How did you first learn about sex and family planning?
High school beckoned. I was almost ready to become a freshman. All that was left was “The Talk” from Father.
On the eve of the first day of my high school life, he summoned me.
I stood next to him while he sat at his desk. An old-fashioned desktop mounted on the mahogany counter. The CPU’s fan whirred incessantly. The excited chatter of playing children filtered through the open windows. Didn’t they realise how intense this moment was?
‘Are you ready to go to school?’ he asked.
‘Er… yeah,’ eloquence was my game.
‘You know the most important thing is your studies?’
‘You need to understand that your marks in KCSE will determine your future. The exams you choose…’
Children singing brikicho banture interrupted my concentration, I desperately wished I was them.
‘And I don’t want to hear anything about boys.’
He clicked, ‘Are you listening to me silly girl?’
‘Yes. You said no boys.’
Father peered at me with his piercing obsidian eyes. I shifted nervously. They were disturbingly like the ones I see when I look in the mirror. He saw whatever he was looking for and nodded with a grunt.
‘No boys. Boys are for after school. I don’t want any children in my house.’
He shook my hand, shoving a folded thousand-shilling note with the surreptitiousness of a driver handing a bribe to a traffic officer.
‘Good luck in school.’
‘Are you sure?’ he asked.
I watched him. His brow furrowed with concentration. His arms stiff, muscles bulging as he held himself aloft. But it was the love in his eyes that had me nodding. That and I had no doubt whatsoever that I was ready.
‘Yes,’ I answered with a smile. His brow flickered as he gingerly moved forward. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. 18 years of pop culture and romance novels lied. Blatant lies. It was not a wondrous feeling. It was like being torn in half. Everything screamed to get him out. But he didn’t move. And we just stayed there. Staring at each other. Silently communing. Hoping for the best. Fearing for the worst. Tears welled in my eyes. He moved out. The sheathed club had a sheen of blood on it.
‘It gets easier with time.’
He looked at me and smiled, ‘That’s my line.’
‘Mum?’ I heaved into the phone.
I couldn’t help it. I burst into tears. I heard Mother’s heart crack at my misery.
‘Mama? Baby? What’s wrong?’
I wanted to answer her but the anguish wouldn’t let me. I was bawling. Hiccups and heavy breaths preventing me from answering her.
‘Shhh, it’s ok baby. It’s ok. Woi, mwana wakwa…’ she tried to mollify me. She remained on the line until I was able to speak.
‘I need to go to hospital.’
‘I think I’m pregnant.’
‘Ok, let me call you a cab. We’ll meet at Aga Khan.’
The next moments happened in a blur. I only recalled informing Father that I was meeting Mother for brunch.
Mother and I met at the parking lot of the hospital. She folded me into her arms. It was warm. Safe.
‘Are you late?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Then why do you think you’re pregnant.’
‘My breasts are swollen and I am producing milk.’
‘Does your boyfriend know?’
‘Yes, but he’s in Kakamega.’
She nodded and we walked into the hospital together. Her head held high, her arm by my shoulders in solidarity. God bless the woman. She would walk me with an army’s support to my own execution.
We saw the doctor a little after an hour of blood pressure check-ups and BMI measuring. She was a short dark woman wearing a lab coat over a breath-taking buibui.
‘What’s the problem?’
‘I’m producing milk.’
She pursed her lips.
‘Are you pregnant?’
‘I’m not sure.’
‘How often do you have sex?’
All I had to do was smile. She smiled back, eyes dancing. The doctor knew her stuff.
‘Do you have multiple partners?’
‘Just the one,’ the grin on my mouth explained.
‘Do you use condoms?’
‘Do you have unprotected sex regularly?’
I looked at my mother.
‘Would you like me to step outside?’
I shrugged and turned back to the doctor.
‘Not often, no.’
‘Ok. Please take off your shirt and bra.’
She examined my breasts with cold hands that she had just applied some disinfectant. I lifted my arms while she checked for lumps. She squeezed the nipple then squeezed the gland. Milk dutifully seeped out of it. My heart dropped to my stomach. Mother stoically watched on.
‘I don’t think you’re pregnant. It’s normal for girls between the ages of 19 and 24 who aren’t pregnant to sporadically produce milk. It’s called galactorrhea.’
My mother’s shoulders slumped with relief.
‘It’s not cancer or anything?’ she asked.
The doctor smiled at her, ‘No. That has different symptoms. If you still want to be sure, you can go to the lab and have these tests done.’
She handed a form to my mother with tests she had highlighted.
‘How much are they?’
‘About twelve to fifteen thousand.’
Mother opened her mouth to answer but I beat her to it, ‘Ok thanks. But I don’t need tests now. If my period is late then I’ll take an EPT test.’
The doctor smiled again, ‘Ok, but always remember to wrap it up yeah? Or you can use the Pill, mini pill, injection or IUD.’
Mother stared at the roof knowing why I had opted for no tests. Other than the fact that the smell of hospital antiseptic makes me nauseous.
The doctor pulled out a business card from a pocket in her buibui.
‘Call this number if you have any questions. She’s one of the best Ob-Gyns in the city.’
We thanked her and took our leave.
‘So where do you want to go for lunch?’
I was already on my phone, ‘I’m looking for a buffet worth twelve thousand.’
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Mari Gloria often thinks of herself as eccentric. She dreams in text and is unafraid to admit that her cat owns her. A firm believer in Wi-Fi for all, the rest of her thoughts, beliefs, ramblings and unique insight can be found on her blog Nairobi Pedestrian here [Link].