Rosemary Khaveveli fidgeted with her phone absent-mindedly as she cast glances at the door.
She was expecting Angelina Omina to walk in at any moment. She would occasionally sigh and look at her phone to check the time.
“We have never met. I do not know what I will do when I see her,” she said. Theirs was an unusual reunion. Their paths had crossed in one of the mysterious stories in the country -- one that can only be explained after a DNA test has been done on their three children.
They were meeting to have a conversation they believe no parent should ever be confronted with.
“What if our children are siblings? What if we have raised each other’s babies for 19 years without knowing? Will we be forced to exchange the children?” So many questions needed answers as their inevitable union drew closer.
When Angelina walked towards Rosemary, there was an air of uncertainty between them. Their steps got slower as they inched closer. Then they stopped and stared at each other momentarily. Rosemary opened her arms and Angelina fell in. Their embrace lingered their facial expressions changing from a blank look, to excitement, then anxiety. Tears dangled on Angelina’s eyelashes and she rapidly wiped them.
“What do I say, fellow woman? What is this that has happened to us?” Rosemary whispered. Angelina said nothing; wiping more tears with the back of her hand.
Their children, Melon Lutenyo, Sharon Mathias and Melvis Imaya stood by their side and watched as their mothers got acquainted.
Melon and Sharon have dominated news for their uncanny resemblance and had a DNA test done yesterday to know if they are identical twins who were switched at birth. Their story has unfolded like a well-scripted movie. Their parents say they were born in the same hospital and could have been separated at birth.
Angelina had just separated with Wilson Luta, the man who made her pregnant, and left Nairobi to go and deliver in her rural home in Kakamega Hospital. Rosemary, who was staying in Kitale had been told she was expecting multiples and she opted for Kakamega as doctors had anticipated she would have complications.
They gave birth two days apart. Rosemary was given two girls who she named Melvis and Melon. Angelina named her baby Sharon. “I had just come from a caesarean section and nurses told me my babies were in an incubator. Melvis was so tiny and sick. There was a pipe around her neck and I feared I would lose her,” Rosemary says.
Angelina said her child was underweight and was immediately rushed to an incubator. They were discharged and went on with their lives in different parts of the country. Angelina returned to Kangemi in Nairobi while Rosemary took her twins, Melvis and Melon to Furfural village in Kakamega.
“Then one day I get a call from Melon’s father telling me he had seen her in Kakamega with some boy boarding a bus to Nairobi. He called her and she did not respond,” Rosemary says. It turned out to be her look-alike.
Everything about them was similar, from their walking style to dental formula.
From then on, she would meet people who told her Melon’s look-alike had been spotted in different areas. The children, tired of hearing the same narrative, hatched a plan to meet. Their connection was instant.
Their children have gone back and forth between the two homes hoping to get answers that their parents have spent days praying will not shatter their lives.
“I cry daily. I keep asking myself what will happen if they do the tests and say all of them are not my babies. Where is mine?” said Angelina amidst sobs. While the children talked and broke into songs they are learning from one another, their parents held animated conversations on the uncertainty of the future.
The unfolding events have changed their lives in ways they had not imagined and has brought with it a series of reunions they had never thought were possible.
Rosemary, who had separated with her husband Richard Olukhakha said when news that they may have had identical twins reached him, he came back to see them and has been lingering in their lives, showing signs that he wants to come back into their lives. Luta and Angelina had long separated and were co-parenting Sharon while living with other spouses.
Patricia Akinyi, Sharon’s stepmother says when she got news that the girl she had hosted in her home since she was a child could be someone else’s, she wept. The events brought her even closer to Angelina.
“I keep praying that when the results come out, Sharon will still be ours. Imagine staying with a child for 19 years then someone comes and claims it is theirs,” she says.
Melvis, who had been considered Melon’s fraternal twin says she has started feeling left out. Rosemary says Melvis has become withdrawn as people shift attention to the similarities between Sharon and Melon.
The parents are worried about the effect the disruption will have on the children, saying they are seeking answers and trying to catch up on a past they believe they should have shared.
“I am hoping we will settle this. If it turns out that they are not related, I will laugh and think of how God has a good sense of humour,” Luta said.
Their hope is the children will go back to school and sit KCSE exam as it is their final year. After the results of the DNA tests come out in five days, the parents say they will hold another grand meeting and decide the way forward. Until then, they wait. Angelina says it will be the longest wait.
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