I rushed to the matron’s office. The fat woman was devouring a hot steaming porridge. She did not look from the food flask.

“Ajuwaya, you’re around still?” she intoned with another spoonful of porridge down her throat.

“Ma-ma…I think your attention is needed–,” I stammered.

“I’ve asked Nurse Eli to take you everywhere,” she said still on her porridge.

When she knew it was all about Awero, she practically dismissed me out of her office when she simply muttered, “Nothing will do her”. As I made to approach a nurse down the corridor, I heard a loud scream…

Awero’s baby was out. A fine young warrior. Our lady corpers shouted “Hallelujah!” The matron handled the rest. We paid for the injections and drips. An overzealous lady corper ran across the road to get her Bournvita and milk. Awero was happy. She looked at her baby, looked around at everyone in the room and cried. We consoled her with inspiring words. And she smiled again…

But, I wondered how long her smiles would last! This was not what she set out to be! She told us at one her visits to the Corpers’ Lodge that she had wanted to grow up, study Medicine in the University of Ibadan, get married and give her virginity to her husband, had children, and set up a private clinic in the community. We encouraged her she could still be what she wanted to be. But she smiled… It was the same smile she gave that day at the health centre. This story left me with a painful reality of the Awero in every girl-child in my environment.

Author: Edward Oluwayomi