Robert Frost once said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Life had to go on, in spite of everything that had happened to me.
One of my secondary school teachers- a wiry woman whose angelic voice carried much venom in its content, once told me that I’d make a great prosecutor, given my tendency to mistrust and lash out at everyone. Surprisingly, I found a lot of sense in her criticism of me. I went to Law school, worked for a while for some private law firms that paid practically nothing, became a member of the Ghana Bar Association and soon enough, got a job at Kumasi in the State Attorney’s office. I was finally on the path that my secondary school teacher had cynically claimed would be the best for me.
Ask any foreigner who has ever visited Kumasi and they’ll probably tell you that the city is famous for its many beautiful flowers and plant species. However, when I relocated to Kumasi from Accra, it wasn’t to see the flowers. Neither was it because of my admiration for Kofi Annan- Kumasi’s most popular son of the soil. No. I came to the city to take over its courts. I, Oluwafemi Abigail Adams was the newest, most ambitious lawyer in town and by God, I was going to let everybody in Kumasi, the Garden city, know it to their very soul.
In a few years, I’d become the assistant State Attorney. I rarely lost a case. I was good at my job; too good. Every defending lawyer in town only had to think of me once to shake to their toes. I had a mission: To inflict hurt just as I’d been hurt, so I went swinging viciously at every defendant who took the Stand and if it meant pushing guilt on the innocent, the better for me.
I didn’t have girlfriends. Didn’t have boyfriends either. I didn’t want the emotional attachment that came with real human relationships but I had sex on a regular basis, freely provided by the many married men who came to court to watch a young, ambitious woman kicking the arses of experienced lawyers who had been in the profession longer than I was born. The Black Witch of Kumasi, they called me and I damned everyone’s criticism of me to hell. Their words couldn’t injure me any more than I was already injured on the inside.
On the morning of my 33rd birthday, I sat down on my favorite chair closest to the windows of my apartment on the topmost floor, feeling like Kumasi’s Royalty itself. It was a Saturday, and though it was still dark outside, the lights from the many buildings lent a picturesque view to the city, which spread out before me from where I sat. One hand rested on my lap and the other held a glass filled with my most expensive red wine. As I sat there nursing my drink, I took stock of my life. I had everything I needed, I thought to myself. I was mega successful; lived in a premier building in one of the most expensive suburbs in Kumasi; and my life…it was good. And black. I was successful… and empty.
I’d just lifted my cup to take another sip when I noticed a swaying figure in the compound. Soon, it took on the form of a woman taking quick, cautious steps. Her bosom carried her folded arms …as if she had something to hide. From afar, I couldn’t make out her face but I sensed her trepidation. Her worn, oversized clothes flapped around her in the mild breeze, and I automatically assumed she was a pauper – a beggar who had managed to bypass the building’s top-notch security to come inside the compound and beg from the moneyed residents. As I watched her move closer, a weird panic came over me and I remember placing my free hand against my chest to stop my heart’s erratic pounding, while the other held the stem of my cup tightly. Some few seconds later, I looked again. To my surprise and huge relief, she was gone.
I sighed, comforted by my assumption that she had left the compound through the gates from which she had come.
Some several minutes later, a single knock came on my door, once again disturbing my quiet enjoyment of Kumasi’s view. Actually, it sounded like a scratch but its noise alarmed me and I found myself accidentally spilling my drink on the butter cream, knee-length robe I wore.
“Who is it?” I asked in a demanding tone as I attempted to pretend that I wasn’t scared.
No one answered.
I placed my drink on a nearby coffee table and walked to the door, wary, wondering who was crazy enough to knock on my door at such an awkward hour on an early Saturday morning. I stole a look through the peek hole. It didn’t appear that anyone was standing outside.
Then, I did something that would alter my life’s axis.
I opened the door, and behold, squirming violently at the threshold was the woman I’d seen earlier, her legs spread wide; her breathing, labored and eerily quiet as she held on to dear life to push something…a baby out of her engorged vagina.
The long, shrill screams began after that. They were mine.
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