He was the first person I spoke to on my first day at school. It was early morning and none of the teaching staff had reported. He was the only one in the staff common room. I said, “Good morning” and he asked, “Who are you?” I thought he didn’t hear my greeting so I repeated. He responded and then went ahead to ask his questions…
“Who are you?”
“My name is Belinda. The new English teacher.”
“Belinda? English teacher?
“Yeah. It’s my first day here.”
We went on to have a very long conversation before other staff members joined us. He didn’t tell me his name. I gathered later from other teachers that his name was Ebo.
He became my go-to person and we later grew to become inseparable friends. We were so close some teachers started thinking we had a thing going on. We didn’t but deep inside of me I wished we did. I was growing fond of him every day. He was intelligent, tall (like I wanted in my man), and very considerate. The only thing that was going against us was the age difference. He was twenty-seven and I was thirty-two. I couldn’t see myself in a meaningful relationship with him or I didn’t believe he would love to be in a meaningful relationship with someone older than himself.
He visited one weekend like he usually did and that day the conversation went on a different tangent. We spoke about love, marriage, and childbirth. I realized we had so many things in common when it came to these topics. I grew fonder of him and that day I wished he could see through me and know my feelings. Maybe he did and decided to ignore it.
After he had left, I saw a blue envelope on my chair. Those envelopes they usually use for greeting cards. I turned it and saw my name boldly written on it. I looked up and smiled, “This guy has a weird way of doing things,” I said to myself. “Why would he write it in a card instead of telling it to my face?” I started guessing what was written on the card; “Could you be my girlfriend” or “I love you so much I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I opened it and it was a wedding invitation.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned the card in all positions just to be sure what I was seeing was actually meant to be what I was seeing: “Ben Weds Nora.” I couldn’t say much. I sent him a message; “Congratulations on what you left on my table.”
I was at the wedding. I took pictures with him and smiled a lot but deep on the inside, I was hurting. I was even jealous of his wife. How could she have something that’ I’ve always wanted?
After the wedding, he sought transfer from the school so he could go and live with his wife. We didn’t stop talking. I had so much harbored in my heart that when one day he asked me how I was, I let it all out; “Ben I wanted you. Didn’t you see it? Didn’t you see the recklessness in my demeanor anytime I was with you? I thought there was something for us and I waited for you to make a move.”
He said he was sorry. He said he was into me too. He also said his heart was already committed to someone else and didn’t know how to handle his feelings for me especially when he and his girl were getting ready to marry. I cried a little but I wished him well.
The next day, I responded to a knock on my door and—guess what—Ebo was standing right in front of my door. I was so surprised I didn’t know how to act it. I hugged him and pulled him in. That was it. The next thing I saw was us lying naked in bed next to each other and panting like we just came out of the water. It became a ritual. Every weekend, he would travel to my place and spend some time together.
I was confused. Yes, I was having an affair with a married man but getting pregnant for him wasn’t part of the plan. I was scared of what my parents were going to say. I thought of all the wrong things people were going to say about me. I didn’t know what to do. I spoke to a friend I trusted and she said; “If you tell him about it, he would convince you to abort it. If you want to keep it, then hide it from him. Tell him only when it’s too late and abortion can’t be done.”
I told a doctor friend of mine and he invited me over to have a scan. After the scan, he asked me, “But why do you want to abort it?” I told him the situation and he asked again, “Do you like kids?” I responded, “Of course I do. I’ve always thought of having a lot of them.” He said, “If you love kids, then this is a kid you can also love. It is not going to be different from any other kid. He would be a human regardless of the story around his birth. If you are scared of what the father would say, then don’t tell him. You are thirty-four. You have a job. You can take care of a kid.”
I didn’t like the idea of not telling Ebo about the pregnancy. I knew he would know eventually so I picked up the phone and told him; “Ebo, I don’t know what to do now. If you ask me to abort it today, I would. This wasn’t part of the plan for both of us and I know it places us both in a very difficult situation…What do you suggest we do?” He said, “Keep it. Why would you even think of aborting it?”
“How about your wife? What if she gets to know of it?”
“How is she going to know? Are you going to inform her?”
“Nooo not at all but what if she gets to know through some other means?”
“She won’t know. This is our secret. If someday she gets to know, that’s fine but I’m not going to be the one to tell her.”
I gave birth to a boy. That morning, he sent me a text with a list of names I should choose from. He said, “Pick one and give to the baby. I selected one and he said, “So be it. That’s his name.”
My boy is five years now and he’s somehow bringing out the secret we are keeping from everyone—he looks just like a twin to his father. If you know his father, immediately you see my boy you’ll say, “This boy looks like Ebo’s son.”
The teachers in my school have said that a million times but somehow they don’t believe that could be the case so they go like, “You’ve played with Ebo saaa have you seen that you’ve had a child that looks like him?”
But my friend in the school isn’t stupid. She cornered me one day and said, “Belinda, Ebo is your boy’s father and I know it. I suspected it but now I’m convinced that is the truth. Why don’t you say the truth?” “Say the truth to who?” I asked. “Who needs to hear the truth? If you know it, then others too know it. Everyone is not stupid.”
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After this conversation, I wrote to the office to seek a transfer. Ebo still has some family members around here. Very soon, the news might spread for all of them to know. Even if no one spreads the news, the face of my son is enough to carry the news around. If I leave town, I leave with everything and all of my secrets.
The father tries his best to be responsible. He pays his fees and sends money every now and then but it’s hard for me knowing what I’m trying to hide. People display their kids on their status and on social media. They share their birthday photos and outings with them. I would love to do the same with my son but I can’t. I’m really proud of the boy. He’s smart and very outgoing but I can’t show him to the world. I hid him and it breaks my heart all the time.
Can one not be proud of what she had done and yet be proud of the results that came out of what she did? I worry too much about what’s yet to come. My child is innocent but the story around him is not an innocent one. How long can this stay hidden and what is the cost of hiding the truth from everyone?
He and his wife have a daughter now and I see what he does with her daughter. From the day she was born till today that she’s three years old, there has been no single day that he hasn’t posted a photo of her somewhere.
But mine stays hidden. He can’t even bear his own father’s surname because…because we are supposed to be hiding.