TISHA: I opened my eyes and my nostrils were suddenly filled with strong hospital smell. My hands were ridden with needles and wires and of course there was that incessant hospital machine beep. There was a nurse there when I woke up so I asked her what happened and she informed me that I had just woken up from a long coma. I immediately remembered Paul and was told he was in a more critical condition and had still not woken up from his coma. I remembered the car crash faintly and couldn’t help but blame myself for what happened. This wouldn’t have happened if I had not rushed out from the dinner or decided not to succumb to Paul’s wishes. We are here because of my actions and I couldn’t help myself.

Even worse than me blaming myself was me thinking about what I’m going to go through in the hands of Paul’s parents. They were definitely going to blame me for the condition he is in. For my own good, I wished Paul got better quicker or quickest …… “Can I see Paul” I asked the nurse?” “ unfortunately, U can’t do that, we have been authorized not to allow any non-family member into his room, I am sorry madam”, she said calmly as tears run down my eyes.

As if that wasn’t enough, there they were, the dreadful faces of Paul’s parents And two police men entering and banging the door behind them. “Take that little bush pig away”, the policeman hesitated a bit. Obviously seeing all the needles wedged into my body he wasn’t sure he could just “take” me. “I said take that thing away. Do you want to be unemployed”, Paul’s mom screamed at the policeman again. We can’t madam, we can handcuffs her to make sure she doesn’t run away and pick her up immediately she is better and ready for discharge. WTF!! what have I gotten myself into. The nursed looked at me in disdain, not understanding what the hell was going on. I just closed my eyes and shared a prayer. It was at this point I realized it has been a long time I prayed. I spent every second praying to God for forgiveness and the strength to make it through this. At this point I didn’t want to get better but the days went by so fast….

The stench that emanated from the cell was terrible. It was like if Makola gutters and an Ashaiman public toilet had a child. While in the cell I wondered if I’d be afforded the privilege of having a lawyer. I never had a lawyer of my own because I felt I was too careful to get into trouble. But I guess one can never be too careful, here I am now, finding myself in something bigger and hoping that the same people who threw me in here would have the decency to bring me out. I was provided a public lawyer but the case got no where, as 2 weeks had already passed. At least they were decent enough to make sure I ate proper food twice a day. My cell mates after hearing my story, though I could see doubt on their faces supported me.
I found out Paul died shortly after I was arrested, one of the police officers informed me. The grief I felt was enough to kill me, I spent days crying……over and over. It was terrible. I hated life so much. For the first time since the day I met Paul I regretted ever falling in love with him. I regretted making that anonymous call. I regretted allowing this thing fester even though I told myself it was only for fun. Now here I am, in prison,…..lost my freedom, without a job, grief stricken and having to carry the guilt of causing my heartbeat’s death and being the object of hate for a very powerful family.

I woke up one morning with my head aching so bad, feverish and weak. That wasn’t all, my body felt like I was dancing on fire. The heat was unbearable, so was the cold. The nausea was nothing I have felt before, no food stayed in my stomach for more than 10 minutes. It was almost as if I’d throw up with every breath I took. At some point the bucket the police officers gave me to vomit into was almost half full. Days went by and I was getting worse, the sickness didn’t regard whatever pills these guys were making me swallow. They claimed it was normal malaria and I will get well soon. After a week of not getting better, they got scared I was going to die in their custody, thus convinced Paul’s parents to take me to the hospital and bring me back when I’m well.
Surprisingly, After so many tests at the hospital it was found out that I am pregnant. Now I started to believe God was playing a prank on me…… like how, at this time, why me?? Never within the time I was with Paul, did I ever think I’d feel awful after finding out I’m carrying my love’s baby. A blessing for both of us now felt like a curse for me alone. All my life, watching how my mom struggled to raise my siblings and I, I promised myself I was never going to be a single mother. Even if it meant not having a child altogether. I was lost for words. I used that to beg Paul’s parents but they will not even listen. The mum kept calling me a gold digger asking why I didn’t protect myself……what a life. They said the baby couldn’t be Paul’s and am using that to trap them so I was sent back to my cell. God allow me join Paul wherever he is because this cap I can not bear alone.

There were days I would just be on my bed thinking of what life could have been with paul by my side. He called me his wife hours before he the accident. I miss him so much, his touch, how he took care of me, cooked for me ……every single part of my life became unbearable.

I tried aborting it several times but the baby just wouldn’t come out. At some point I became scared, what if all the pills had caused some damages to the baby. I decided to eat healthy and cherish what I was about to have, a gift from God. Before I knew it the nine months was already up and I was getting ever closer to bringing a new life into the world. I asked Paul’s parents to give me the honour of naming the baby after Paul and they obliged or let me say they cared less. I couldn’t help but feel so grateful to God for my life and health at that point. I looked good despite everything. I met people in the cell who helped me through out my pregnancy, shared their stories and how I had to learn how to push etc. indeed I met angels in prison.

2 Days before my due day, I was taken back to the hospital as authorized by Paul’s parents.

I was informed that My baby was measuring big and the doctor was concerned that with my petite frame, I would have a hard time delivering naturally. We discussed my options, and he felt it would be best if I went into labor and attempted to deliver my baby naturally. I really had no idea what to expect when it came to having this baby.

Lucky for me, I didn’t feel a thing. The doctor came in and checked me around 7:00 a.m. and said everything looked great, although he was concerned that my contractions were not progressing and I was not softening or dilating. He explained to me that my body was just taking its time with the medication and hopefully things would pick up soon. Hours later my doctor came back in and I was sitting there listening to a life story of one of the care takers. I was still only dilated to 1 centimeter and I was not progressing at all. My doctor decided to go ahead and break my water to see if that would help move things along. He inserted a long white hook and popped the amniotic sac. Once the looooong gush of fluid slowed down, my doctor patted my leg and said, “If you’re still “smiling” in an hour I am going to start you on some Pitocin.” Needless to say, I wasn’t smiling 10 minutes later. I started having hard contractions right after my water broke. He checked me and I was dilated to 3 centimeters, which wasn’t far enough but the pain, hhmm, the pain was unimaginable. Soon after, my contractions moved right into my lower back. Back labor. I had heard so much about it and I had hoped I wouldn’t experience it, but unfortunate me, I had it and I had it BAD. My contractions became more intense than ever and not even the back rubs by the nurses could change anything. I was checked again and this time I was at 6 centimeters. I had gone from 6 to 10 centimeters in a matter of minutes. I thought I knew pain but this kind of pain……

Although I was fully dilated, the nurse and the doctor said the baby was still very high up and that I had at least 1-2 hours of pushing ahead of me. The doctor decided to walk back to the practice to check some patients and he would be back in about a half an hour to see how we were doing. The head nurse told me to push and hold for a count of 10. I pushed and before I knew it she was yelling for the doctor to get back in the room because we had a baby that was coming NOW.

The doctors barely had time to get their gloves on before Paul Jnr was pushed out. The doctors passed him to the nurses who began to clean him up. They were suctioning out his mouth and nose but he wasn’t crying. It took him a few seconds to take his first breath, and when he finally let out his first little cry, my heart just melted. They wrapped him up and laid him across my chest. I looked down at him and kissed his tiny forehead. He looked exactly how I had imagined he would. He was hairy and had the softest skin. He was so precious and content when he opened his eyes and looked up at me and it was that moment that made me realize everything I had gone through was totally worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

As I recovered in the subsequent days, I hardly ever wanted Jnr to leave my side. I had this innate fear that if he left me he wasn’t coming back. And just as I thought, it happened. Paul’s mother came in with the doctor one time and mentioned that the doctors told them I was refusing to allow anyone hold my baby. Even though I wasn’t in the right condition I was the one bathing the baby and doing everything for the baby. Paul’s mom reached over with a very cheesy smile to attempt to take the baby but I refused. “Oh trish (she couldn’t even get my name right) don’t be ridiculous. You’ll prevent a grandmother from holding her grandson, the heir to the empire?”, she quizzed with a smile that was waning at this point. I could see the veins in her neck pumping anger full speed while she managed a smile to hide her irritation. She tried to take the baby again and I silently refused but smiled and informed her I was about to breastfeed him. She stood with a very stern look on her face and nodded at the doctor and stepped back while the doctor stepped forward. I sensed danger. The doctor brought out a syringe while walking towards me. I panicked and tried to run. As I glanced toward the door to start my escape I saw two nurses walk in and block the doorway. At this point I knew I fucked up. Who never fuck up, hands ? in the air ?…..no hand ? ?

Were these people going to kill me? What happens to little Paula? I struggled vigorously while the doctor held me down and jabbed my arm with the syringe. Suddenly I began to feel drowsy and lightheaded, almost high. I felt my body shutting down, my eyes getting heavier and my tight grip on Jnr loosening. I was losing the battle. As my eyes closed slowly I watched while Paul’s mom walked over pompously and simply reached over and picked up Jnr from my arms without any hassle. My eyes went completely shut and my world went blank.