Olive sat across the gynecologist’s chair as he gave her the results of her ultra-sound. Like all gyna’s offices, his was predominantly white. Various diagrams of the human reproductive system hang on the wall. She sat there, recounting the torturous periods she had been enduring since she was a teenager.
When she joined Form 1 in Alliance Girls High School the periods disappeared for an entire year. That was the best year of her life and a nightmare for her mother. The doctor said the cold had shocked her. Having grown up in Mombasa, the Kikuyu weather was like being teleported from Dubai to Antarctica. The ovaries were in shock mode.”
The doctor peered at the white faded print-out from the radiology department. He squinted at Olive through the space above his glasses. “You have fibroids.”
He explained that she may never get a baby. Then he added, “If you want to try, you should get married very soon.”
She was 24. 10 years later, she was still single.
Some single people live in anxiety and anticipation for the day they’ll be found. Some get into relationships with anything that as much as looks their direction and end up in premium tears. Some are bitter at everyone else as if singleness was an infectious disease they caught.
Not Olive. When no man was forthcoming, she made peace with being single. She decided to just make her money and travel the world. She’d adopt a baby and together they’d paint all the world cities whatever colour they wanted.
She had enough single friends in her inner circle. They helped each other navigate through life. And if someone knew of a single guy anywhere, and thought they’d be a good match, they played Yente the matchmaker. (If you haven’t watched Fiddler on the Roof, you haven’t lived.)
So her friend suggested a young man she knew and gave Olive his number. Girls who have been single for long are not easily moved by promises of knights in shining armours. They have seen their fair share of princes turned back to frogs. She didn’t give it a thought.
The young man waited for the call, I can imagine him, every day, staring at his phone like it was an Okenite disguised as a cotton ball. His phone chimes and he rushes to check; only to find it’s those annoying messages from ‘a mzungu working in Dadaab’.
It rings and he answers with his heart pumping a little faster with anticipation. It’s a strange number. It must be her. Then someone on the answer side with a heavy Somali accent would start, “Waaria …” He retorts “Wrong number!” and hangs up.
He got tired of waiting, so he asked the mutual friend for her number and called one Saturday afternoon. He’d chosen a Saturday when she’d be at home, probably lazing at home after a session of house cleaning and baking. She’d be half-sleeping-half-watching some Spanish show where the lips and the words didn’t sync.
They’d have a long conversation that ends with, “Oh my, it’s been three hours! Time goes fast when you meet someone interesting …”
So he got the number and called. She picked. The conversation went like:
“Hi, who’s this?”
“It’s J. Got your number from your friend *Carol” (Everyone knows a Carol somewhere)
“Oh, hi. I’m at a friend’s wedding, can I call you later?”
“Oh, umm, oh…kay. Sawa.”
The cotton ball was just a cotton ball after all, not an okenite.
She eventually called him. Turns out he was in Kisumu and she was in Mombasa. That was in August 2015. In September, J made his first visit to Mombasa and they had their first date.
At 5’7” Olive towers above most of her friends. She’s the kind that would be changing bulbs for you without stepping on a stool. You can imagine her delight when J showed up and he was 6’4” tall!
First dates are usually awkward, people trying to put their best foot forwards and hide warts. But Olive showed up in transparent skin; her heart and soul were laid bare.
On that first date, she told him everything he needed to know about her – including the possibility of never having kids.
He was quiet for a moment. The kind of silence that happens just before the kamikaze launches his attack and leaves devastation behind. When he finally spoke up, he said it didn’t matter. If they decide to date and marry, he wouldn’t care really if they got kids or not. All he wanted was companionship.
By the end of that first conversation, she unearthed the truth and honesty of this stranger. She banked on her friend’s knowledge and a guarantee of him being a good person.
They dated on phone and saw each other at most 5 times when he’d come to visit in Mombasa. They were both Christians.
“I always wanted a six months max courtship. I had no time for games.” In those six months, the most important thing she prayed for was an honest person who had a vision for his life. J fit the bill.
He wasn’t rich; she was doing better financially. But he looked composed, loved God and had a vision.
Their first face-to-face meeting was in September 2015. On February 7th, 2016, they got married.
In August of that year, they got pregnant and lost the baby. It was physically devastating, but she had emotional strength and peace to keep going on. J was a concrete and tar pillar of strength for her despite being badly affected by the loss.
Later, more bad news flooded in – on top of having fibroids, her tubes were partially blocked. After a consultation, they decided to have surgery to unblock her tubes.
They saved for it for some months until they had enough money for the surgery. But her BP was too high and her HB too low to have the surgery. She’d need a blood transfusion before and after the surgery.
That was just too much to process. After talking, they decided not to do it. They gathered the money they had saved up and gave it away to a children’s home and to a mama who was struggling.
And that was the end of trying to have outside help in getting biological children.
Today, Olive and J are parenting Olive’s two nephews, a 5-year-old and a pre-teen who’s an orphan. She always knew that even if she got biological kids, she’d still adopt. Nevertheless, they are still praying and trusting God for a biological baby one day soon.
Life threw serious lemons at Olive, but she learnt to juggle, she learnt to make lemonade and she found someone with vodka and they made the best life cocktail ever.
Olive holds a bachelors of Commerce from UoN and a Masters of Arts in Project Planning and Management. She’s an Operations Officer at a Tea Warehousing and Export company in Mombasa. Her favorite Bible verses are Psalm 118:17 and Psalm 126.