Two months after I left Makuka I discovered I was pregnant. When I missed my period the first month I thought it was due to stress, but when I missed it again the second time in a row I became suspicious and bought a pregnancy kit and tested myself. Positive. I took two more tests, and they all turned out positive. It was like fate had slapped me in the face; I didn't expect it coming, and it stung. I became angry because it was all so unfair. I didn't want the baby, I didn't want a reminder of the most painful experience of my life, and I definitely didn't want to bear the child of a person who stopped loving me and will most likely never love me again.
I thought of aborting the baby. I had never known anyone who has had an abortion, and I wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. Did people go to obscure clinics, or approach doctors who knew them well? If they go to a big hospital what was the procedure? Who do they consult? Did they see a normal doctor with some lame excuse and suddenly announce they were pregnant and wanted to get rid of it? I thought about the dangers, I knew full well the risks involved. I'd read about women dying because of botched abortions, of some unfortunate ones never being able to have children again. I thought about the social stigma that came with it. I hadn’t told anyone about the pregnancy yet, but bad news always finds a way to reveal itself somehow, and there’s nothing more entertaining than a scandal that involved sex and badly behaved women.
I called Makuka many times, intending to tell him about the pregnancy, but somehow our conversations always veered into how he had cheated on me and what a control freak I was. It always ended with someone hanging up the phone. The fact that we couldn’t have a proper conversation like two grown up adults made me angrier and more determined to cut off all connections with him, including his baby. I stopped calling, and he never once called back.
The idea of dying then came to me. If I die, the baby would also die. No more heartaches, no more anger, no more tears. I wouldn’t have to see any more sympathetic faces and hear the gossip about me. I could sleep forever, and it would be so peaceful.
I looked at the pile of pills on the kitchen table. There was no way I could swallow all of them. So I crushed them till I got a nice little mound of white powder in front of me, and took out my favourite tea cup from the kitchen cupboard. It was ironic, really, I was going to die after drinking from my favourite cup. I wondered if it would be painful, and it was then that my mother came into my mind. She died in her sleep; did she feel any pain, or did she simply drift off and wake up in heaven?
I decided to take one last look at my mother’s face. I took out her album which my father had carefully preserved, and studied the photographs closely. Here she is with her school friends. Out on a picnic in the fields. With her younger brothers, dirty little boys, my uncles. I laughed out loud. Her wedding picture, she looked happy. With her first child in her arms. I turned the black and white photograph over, and behind it was written in her spindly curvy handwriting, “Laldinliani, 2 months, September 1974.” And below it, “My baby, my life.”
I had never seen that before. I was her baby, I was her life. And now that she was dead, I was living for her. She lived in me, through me. I must have stood there for what seemed like an eternity, although it could not have been more than ten minutes. I read the words over and over again.
My baby, my life.
And here I was trying to end my life over a love affair that ended in tears, not knowing that if I die my mother would once again die, and a part of her that lived on in my baby would die too. The enormity of what I almost did hit me, and I lay on my father’s bed and cried and cried until I could cry no more. My baby should live, I should live, and my mother’s legacy will continue. Here I was, pregnant, not knowing that I was the only hope for my family’s blood to live on. Kimteii wanted to have a baby but fate had decided otherwise, and I who had been blessed was planning to end it all.
I got up, walked to the kitchen, threw the powder into the sink and washed it all away, and then scrubbed the sink until it was sparkling and spotless. I felt cleansed, redeemed, and forgiven.
I put my hands over my stomach, and smiled.
My baby, my life, my legacy.