I am walking down a pathway in Nairobi city. My feet, my hands, everything physical about me is in the City, but my mind and heart are upcountry. I can’t wait to get home.No wonder I don’t notice her. “Judy, sasa” She calls out from the roadside where they are doing some manual work. I abruptly turn, it’s my former immediate neighbor, where I moved out from like two months ago. Though we only became friends toward my end of stay there, I am glad to see her. Truly, I am glad to see her. She helped me a lot after the birth of my daughter, an amateur mum. She is not sure whether she should come and greet me because her hands are dirty. She is planting grass, a kanjo project, I presume. But I call out to her, come and greet me. So she comes, a piece of grass dangling from her hands.
I notice her face as she comes, she looks radiant, a little plumper maybe, I am not sure.
I hug her tightly. She tells me they are doing a beautification project for Nakumatt. Oooh… She asks me about my daughter and some other details. Then she says it, “I have left my baby at home, He is big now.” Boom! There it is, the topic I wanted to avoid. So I ask her, “Which baby?” but I check my quick tongue just in time before she hears that. So I ask her whom she has left the baby with and she tells me her sister. “I have started weaning him.” She adds. The other women are now looking at us, interested in our conversation.
I am getting late, I tell her that I have to go. I hug her goodbye. When I turn away, there are tears in my eyes, my vision is blurred. I can’t believe what she has just told me, her lack of emotion. A few weeks after I moved out of her neighborhood, a close friend told me that her baby boy had died. Dead and buried. And now this! I can’t explain the spring of mixed emotions that well up in me.
I don’t know what to do. I halt in my steps. I feel like going back to her and saying something more but…What am I supposed to say? How am I supposed to console her?
Am I supposed to ask her whether the baby has resurrected?
So, if it’s true that her son died, why is she lying to me? Why is she reluctant to face the truth, to accept the finality of death? As a mother, I understand this. A baby you have carried nine months in your womb, a baby you have suckled, a child you have seen them smile and throw up their tiny legs and arms in the air in utter nonchalance. And all that you have earned with him is a few months of a lifetime. Sad, sad, sad and very sad, I repeat.
Personally, I don’t know how I would have dealt with this. I don’t want to judge her. Maybe I should pay her a visit and find out the truth for myself. Maybe I should send someone to talk to her. Maybe I should pray for her. So many maybes. I am sorry Theresia. Sincerely I am sorry. Please have the insight of knowing that it is not your fault that it happened.
I promise it’s not your fault, and it never was.
And if it ever comes to a time when I will know the truth, I will forgive you for putting on a brave face, a fake smile, and congratulate you for pretending that everything is okay, for asking God to give you the grace to tell a lie.
And if it ever turns out that this is not true, then, “Shame on grapevine!!”
I have been standing here for like five minutes now, thinking about Theresia. I have booked a vehicle and my phone is ringing. It’s the driver, I can’t hear the phone ring. Something rustles me back to reality, I take my phone, receive the call and the driver is very angry with me. “Where are you? I will leave you behind!” I run like crazy towards the stage, get into the jav. All the passengers are shouting at me, for delaying them. I say I am sorry but they don’t want to hear it. They continue shouting at me. I turn my backs on them, I am going to enjoy my journey, the scenic view of the countryside, that’s why I booked the front seat, anyway. I am crying, and I can’t find my handkerchief, but ooh, please, the shouting behind me is the least of my concerns now. I care less who is seeing my tears.