Prisoner Of Choice
When Esther heard the knock, she hurried to the door. She was expecting Eric, her younger brother whom she had sent on an errand two days earlier.
She opened the door only to meet Daniel. His presence filled her with so much contempt. “What are you doing here? I thought we had agreed that you wouldn't come here again.”
“Would you let me in?” asked Daniel. With some hesitation, Esther opened the door and he entered the 12-by-14 single room. He sat on the old cane chair in the left corner and stared at Esther who was sitting on the bed — the second piece of furniture in the room.
The only electrical appliances were a radio cassette recorder and an electric lamp. “What has come over you lately?” asked Daniel.
“You are already engaged, besides, it's against my Christian principles to engage in any form of fornication” she yelled.
“Why did we begin it in the first place?” “It was a big mistake I made and I'm bent on correcting it,” she said, folding her arms.
“You've still not given me any good reason for the sudden change of mind…
“Are you now deaf? I said I hate flirting with a married man”“Did you call me a 'married' man?”
“That's exactly what you are. I'm already aware you're co-habiting with a woman who is the mother of your daughter.”
With these words, she stood up and pointed to the door. “Will you please leave my room?”
“I hope you'll not regret it. When you become conscious of what you're doing and understand its implications, I hope it won't be too late,” he said, opening the door. “That's none of your business,” she replied and banged the door.
Left alone, Esther felt the usual abdominal pain that preceded her monthly cycle. But she wondered why every meal and almost every smell would make her feel nauseous.
She was hungry and tired to dished some of the rice she had prepared. As soon as she took the fifth scoop of rice, she threw up.
Night was falling and the next day would mark the beginning of another cycle for which she was already prepared. As usual, she writhed in pain. 'Oh my goodness...what must be wrong with me?' She asked herself. 'Oh God…ah…hmm…ah!' She succumbed to slumber which swallowed her pain momentarily.
In the morning, she toddled to the bathroom right behind her room. There, she realised that her menstrual cycle had been interrupted for reasons that got her worried. What could this mean?
No, she did not believe what she was suspecting. She had just renounced her relationship with Daniel. How will he react to this news?
TWO WEEKS LATER
“Daniel there's something we need to discuss” said Esther as she stood in front of Daniel's door. Without uttering a word, Daniel opened the door and let her in. She sat on the sofa and watched as Daniel turned on his TV set and perched at the edge a chair.
“What made you come here at last” he asked.
“We need to talk.” “About what?”
“I missed it this month.” She pursed her lips and gazed at the ceiling, folding her arms.
“How do you mean?” he asked.
“I'm pregnant.” At these words, he knit his eyebrows and stared at Esther as if she had suddenly turned into a weird creature. He sighed heavily and asked. “And who is responsible for that pregnancy?”
“Why that question?” “I have every right to ask because we broke up about two weeks ago.”
“Well, I'm a month pregnant and I don't have any other boyfriend than you.” He chuckled at this remark from Esther.
“How am I supposed to believe this cock and bull story? We broke up for over two weeks, only for you to come and tell me I'm responsible for your pregnancy! Are you out of your mind?!”
“Not so much as you. Only cowardly men fear the mention of pregnancy” she yelled. “Nonsense! Do you think I'm so stupid to accept that illegitimate baby of yours? Over my dead body!”
She stood up trembling with fury and looking steadily at him. She finally said, “Perhaps when the court summons you, you'll become humble and swallow your words.” She stormed out of the room without waiting to hear Daniel's reply.
Esther was now full of mixed feelings. Daniel was apparently determined to deny responsibility of that pregnancy. As she returned to her house, she thought of possible solutions.
Would it be wise to have it aborted? But why should she? She would have loved to consider that idea but that would be the sixth time. What if that foetus was her last child?
Of course, she wouldn't like to be labelled a barren woman when she settled down in future with her husband.
She reminisced over the opportunities she had squandered: the number of serious-minded and well-to-do men that had come to ask of her hand in marriage — men whose proposals she had turned down.
She couldn't believe that she had actually accepted Daniel's proposal and blinded herself in his lust, an illusion of love. Now she felt betrayed by this imposter and was determined to avenge the humiliation at all cost.
She decided that after she had been delivered of the baby, she would have a DNA test to prove the paternity of her child. Then, she would be vindicated and Daniel would be humiliated.
She would then ensure that Daniel took responsibility of his biological child and learn a lesson he would never forget.
Close to the time of her delivery, Esther travelled to her hometown to be under the care of her mother and younger sister. They stayed in a mud house without electricity. Yet, as her mother was a farmer, they were not poor as far as food was concerned.
“Children of today...” Esther's mother murmured.
“Why do you look so gloomy all of a sudden?” asked Esther.
“I'm very much disturbed over your issue. How could you allow this man to deceive you…? How could you stoop so low …?”
“And do you think he will get away with it? No way! He's definitely going to pay for it… and dearly too”
“But will it be worth it…?” “We shall see about that”
“Vengeance, we're told, is the Lord's… Try as you will, you cannot choose the consequences of your actions.”
Esther's eyes lit up immediately at this statement from her mother. She looked at her mother and said “What are you insinuating?”
“I mean you could have avoided the ordeal that you were put through if you had been careful…
“Careful about what” Esther retorted.
“Of course about the kind of men you chose to go out with…?”
“This isn't the time to apportion blame… the harm has already been done and what is important is to find ways of dealing with that useless man,” Esther replied turning away from her mother.
She later complained of headache, followed by diarrhoea and some warm sensation in her abdomen — followed by sharp pains in the abdomen. She could hardly walk. She lay down on the floor and writhed in pain.
She felt tensed and apprehensive. Mrs Johnson rushed out to get a taxi. Mother and daughter were whisked to the hospital. As soon as they got there, Esther was rushed to the labour ward. After about three hours in labour, a baby's cry was heard.
The succeeding days and weeks were characterised by agony worsened by a sense of betrayal and loss of self esteem. Esther was bent on dealing drastically with that “good-for-nothing man”; but the more her fury raged the more hurt she felt. She later returned to the city.
True to her earlier threat, Esther dragged Daniel to court,