunts. So, they must act in loco parentis.
Now both of you adjust to your new reality, that of bringing up a child. Though the road is rough, you brace yourself up to face it. Your parents are still supporting you, you pray they don’t die. Your meagre salaries still enter every month, you pray you don’t get sacked. You don’t get new jobs, you can’t because child care takes more of your time and sucks you mentally, emotionally and physically.
The child starts school, you both still hold on tenaciously to your jobs. You have witnessed many hard times and maybe one day, it might get better. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. But maybe someone has taken it before you get to that end. You don’t care to think about this.
Now your child is growing up fast, with no trust fund, no money, in his late teens, in school perhaps, and barely surviving, he now calls his father’s or mother’s brothers or sisters for financial assistance. They do not offer him help. They tell him his father and mother are still alive and should be able to take care of their child.
You both are in your late forties or early fifties. Though you’re now barely above average, you still can’t afford the best of life for your kids. He needs to depend on his uncles and aunts too for support, financial support. He doesn’t like his reality, but there’s nothing he can do about it now. To him, both of you are a failure. But he won’t tell you.
You have also got other kids, they are still very, very young but will soon get caught up in the reality of your first child.
Your first child laments his situation and wonders why you both brought him into this world with scarce resources all around him. Your child now sees his uncles and aunts as stingy, wicked, and utterly ruthless. They’re richer than my parents yet they don’t want to help me, he believes.
But his uncle and aunt were smarter then and made the right, better decisions, and refused to burden themselves with having a child and taking care of any child with little resources. They know having children is a liability because children take money away from their purse. They must work hard first to have enough assets to cover the liabilities before having a child.
Your parents didn’t know any better. They were unwise, uneducated (though literates) and are now suffering the products of their sheer recklessness.
You must tell yourself not to be like them, like your parents. Your uncles and aunts are not wicked or stingy; they have their own nuclear families, too. And they want the best for their own kids. Go and meet your parents and hold them by their necks. They’re your plights, the truly wicked ones.
Francis Ikuerowo is a writer and a final year Communication and Language Arts student at the University of Ibadan. He has a particular interest in journalistic writing, social issues, social media, and multilingualism. He receives mails at email@example.com and tweets @francisikuerowo