The sun was in full splendor that Thursday, as its rays of sunshine fell across the tent placed outside the Anthony residence. Neighbours and friends and family were gathered to celebrate this auspicious day of formally licensing names the newborn would be identified with.
Bankole couldn’t blame the pop and grandeur of the ceremony. Chukwuka’s delivery was nothing short of a miracle. He could still remember pacing the hospital corridor when the doctor had approached and told him that if he were a praying man, then was the time to pray. The baby was in breech position, complicated with this being Bodunde’s first delivery, and it wasn’t looking good.
It had felt like an eternity had passed as he’d earnestly petitioned God to spare his two dear people, before he was summoned, hours later, to see the new baby. The surge of joy he had felt still coursed through him now. Satisfied that Bodunde was really alright, though she looked very tired, he approached the crib Emeka was dazedly staring at.
He’d picked up the scrawny screaming infant, smiled at his long-awaited new nephew and counted ten pudgy little toes and fingers. He was overwhelmed with happiness and told him, “Welcome to the world, Chukwuka. I’m your new uncle”.
“It’s Chika. She’s a girl”, Emeka mumbled.
So his nephew was a she, this son of ours was a female. Was that why her father had looked lost? He’d laughed. It didn’t matter. Females were children too, and she’d always be his Chukwuka. He’d gotten used to the name already. His two girls were safe and sound, he had every reason to be thankful. As did Emeka.
Bankole figured that Emeka must have embraced his fatherhood already as he was beaming from ear to ear at the shouts of ‘Papa Ada’ escorted him into the canopy where well-wishers were seated for the ceremony presesntly. Bankole smiled at him from the front seat, and at his sister as she followed closely behind, well dressed like her husband and looking very beautiful. Emeka’s sister brought up the rear cradling Chukwuka, and neighbours rose, clapping at the entrance of the procession.
The minister was promptly invited to do the honours of naming the baby. He called each name and asked that everyone said it after him. The baby was to be called Chika, Adaugo, meaning God is greater and daughter of beauty, respectively. She was christened Justine by her mother, and Murewa, which meant one who brings good. Omowale, her uncle’s supply to the name bank, meant a child come home. The rest of the list was contributed by other relatives: Uju by her aunt and Chioma by another uncle, Beatrice by a friend and Success by the landlord.
The little child was definitely going to have her hands full with all those names and remembering them all, Bankole thought. His phone’s vibration cut into his musings and he withdrew his phone from his pocket. He saw his sister smiling at him and he threw her a wink, before he went ahead to read the text. It was his course rep and the message was simple but jolting: You haven’t been reachable. Resumption is next week, just in case you didn’t know.
* * *
Bodunde was all smiles. She had taken special care to look beautiful, after all, it was only once one delivered a firstborn. Her very own baby, daughter of her loins. She was a mother and the experience was exhilarating, to say the least.
Her Murewa. She was so named because her daughter had attracted good fortune to the family since her arrival. It couldn’t be a coincidence that an unfamiliar distant relative had sent them money after hearing of her birth and Emeka’s contract was awarded soon after. Yes, this baby was goodluck.
It didn’t matter that the delivery had been very hard and she had thought she would die with the pain. But all of it melted away when she held Justine in her hands. Such perfection in a tiny creation. She’d felt like crying along with her for the sheer joy!
Baby Justine had suckled with as much gusto as she’d cried and Bodunde had felt very strongly the mother-child bond. She’d even smiled at the doctor as he complimented Justine’s loud cries as an indication of healthy lungs.
She couldn’t understand his need to take a walk while she was enduring contractions in anguish, but she knew that there was nothing he could have done until it was time. Nana was a mid-wife and she’d picked up a thing or two when she accompanied her to deliveries.
Now, looking over the table at Bankole, she remembered how he had reverently carried Justine from her crib and she smiled at him in appreciation. He was such a wonderful younger brother. He winked at her. Silly boy…er, man. For a person who had a short fuse, he was very protective of her and apparently enamored of his new niece. He’d been a rock through the delivery and afterwards and she loved him even more.
She was going to find time during the week to cook his favourite meal, whether or not he felt she was strong enough to do the work. He’d refused to tell her where he got the money for the delivery from and she had to pay him back without injuring his pride. Where he got the idea he was to be the provider, she didn’t know, even though she understood it was out of care for her.
His face suddenly clouded and she was worried. What could be wrong? He stood up and went into the house. She would have gone on his tail just then but it wouldn’t be proper. Emeka squeezed her hand under the table, his expression showing understanding. Then he leaned over to whisper that they were going to tackle this matter later. Together.
Yes, people, it turns out ‘our son’ is a girl. How did you feel? Traditional names tell unique stories, what’s yours? What do you think will happen to Bankole now? I’d like to hear from you.
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