I looked forward towards our meeting with great delight, as if it was our last. But it was our first in many months. Our great weekly ritual which is to meet and share in the pain and glory of each other has been sacrificed on the altar of the great technological revolution.
Whatsapp and the many social media chatrooms have made our lives so easy, yet so empty. We connected from across different geographical locations in Accra, shared many empty jokes, forwarded many long motivational thesis as received mostly from across the Sahara desert, pretended daily to be involved in each others lives yet we were so far apart.Technology has a strange way of turning friends into strangers whilst still making them believe they are more than brothers and sisters.
The adrenalin that gushed through me anytime I thought about our meeting only exposed the artificial nature of the impact of technology on our lives. And to think that we were meeting to plan the wedding of Joan, as bridesmaids extraordinaire, only made the thought of our meeting even more vivacious.
But am I not being too harsh on technology? Perhaps now me and my friends have more responsibilities – jobs, including the responsibility of taking care of our grown ‘babes’ (boyfriends). So our ritual, which is to meet every Sunday after church service, one we observed with no excuse, has now become secondary and we have turned to technology, social media as a cover up.
After a rude awakening that things weren’t going as they should, the same platform that kept us from seeing each other was the same one used to plan a ‘date’.
All four of us – Olivia; whom we called Liv, Joan, who loves to be called J, Yaaba and yours truly, myself decided to perform this ritual again. We have been friends since primary school. We grew up in the same community, went to the same schools all through to the university.
Our parents marvel at how as they put it, we’ve been able to keep it together all these years. It doesn’t mean we are perfect. Oh no. We quarrel, argue, break up and make up and of course disagree over the type of men either of us decides to date at some point, but regardless of these differences, one thing that is always clear is our desire to be there for each other no matter how bad the situation is.
So the date I so eagerly waited for came. We met at one of our favourite hotels for lunch after church.
It was lovely to see everybody again in person, not on a DP or Instagram or on any of those funny little apps. Out of the four, I seemed to have gained some weight over the period and the excitement and surprise could not be hidden.
We seemed to have attracted a lot of attention because Liv, as usual, could not hold it in.
“Naa , I saw the pictures, but wow, you have put on a million bucks. I can see that my Jake is doing something fantastic with you. Ken should come for lessons from him,” Liv said while opening her arms for a hug. She is the loudest among us though. She hates to be described this way, but you can be certain that she will say it as she feels and will not even blink an eye while she’s at it.
“Ooohh, I looove what I’m seeing. Maybe we should exchange boyfriends for a year. I agree with Liv, he’s not only good at managing his business, but seems to have you very well catered for as well…I love it,” J said with a wink while I hugged her.
“You guys haven’t changed one bit. How do you keep your jobs,” I said cynically while entering her embrace.
Yaaba is the more conservative one among us. Sometimes she lets her hair down, but she is usually ‘well behaved’. We call her Yabz.
While I hugged her, she said “for once I agree with these crazy heads, you look absolutely beautiful in the new weight. I disagree that it’s Jake’s doing though. I mean, can’t a woman be her own woman,” she quizzed as she threw a stern look at Liv and J.
That called for a whole argument on its own. For about five minutes after we settled, these three went on and on disagreeing about whether or not it was my boyfriend’s care that caused me to gain weight and did not notice that there was a waiter standing at our table waiting for their order.
When they finally realized they had company, Liv turned attention to the poor waiter who looked obviously lost in the whole debate.
She said “if your girlfriend doesn’t look as good as this my friend right here, then you’re not doing a good job. Leave her for another man who can take care of her, like our able brother is doing.”
The gentleman smiled and all he could say was “what would you like to drink, please.”
We all burst into laughter, but placed our orders anyway.
The first issue for discussion on the table is J’s upcoming wedding, one of the reasons it was very important that we met. I mean, how could we be bridesmaids without a real plan.
“It’s just two months away guys, you need to settle on either of these styles for the bridesmaids and then you need to select styles of your choice for Saturday evening, Sunday and Sunday evening,” J said while she laid the catalogue with the styles on the table.
“Otherwise, the designer will create the styles for you. It all depends on you…and then, oh, your shoes, I’ve placed the orders already. And because I’m sweet, and it’s my wedding and I want to spoil you, I’ve ordered three different pairs for each of you. You decide what to wear on what day,” J continued.
“Isn’t that a little too much. We could do with one…coz in the end, you’re the lady of the day and no one is really looking at either of us,” Yabz chipped in.
But J sees nothing wrong with her decision, which is usual of her. J is an extravagant spender, she buys brands and I’m certain that all the shoes she has ordered are designer made. Jimmy Choos or perhaps Louboutins, but whatever it is you can trust that J will deliver and when she does it is everything class.
So we went through the styles she had chosen for the bridesmaid’s dresses and selected one we loved most. We especially loved the colours she had selected and oh the design for the Saturday evening’s dinner was absolutely mesmerizing.
“I love the baby pink and what colour will the groom and groomsmen be wearing.” Liv asked.
“We are yet to decide on that, but I’m certain it will be soft grey,” J responded.
“Soft grey? Which grey is hard…please, please it’s either grey or it’s not. Why do you and your husband want to kill us with your book long, ah,” Liv said as we all burst into laughter.
But something struck me. As we all laughed and went through pages and pages of styles, Yabz was quiet. Her only contribution throughout the period was her subtle condemnation of J for ordering three pairs of shoes for each of us. Aside that she hardly said anything else and she seemed lost in thought.
I tapped her shoulder and she jolted out of her daydream or whatever land she was in.
“Is everything alright,” I asked.
“Yeah, you’ve been quiet, is it because of what I said, sorry if it was offensive. I didn’t mean for it to be,” J said apologetically.
“No, it’s nothing about what you said it’s…,” and before she could finish the sentence, tears came running down her cheeks like a child who’s been beaten.
We were all thrown into a state of shock, totally oblivious of what the problem was and what could cause her to cry at a time we were celebrating a reunion.
Liv and J got up from their seats and joined us in ours. Liv wrapped Yabz in her arms and started singing while I rubbed my hands on her back.
The principle is that, anytime any of us cry, which we do sometimes, the person crying must be allowed to shed tears for a while before we interrogate. So for about two minutes, we allowed Yabz to pour it out. The exciting mood dimmed and we watched quietly as our dear friend cried.
When she was able to finally bring herself to speak, she cleared her throat and gave us, probably, the most shocking news of the year, “I think I’m pregnant.”
“Thank God, I thought you had killed someone,” Liv said as she got up and went back to her seat, leaving everyone to wonder what exactly was thankful about a lady who’s not married, yet may be pregnant.
When she noticed we were all staring at her, she offered an explanation.
“Come on guys, it’s just a pregnancy, we…she should be excited about it, anything else is a side issue which can be dealt with. There’s no need to cry at all,” she said and took a sip of her drink.
Since she was being cynical, J and I sought explanations about what the whole pregnancy issue was about and Yabz attempted an explanation.
“Max and I had unprotected sex. My period was in a few days so I assumed I was in my safe period and didn’t take an emergency pill. But it’s been two weeks since then and I’ve not had my period. I think I’m pregnant.”
“But you haven’t tested yet so you can’t conclude that you’re pregnant. Just relax,” I said.
“How about we get a test kit from the pharmacy close by and do a test now, just so we’re sure that you’re pregnant,” Liv chipped in.
“Yeah, let’s do it,” J agreed.”
But the pregnancy was the least of Yabz’s worries. She was unprepared for it and she planned to deal with the foetus even before it grew into a human.
I don’t see what the difference is, because the foetus is human, regardless of age. But well, that’s a topic for another day.
And so as I was saying, Yabz’s real reason or fear, perhaps, is her boyfriend. She said when she discussed the issue with him, the fear of having impregnated her and the stern posture with which he requested for an abortion got her worried about whether her man is for real. Yabz said she wasn’t impressed with Max’s response.
“Even though I wanted to, the anxiety with which he pushed for an abortion was unnerving. I know none of us is ready, but at least he should have perhaps disagreed or asked that we think about it, but he just said ‘okay’. And he even said we should get it done within the first two weeks so that ‘the burden of having to deal with a grown foetus will lessen.’”
Yabz continued, “I feel used! He doesn’t love me at all and his reaction goes to prove it.”
“But what do you expect him to say? You’ve just said that neither of you is ready for the child so why should he skirt around the issue? Do you want him to pretend? And how do you determine how much or less he loves you by his response to something you’re both unprepared for. I don’t get you,” Liv scolded.
“He loves you but the thought of dealing with something he is total unprepared for may have gotten him to react that way,” Liv added.
“But I quite understand Yabz’s fear ,” J retorted
“I mean what at all will make a man who lives in his own apartment, has a secured job leap in great fear over the thought of impregnating the woman he claims he loves, the woman he claims he wants to marry. What will make him push for an abortion?”
“Max as we all know is not a roman father. Neither is Yabz here a nun. There must be something more to his anxiety?” J said.
As they say, men sometimes fear pregnancy even more than they fear HIV. The call for an abortion by a man may be due to different factors one of which may well be the fear Yabz is expressing. It may also be because of the stigma associated with having a baby before marriage, especially where the couple are both members of a church. But the impact of abortion on relationships cannot be lost on anyone.
There have been many instances where relationships suffer after an abortion. All evidence shows that abortion to ‘save a relationship’ or any reason for that matter, almost never works. Many relationships end shortly after an abortion.
Those that survive, do so only because the partners are still bound together by grief. These relationships often turn into prolonged, mutually destructive mourning rituals. Even married couples are often driven apart by an abortion unless they can find a way to complete the grieving process together.
Abortion breeds anger, resentment, and bitterness toward the partner who was not supportive or who ignored their partner’s desire to keep the baby.
Although in this case, both seem unprepared for the child, Yabz reaction to her boyfriend’s response could be detrimental to the relationship after the abortion.
At the same time, there is often tremendous pressure in the relationship to conceal one’s true feelings of grief or guilt. This can especially be a problem for men, who are often taught to hide their emotions. Men may also feel obligated to appear ‘strong’ so as not to upset the woman any further.
This is not the case for all couples. Sincerely, I think Yabz is being overly emotional about the whole issue.
“I think you need to speak to Max, Yabz, maybe you’re totally misinterpreting what his feelings are and proceeding to make a judgement that could hurt your relationship,” I said to her.
Regardless of this, I still think her fears are genuine.