Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Little Nene

"When I look at you all I see is hands and legs!"

Those are the words with which I often teased Nene.

Nene towers at a whooping 5'10" and since her slim, lanky frame and young body hardly had any flesh on it, anyone seeing her for the first time was bound to notice her hands and legs first. She turned sixteen last October and I have missed her angelic face and innocent demeanour since I moved out of my former neighbourhood two years ago.

Nene is dark skinned and unusually tall for her age but she carries her frame well. She's rather laid back and not quite as talkative as most girls of her peergroup.

Abigail, Nene's aunty is a friend of mine from church. She has lived with Nene's parents since her secondary school days until recently when she had to go away to University. They live in the same neighbourhood as my parents and that was how I came to meet and know Nene. The two of them often took evening strolls together and since our house was in their path, they often stopped by for a chat. Nene would stand at a respectful distance away from the two of us while we chatted but I often drew her into our conversations. She was shy at first but in the course of time she loosened up and became freer with me. Free enough indeed that she often came to visit with me all by herself.

It did not matter that I was older than her by almost 14 years, I quickly found that Nene and I could spend a long time talking about almost anything. Nevermind that I was answering her questions half the time. She had an inquisitive mind that girl and I found it rather refreshing to have a sweet thing like herself ask me questions and listen earnestly while I answered as though I was one of the ancients possessing an inexorable store of wisdom.

The way she carried herself often made people think she was older than she really was but her naivety and innocence often gave away the fact that she was still a child. A child that was in the process of becoming a woman.

Nene became a woman all too quickly. Her innocence has been tainted and I dare say lost, for only a few months ago I got news that Nene was expecting a baby. Yes, Nene who herself had barely left her childhood behind is about to become a mother. Before the end of next month, her baby would have arrived.**
By the time this sad news reached me, Nene was already six months pregnant. I was also told that her mother only found out when she was five months gone.

What kind of a mother is that? I am sure you would wonder. But after hearing from Abigail, who is Nene's mother's sister, my questions fell silent on my lips.

Nene had passed her JAMB exams and there was just one more hurdle to cross before she could gain entrance into the Abia State University. She had done all that was necessary to register for her post-JAMB screening test and now all she had to do was study in preparation for it. She often went to the library at the community school nearby to study but most of the time she stayed at home.

Nene is the first of five children and according to her mother, Nene was the kind of daughter every mother prayed for. She had a strong sense of responsibility and she looked after her younger ones well. She hardly ever put a foot wrong but even if she did, it didn't take much to place her on the right path again.

Mama Nene has a shop where she sells staple food items at the community market a few streets from the house so it was easy for her to quickly come home to cook the meals and receive the kids as they returned home from school. Since Nene left secondary school however, this became unnecessary because Nene always had food ready for her siblings when they came home and she generally had the home front under control.

She hardly kept any friends so when Nene informed her mother that she would like to join the youth fellowship of their church she readily agreed. Her parents felt that it was healthy for her to mix up with young people of the same age in a morally sound atmosphere as would be expected from a church.

It was in church that Nene met Pascal. They became good friends and since he was also getting ready to take JAMB, they often studied together. Mama Nene had seen them together twice and on both occassions, Pascal was seeing Nene home from church. Nothing seemed to be amiss so no questions were asked.

The date for her post-JAMB screening exam came and Nene went to write the exam. Her parents suggested that she should go to the village to stay for a while with her grandma who needed some company. Nene stayed with grandma for three and a half months before returning to Lagos.
The Nene that returned from Abia state seemed visibly changed. Her face shone unusually and she had added a considerable amount of weight. She laughed whenever anyone pointed out this obvious fact saying that her grandma pumped her with too much food.

Mama Nene was rather pleased that her daughter had put on some flesh something she had been trying to do for her for a long time. The slight bulge of Nene's abdomen went unnoticed.

Upon her return, Nene threw herself into church activities more than ever before. She often left the house early in the morning and returned when it was quite dark. Mama Nene began to complain because Nene began to leave undone her house chores and her siblings without a proper meal.

Abigail failed to tell me exactly how it all went down but at five months surely it was becoming increasingly difficult for Nene to hide her bump.Her parents found out and cries of woe could be heard from their apartment that morning.Nene confirmed that Pascal was responsible and immediately Papa Nene, his fury very evident, dashed out of the house with a matchete, he was headed straight for Pascal's parents house, Nene and Mama Nene in tow.

Pascal denied ever having anything to do with Nene but Nene insisted that he was responsible. Nene and her parents returned to their apartment determined to hide their shame. That same night, Pascal and his parents came to see Papa Nene full of apologies. Their son had confessed saying he denied Nene out of fear. Pascal had also just turned sixteen. They were both evidently children and Papa Pascal wanted to know what Papa Nene wanted them to do.

It was that same night that Nene opened up to her mother. Her father didn't even want to look at her face let alone hear her voice.

Pascal had often come to the house so that they could both study. Nene swore that it was only once that they had sex. When Abigail said this, I told her that I believed Nene. She said her mother did too.
It happened two weeks before she left for Abia for her exam.
She started suspecting that she was pregnant when it seemed that her period was taking too long in coming. She usually did not take note of the dates but when she was half way through the second month, she was sure that she was pregnant. She often violently threw up most of what she ate and her grandma took her to a nearby chemist to procure malaria drugs.

She called Pascal to inform him of her status and after blubbering at first that they were in trouble he promised to send her some money so she could terminate it. How he came by the money, Nene did not know but in less than five days, Pascal had sent her fifteen thousand naira.

Scared and alone, Nene went into the city to look for clinics where she could have an abortion. All three of them said the same thing. "It is too late. If you abort the baby now, you might die."
She cried and cried her heart out and was scared to return to Lagos. But she did and used church as a cover to hide the pregnancy.She had neither spoken to or seen Pascal until that morning when he denied her before both their families. Nene had told Pascal that morning that she never wanted to see him again.

By the time her narrative was over, Nene and her mother were in tears.

Mama Nene looked at her baby and felt so sorry that she had gone through all that alone. She felt ashamed that she hadn't been more observant.She saw as if for the first time how her daughter had changed. Not physically, even though that was obvious but she saw that Nene had somehow grown up in the space of a few months. There was a maturity about her, an invisble halo of strength, the kind that could only have come from carrying such a heavy burden alone. From private suffering.

Mama Nene also felt sorry for herself. That at barely forty years of age, she would be a grandmother. If the circumstances had been different, she might have even felt some pride. How was she going to tell her neighbours and her fellow market women when the baby arrived, that the baby she was caring for belonged to her young unwed daughter?

The crying was over and both women began to make plans for the baby. Nene had gone too long without ante-natal care and that was a good place to start. The doctor said that mother and child were fine but Nene did not understand why her mother suddenly burst out in tears in the middle of one of the classes. The head nurse had to politely ask her to leave. She did the same thing for three consecutive classes and Nene had to ask her mother not to bother accompanying her anymore.

Mama Nene became a shadow of herself and Papa Nene grew increasingly furious everytime he laid his eyes on his daughter. He slapped her once when she served his food. He said the plates were not properly aligned in the food tray. Nene had never taken notice of the plate alignment all her years of serving her father until then.

Soon arrangements were made and Nene was to go stay with her dad's sister, Pamela on the other side of town. They could not risk the entire neighbourhood finding out about their secret. Tongues had already started wagging but they were mere rumours. No need giving them any more substantiating evidence.

As Mama Nene turned to say her good-byes after dropping Nene off at Auntie Pamela's place, Nene held her mother's hands and with tears brimming in her eyes, she said...

"Mummy, I know I have disappointed you and daddy. I am ashamed of myself. I see the way you have become so sad and depressed because of me. Mummy please do not worry yourself sick, if you died of stress or hypertension, what will I do?
Even though I am paying the price for my mistake now, I promise you ma that I will still be the woman I was born to be. If you will just help me in taking care of this child, I will go to school and pick up the thread of my life from where I left it. I will still make you and daddy proud. God has forgiven me. Mummy please forgive me too and give me your blessings".

They held each other and cried while Nene's auntie looked on with sympathy. Mama Nene told Abigail later that night while she narrated the story that she was touched by her daughter's speech.So touched indeed that for the first time she felt that the situation was not that hopeless. That there was a huge possibility thats something good could come out of all of this.

My vision was blurred with the tears that filled my eyes as Abigail concluded her narrative. I was touched with the feeling of Nene's heavy burden. I cried also because I wondered if there was nothing I could have said to her during all those hours we spent talking that would have turned her away from the path she eventually took. I felt I had not been emphatic enough to warn her about little games young people play that could change their lives for ever. It angered me that the boy in question could conveniently stand apart from it all while Nene took the entire brunt of their mistake. My pillow was wet with my tears that night. Sleep eluded me.

My Nene, my little Nene has been forced to grow up in this manner because of a few minutes of indiscretion.Somehow, I too felt that all hope was not lost for her.If I had had the chance to see her before she was shipped off,I would have told her the very same words she said to her mother. That the story of her life need not end here but out of all this shame, she could rise again and become the woman she was born to be.

I guess I would just wait and see how it all plays out. Please join me in saying a prayer for Nene.

** -- I started working on this post last month.

PS: I just confirmed that Nene had her beautiful baby girl a few days ago.
Pascal's family took care of all the hospital bills and they're paying a stipend monthly for the upkeep of the baby.
Mama Nene has insisted on caring for the child herself.


Beulah! said...

Ok yes!!!, I'm first!....lemme go read

Beulah! said...

Wow!, very touching indeed. I especially thank God 4 Nene's mum who's supported her, it's not every parent dat'd do that. Thank God 4 safe delivery of d child too.

Well written Enkay!

posekyere said...

The deeds we do in the dark always show up and. . . we have got to find a way to deal with it somehow.
Gripping piece, Enkay!

Fran said...

Very touching and sad. It's good news for the birth of a child, but in circumstances like this it might not be quite the same. Mistakes happen and I'm happy that she didn't get to terminate it - God knows best! That child might grow up and be a big blessing to her. Pascal's parents also seem to have integrity and decency. Pascal himself (even though he initially denied it out of fear) has shown some level of care and responsiblity; afterall, he went out of his way and came up with 15,000 just so Nene wouldn't be stranded and in the mess all alone! Wrong (esp if the money was stolen) but that shows that he has a responsible and caring side to him! Who knows, it may all play out well in the end. Nene and Pascal may end up finding true love with eachother and settle down as man and wife in future. I pray God continues to watch over them and their little one and lead them on the path of wisdom...

Nice piece Enkay!

Patrina said...

Awesome narrative account, Enkay. What a compassionate friend you are. I loved the part at the end where she said goodbye to mum - for that last short while. Powerful words!! Spoken with strength and faith and ....HOPE of a new day. ooooh what would any of us do without HOPE. The following is my favorite part of your story - thanks for sharing...

"Mummy, I know I have disappointed you and daddy. I am ashamed of myself. I see the way you have become so sad and depressed because of me. Mummy please do not worry yourself sick, if you died of stress or hypertension, what will I do?
Even though I am paying the price for my mistake now, I promise you ma that I will still be the woman I was born to be. If you will just help me in taking care of this child, I will go to school and pick up the thread of my life from where I left it. I will still make you and daddy proud. God has forgiven me. Mummy please forgive me too and give me your blessings".


Ps - just wanted to tank you fro your kinds word's over at Jaycee's place. I am finding new friends from Nigeria!! I am so taken by the compassion of you nigerian women!

I joined your site today! I'm the dove!

Patrina <"))>><
His watchman on the wall

joicee said...

My eyes welled up as I read this. Unfortunately this story is very familiar because teenage pregnancies and abortions are very common.
I pray for wisdom and God´s grace for Nene in raising her child.

onosetale(damsel) said...

wow this was WONDERFUL!!! like you, i felt angry because that young girl had to go through all that alone while the boy was probably somewhere relaxing!! this was really awesome!!! i was actually a little surprised that this happened in Nigeria, the way my aunts/uncles/parents talk u would have thought that teenagers NEVER get pregnant in Nigeria..(in America rather).."because your country is crazy" as my dad would but it seems like its getting to be the norm. almost everywhere.

leggy said...

wow...this was really touching.i actually had tears in my eyes.i hope she does work hard in school cos all hope is not lost. im glad her mum supported her.

Rose said...

This is so touching..I'm so glad she had the baby despite all odds.
I pray for strength for both Nene and her raise her Child as best as they both can...

"She could rise again and become the woman she was born to be.." she certainly can..a day at a time.

Andrea said...

Oh wow, I couldnt stop reading.I am so glad she and the baby are ok.

akaBagucci said...

touching story..

NoLimit said...

This brought tears to my eyes,as in my throat was actually constricting!
Nene will definitely be fine,I totally believe she will make something out of herself...
Loving your post Enkay...very well written indeed!!!

Myne Whitman said...

This was really touching and I like how it all worked out in the end. This happens more often than we thing, though maybe not so young as 16. I've had a couple of girls I know get pregnant in uni and they're the supposed 'good girls'.

Enkay you really write well, thanks for sharing this.

Enkay said...

Beulah! - Yes O! You are first! Her mother was a huge support indeed. It would have been hopeless otherwise.

Posekyere - Yeah..."stolen waters are sweet..." but only for a short time. Until the secret deed become public.

Fran- The birth of a child under the right circumstances would really be a great source of joy. But with Nene it is different, she can hardly say her joy is full. like you said, who knows?

Patrina - Yes Patrina, HOPE! What could we ever do without HOPE for a greater day?
Thanks for following me. I'm going over to yours right away!
Your kind words about young Nigerian is highly appreciated.

Joicee - Yes, teenage pregnancy is becoming rather rampant. I was glad she did not abort the child.

Enkay said...

Onosetale - well, teenagers are teenagers whether in Nigeria or in America. They all just need guidance is all.

Leggy - I'm sure she understands the amount of hard work that lies ahead of her.

Rose - Nene needs our prayers dear, thanks for mentioning her in yours.

Andrea - The doctors were amazed at her strength. Thank God indeed that they're both fine

akaBagucci - Touching indeed and sad too.

NoLimit - With what her auntie Abigail told me, I am quite confident that everything will turn out fine.

Myne - It just goes to show that even 'good girls' are human too and subject to mistakes and error.Mistakes that can actually be avoided. *sigh*

yankeenaijababe said...

This nene girl na wa loving the story so far,would be back for more

theicequeen said...

First, this is a very touching story on a theme that i often ponder.

Very interesting still is the way each successive paragraph covered the comments i was getting ready to make!

It's life, sometimes unorthodox things happen to good people. However, i am one of those people who firmly believe that we really cannot condemn anything that happens in our lives because these things tend to have a higher purpose. The important thing is not to let these situations cloud our purpose, as the unfortunately do most of the time.

I am incredibly proud of Nene. At her young age, she is very very wise. So yes, it is sad, yes it would have been better for everybody if it was avoided and they didn't have to deal with this situation. But the truth, the hope lies in the fact that in 10 years, for example, this might not seem so tragic, especially taking into account Nene as a person.

I'm saying a thank you prayer to God now that, even if just by circumstance, she didn't terminate the pregnancy. Two wrongs to not make a right, we should learn to cope with the messes we cause...So congratulations to Nene and her family. A child is always a blessing even if it doesn't quite feel like it at the moment.

I am in many ways inspired by this post, Enkay. Thank you for writing it, and for writing it the way you did. I am incredibly thankful that it's Friday and i had the opportunity to stop by finally!!!

Tisha said...

please do everything in your power to ensure that she does go to school. i am so happy she kept the baby and i believe with her that she can stil be the woman she was born to be.

its a touching story and i hate dwelling on 'coulda', 'woulda', 'shoulda'. i rather dwell on solutions and i dare say she will be a better woman than she would have been before.

My challenges have certainly made me a better person because i have the word of God, please make sure her faith is strengthened. nothing about God has changed no matter how her circumstances have changed.

enkay, i'd just like to say, your compassion shines through. please keep in touch with her. if ic ould get her email, i won't mind either and if i can do anything to help, i will.

Afronuts said...

Touching story.

I always feel for teenage mothers. Nene made just a little mistake and it cost her so much.

But Ive come to learn that in the end, things will trun out well. Her child will eventually end up a blessing somehow. God has way of making a way for repentant single mothers.

LucidLilith said...

Mom is healthy. Baby is healthy. Glory be to God. Nothing else matters in this day and age.

Anoda Phase said...

waoh! u had me in tears with this one Enkay...It's a pity what happened to Nene, but I'm glad she's had the baby now, and can return to school and make something of herself, while her mum cares for the child...

I understand how u must have felt when u heard the story, but u could never have guessed that ur sweet little innocent Nene would get mixed up with a guy @ that take it easy on urself, ok?


Writefreak said...

Enkay, you're a great storyteller! It gripped me from beginning to the end!

I feel for Nene, it's amazing how a few minutes can have such repercussion on your life. I wish Pascal had to share in the pregnancy. Her life is definitely not over! But it definitely is a huge burden for her young shoulders. I'm glad she didnt get to terminate the pregnancy.

Now i feel good about the kind of talk i've been having with my help :-)

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BSNC said...

that is so sad, but a child is always a blessing. She is barely a child herself. I wish nene the best..

Olufunke said...

Enkay at it again!
I was glued from the begining till the end
Nicely written, you sure are a good story teller

About Nene, I so feel for her, I admire her maturity too though, like they say its not what happened to us that matter , but how we allow it affect us. I look forward to you sharing on your blog in the very near future Nene's story again of the beautiful things she has made out of her life despite this 'temporary' set back.

Nice one!

Remi, United Kingdom said...

thought provoking...

SOLOMONSYDELLE said... glad that baby is fine and that the families are working things out. But, na wa.

Femme Lounge said...

it happened just once and now she has to live with the consequence, really touching.

but the good thing is that its not too late for her to start again . her parents and the people around her should be strong for her and help her through this phase.

she has made a mistake but it doesn't have to be an end to her dreams!

i pray it will all work out well for her good.

Charity Otojare said...

Wow!what a beautiful description you had of Nene, this really shows how good of a writer you are weldone! I think the part of Nene speaking up to her mother before they parted ways was a bold thing I applaude her for that. Nene is truly a remakable woman. I don't think u should feel bad about not being able to talk to Nene about boy-girl relationship, everything happens for a reason, accidents happen. Overall, I'm happy to hear she delivered safely, and mother and child are doing fine. and also touched that Nenes mother is helping raise her grand- daughter.

Enkay said...

@YNC - She has learnt her lesson.

@ Ice Queen - Yes o. In fac, papa Nene's attitude towards herhas become more cordial since the baby arrived.

Tisha -I don't have her e-mail but I can assure you she has a solid support base. Thanks for caring.

Afronuts - Yes, I believe strongly that it would all turn out well.

Lucidlilith - Really as long as both of them are fine, the rest can be sorted out.

Anoda Phase - I am more relaxed now that I know she's fine. Thanks!

Enkay said...

WF- thanks for the compliment! Everyone in her family seems happier now that the baby is here.

BSNC - A blessing indeed she is. She's the cutest little thing.

Olufunke - Thanks! I'm sure her story will bring joy to the hearts of those that hear it several years from now.

Remi Indeed it is...

SSD - No be small thing. All's well that ends well abi?

Femme - it will indeed. She's aleady taken some steps in the right direction.

Charity - Thanks. Nene inspires me to in many ways.

aloted said...

touching story..and u r such a good story teller.
this post really got me thinking.
i feel for is not the end of the road for her..that i know

lamikayty said...

Tough but beautiful story. Nene has her head screwed on tight and in the right direction too. She's grown up real fast but thank God she has loads of support!!

Myne Whitman said...

Hey babes, just a shout out. Hope you're keeping well.


Just checking in...

prashant said...

it may all play out well in the end. Nene and Pascal may end up finding true love with eachother and settle down as man and wife in future. I pray God continues to watch over them and their little one and lead them on the path of wisdom...
data entry work from home

Original Mgbeke said...

Wow, this was such a very touching story. Poor little Nene, I will definitely remember her in my prayers. Having a child out of wedlock is so common in America that I have forgotten the huge stigma which is attached to it, in Nigeria. But indeed, life will not end! It won't...

Zena said...

I cried throughout the whole thing, I'm crying now

this was beautifully written and may God bless and protect Nene and her new baby

histreasure said...

babe, u just disappear!!! hope all's well..

LG said...

nne odikwa nma?

Nice Anon said...

Why haven't you updated in months? Did you have a baby or something? Hope all is well

busayoAKANRO said...

Hmm......can't help but wonder how many Nenes are being created daily. My major question is how do we identify the source that makes Nenes and how do we mitigate against it?

Anonymous said...

Enkay, trust all's well. Checking in... :)