I EARNESTLY MISS EARNEST

I have suddenly become fixated on babies, as if they feel a growing desire in me to have another one of my own. We all know that that time is no yet. (By we, I mean me, myself and I). Well, I must concentrate on making my life a little better before considering the thought of bringing another life to this world. The first time it was disastrous… but that’s not the story for now.

So in June 2012, I met this mother who had been rescued from the streets by a kind member of our church. She was not really a street mother; she was actually standing in the rain outside the gate to their court at Kariobangi South Estate. She had a baby, without an umbrella and was looking for a kibarua- casual job of laundering clothes. This woman- the church member, was overtaken by compassion and invited her for a cup of tea at her house.

The rest are details. Long story short, I found her living in the lady’s house. Her baby was sickly and from how he was breathing, I could tell that he needed urgent medical attention. The mother did not look any better. She was also coughing and her dark skin looked pale. Now I know this is wrong, but I seized the opportunity to share that the baby was breathing abnormally, just like mine before he died. I talked to the mother and she opened up to me. She had been tested and found to be HIV positive during her ante-natal clinic. I suggested that we take the baby to Blue House Clinic the next day. Blue House was a Comprehensive Care Centre run by Medecines Sans Frontiers- France.

We went to the hospital the next morning and after a myriad of tests, baby Earnest, 9months, was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. No wonder he looked like a three month old or even younger. I couldn’t stand it just seeing the doctors pocking through his skeletal hands and feet looking for veins to draw blood from so as to get his blood work underway. He cried till he lost his voice in the process. The things mothers do to innocent babies in the name of denial of their HIV status. But this was not the time to point accusing fingers. What had been done could never be reversed. Our priority was saving baby Earnest. After that long day, I left the three (Earnest, his mother and their hostess) to go back home with a cocktail of drugs, while I went to school for my evening class.

Earnest

Two days later, the hostess asked me if I could take over hosting her guests because her husband was not comfortable having her around their children. They had five children, two of whom were equally young and they feared chancing infection with TB. So in the midst of mixed feelings of anger toward her hostess because of the sudden subtle stigma, and compassion for the young baby, I took in the two.

My heart may have overtaken my mind, because I was bringing them to a single crammed room, which was already bursting with my books everywhere. To make matters worse, I didn’t have a job. I comforted myself by the thought that where there’s a baby, lack is a rare visitor. God would provide. He sure did provide.

After two months of living with them. Baby Earnest had started looking like a baby, not scrawny as I first saw him. He together with his mother had been started on ARVs and were adapting well to the drugs. His mother was even back to looking for the vibaruas- odd jobs of washing clothes. Luck was on her side, because she always came home having gotten at least two hundred shillings. I advised her to start buying things and we started hunting for a house for her.

The responsibility of providing for a mother and her baby while I didn’t have a job, was weighing me down. One day, I just told her to go back to her former hostess because I could not manage hosting them. I gave them two hundred shillings (I wish I had more, because I could have given it), prayed for them, then sent them away, with my younger brother Clinton escorting them- they had luggage to carry, so my brother came in handy.

They were not received by the former hostess. She went to Korogocho slum, and found a cheap room, at 800shillings. The land lady was kind enough and accepted half of the money, as she looked for the balance.

To be continued…..

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