I’m watching a movie on my laptop as I sip tea. Tea brewed in a lot of milk is all I take nowadays. I don’t like tea but I have no choice for without tea and enough fluids, the newborn won’t have anything to feed on. So I’ve learnt how to take tea all the time because if I don’t my mother will call and ask, “Are you taking tea? What did I say?” Today is a good day, the baby breastfed easily, burped almost immediately and took a nap. I also don’t have any of the many friends who visit to check on us often. I’m pretty much impressed by myself, and by the peace in the house. Then he comes in. I know it by the stench of cigarette smoke that repulses me to the core. This would never have bothered me on a normal day of our relationship but since I became a mother a lot of things annoy me. And most of what annoys me is what I feel directly affects my baby. The baby wakes up, I don’t understand. He tries to go for him but I am paranoid about where his hands have been. The year is 2013.
EPISODE SIX: #Helpless
I bet the inscription that was on the chain; MUM LOVES YOU,” rings a bell to you. But just in case it doesn’t, let me shed light on this matter. So when Lydiah was grooming her child so she would abandon her, she gave her a chain that had the very same inscription. Well, that is clear now; so the questions would be; how did this mad woman get hold of Lydia’s baby? Was she the one who took the child from Lydiah? Or who handed the child to her? In short, the one question would be; what had really happened? This reminds me of a statement my very good bestie usually tells me, “ Sometimes, Anne, there is no need trying to disturb your head understanding stuff that happens in your life, instead, just flow with the way things go on in your life – God is in control.” So then, as a good student of my Bestie let me borrow heavily from this statement and say this, “Dear reader, go with the flow, sometimes you do not have to understand all the questions (about Lydia’s child), go with the flow, the author is in control.”
EPISODE FIVE: #LostButFound
Things had now gone back to normal back in the village. Well, obviously not completely back to normal. Lydiah had given her mother in law the explanation on her child’s loss and definitely, this did not go down well with her; often times in her conversation with her mother in law, this story cropped up and issues of her being an irresponsible woman formed a major part of this conversation. However, Lydiah learned to live with it anyway because it wasn’t like she had any other choice. She lived with her mother in law since her matrimonial home had been leased out. And her life was characterised by hard labour and rebukes from her in-laws. She often reaffirmed herself into persevering by saying, “Lydiah you chose this path so do not complain”. But had she really chosen this path? Was this what she had bargained for? For all that I know she had traded her child for her marriage, a marriage that was now dead and gone.
Because every town has its own mad man (or woman), in the very town where Lydia lost her child there was a mad woman called, often known as “Mwenda”, a Kiswahili word for mad woman. As you would expect, she spent her life in the dustbin, streets and at times made her way to sanctuaries where she was most often than not chased away. It was a difficult life, a life no normal person would survive, but then again, she wasn’t completely normal, so she survived. And God with His unending mercies made sure that she forever remained healthy and unharmed.
As Lydiah lay down prostrate on the ground, so many questions ran through her mind. Her confusion was so great and she felt like she was in another bad dream. You know those times when you think you are dreaming but you are not?This was the exact state that Lydiah was in at this particular moment; All the things she had witnessed did not add up; she turned back and looked at the closed door and she could not help but wonder who that man that had taken over their house was. She resolved to head over to her mother- in law’s place, at least she was convinced that her questions would be answered there.
Her mother-in-law’s house was only a stone throw away and as such, it took Lydiah just a few minutes to arrive there. Her mother- in- law was seated outside the biggest hut in the compound selecting cereals. On seeing Lydiah, she stood up in fury, hands held akimbo. Lydiah slowly and humbly walked towards her. She greeted her with all the due respect that one could accord her mother-in-law. To her disappointment, she just kept silent and looked at her from head to toe. All these confused Lydiah even the more; she was very close to her mother-in-law and such cold greetings had never occurred to her in the years she had been married to her son.
EPISODE THREE: DoubleLoss???
Days passed, weeks passed. It was two months now. Lydiah had turned into a ‘Street Woman’. Each day was a day to look into every rook and cranny of the streets for her child. She never lost hope. She kept the faith. In those two months, Lydiah had definitely known every part of town. However, all this was turning out to be futile, but was she going to quit? Would she end up concluding that her child was no more? That she would never set her eyes on her ever again? That she had disposed her as her husband wanted?
It was on this day, 23rd of August 2015, that she resolved to let go. It was a difficult decision because letting go has and I am double sure it will never be easy. That’s why at times you want to stop tormenting yourself in a relationship but you still find yourself holding on to it as if your life depended on it. But as for Lydia, there was no going back. Or rather, she did not have the option of going back because after ransacking the whole town in search of her child in vain, the only option was to let go and go home. But what triggered this? This sudden desire to stop looking?
EPISODE TWO: Unforeseen Mode of Loss
It goes without saying that Lydiah was between a rock and a hard surface. She felt so much weight on her head and a migraine, in such a scenario, was inevitable. The days were fast approaching and so was the ultimatum, which was given to her by her husband, to make the hard decision.
She sat on her matrimonial bed, weeping and cursing. Besides her lay her newly born girl child. She gazed at her and whispered, “Dear, I have to do this, this is what is best for all of us.” She reached into her pocket and removed a chain which had an inscription; “ MUM LOVES YOU”. She picked up her child and a bag and headed out. The rain that was pouring outside not long ago had died down. She walked several miles and maneuvered into the DARK FOREST, which was all creepy with animal sounds renting the air.
In the outskirts of a Northern Village of the country of Alela lived a certain family. This family, living in a typical village household setting, was just like any another family. The family lived in a small compound constituting of one large hut and three small ones.
On 25th May 1985 something happened to this particular family. Something that was considered as a source of joy to any normal family in that particular community. However, the particular occurrence did not bring about joy, instead, it brought about discord, rift and a lot of pain to the family.
I know you are wondering, what was this particular occurrence??? Well, to serve your curiosity, I will let you know- A child had been born in this family. There were two reasons why this child brought about a lot of discord. First and foremost, this pregnancy was unplanned for and secondly, the child was a girl.
Basaja, the father to the newly born child wanted a male child as the first born claiming that it was the tradition. This culminated to a lot of pressure being imposed on Lydia, the mother. It was Basaja’s claim that he could never sire a girl as the first born.
“Lydiah, I have always had a feeling that you have not been faithful and my suspicions that you put this pregnancy on me for me to marry you so you could cover your shame of infidelity coming to light.” This was immediately after Lydiah had given birth.
Basaja was angry. His veins were so clear on his protruded forehead. He was shaking and holding his fist so tight. He proceeded, “Lydiah you either throw this child away and I will forgive your unfaithfulness or you will have to swear at the shrine and if you are found guilty, you know the repercussion – death by stoning.”
Lydiah cried her heart out pleading to Basaja as she swore that she had never been unfaithful. She further claimed that her religious convictions could not allow her to swear at the shrine.
Basaja interrupted her and asserted, “Lydiah, it is either death or this bastard to be done away with!!!” He then stormed out of the hut where Lydiah had put to bed in.
Lydiah got into deep thought as tears flew down her cheeks. She took a look at the young toddler by her side and spoke, “I love you dear and I also want to protect my marriage … I can get another child but I cannot definitely re-do this marriage. I know throwing you away will be inhumane, am at crossroads, what should I do???”
Written By: Anne Mumbi Njoroge