Read Chapter VI here.
Fiifi and Bisi took baby Nhyira to see the pastor after church service who prayed for the baby and the couple. When Fiifi took the lead to the car, the pastor inquired how Bisi was doing.
“By God’s grace I’m fine, pastor. It hasn’t been easy but God has been faithful. Thank you for that timely word you gave me the other night. Although nothing prepared me for the bombshell, I didn’t break down the way any other woman would in my situation because I leaned in on the truth that God’s got me. And that was more than enough for me.”
“God must be very proud of you, Mrs. Pratt. You’ve shown great strength by accepting this baby and God will surely reward you.”
“Amen. Thank you, pastor.”
“Go in peace and stay blessed.” Bisi joined the rest of the family and Fiifi took off.
Ewuresi paused in her slurping of her fruit drink and asked, “Daddy, will we be eating lunch at a restaurant like the other time?”
“Sorry honey; we can’t today. The baby is tired and needs to rest. Maybe another time,” Fiifi said.
“Like next week Sunday?”
“I can’t say for sure, dear; maybe.”
“Because the baby will always be tired when we bring him to church. Does it mean no more lunch at restaurants?” Fii and Bisi exchanged a look and they both shook their heads. How the girls were able to interpret simple phrases beyond the immediate meaning was too stunning. Bisi surely prayed for intelligent children but it seems they sometimes they were too smart for comfort.
“It means the baby has to grow up to your age or so before any such thing happens again,” Kukuaa butt in. Ewuresi gasped.
“How long, for five years?” she asked. Kukuaa merely shrugged.
“Dad, is that true?”
“No, Esi; not that long. I promise we’ll make time to go out for lunch, okay?”
“I remember we didn’t go out for a while when Ewuresi was born. I don’t see how that would change with him.” Bisi looked over her shoulder to glance at Kukuaa who wore her usual mischievous look.
“Family makes sacrifices; it’s what we do to keep the bond stronger,” Fiifi said.
“You mean, no more lunch out?” Ewuresi pressed.
“Don’t worry, sweetie; I’ll prepare your favorite when I get home, okay?” Bisi said.
Kukuaa leaned in closer to Ewuresi and whispered a little too loudly, deliberately, “That’s what she used to tell me when you were born.”
“Is that true, mummy?” when Bisi opened her mouth to speak, Kukuaa quickly said, “It’s Sunday, mum. Don’t lie.” Bisi bit down on her lip.
“Don’t you like it when I cook for you, Esi?” She nodded.
“Good. So don’t worry; okay? I promise we’ll have a girl’s day out whiles daddy does the babysitting.”
“Yay!” Both girls yelled in excitement. Fiifi glanced at his wife who smiled back.
Bisi sighed in relief when Ewuresi let go of the issue and resumed slurping from the straw.
The girls were helping their mother out in the kitchen; where helping out meant asking why she was adding one ingredient and not the other whenever she asked them to pass something to her. They were all sharing a laugh when Fiifi entered, holding the baby at arm’s length.
“Um honey; I think Nhyira has soiled himself.” They paused in their laughter fit.
Fiifi stared back when they all gave him the ‘okay, so?’ look.
“Oh okay; the diapers and wipes are in his room, Fii,” Bisi said and continued her chopping.
“Um, I know that. I thought you should do it.”
“But dad, mum’s hands are in food right now. If she touches the soiled diaper, she’ll contaminate the food,” Kukuaa said.
“Wash your hands with soap and water, yeah!” Ewuresi sang, mimicking the TV ad.
“Since my hands are busy, do you mind handling that?” Bisi said with a broad smile.
The girls were still staring at their dad which made him slightly uncomfortable. He swallowed and nodded.
“Sure, carry on,” he said and walked out of the kitchen. He could hear the girls giggling.
“Daddy doesn’t want to touch the baby’s poopy,” Ewuresi said.
“Yeah, but he will!” Kukuaa said and they laughed again. Bisi shook her head but kept her thoughts to herself.
“It seems it’s going to be you and me against the world, young man,” Fiifi said as he fixed his diaper.
“But we are going to be fine, you and I.” He picked him up and kissed his cheek.
“You are my Nhyira; my boy, my pride.”
After lunch, Fiifi went to the study whiles the girls cleaned up. The girls took a nap whiles Bisi prepared for the week’s workload. She was almost done when she heard the baby’s wakeup cry. She went for him and fed him. She rested the baby on her bosom whiles she went over her notes.
Fiifi entered the bedroom with a yawn. He stopped in his tracks when he took in the scene: his wife asleep with the baby also sleeping on her bosom. It was such a captivating sight. He took his phone from his pocket and took several photos. He rushed to the study for his iPad and took more photos. He made a mental note to edit and print them out.
When he lay down, Bisi woke up. She winced when she touched her neck. She placed the still sleeping baby between them and lay down. Fiifi’s eyes finally fluttered close after taking in the face of his son for several minutes. He woke up to some tiny voice making sounds which he could hear faintly as if from a distance. Nhyira seemed to be in a world of his own, smiling and laughing at himself, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. He looked up to see what could have captured his attention but found nothing. No wonder babies were so enviable. They were happy beings no matter the circumstances going around them. Bisi was not in bed. He picked him up and walked out of the bedroom.
Bisi was ironing the girls’ uniforms whiles they recounted what they had learnt during Sunday school service.
“I hope all your things are in order,” Bisi said.
“Books, check; socks, check; underwear, check, handkerchief, check,” Kukuaa said, counting her fingers. Bisi nodded.
“What about you, Esi?”
“All check!” Bisi knew better than to believe her. She recalled the day she had left her homework book at home and she had to turn around to come get it. What made it even more frustrating was that she could not remember where she had left it. She had been all around the house which meant almost every corner of the house had to be searched. Instead of helping to find it, she resorted to crying, blaming both mother and sister for her missing book. Bisi had to get her a sandwich to keep her quiet. Kukuaa found it on her father’s study desk beneath some files. What Esi could be doing there, no one knew. When they arrived at their school, Esi’s teacher came out to meet them.
“Why are you late today, Miss Pratt?” Ewuresi immediately pointed at her mother. Bisi shook her head and apologized to the teacher. When Bisi turned to say goodbye to Kuks, she had already left to her class.
Bisi chuckled to herself at the memory. She’d have to personally check if all Esi’s things were intact or ask Kukuaa to.
“Kukuaa?” Kukuaa sighed and got up. She knew what would follow after her name was called.
“I’ll go and check,” she said and walked out.
“I’m going to find daddy,” Ewuresi said and also left her mother.
“Daddy!” Ewuresi shouted.
“Yes, sweetie. Come and say hi to Nhyira.” She ran towards him and stopped when she saw the baby in his arms. She waved.
“Hello, baby.” Fiifi smiled. He showed her the photos he had taken earlier. Ewuresi took the phone and went to show it to her mother and sister.
“Let’s take a selfie with Nhyira,” Ewuresi suggested. Kukuaa who never turned down a photo taking opportunity, nodded. Fiifi put the baby in Kukuaa’s arms and took the photos whiles the girls posed. He laughed as they made faces. Bisi looked on in amusement. She was happy at heart that Kukuaa was gradually warming up to the baby. She knew this could be because of the selfies but that was progress; at least she was holding the baby. This went on a while till Kukuaa complained her arms were cramping. Fiifi took Nhyira back from her.
Later in the night, when Fiifi put the sleeping baby in his cradle, he entered to find Bisi fixing her hair for bed. He sat on the bed and watched her for a while. He got up and hugged her from behind.
“Honey?” She responded with a sound although she didn’t open her mouth.
“We need to discuss how we are going to take care of Nhyira.”
“What do you mean?”
“That one of us has to take some time off…” Bisi paused midway and continued after a few seconds.
“Okay…” He kissed her shoulder.
“Would you go on leave to take care of Nhyira?” Bisi froze. Fiifi sensed the tension in her body and let go of her body. Bisi turned to face him.
“I know I may be asking for too much but Nhyira is too little…”
“Uh huh, so what exactly are you proposing?”
“That maybe you can go on maternity leave…”
“Mater…quoi? Are you kidding me? How do I explain to my boss that I am due for maternity leave when I have not given birth to any child?”
“I’m sure there are provisions for adopted…”
“Hold it, Fii. Why do I have to be the one to sacrifice my job here?”
“Come on B, if you had given birth to another baby, wouldn’t you do same?”
“Exactly, if I had…but I’m not, thanks to you. And since you’ve provided this household another baby through unconventional methods, why don’t you take on the responsibility to care for him?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean since this is your own doing, why don’t you take a paternity leave and look after him?” He chuckled, thinking Bisi was joking with him. When he saw the serious look on her face, he stopped chuckling.
“Are you serious?”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?”
“Come on honey, I’m the CEO of one of the most competitive group of companies in the country. I can’t afford to take a paternity leave especially in this season.”
“Then it seems you have a situation on your hands, Mr. Pratt.”
“I thought we were in this together.”
“We are honey, that’s what this ring stands for. But you made this baby by yourself and you should be prepared to shoulder the responsibility.”
“Are you trying to punish me for what I did?”
“Nope; I think we’re past that, Fii. I’m ready and willing to do my part for the sake of our marriage but don’t ask me to do something like this. I can’t put my job at risk like that.”
“So who do you expect to take care of him during the week?”
“Your mother, who else?” He sighed.
“You still see the baby as mine and not ours, is that it?”
“How I see it doesn’t change the facts, Fii. I am more than willing to be a mother to him but I’m not putting my job on the line.”
“Family makes sacrifices, B.”
“Back at you, Fii. Since you love that saying so much, why don’t you prove that to me and the girls by taking care of the baby and working from home? You don’t always have to show up at the office, do you? As long as you have your phone, your laptop and internet access, you can work anywhere, right?”
“If it’s financial security you’re worried about, I can take care of that. You don’t have to work…”
“Don’t even go there, Fii. I’m not going to have yet another discussion about this. I’m going to bed. Goodnight,” Bisi said, ending the conversation and lay on the bed and covered herself.
Fiifi watched her quietly and joined her. They both put out their lamps and stared into the darkness, each buried in his own thoughts.
Josephine Amoako (c) 2016
Read Chapter VIII here.