What you need to know:
- Usually, when a woman tells a man ‘we need to talk’ or any of its variations, a man sits down and goes through his sins.
- He singles out which ones might have offended the woman. Then he prepares a defence.
- Do you have feedback on this article? Please email: [email protected]
The text came in on a Saturday afternoon when I was deep inside the pages of Allah Is Not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma.
Apparently, the full title of the book is Allah is not obliged to be fair about all the things he does here on earth but that is such a long sentence to put on the cover of a paperback.
And quite appropriate for the story that the text was about to reveal.
“Hey…umm…I need to see you. Can we have lunch tomorrow? My treat,” Lucy wrote.
Usually, when a woman tells a man ‘we need to talk’ or any of its variations, a man sits down, goes through his sins and singles out which ones might have offended the woman. Then he prepares a defence.
But I am a single man and have been for a couple of years. Lucy is an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years but had kept in regular communication with. So I knew I was not in any trouble.
“Yes. One o’clock?” I replied.
We met at a restaurant along Mombasa Road, and after the usual pleasantries, during which she showed no signs of duress, I asked what was on her mind.
“You remember I lost a pregnancy four years ago?” Lucy asked.
I remembered. She had been so excited she had toyed with the idea of running a pregnancy blog. She’d gone to Toi market and bought baby clothes, and Gikomba to buy diapers at wholesale prices.
Her boyfriend was amazing through the process, flaunting her for all to see. They planned a traditional marriage, formed a WhatsApp group and added everyone. The ceremony was beautiful.
Then, three weeks into the second trimester, her stomach ached so intensely that she started bleeding. When she got to the hospital, the doctors said it was a miscarriage. She was devastated.
She had prayed for a healthy pregnancy and done everything by the book but still, the pregnancy was lost through no fault of her own.
It is difficult to console a woman who has lost a child. What do you tell her? That it is well? That you understand what she is going through? That she is young, so she can still get another baby, as if babies are eggs that you just get over the counter?
Do you tell them that it is better for the water to spill than the pot to break? I don’t remember what I told her then, but I remember feeling sad and questioning God. But Allah is not obliged to be fair about all the things he does here on earth.
“Mike left two years after that,” Lucy said. “The doctors said I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and would need heavy treatment for pregnancy to even become a possibility again. Mike and I tried for two years but nothing happened. So he left.”
She ran a finger over the rim of her glass of fruit juice, her eyes trailing it but her mind far away, dredging up forgotten emotions. I felt for her. Society has often judged a woman by her ability to take care of a house and reproduce. Women who are unable to have children are often looked down upon. Even if people do not say it outright, you will see the judgement in their eyes.
I’d heard of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome from a friend that had suffered the same in 2017, so I knew a bit about it and how difficult it was to manage. In vitro fertilization is pretty costly, and can easily go upwards of Sh400,000 at the Nairobi IVF Centre. It is not affordable to everyone who has problems with pregnancy.
“Have you thought of adoption?” I asked.
“Yes. But I don’t know how to explain this...I want to try as hard as I can to get my own child first. I want my blood, my genes to run in that child. The older I get, the less the chances of that happening. If I get to the age where it is virtually impossible for me to get pregnant, I will adopt. But that is not my immediate plan,” Lucy said.
“What is?” I asked.
“I need a favour from you. I need you to make me pregnant,” she said.
I almost spilled my drink. I have no children at all because I have been careful to not risk it. I am in no position financially or mentally to have children, so it is a very deliberate choice. And I do not want another family to pop up at my funeral and claim inheritance. I want to be a one family man.
As if reading my thoughts, Lucy said, “I know it is not an easy thing. I am not asking you to marry me. I am not even asking for upkeep or that you be involved in raising the child in any way. All I want is your seed and we are done. I get pregnant, and we part ways. I can even draft an agreement.”
“Lucy, I am not sure about this. I empathise with you, but how am I supposed to live knowing that I have a child somewhere, and I know how to find that child?” I asked.
“That is why the agreement would be important. To safeguard both of us,” Lucy said.
“Why couldn’t you just seduce me and then disappear after getting pregnant? I know so many women who want a baby but not the man that comes with the baby. They get pregnant and go their way,” I said.
“But what if those men one day get suspicious and demand a paternity test and sue for custody? I don’t want to risk that.”
“So you want us to sign an agreement, and then have sex indefinitely until you get pregnant, then forget we ever had that encounter?” I asked.
WHAT DO I DO?
I looked at her. I felt bad that a woman would have to go to such lengths to get a baby, when she did nothing to cause the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
People in church would tell her to pray and fast for a miracle. They would tell her the story of Sarah in the Bible, who gave birth long after menopause. They would lay hands on her stomach and shout to the heavens. But at the end of the day, Allah is not obliged to be fair about the all the things he does here on earth.
To some, children are given, to some, children are denied and to some, there is some hope for conception. And Lucy was in the last category.
”So, will you help me?” Lucy asked.
I haven’t answered her yet. I am yet to decide what to do.
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