When it hit me, I laid sprawled on the floor with my books scattered across. I had drifted from my homework to draw some lines on my notebook.
It came with slow force, puncturing and piercing through the walls of my lower stomach. At first, I thought it was the usual ache, that one I usually have when I ate eba; i kept telling mommy I preferred to eat indomie on the Tuesday evening menu but she wouldn’t listen. I hurriedly went to the toilet and checked my panty, nothing.
Approaching my table, it started to roam through like a pinch. You know those times the carpenter came to our house to fix the broken wardrobe? When he hit the nail with the hammer, that was how it pinched me.
I screamed and mommy came running over like a cat chasing the mouse.
“It hurts mommy” I yelled, stamping my hand on the marbled floor.
” I know baby; it is coming right?
I shook my head as she darted about the house to get the drugs Dr Leke prescribed. Those reddish little devils.
“You have to take it! You can’t keep rolling in pain like that.”
” I hate it mommy, it doesn’t taste nice in my mouth.”
“Oh dear child, the drugs will let it flow and stop the pain.”
“Arggh!” I let out, holding my stomach.
I watched mommy put a napkin into a bowl of steaming water to mop my face. I was hot and cold at the same time.
She wanted to carry me to bed but I refused to stand up.
“Don’t let your father see you like this, get up. I would make some hot tea with peppermint and…”
I gave my mommy a blood shot eye, pepper what! So that it would pepper me more or doesn’t she know that it is peppering me already?
I started to shed tears as she came to console me, rubbing my stomach and trying to coo me to sleep. I staggered towards my room and laid on my bed . That didn’t even help, it was like the pain left my abdomen and settled at the center of my stomach, where my navel was. My mouth curved in a silent cry.
I had taken only two spoons of my favourite cereal and left it. I shot my eyes tightly as the pain swept through me sending sparks and outbursts of hot liquids on the thin Always Ultra lying on the panty underneath me.
Each outburst came with a kick, like it is saying yay! I am coming out. I thought I was being punished as I looked at the portrait of Jesus on the wall and begged him to free me from the clutches of pain.
Mommy had left to finish her cooking but kept checking on me. I looked towards the window, the streets were dry and the sun bright, i saw our street aboki laughing with his friends and i sighed. And just as i was about to look away, i saw her. For few seconds, i felt a bit relieved, but as she faded into the distance, the pain arose again like a giant monster with a club.
I just passed the Olufemi’s house, one of the richest on the street. I used to dream of this house, me dancing around the house, wearing fancy clothes and eating chocolates all day. The first time I tasted chocolate, it was the one that Mr Olufemi’s daughter ate, the one that fell off her hands the day she came to play on the field. It tasted like butter in a funny way, melting on my tongue with a certain sweetness. I know she would be home today watching television or playing games. She had been nice to me, at least, that was what mother said because she played with me.
Mother was warming the Egusi soup when I got home, there were little pieces of fish in it and I sat down on the floor with my younger brother to eat. Mother sat on the only tattered chair in our one apartment room. I packed up the plates as soon as we finished eating when it happened. I quickly rushed to drop the plates outside the room so I could get back to washing later. I left it scattered on the floor much to mother’s chagrin as I ran to the back yard that served where the pit latrine was.
I should have known it was coming because I had some abdominal pains three days ago, it usually precedes the main coming. Someone was in the bathroom we shared with other tenants so I ran inside the house, electric jolts of pain across my face, mother was complaining about the scattered plates but I wasn’t listening.
“Take this 50naira, go and buy me tissue paper!” I said throwing a rumpled note at my brother who fumed for being disturbed, he was making ships from paper. He dragged his feet slowly and I slapped his back and shouted, “get it fast!” Blood dropped on my panty immediately I yelled. He hurried out as I looked across the room to face the mirror, my face contorted into a frown, I wanted to cry. My brother came back with a tissue and I ordered him out, folded the tissue in ten heavy wraps and placed it on my panty after cleaning the stain it held with a dab of tissue and water.
The pain shot through me, my eyes opened wide as I held my stomach and started panting. Mother came in and saw me, she dashed into the cupboard and brought out her herbs.
“Drink this, it would reduce the pain” she handed me the bottle and I took two spoonful, it tasted of gin, burnt my chest. Mother made it herself, I remembered when she sent me to mama Oge’s shop to get the gin while she bought the herbs at the market. I had laid flat on my stomach and I was muttering to God to have mercy on me. I stood up to get water but couldn’t walk uprightly, I dragged myself to the water container to take a drink and ended up spilling the contents on the floor as another burst of pain surged through me. It came like an heartbeat, thumping with so much energy, each drop of blood came with a force of pain, rolling stone in my stomach. I couldn’t understand why I had this pain, every month. Sometimes I got lucky having less pain, other times, the pain increased with each passing month. Today wasn’t an exception, the pain had taken abode in the temples of my abdominal walls.
Mother brought hot water for me to drink, I sipped slowly. They say hot water will help it flow and lessen the pain. The force of it coming out the first day is what caused the pain but I knew I would still feel some slight pains the next day.
“You eat too much sugar; I always warn you to watch what you eat” mother said.
“It is not sugar ma, I read it somewhere that it is normal for some, called one name like that” I managed to say.
“Just watch what you eat, lay back, I am going out” she replied and left.
For a long time, I stared at the door, thoughts going through my mind as each pain ran through my entire body. I felt so uncomfortable. In a matter of minutes, the tissue would be soaked and I would have to change it. I wished it was a pad but there was not enough money to buy pads, besides it saved me the money I would need later to buy my textbook in school.