Nifemi had morning sickness until she fell into labor. From the time of her first irregular contractions to the moment the baby came, she had thought she would die. The pain was unbearable. They were indeed excruciating. She screamed and cried out for mercy and forgiveness. She thought that if the pains were punishment for disobeying her parents, if she cried out well enough and repent of her mistake then Allah should spare her life. She would ask for forgiveness from her parents, and be their obedient daughter once again.
The cry of the new baby brought some relief to Nifemi. It was a moment of indescribable joy when she saw the little baby held before her eyes. The grin on her sweaty face despite the tears that flowed down her flushed cheek was indeed a sign of great relief. As the midwife held the baby, it was swathed in the fine piece of clothing Mama Savage had given Nifemi for this purpose.
“It’s a girl”, the midwife said.
Nifemi stretched out her arms to receive her baby while still on the high table where she had just delivered. She had insisted before she went into labor that she wanted to hold her baby immediately after delivery. The midwives were not in the school of thought of presenting a new born to its mother before cleaning and dressing, but Mama had asked them to oblige Nifemi anything she wanted. Nifemi had nightmares of her separation from her baby so she wanted that first bond so that the baby would always remember her. So she thought. She looked at the baby in her arms and smiled at the angelic face. The smile was almost turning into tears now, new tears all over again. Yet the seeming tears of joy were soon replaced by heavy sobs in fear of future eventualities.
“No, no, no. It’s a bad omen to let tears fall on a new born. It is the liquid from your breasts she needs now, not the one from your eyes”, the midwife quickly took the child from her. “It is all over now. It will only be joy from now”, she added.
Nifemi whimpered. She became frightful. She searched the room frantically for a familiar face. Someone to comfort and give her hope. Just before the tears flowed out of her eyes again, the other midwife said, “You both need to be cleaned”.