Tonye looked at the baby before him. The expression on his face was that of shock which slowly metamorphosed into anger. This could not be. He shook his head trying to shake away the thoughts that were slowly forming in his head.
“Congratulations sir.” The midwife holding the baby was saying to Tonye. She had her hands stretched towards him; offering him the baby but his mind was far away in a jumble of thoughts.
“No, No.” He said as he started walking out of the delivery ward where he had been standing by Obiageli’s side holding on to her hand while she screamed in agony of childbirth.
“Sir, sir….Mr. Okpanachi.” Another nurse called out but Tonye heard no one.
The surgeon stitching up Mrs. Okpanachi’s perineum looked up briefly trying to understand what the commotion was about. She ignored Tonye and continued what she was doing. She had seen so much drama in the delivery room within her twenty-seven years in this field and Tonye’s case wasn’t in any way different to her. She knew the other nurses were capable of handling the situation. Her hands continued to work deftly.
Obiageli had had a traumatic birth. The doctors had checked her and told her she was fit to have her baby naturally. This had made her and her husband happy. Her friends had inundated her with stories of child delivery and she had looked forward to hers with trepidation. Even though, she had been a little scared with what she had heard from her friends, a few others had given birth without any stress and she had prayed hers would be the same.
She had fallen into labour in the early hours of the day when her water broke. She had been pressed to pee and as she stood up from the bed, water poured out of her body like an open tap. She knew what it meant after the series of ante-natal lessons she had attended. She immediately tapped her husband and told him the baby was ready. Tonye had stood up groggily picking up a shirt and a trouser and wearing it slowly. When the first pain of labour hit her and she screamed, Tonye’s eyes widened and he realized Obiageli was actually in labour. His mind had initially refused to register this information. He had quickly picked up her baby bag which had been packed three weeks before and helped her into the car. He drove crazily to the hospital and at a point, Obiageli had to beg him to slow down.
Tonye couldn’t believe what he had seen in the hospital. He had walked out like someone in a trance. He couldn’t even remember how he had gotten home. He sat down in his living room and looked around like a lost child. That child cannot be mine. Had Obiageli been cheating on me while I was away on my frequent business trips? If he hadn’t been there during the delivery, he would have believed the midwives switched babies. But he had sought their permission and he had been granted. He acknowledged he wasn’t always there for her during the time of her pregnancy and now that he was in town, he wanted to be there for the delivery.
He stood up and paced round the room. Obiageli had never given him a reason to doubt her but right now, he wasn’t sure about anything. He picked up his car keys and walked out of the house.
Obiageli had been moved to her room. She was fully conscious now and was asking for her husband and her baby. The nurse attending to her smiled. “Your baby will be brought to you very soon. I think your husband is…….” She was saying as Tonye walked in; a frown on his face.
“Obiageli, what is the meaning of this? Whose child did you give birth to?”
Obiageli was stunned. Her jaw dropped as she looked at her husband and then at the nurse.
“I don’t understand what you are saying, Tonye.”
“I asked who you have been sleeping with and want to pass his baby as mine.” Tonye blurted out.
“Mr. Okpanachi, please you will have to leave the room now. Your wife is still sore from the delivery and needs to rest.” The nurse said as she eyed Tonye.
Tonye grunted as he stormed out of the room.
Obiageli had a puzzled look on her face as she turned to the nurse. The nurse understood her plight and stood beside her.
“Do you have any albinos in your family, Mrs. Okpanachi?”
“No, we don’t.” Obiageli said looking more confused.
“What about your husband’s family?”
Obiageli shook her head. “What is going on nurse?”
“You had an albino baby.” The nurse said quietly.
“No. How? Albino?” Obiageli asked as she tried to sit up but flinched in pain.
The nurse put a pillow behind her and helped her sit up comfortably.
“We don’t have any albinos. And I don’t know of any in my husband’s family. What could have happened, nurse?”
Noise began to filter in through the slightly opened door and Obiageli and the nurse’s attention were diverted.
“I want a DNA test done immediately. That baby cannot be mine.” Tonye shouted outside the door.
“Keep your voice down, Mr. Okpanachi. You are disturbing the peace of the hospital.” A nurse said.
“You want me to believe this bullshit you are saying. I don’t have such genes in my family. No one in my family has ever given birth to an albino.”
Obiageli heard her husband’s outburst and tears began to stream down her eyes. Tonye did not trust her. She had never cheated on him even though he was out of town more times than he was in town. She also did not understand how she could give birth to an albino baby.
“We would do a DNA test as requested, Mr. Okpanachi.” The nurse outside the door said in a bid to calm Tonye down.
“Better.” He hissed.
The nurse in the room sat on the visitors chair beside the bed and tapped Obiageli’s hand. “It is okay. I am sure everything will be fine.” She smiled.
Another nurse walked into the room with the baby cradled in her arms. She brought the baby to Obiageli placing the little tot in her mother’s bosom. Tears dropped down Obiageli’s cheeks as she looked at the white baby sleeping peacefully in her arms.
The next day, Tonye’s mother walked into Obiageli’s room. Obiageli rose immediately she saw her mother-in-law and sat up.
“My wife, how are you doing and how is my baby?” She said smiling.
“We are….we are fine ma.” Obiageli stuttered.
Tonye’s mother looked at the door. “You no go enter? Wetin you dey do for dia?” She barked at someone behind the door.
Tonye walked in with his head bowed.
“Ehen?” Tonye’s mother said as she looked at her son.
“Oby, I….I….” He started to say before going down on his knees. He looked up at his wife who struggled to get up from the bed to hold her husband. “I’m sorry I did not trust you. Please forgive me.” He said as he held onto his wife’s hand.
Tonye’s mother sighed. “My wife, please forgive him. His great great grand-father was an albino. The result of the test showed that he had the recessive gene.”
“I’m sorry Oby.” Tonye said still on his knees.
“Please stand up Tonye. Your daughter has been waiting for you.” She said as she pointed towards the cot in the room.
Tonye stood up, planted a gentle kiss on his wife’s lips and walked towards the cot to carry his baby. “Hello angel. Daddy is here.” The little tot who was sleeping smiled as soon as she heard her father’s voice.
He sighed and smiled as he kissed her forehead. Albino or not, she was his child.