his post started as a reply to the Tag that I received from Milo. Together with Nick’s post where he mentioned ‘Indigo Children’- it forced me to take a stroll down memory lane. Yesterday I was watching some show on television and a married couple got me thinking of back in the day.
On TV Last Night. ( I don't remember the names of the characters so I have used Jack and Jane Smith)
Jack Smith has been married to Jane for 8 years. One morning Jane wakes up and heads for the bathroom as she has done at certain times of the month over the last 5 years. A few minutes later she lets out a yell from behind the door and Jack comes rushing in.
“Honey!! We did it”… she says, amid an explosion of tears of happiness.
Jack scrutinizes the pregnancy tester in total disbelief and starts jumping up and down, tears streaming down his happy face. “Thank you God. We have waited for sooo long!”
Jack and Jane go back to the bedroom where they call their places of work and both obtain a day off. They call both sets of parents and exclaim to them “ Mom, Dad! We are pregnant!” The folks in turn call their friends and close relatives spreading the word that Jane and Jack were expecting a baby.
Some people try for years to have just one child. Some people don't have to try at all. I have two girls of my own and the question of why I don't want a boy has always annoyed me. It is disturbing that in this day and age some people just dont get it-a child is a child!
The following is a true story:
I worked in the small lazy town of Gilgil for a while in the nineties. The town was forgotten when the new Nakuru- Nairobi road by-passed it. The only real reason anyone had for going to Gilgil was passing through on the way to Nyahururu. If you know Gilgil; then a picture of a small dusty Kenyan town, populated almost entirely by military, police, youth service and their families will come to mind. Perched high on the Kariandus hills; frequent whirlwinds (aptly nicknamed ********in kikuyu- any ideas- anyone?) blow across the whole town carrying papers, plastic bags and the odd branch or two. There is not much vegetation in Gilgil and you can imagine how painful it is to be caught in one of these, especially if you happen to be unlucky enough to come across a dust devil carrying the famed ‘ngoja- kidogo’ branch! ( I learned sometime back that the English name for that shrub is actually- ‘wait a minute bush’- google it if in doubt!)
In this town I had a close friend- he was a couple of years my senior and till today this story still amazes me. My friend Nzomo- not his real name -was a mkamba. He’d just got recently married and was blessed with twins three months after his wedding. The pretty little girls were his pride and joy. After about six months we started noticing that Susan was pregnant again and we jokingly asked Nzomo what was happening. He replied that since God had given him two beautiful girls he wanted a set of boys and he would be done. A couple of months later he informs us that his wife had delivered not twin girls this time, but triplets! All girls. We had a harambee and thought nothing more of it.
The months grind by slowly in small semi-arid towns. When the wind isn’t howling, its hot and the air seems to just hang in the sky suffocating everything- even the animals in its stillness. Absolutely nothing happens in this town and every day is like the other. The swelling of dark clouds over Lake Naivasha and the escarpment bring with them a distant longing for rain or at least a small shower. As soon as they appear ready to release their moisture, they are blown away to somewhere that doesn’t need the rain; and everyone is back to the slow monotonous daily routine.It was a really sad town.
But my friend Nzomo always looked on the bright side of life and as he resumed work after almost two months leave, his face was beaming. He told us that he had consulted Mzee Kioi and other wazees in his rural home of Mwingi. They had given him a powerful dawa and he was sure to father a boy this time round. We were slightly confused by this because we expected him to put a stop to his fathering after 5 children. But his need to have a son was very strong. I, for one, pitied his wife- Susan, but was impressed by her strength and love for her husband. The twins were now going on three and the triplets were nearing their second birthday. They must have been a handful.
Nzomo started buying boys clothes, toys and was always talking about his ‘son’. As the days went by Susan started putting on some weight and sure enough after a few months her pregnancy manifested itself. We held our collective breaths (or so it seemed) hoping that the visit to the dawa- man in Mwingi would bear fruit. Nzomos certainty was contagious and we all started believing in Mzee Kioi. Susans belly appeared smaller than the previous time and she could be seen looking radiant in the market, one kid on her back and the others at home with the house help.
This time we all went to Nakuru Memorial Hospital. Nakuru was the complete opposite of our little town of Gilgil. It was modern- had about six streets, several ‘high rise’ three and four story buildings. If my memory serves me right, I think the highest had a whopping six floors! The Memorial hospital was in Milimani at the base of the Menengai hill. It was off the tree-lined Nakuru Eldoret road on a side road leading to the rear entrance of State House Nakuru. Old colonial government houses surrounded the hospital. The Jacaranda trees carpeted the grass and roads with their lilac-blue trumpet blossoms. It was truly a most beautiful part of the town
We waited with Nzomo at the hospital for some hours but like all men we became restless. We convinced him that we all deserved a drink while waiting so we headed to Stags Head Hotel on the main street of Nakuru. We decided not to go to our normal pub- Gitwamba. This is where we came for our monthly R&R. The girls there all knew our names so it wasn't the ideal place to engage in a celebration. We ordered our tusker exports and premiums (remember them?) and had us a party at Stags Head! We allowed Nzomo to go back to the hospital on condition that he would return as soon as there was news. Nzomo never came back.
We later found out that Susan had delivered a brand new set of triplets-all girls. Our man Nzomo was devastated. 8 children in five and ½ years. None of saw much of Nzomo after that. He led a solitary life and avoided associating with his friends. Susan was shipped off to Mwingi and Nzomo moved to a small flat near the NYS camp. I left the dusty, hot and windy town of Gilgil that year and never really missed it. I lost touch with almost everyone I had known there.
A few years later however, I did hear that they tried one last time for a boy and had a final set of twins.