…Even the smell of the Indian hemp which the grown mwn that live in my house smoke irritates me.” Kemisola is her name and the house she proudly refers to is an open space underneath the Ojuelegba bridge.
Her brother came to my mental health clinic two weeks ago in great despair. Nobody had seen or heard from her since their uncle died seven years ago. Kemisola had been sent to live with him six years earlier when she was sixteen years old because of her extremely stubborn nature. Their parents believed that since they shared a close bond, it would be better for him to raise her for a while as she only listened to him and they were tired of her incessant misbehaviour. Her brother had first seen her a month ago while he was driving by on his way to work one morning.
The first time I went to see her, I decided to drive by and I slowed down as I approached the particular spot Bode, her brother had described to me. There, I saw a woman curled up and asleep. Her skin was black and dirty-looking, her clothes were more like rags and she had all sorts of things piled up around her. I knew she was the one as soon as I laid my eyes on her because her face had barely changed from the one in the picture Bode had given me which had been taken thirteen years ago.
I went again the next day but this time I walked by slowly. She was eating what looked like noodles with so much relish and sipped with satisfaction from a cup that contained what looked like tea. I kept going back each day until she started to smile whenever I walked by so I decided to talk to her today. It was when I asked her why she was living underneath a bridge that she told me everything. I had noticed that she was pregnant as her slightly swollen belly was barely covered by the tattered blouse she always wore so today I brought a thick blanket for her to spread on the ground to sleep. Tomorrow I’ll bring food but I had to take it one step at a time so as not to upset her. Her brother really wanted me to help her and I had given him my word.
If I succeed she would be the third mentally ill woman I would have helped in two years. Uche, the first is now a hairdresser and Amina weaves baskets but this is how I began with them. Like Kemisola, they never believed they were mentally ill and I never made them feel like I thought so either. I’ve never helped a pregnant one before so Kemisola is special to me and helping her is personal because I was once in the shoes of the life inside her belly and I’m going to do my best to help my new friend.