After the meal in the kiosk, Sospeter went home with my headscarf around his neck, and I wearing his shirt. I was in love, I was happy, I skipped all the way home. Mama had arrived home from the shamba earlier than usual. She looked up from the porridge she was stirring. I was a little afraid.
“Whose shirt is that?” mama asked, I did not answer. She looked at the Sufuria and continued to stir. I removed the shirt, placed it on my bed, walked to the kitchen, picked up the clay pot and walked to the river.
From then on I met Sospeter many times. He was my life. If the maize and the bananas plants could speak, they would tell many stories. Life was a little garden of sweet smelling flowers until my clothes stopped fitting.
I tried to spend as much time away from my parents as possible. I walked around in an unzipped skirt and unbuttoned blouse. I walked with a leso around my chest all the time.
A time came when the leso could not hide it anymore. Suddenly I was big. It was the seventh month… I stayed away from everybody most of the time. This got worse when a woman on a path to the river stopped to look at me..
“This can’t be your first pregnancy, is it?” the woman asked.
I was surprised…… it was none of her business.
“Why do you ask?” I inquired, attempting to walk past her, but the path was too narrow.
“Because first pregnancies are not usually this big,” the professor with a degree in ‘pregnancy and their sizes’ continued to inform me.
“Hebu, let me see if you have any stretch marks at the back of your legs,”
“have you ever had an abortion?” the self appointed FBI agent continued to investigate.
I did not speak. I went round a small bush and down to the river. Before the pregnancy, taking a bath at the river was not a problem, but when the pregnancy started showing, everyone would pretend to continue what they were doing but I could see every head was slightly turned towards my direction. I started carrying water home for bathing. Those were two trips. I met more people who wasted their talent as detectives and counselors on me.
“Who is the father of the baby?” they would ask, “Are you getting married?….You know this baby will be a problem to your mother….Your mother should be resting now, not taking care of babies at her age…See all your sisters are married…. you should also get a husband…” To avoid argument, my answer was always ‘yes’ to everything.
The pregnancy was getting heavier and the pots were feeling bigger than usual. When Sospeter learn’t that I was getting tired he would meet me a few metres from our house, pick the pot and fetch the water for me. This went on, for quite a while.
When I had our girl, Sospeter made sure to see me after visiting hours when I was alone, because we knew that, if our parents saw him, they would marry us there and then, with or without a priest and Sospeter would be forced to take me with him.
Most of Sospeter’s little money was spent on me and my baby. “You should be healthy” he would say lovingly as he handed me a few coins. “This is for millet flour and bananas, you must have enough milk, in there, for the baby.” he would say pointing at my chest.
I was happy. It did not matter that Sospeter had very little to offer. He loved me, he cared. That was everything to me, nothing else mattered.
His clothes were worn out with time. With the baby, he could not afford to buy more. This world can turn your life upside down in just a few seconds. I learn’t this the hard way.
Mama had decided she was not going to the shamba because the housework had been neglected for sometime.
I heard a whistle outside, then a small stone hit the window, at the exact time mama walked in to check on the baby.
She opened the window, my heart was beating fast.
“You” she shouted,
“so it is you, mango tree boy!?”
I was shocked.
“Mama knew all the time Sospeter Pssss Pssssed me from the mango tree?” I thought.
“You are leaving with her” Mama said pointing at me. She rushed out of the room to the front door. Sospeter came to the window.. “My shirt! My shirt!” he whispered. I placed the baby on the bed and got the shirt. As he turned to leaved he bumped into mama. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he murmured, as he stepped back and walked away.
“Come for her tomorrow!” mama shouted.
The next day, mama made it clear to me that she did wish to find me home when she came back. As Sospeter’s time for visiting approached, I packed my bag, wrapped the baby, carried her and sat on a stool outside the house.
“You are making sure the baby is getting vitamin D?” my ‘know it all’ neighbor shouted from across the dusty road.
“Yes!” I shouted back.
I saw Sospeter walking towards me. Then I felt more love. He touched my head lightly and pushed my hair back.
“This is going to work out Berina,” there was no anxiety in his voice. “Do not worry”.
For the first time he held our baby in his arms. I placed the bag on my head and we walked to the other side of the village.
I was calm.