By Yunita Cole
I still wonder how I had managed to drive all the way from Londiani to Kitale and back on that day, without causing any fatalities amid this prolonged season of anguish in which I bore both anticipation and apprehension in equal measure.
For the past two weeks, I could not get around to eating, despite the fact that my appetite was intact. It had been a debilitating fortnight that had also affected my regular habits such as ironing my clothes and polishing my shoes. Even my hair of which not even a strand was ever out of place, had to be hidden beneath a wig that time. My colleagues and clients at the salon were dumbfounded.
I was on my way to meet Maya for the third time and hopefully take her home with me.
My drive to Kitale must have been on autopilot, as all through I had been thinking about events that had led to this moment. I remembered my 36th birthday – the pain, the agony, the loss – the nurse’s concern as she allowed me to go ahead of other patients and the doctor’s indifference in checking his WhatsApp messages as he pretended to listen to me. The radiographer’s blank expression as he spread the cold gel onto my reluctant skin. My husband watching helplessly as I writhed in pain. My 35th hadn’t been any better.
As I pulled into the parking lot of the kindly establishment, a cacophony of sounds, along with heavy doubts, assailed me. Sounds of little children giggling while others laughed, little feet tapping the floor, apparently as they rushed towards the door or the window.
And sure enough, little curious faces appeared at the window and some at the door. Some would peep then bashfully withdraw as soon as they noticed that I had seen them. Others would stare as if to ask who I was and what I wanted there. A few older ones seemed to recognize me so they smiled and waved at me. My eyes stung as my heart swelled. I smiled and waved back and felt my cheeks getting wet but I had no intention to wipe them.
“Mama! Mama!” She called as she reached out to me.
As soon as I stepped out of the car, I regretted having come all the way – having started the process in the first place. Whom did I think I was? If nature twice hadn’t seen me fit, why would I try to change that? I ought to be content with my lot. She may sense my incompetence and reject me. Then I remembered that that very day was my birthday – my 37th. I panicked when I remembered that birthdays had come to be a harbinger of misfortune for me.
Just as I contemplated getting back into the car and driving off and never looking back, Sister Jackline stepped out of the building holding Maya – my Maya. On that day, she was dressed better than I had ever seen her before. She even had shoes on. It was as if she was readied to go somewhere. I wondered where that would be. Her face beamed and glowed like never before.
“Mama! Mama!” She called as she reached out to me. I turned around to see who she was referring to, yet there was no one else in the compound.
“Ni wewe unaitwa,” Sister Jackline said as she laughed. Baby Maya had recognized me! She kicked and flapped her arms violently, now crying out loud, “Mummy! Mummy!” She was in a hurry to get to me! That moment sealed my resolve. There was no looking back now. I was going to be Mama Maya!!
In the office, Maya on my laps sucking her chubby thumb and purring like a contented kitten, Sister Jackline fidgeted. A wave of concern crossed her face. My stomach sunk into abysmal depths. I didn’t want to imagine what she was about to tell me.
“Mrs. Marya…,” she hesitated.
There was no way I was leaving these darlings behind
“Yes, Sister. What now? Please don’t tell me…” My voice trailed off. She opened my file, which was on her table.
“From your record, you had indicated that you were open to siblings, especially multiple births?”
“Yes, I had. But Maya wasn’t part of a multiple…?”
“No, she wasn’t. However, she has twin sisters who are exactly a year younger than her. They were brought here last week. We know it is a big surprise and you’re not obliged in any way, but of course we give you preference. You have a year to decide.” Once again my eyes welled up.
“May… may I go with them too – NOW? I want to see them.” I knew I wasn’t making any sense, but I was desperate. There was no way I was leaving these darlings behind. Deep maternal instincts tugged at my heart. I was going to be the best mother in the whole world, a mother of three beautiful girls. Sister Jackline smiled reassuringly, her face a mask of wisdom and understanding.
“Easy, easy Mama Maya. The soonest you can have them is three months from now. In between you may visit as often as you can. As you know, we need to carry out all legal measures necessary to release them to you. But we have no doubt whatsoever that you are the best mother for these angels. They even resemble you, not only physically, but also in comportment. Yours is a bond that could only have been made in heaven.” I immediately got used to being called “Mama Maya”. It felt as if I had been Mama Maya for the entire two years of her life.
“I believe so too, Sister. Now, may I see my twin daughters?”
Sister Jackline led me down a familiar corridor. At the end of it, I saw the cot that had belonged to Maya with the loveliest pair of cherubs I had ever seen. They slept close to each other, each an arm and leg carved outward such that they made the shape of a butterfly. Indescribable sensations fluttered in my abdomen. My tear glands misbehaved yet again, oozing tears of joy. The only reason I managed to part from them was because the thought of being with Maya energized me.
As I walked into the lounge on my way out, loud shouts of “surpriiiiise!!” descended on me. A lovely birthday cake awaited me.