Joe sat listening to the crackle of the fireworks or more accurately, ‘banga.’  Banga was the very local category that was rampant in these parts. This Christmas Eve celebration was somewhat dampened by the recession Nigeria was said to have just climbed out of. Although it didn’t look the Country was out of the recession. Joe was long past the age of fireworks, banga, knockout, whatever category of celebratory explosives people indulged in. He couldn’t understand why people would spend their hard earned cash to cause loud noises that shocked their eardrums and scared passersby. Mayhap, that was the fun in it. He could remember times when he himself had lobbed lit banga at unsuspecting persons and run off laughing in glee as they jumped in shock and anger. Now, it was just annoying. Maybe it was Karma; they say she came with age. The intermittent interruptions of the neighbourhood boys’ banga and Christmas hymns from bad speakers drifted to his room, spoiling the sound of the Weeknd’s voice issuing from his laptop and ruining the melancholic heartbreak mood his Christmas Eve was meant to be characterised by. He turned off the music on his phone with a sigh and thought about May; he missed her terribly. His neighbourhood sweetheart had gone to live with her aunt in Abuja after her mom had gone to visit her Dad who worked and lived in Brussels.

May’s mom was trying to rekindle her relationship with the expatriate worker she had met and fallen in love with during his work stay. Their brief flame had given birth to May, literally, but the poor man had been unable to endure the; heat, erratic power supply and had been forced to return despite the urgings of the heart. May’s mother on her part had been unwilling, at the time, to relocate – although, she now appeared to be willing to after almost two decades without a husband. May’s father himself had gotten married in Brussels but was widowed and unfortunately, or fortunately, (depending on which angle you looked at it from) available. Thus it was that their attempt to rekindle their love flame had ushered in May and Joe’s heartbreak story. A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. It was his mom coming to remind him that they had to go for service early the next morning so he should try to get some rest. His mom knew about May and she gave him a smile that was half-compassionate, half-amused before wishing him goodnight. He eventually fell asleep, to the relentless melodies of silent night and other carols and intermittent banga.

They were just back from Church. Joe’s mom was in the kitchen frying the Christmas chicken, another incident that could be considered fortunate for some – mainly those who would soon indulge in the fried flesh, including neighbours, Joe thought wryly. Unfortunately for others, particularly the poor hen that had to unwillingly be the sacrifice for the people’s joy every 25th of December. Poor chicken; at least the Lord’s sacrifice was willing and had to be done just once. But on the other hand, the chicken wasn’t crucified and died a quick death free of ridicule. Thankfully, they didn’t rise. Chicken rising three days after Christmas wouldn’t be good for the festivities. Joe was in a good mood, awaiting the chicken when the bell dinged. He went to answer it and met an older man at the door.

‘Here to see my Dad?’

‘No Joe. You.’

His introduction sent goose bumps down Joe’s spine. He was May’s uncle. They had arrived late yesterday. It was sort of an emergency. May’s mom had informed them she was spending the Christmas in Nigeria and had come two days before. She missed her daughter and wanted to spend the Christmas with her family, so they had flown that day, not just for that but for one other emergency as well which accounted for why he was here. May wanted to, no needed to see him. Joe inquired anxiously if she was okay. May’s uncle answered blandly that she was fine.

He grabbed his shirt and hastily told his Dad he was going to get something nearby and accompanied May’s uncle in his car. He had driven down even though the place wasn’t far. May’s mom had given him Joe’s house address. Eventually, they arrived. May’s front yard brought back memories. Memories mixed with trepidation and excitement. May was in town and he was going to see her again after seven months. May’s uncle gave Joe a strange look – one that looked curiously like pity. He finally understood when they went into the house. A strange sight greeted Joe. May’s mother and several other people were in the sitting room. There was a girl about May’s age, a bit older, wearing her face, looking through her eyes. But it couldn’t be May because this girl was pregnant. Her jutting belly confronted his disbelieving senses and he forgot to greet her family members. Several emotions flashed through him. Initial trepidation and expectant joy became hurt, then anger, then sadness, then hurt again. He fumbled for speech and used it hesitantly when he found it.

‘Wha…wha what’s going on here?’ he asked, stuttering.

‘We were hoping you could tell us son,’ May’s mother answered.

‘He looks genuinely surprised,’ May’s uncle said solemnly.

‘My daughter didn’t lie.’ May’s mom said. ‘I know him, he’s her boyfriend.

‘Somebody is definitely lying,’ another family member said.

Joe ignored them all and looked at May inquiringly, the hurt on his face as evident as the stress on hers. Despite his hurt he noticed this; she was under a lot of stress and a part of him wanted to support and care for her even then, despite all that he was facing.

May was a virgin while with him. But she had undoubtedly been unfaithful after travelling, cheated and gotten pregnant. His heart constricted with pain at the thought. It explained why she had changed her number and proved mysteriously unreachable, and shut down all her social media accounts.

He called himself back to the present. He was a man. A good 17 years and should be able to speak for himself and say the truth even if May couldn’t. So he told them, May was a virgin while they were together. He never had sex with her. She hadn’t been deflowered by the time she travelled.

May’s mom sighed. ‘This nightmare just keeps getting more tangled.’

‘For what it’s worth,’ May’s aunt from Abuja said ‘She told me the same thing. She initially insisted she was a virgin and eventually stopped saying anything when I didn’t believe her.’
May’s mom sighed. He says she’s a virgin, she says the same, yet she’s pregnant. The thing speaks for itself. Well, we are off to see the Doctor now. Perhaps he will have some answers. You may come along Joe.’

Joe took one look at May and made his decision.

The Doctor did, indeed, have some answers. Apparently, there were virgin births. Two scenarios he painted. If one ejaculated around the vaginal area, even without penetration, ‘something’ could happen since sperm, still wet, could last for hours and travel. So, maybe ‘something’ had happened. Besides this, there were actual virgin births. There were no documented cases in Nigeria (since record keeping was practically nonexistent) but according to the British Medical Journal, one in two hundred women in the US claimed to be pregnant without ever having sex.

He also noted that virgin births or parthenogenesis can occur in non-humans as a result of asexual reproduction.

They were a lot more confused than before. He seemed to be saying different things. May could be pregnant for Joe, or pregnant for no one. Or, a dark part of Joe thought, one sharp guy in Abuja could have knocked her up and she was lying. He took one look at her face and knew which narrative he believed. They said every cloud had a silver lining. He decided there and then what to take away from the diagnosis. She hadn’t cheated. It was a virgin birth. He still loved her. They would still work out. He knew there were other worries, her mere 17 years of age for one. The doctor assured them she was healthy and chances are she would have a fine delivery. They would know more after the birth, with a DNA test. They could of course forgo that and take it like that, as a miracle. The way he looked at Joe while saying that gave Joe the feeling the Doctor didn’t believe the virgin birth theory. Joe wasn’t lying though; May hadn’t had sex with him. There was only one concern now, what to tell his folks.

A few minutes later, Joe sat in front of his parents. His mom looked like she was about to burst into tears. Maybe she hadn’t heard the part where he said it wasn’t him and a virgin birth thing. His Dad was quiet for a few moments then asked carefully;
‘You mean to tell me your girlfriend May is pregnant, while still remaining a virgin and having not even kissed anyone else but you?’

Joe sighed. ‘When you say it like that…’ he trailed off. Then he blurted out; ‘…It’s Christmas. It happened to the Virgin Mary too.’

Then a weird thought crept into his mind. May would lose her hymen during childbirth.
Would the child be said to have dis-virgined her then?

Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald was weaned on books and is an avid reader by day, poet and storyteller by night. He has a literary blog where he publishes prose and poetry and has been nominated for and won several literary prizes for prose and poetry. He has also been published in a number of literary magazines and websites both home and abroad. Donald, styled the ‘Penprince’, is also a member of the speculative fiction society and aims to tell stories and wield words in the most beautiful ways a man, or woman can.