“Why did you do it?” He asked, rubbing his scalp with the palm of his right hand. He looked away from her. His eyes darted from the door to the floor in one glance but not once did they settle on her.
“I…I don’t know baby, I don’t know what came over me” She replied, looking up at him, hoping he would at least look at her. Her voice was heavy from all the crying. She hugged herself and curled up on the grey sofa that had been spared from the madness.
“Shit…you are crazy” He barked, turning to face her. He clenched his fists. A vein appeared on his forehead. He was angry. He wanted to strangle her until all the life in her was gone. No, he could not do that now. It would solve nothing. Instead, he stood there transfixed like a statute, confused. His whole body was shaking, not from anger but fear. He feared this woman, this woman he called wife and she called him husband. This woman who sat there in a pitiable position but inspiring no pity at all. He wanted her gone.
She got up from the sofa and moved briskly toward him, unsure of what to do next. She knew his anger and deep inside, she was scared. She walked across the cold floor, her bare feet delicately stepping on the dry patch of the floor, barely feeling the cold. She got to where he stood and hesitated for a while before lifting her hands and running them to his face. She clasped his cheeks in her hands and pleaded, “I love you baby…Look at me…look me in the eye and tell me you feel the same”
“Dorothy, stop being ridiculous!” He pushed her hands away from his face and turned away. He stared at the window as if he was looking at the lush green gardens that sprawled on their backyard. She remained still behind him, tears rolling down her round cheeks. She stared at the floor, her eyes couldn’t take it. She fell to the floor.
“Haiyya mboga kundee mrendaa managuuu!”
Selfa. She said that was her name. She was perfect. Not too young and not too old. She said she was twenty six but Dorothy’s guess placed her age at twenty three or four on the higher side. She was in good health and with good features. She walked with a slight limp on her left leg but she assured Dorothy that it was from a recent accident. No genetic defects in her lineage. No albino relatives, which was Dorothy’s biggest worry. She had two children of her own with no difficulties at birth and no birth defects. Above all, she was willing, her only condition being that she be given a month to get used to the idea of carrying another person’s child. She had to tell her husband.
For the next few weeks that she brought vegetables to the compound, they discussed how they would go about it. The two women sat and talked for hours on end about everything from when they would do it to the conditions of the engagement. Dorothy proposed that she stayed with them until the time for delivery came. Selpha asked her husband about it. One hundred and fifty thousand. That was all he needed to hear. He would take care of their children, he promised. She could take all the time she needed as long as the money came in. They needed it. They would start a business and she would stop hawking vegetables.
“Honey, I found someone,” She told him the night before Selfa moved in. “She is willing to carry our baby for us. She is willing to come live with us until that happens.”
He woke up from his sleep and turned to her. They had agreed that they would look for a surrogate together. She had gone ahead to do it herself. That didn’t matter now. He didn’t want to antagonize her. She had found someone willing to let her uterus be rented for nine months. He asked her if she was sure the woman was right and when she responded in the affirmative he turned to the other side and pulled the blanket over his head and went to sleep. That was all he needed to hear. Under the blanket, tears rolled down his cheeks. He didn’t want it.
Selfa moved in the next day. She came with a plastic bag that had her belongings, meagre. Dorothy showed her to the bedroom that was next to the kitchen. There, she would stay until she gave Dorothy a child. Then, she would get the other half of the pay and leave. Her husband would pick her at the gate on that day just as he had dropped her off. But for now, she needed to get pregnant. Dorothy’s husband was ready for her in their bedroom. Dorothy would watch, she would be there in the room with them. It was be uncomfortable so she sat there and watched her husband make love to another woman. She bore it all. That was the deal.
All went well and on the third day of July, a month after the act, they went to the doctor. Selfa was pregnant. Three weeks. That was good news, Dorothy and Selfa would be mothers on the same day nine months down the line and so the wait began.
Over the next few months Titus, Dorothy’s husband became fond of Selfa. A glimmer appeared in his eyes every time Selfa was in the room. Dorothy noticed. She wasn’t stupid. Her husband was in love with the surrogate. She knew something like this was bound to happen. James spent more time around Selfa than Dorothy. That was natural; he was bound to be attached to the mother of his child. Only, Dorothy didn’t want it.
“Do you love my husband?”
“No Madam, why would you say such a thing?”
“Because I know he loves you!”
“That’s not true. I have a husband.”
“That’s not my question. Do you love my husband?”
Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Yes Madam…a little…I think…I don’t know.” She cried too.
She stopped filing her nails. The nail file dug into Selfa’s flesh.
The door bell rang. Titus was back from work with a baby cot.
More from this author: Troy Onyango