Leticia held the baby loosely over the open cesspit and away from Frank. “Even if you so much as think of taking another step closer, I am going to drop this baby into this pit and it would be a lose-lose situation for both of us and for you especially”, she dared Frank. Frank stood there already furious but at the same time helpless because he knew that the Leticia he had known earlier had changed completely and he knew that her threats were anything but empty. He knew also that any wrong move he made was going to be disastrous. “Tish, that little girl is your baby; our baby, at least think of the number of months you had to carry her in your womb, think of the frustration associated with her birth and do not take any decision that both of us are going to regret”, Frank begged as he stretched his hands toward the little baby girl in a frantic effort of saving her from being dropped. “Tell me if what you feel for me is love or just pity? “Tell me if you would even be standing here right now with me if not for the reason that we have a daughter together. I trusted you Frank, the least you could have done was to reciprocate that trust, instead, you stabbed me when I least expected and left me begging for dear life. The only way I can settle this score is by undoing what the two of us have done”, Leticia said as she dangerously dangled the baby over the open cesspit. “So does that give you the right to play God? Does that give you the power to decide who lives and who dies? What we feel for each other is between the two of us and it is besides the point of you taking it out on this innocent baby”,Frank argued. All this while, the little baby was crying uncontrollably but the two adults cared less about the tears and screams of the baby or the stench emanating from the cesspit and kept on arguing with each other. “I never expected things to turn out this way but unfortunately, they have Frank, they have”, Leticia continued as tears rolled down her cheeks…
(SOME YEARS EARLIER)
Leticia was the second of four children. She had entered into the university the previous year and was pursuing a degree in History and Philosophy. She woke up from the mattress she shared with all her siblings and there was no telling the chaos on that little mattress with hands on other heads, legs flying on top of each other, snores in different pitches coming from open mouths and noses placed dangerously at ‘lose ends’ where flatulence could cause one to wake up feeling sick. It was a Saturday and she was on her first vacation from school. Leticia and her siblings lived with their father in a small apartment. Their mother had left their father for some rich man because she could no longer stand the number of years they wallowed in abject poverty with no hope in sight. She paid them occasional visits but she had grown too shy to stay so she only dropped off some foodstuffs and money when she had the chance but with time, the visits reduced and her absence was no longer an issue for even their youngest daughter who was about turning six years old. Leticia arrived home the previous night and instantly, her dad sent her on the errand she hated the most. There was close to nothing to feed on exceptt a cup of uncooked rice and two tins of sardine in their makeshift kitchen in the corner of their single room apartment. She was therefore asked to visit her uncle with a letter written by her dad to ask him for some money to feed themselves. Leticia always felt sad when she was on this errand and her only wish was that life and fate should have been fair to her poor father who had to fight tooth and nail to see them through life after their mother left. She always had a feeling that she and her family were being a nuisance to her uncle who was already paying the fees of two of her younger siblings. Her dad was a pupil teacher in the District Assembly school and his salary was woefully inadequate to support the entire family. She knocked on the gate of her uncle’s house and was ushered in by a steward. “Is Uncle Charles at home?”, Leticia asked the steward who had come to be well aware of the reason for such visits. “Yes, sister, he is in the garden”, the steward replied pointing toward a beautiful rock garden which was not there the last time she paid her uncle a visit. She had this inferiority complex from childhood so she trembled as she stood before her ‘mighty’ uncle. “Good morning Uncle Charles, Daddy asked me to deliver this to you”, she said as she handed over the letter to him…..More soon.