It was the morning of Rukayyat and Saheed's first anniversary. Incidentally, it fell on a Saturday when they would be off work. They had both planned to stay indoors enjoying and savouring each other's company and to finally cap it up with a classy dinner in an upscale restaurant in town.
The past one year had been a blissful one for them; they deliberately put childbearing on hold solely for the purpose of maintaining intimacy. By the second year, they were fully ready to start raising a family. Rukayyat went off the family planning pills she was on, in readiness for the children they were looking forward to welcome. While Rukayyat wanted four children - two of each gender, Saheed couldn't be bothered about their sexes as long as they didn't exceed three. Even though they were unable to come to a compromise, it still didn't diminish the excitement that characterises the birth of children.
By 6.00pm on the anniversary day, they were dressed to the nines, and headed for a posh restaurant. It was a candle-lit dinner, one which made the mood and the ambience of the corner they occupied in the restaurant to suit the purpose for which they were both there. By 8.00pm, they were done with dinner, ready to go home to continue from where they had stopped. They were both in high spirit as they touched each other and gazed into each other's eyes intermittently. They laughed at their own jokes and just as Saheed took another quick look at her, he heard a loud bang and that was all he remembered until he woke up from the four- day coma he had slipped into. Surrounding him were his wife, his parents and in-laws.
After taking in his environment, he stretched out his hands for his wife's warm embrace and then proceeded to ask why he was lying on a hospital bed, with gadgets sticking out of his body. Rukayyat told him that at the moment he was about to take another look at her in the car on their way home, a truck came out from the right side of the road without warning and smashed right into them. For him, the magnitude of the impact of the crash resulted into a spinal cord injury, while she escaped with minimal injury.
She however didn't tell him that the jolt on his spinal cord, which left him paralysed, also affected his chances of ever fathering children. She waited until he was finally discharged, and while alone with him, broke the sad news in the comfort of their home. The news hit him like a thunderbolt. He first went into shock, displaying no emotion, preferring to be left alone and then later broke into tears and wept his eyes out.
He couldn't understand why God would allow such misfortune to befall him. He wasn't a bad person in any way and so there wasn't any question of a repercussion of his past evil deeds revisiting him. He was inconsolable and preferred death to the thought of not being able to father his own children. But with counselling, love, support and prayers from his wife, he came out of his depression and life continued for them.
He resigned from his job and set up a business he could manage in his condition. Three years after the incident, Rukayyat began to itch to have her own children. His in-laws and parents began to breathe down his neck for grandchildren. They weren't aware of Saheed's condition since it was kept secret from them. Their reason was not farfetched. They both wanted to save him from the attendant shame and embarrassment that might follow should they let the cat out of the bag. Saheed thought hard about what to do following his in-laws and parents' insistence for grandchildren; and eventually decided that they take the adoption route.
But there was a snag. How were they supposed to present a baby if Rukayyat doesn't show signs of pregnancy? Taking off for almost a year and selling the story of going to
Europe to have a baby would be a hard sell. Besides, Rukayyat didn't like the idea of adoption, since there was nothing wrong with her. She wanted to experience the joy of motherhood - from pregnancy to labour to child delivery, breastfeeding, weaning, etc. Saheed didn't know how that would happen, knowing his current state, but he didn't have to wonder for long.
In very subtle ways, Rukayyat began to send messages across to him; and when it didn't seem likely that he would ever unravel what she had in mind, she decided to tell him herself. She proposed that Saheed speaks to one of his closest friends to help put her in the family way so they can have their own children and avoid being made an object of mockery; but only after the friend would have been sworn to an oath of secrecy.
Saheed recoiled at the thought of another man laying hands on his wife and felt disappointed that his wife could propose such a thing. He refused outright, asking her to think of another solution rather than the unthinkable. But Rukayyat's mind was made up; it was either that or he sources children for himself all alone.
This was more than Saheed could bear, but he eventually gave in to his wife's request when he realised he couldn't stop her from experiencing the joy of motherhood. Besides, he could see that if he remained adamant, Rukayyat was capable of dumping him like a piece of hot potato and this he didn't want, as he loved her dearly.
The said bosom friend, Yinka, was invited to their home and the proposal sold to him. His first shock was at the realisation that his friend was incapable of fathering a baby and the fact that they wanted him to get his friend's wife pregnant in order to save them the shame. This was too much for him to digest and he asked to be given some time to think about the request. After a month, with no answer forthcoming from him, Saheed personally went to him, pleading with him to help save his marriage.
Seeing tears streaming down his friend's face, Yinka resolved to help him. In four years, they had three children and, luckily for Saheed and Rukayyat, they all bore resemblance to their mother and unless someone scrutinised them closely, it would be difficult to detect some of Yinka's feature in the three.
However, even after the birth of the children, Rukayyat continued to see Yinka without Saheed's knowledge. She felt she was human, after all, with blood flowing through her veins and who could better satisfy her sexual urges than Yinka who has been of tremendous help to the family, since Saheed couldn't carry out his conjugal duty as her husband. Their clandestine affair soon became open knowledge. News soon reached Saheed who had nursed fears that Yinka might feel the urge to continue to 'help' out, even after his scope of duty had ended.
He confronted both of them. Rukayyat felt remorseful, attributing her actions to her desire to satisfy her biological urge and pleaded for his forgiveness, something he found difficult to do. He resented her for disrespecting him and reminding him constantly by her action, of his incapability. Yinka, on his own part, felt insulted that he was being reprimanded for helping a dear friend. He bid his time to hit back at Saheed and tell him some home truth.
It was at a mutual friend's birthday party and Yinka had had more than his fair share of drink and was already tipsy. He accidentally knocked down a statue and while trying to reposition it, Saheed tried to tell him to take things easy and consider sitting down rather than moving around and knocking things about, knowing that he was a bit tipsy. Yinka rained invectives on him, telling him how less of a man he was, and very happily, announced to the dismayed crowd how he, Yinka, was the biological father of the three children that Saheed claimed to be his.
If there was any way he could disappear from the gathering by just blinking an eye, Saheed would have given an arm to do so. But the silence that descended on the gathering was all he needed to turn round and leave the party. Back home, he thought of what to do to end all the humiliation he had borne from his wife and supposed friend. The shame he had tried to avoid was what now stared him in the face. To end it all, he thought of suicide. It wasn't a bad idea, he thought. He knew it was sin before God, but right now, Saheed was past caring.