My aunt, Millicent, could smell pregnancy a mile away. It was no surprise when she knocked on my Mother’s door at six o’clock in the morning. She had just got off the phone with Milka. What she had to say could not wait. I stepped aside and she walked right past the sitting room to my Mother’s bedroom ignoring the greetings she received along the way.
Milka, Aunt’ Beryl’s daughter, is the first girl to get a direct entry into the University. She is going to be the first doctor in a family of teachers, priests and counselors. Aunt Beryl speaks of Milka during breakfast, lunch, and supper. She sings her praise in the toilet, while washing dishes, walking to the market or negotiating fare at the bus stop. The touts, boda boda men and market women know her as ‘Mama Daktari.’ Milka is just in her first year. I hear that most people never make it past the second year studying Medicine. She could slaughter a chicken, so maybe she can stand the sight of blood and meat.
Aunt Millicent stomps into the sitting room with my Mother in tow. I am dismissed to quickly serve them tea. When I return with the tray in hand, Aunt Millicent begins, ‘I know you all think I have nothing to do except brew trouble, but something tells me that Milka is going to pile buckets of shame on her mother.’
‘How can you say this after just one phone call?’
‘The voice does not lie. You should know this! Listen, someone has to go to Nairobi and check on that girl, I am certain that Beryl would not take it if her daughter disappointed her.’
‘So, what do you think the problem is?’
‘She is pregnant.’
‘Milka? No! She cannot be, are you sure?’
‘Listen, you have had six children, more than the number of fingers you have on one hand, so you know how children love to make their presence known. There is the nausea, vomiting, demand for certain foods, the stretching and blowing up until you push them out only to have them do what you least expect them to.’
‘Milli! You are crazy to say let alone think that Milka is pregnant and until she confirms it, no one will go to Nairobi or speak to her mother about it. Is that clear?’
Aunt Millicent looked at my mother, smiled and gathered her lesso, fastened it around her waist and walked out the same way she walked in. Mother shook her head and continued sipping her tea careful not to spill any for her hands were trembling.
‘Do you think Aunt Millicent is telling the truth Mom?’
‘She has never lied about anything in her life, but no mother would want her daughter side tracked from her dreams and I am certain that when the truth comes to light Milka’s mother will not be able to handle it.’