Date released:
November 28, 2021
Short story
Photo credit:


I was two when my baby boy-sister was born. My Dad had been reiterating that I would get a baby brother. He said there would only be two of us-myself and my brother-so he had told me repeatedly to prepare for my baby brother. But Dad was disappointed it didn't work out as he wanted. His friend Mr Idemudia whose wife was a nurse at the central hospital, had been saying that he wanted only three children -2boys and a girl, and his wife had just delivered the second boy at that time. So Dad had reasoned it would be that way with him too. When the Nurses told Dad that my sister was born, he doubted them until he saw her in the crib. But he recovered early from the disappointment and accepted the change. He said God probably knew I'd be needing a younger sister, so he sent one.

Dad was very fond of me, but after Mum gave birth to Efe, my second sister, he was no longer impressed. It became worse after Mum gave birth to Ese. Dad became a shadow of Himself. He blamed Mum for giving him more responsibilities than he had set out for and always compared her to Mr Idemudia's wife, who knew what to do to have the kind of family size they wanted. Mum hated the comparison so much. Such talks would always breed arguments and then fights that would attract neighbours giving unsolicited advice like flies to a rotten mango fruit. Dad needed a boy, and Mum's womb seemed not to have been fashioned to carry one.

Dad no longer called me Princess except when he saw my terminal result. So, I was always striving to get the first position so that Dad would call me Princess again.

The only other person who calls me Princess now is Brother Itoya, who lives opposite our house. He has a mini supermarket at the central market where he sells tins of milk, bournvita, sugar, chocolates, biscuit and other nice things. He gives me chocolate and biscuit anytime I see him coming back in the evenings. He told me any day I visit his house he will give me more things, but I've been too shy to go all by myself. He also said that anytime I am afraid or want to talk to anybody, I should come to him. I may do that soon.


Yesterday, Otoide, one of Daddy's friends, came to see him. They spoke in low tones, but I hid behind the curtain and heard what they were saying.

"I believe your wife will be due very soon. What are we expecting this time?" Mr Otoide asked with a hint of sarcasm.

"What do I really care? My apathy to that right now makes it seem like I'm not the one who put the seed there," my Dad said with melancholy lacing his tone.

"I can't say I understand how that is like. But what if it's a girl? what will you do?"


"Yeah, do."

"What do you expect me to do?"

Both of them sighed. After a brief silence, Mr Otoide spoke again. His voice was grim this time.

"Don't you think it is time you try an alternative route?"

"Alternative route?

"Yes! If where you are treading is not getting you close to where you should be, won't you try changing your steps or check for an alternative route?"

"I'm trying to manage and take care of this heap of girls that I'm laden with, and you want me to add more burdens to myself by getting another?"

"There is a way things are done. If you don't know how, don't feel too big to ask," Otoide replied in a hushed tone.

It was also 'a way' Mummy Ella spoke about when she came for a visit a day before yesterday and asked Mum about her health.

"I hope you won't disappoint your husband this time," she said.

"If giving birth to a girl is a disappointment, then I didn't plant the disappointment; I only birthed it."

Mummy Ella sighed.

"Well, I didn't come to discuss disappointments. I came to talk about the way you can avert it."

"If you have a way, let me hear it," Mum said with a deep sigh, looking downwards as if ashamed.

"You are the one who has allowed yourself to suffer unnecessarily. If a good soil refuses to yield, you don't throw away the land; you only have to change the seed being planted," she said, looking squarely at Mum.

Mum turned sharply to look at her with a bewildered expression spread across her face like butter on bread. She wanted to say something but swallowed it and looked away. Then she sent me out and told me to go and play with Ese and Efe outside. I got up slowly to leave, but Mum huddled closer to Mummy Ella, and they continued discussing in low tones.

Why was everyone having a quiet conversation? Why did Mum's pregnancy seem like impending doom? I thought Mum was never bothered about not having a boy. Anytime Dad taunted her with giving birth to just girls; she would always say:

"Go and get your boys from another woman. At least I have a B.Sc. I can always get a job to take care of my girls."

Why was she interested in Mummy Ella's ideas now? Could it be Mum was not happy with having us, just like Dad?


The night Mummy gave birth to Bilulu-my fourth sister-was the same night I went to Brother Itoya's house for the first time. I was sitting in the parlour with my sisters and Mummy watching TV when the light tripped off. Immediately I switched on the kerosene lamp, which glowered in the darkness, making us look like silhouettes in our different sitting positions. My sisters tried to coax Mum into telling us a story, but she brushed them aside and turned them to me.

"Tell them a story," she said, without even asking if I had one.

At once, my sisters formed a half-circle around me while I searched my head for a short story. I was still searching when Dad barged in. The door was not bolted anyway. We chorused a greeting to him, and he grunted in reply. His steps were unsure as he walked past, reeking of alcohol. Mum followed him.

After some minutes, a scuffle ensued, and the sound of "We need money to eat" coming from the room was enough to know why. Then, I decided to ask Brother Itoya for money so that Mum wouldn't have to beg Daddy again. Instead, it made him shout at her and the baby. These thoughts were still whirling in my head when I heard a loud thud, and Mummy screamed. Daddy came out sweating and looking panicked, holding her up as they left for the hospital.

I rushed to Brother Itoya's house after they were gone. He said we would play an exciting game, but nothing was interesting about it. Instead, he squeezed my budding breast, so I closed my eyes for the remaining part of the game while he touched other parts of my body. But after that day, I kept coming back whenever Mummy was in dire need of money. I told her the money was from Gabriela, my friend in school, whose parents were very rich.

Mummy gave birth to a boy after my fourth sister. My Dad was so overjoyed and named him Ogbole (you have hit the target). A year after Ogbole came. She had a set of twins-boys. My Daddy was in heaven, but none of the joy reflected on Mummy's face. She looked indifferent, or maybe I imagined it.

Last week, our new teacher in school-Aunty Rosa-started teaching us about sexual purity. She called her new meetings; God's Teens, targeted towards 10years olds and above. She said we should not allow anybody to touch us anyhow and that we could come to her for help. I was scared because everything that she said was wrong was the game I played with Brother Itoya.  

I went to Brother Itoya's house yesterday evening when he called me, and we played the game again. Now I'm afraid that all the bad effects Aunty Rosa talked about will happen to me. I have decided to see her today for help. I don't want to live in horrible silence like Mummy and Daddy anymore. I know, just like Mummy does that Ogbole and the twins are not Daddy's children. I also know that Daddy's frequent visits to the village are not because of Grandma. The visits are because of the little girl with her, his daughter.

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