Denise is fondled to sleep in my arms. I stare at her tiny face capturing every details of her: the eyes that are soon to open wide and the future that is yet to come. There is no doubt that something has changed in me. Something I cannot explain yet. However much I try to conceal them, teary smiles rids onto my face. The doctor and the nurse stare ardently at us as though finally I have found a missing piece to my puzzle.
“Can I see the mother?”
Silence, The doctor and the nurse exchange unknowing look.
"Can I see the mother...?”
I ask again but this time more sternly while sharply gazing at them.
“You can’t see her right now…”
The nurse begins to speak but ends up stammering, when the doctor raises her eyebrows, signaling her not to say anything yet, the nurse stops, holds her breath, casually regretting why she spoke in the first place.
"What do you mean I can't see her?"
"What do you think about the name Denise?" The doctor thoughtfully dissuades my attention,
"It's a unique name, it's the name of my daughter..."
"Do you know what it means? The name?" The nurse jumps in after realizing that the question won’t be enough to put me off. But it seem like I am lost in thoughts, thinking about my little girl.
Its early in the morning, I have just woken up to Samantha breast feeding the baby in the living room while humming a lullaby. Samantha, after noticing me, raises her eyebrows, smiling as creases forms on her forehead.
“She has your eyes.” She says.
"Thank you... but she possess your beauty..."
Heading towards them, I lean forward, and plant a kiss on Samantha's forehead then fiddle the baby’s toes, as I walk to the kitchen to make breakfast. She is now mine. Even though there is no job, it doesn’t matter. I have two lives to live for. A hassle to take care of. Soon, the baby will start mewling, crawling, she will slur as if she wants to say something. And in those moments that she won’t be able to speak, I will understand her in her own language, when she cries, when she cackles, and the times that she will be frightened I'll be her rock, gently I'll stroke her back to sleep in the middle of the night after a nightmare, when her mom would be having the most beautiful sleep she missed over the past months, not forgetting the moments I'll read her bedtime stories, how poetic, to assure her that the boogeyman isn’t under her bed.
All these thoughts play out in my mind, only to be drawn back to the reality, by a familiar voice.
"Give me my baby...!”
Samantha finally shows up in a blue maternity gown while on a wheelchair. Our eyes meet at focal point, quickly I discard off her sharp gaze and make furtive steps towards her.
"Can I have my baby...?" She demands.
Staring at the baby in my arms.
"She's so beautiful, our baby is so beautiful..."
In this instance, in my mind, she was to say something along the lines of, “I named her after my mother.” Or “I named her after my best friend.” Samantha would have played along into my imaginations, to tell me something about the name Denise, how strong, resilient and how stubborn the name is. Maybe even without a father Denise would still thrive. That is what I expected, but far from it, Samantha sat there on the wheelchair, arms on her knees as if she would want to stand up and face me in a tussle. She smiled wryly with humor satirically embedded on her voice.
"Our baby? Are you mad...?”
"Yes, our baby, she's so beautiful, as you ..."
"What did you smoke this morning?”
The nurse and the doctor stare at each other in amusement, amazed with the turn of events.
"Come on Samantha, let's get you discharged and get you home..."
"Home? To your crib? Seriously, can I have my baby, she needs to feed!"
"I'm so sorry about the way I treated you, but it's all going to be different now..."
I make my case heard. She stares at me, trying to contemplate on what I just said, after a few, her voice springs out and fills the atmosphere like the scent of sand during an afternoon downpour.
"Sorry? Is sorry supposed to make me feel better? "
"I'll work on it, I promise."
"Will sorry heal my broken bones and seal the wound you left behind as the baby came out of me? Do you even think for a second how it feels to have something grow inside of you, and live in a man's house” (she pauses. chuckles, then stares at me in contempt) “my bad, and live in a boy's crib who despises you, stares at you as if you share nothing in common, not even the fetus that grows in your womb, treats you as filth, and still have the audacity to call my baby, our baby?? You insane??"
"Come on Samantha, stop..."
"Excuse me!!!? Am I embarrassing you..? When you left me unattended to in your crib, when you went looking for other women, pleading on their doorstep, licking their boots, as though they owned you, still you have the audacity to say sorry? ? When I called you a thousand times, and you were actually glad that I was going to lose it, so I'd leave you in peace with your whores, where are they now? Do you even know how I got to the hospital? Do you even have the money to discharge me?? Huh, where's your precious little Jill, aren’t you going to run and weep on her doorstep, beg her to take you back ...?"
Every syllable that oozed from her mouth ripped a part of me. Every word that she said brewed tears from her eyes, weak, weary. The doctor and the nurse felt her pain, in their eyes they had passed judgement on me already.
"Samantha, please stop..."
Her voice bursts out amidst her tears with shreds of bitterness engraved on it,
"Stop??? You want me to stop..? Give me back my baby...!"
"I'm not giving you our baby...”
Denise begun to cry. I hold her as anger brews within me. How dare Samantha talk to me like that? After everything I have done for her? I took her in and fed her, what else did she expect me to do? Perform husbandry?? Act like I have been in love for centuries, and be a hypothetical hypocrite?? No, she needs to be thanking me, lest she wished me to throw her out.
"How dare you??! You should be thanking me for the little I did for you...”
"Give me back my baby!!!?"
Other patients had begun leaning in to see what was going on, even those who were writhing in pain, found some sort of pleasure in the ordeal, some sort of a relief. The baby's cries heightened, the nurse waited for the doctor to intervene. Samantha sat on her wheelchair, screaming,
"Give me back my baby...”
Everyone is watching. The baby is crying as though she can feel the pain of her mother, or she feel frightens by my heart beat.
"Shhhhhh little girl don't you cry" she doesn't listen.
Samantha gets up from her wheelchair, misses a few steps, stumbles down, the nurse comes to her aid.
"Give me back my baby...!”
I look down upon her while smiling.
"Sorry, can't hear you,”
"Please, may I have my baby back, she wants to feed.”
Samantha's tears are genuine, through them I can see myself and I can see Denise in them. For a moment I question my intention.
"Please, Phill, I beg you.”
Her pleas moves everyone to the core of their heart. The baby cries are deafening, I still hold on to her.
"You're full of theatrics, aren’t you?”
Leaning down close to Samantha, I hold her hair as though I was about to pick her up, plant a kiss on her forehead, then hug her, she hugs me back.
"I'm so sorry, I had to put you through this, and I really am"
“Just give me back my baby. We will be okay” she whispered amidst her sobs.
Gently I held her till she stopped shaking, then in one swift motion I pushed her back to her wheelchair, stood up on my feet and begun retracting back my steps towards the exit. Samantha tried getting back on her feet to no vain, she crawled towards me on her knees, yelling out, "my baby, my baby.." the nurses helped her on her feet, but she couldn't let them. She fought like she wanted to live. And she could only live by winning the fight. I saw it in her eyes, the veins that crisscrossed on her face, I saw it. She tore anything that stood on her way. I saw the power that she possessed. She screamed, roared like the pride was hers to rule. Like pain was the only thing she knew of. I turned my back on her, and paced towards the exit with Denise in my arms.
"Call the security"
The doctor, shouted.
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