The stinking woman

I had become familiar with this stench overtime following the birth of Jakwe. So had the people around me. They now walked with their faces contorted in disgust and noses turned away I’m assuming to take in one deep breathe so they couldn’t suffocate when addressing me. My husband was not an exception. His disgust was like a constant reminder of how I got here. How I did not choose to be this woman. The stinking woman. The woman who smelled of urine. Was this the price I had to pay for bringing a life into the world?

Jakwe sure made my labor and delivery memorable and excruciatingly painful as she was a large baby as the nurse with the cold eyes and distant voice had put it. I’m not certain whether she was a nurse but her full figure and motherly blossom only confirmed my bias.

She had been kind and chirpy when my husband and I got there earlier that evening but I guess there’s something a long night and a room full of women in anguish does to you. Exhaustion sets in and the jolly self floats away leaving the fatigued, hungry and vexed you. She had become somber and more difficult to talk to. It was almost 3 a.m. And that was the least of my worries. This baby had to come out one way or another so I did what every woman is expected to do during birthing – I pushed and pushed and pushed.

I cannot remember what happened first. Jakwe popping out of me and crying, her cry made me overly sensitive and in that moment I understood what the big fuss about being a mother was, or the pain between my legs which could have been anywhere, right? I had just delivered. My uterus was barely contracting and my vagina, well, my vagina was on fire.

We visited a doctor in Okechu after Jobu and I realized that i was soaked in urine everytime I was pressed and when I did pee, I did not see my pee come out from the usual orifice. This worried me. How was I going to conduct my daily activities? Was I going to start wearing a pamper at my age? Hell to the no. That’s when I asked my husband Jobu to accompany me to the clinic and as I lay there, legs spread and the doctor poking my insides, I wondered what he was looking for and what would happen if he found it.

You have a Vesicovaginal fistula otherwise called VVF.

The doctor calmly said while maintaining eye contact.

I was confused. I’d heard that abbreviation before but never knew what it meant. He went on ahead to explain to me and made it clear that it was a not an uncommon occurrence in women following birth.

If it was so common, why wasn’t I well informed about it? I wondered silently.

I will book you in for surgery to be done during the upcoming VVF free camp to be held at our facility, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching & Referral hospital next week. You’re lucky, he added.

As we walked away, my mind kept drifting to the other women before me who hadn’t been so lucky. What about them?


Beautiful catastrophe

Do you remember those days my love?

The days when we could move our body til’ the sun came up

Our bodies moved in rhythm like no one was watching

The days of our agility

When we could crease the sheets and not wake up with a back ache

When you mastered the contours of my skin and in return had your fingers coated with my honey

When my body responded to you quicker than I could say yes

When we could not sit still in the same room

We laughed, cried and got wasted fearlessly

You were my anchor and I was yours

Do you remember those days my love?

We had our tough days when not even love could save us

But sex could

We fought just to make up

We had mastered each others bodies

In an unexplainable way

You could never keep your hands off me

We made our friends mad because we were a constant reminder of their failed situationships

We knew love and love knew us

I waited and love landed on me

You landed on me

Do you remember those days my love?

We woke up one day and we were thirty

You suggested we settle down

I told you you don’t have to say it twice baby

Our wedding was as glamorous as we felt

We didn’t have to worry about your parents liking me because they loved me and so did mine, you

We never wanted that day to end as we flew away to our honeymoon

Even though our professions could not allow, we always made time for each other

Isn’t that how we got that far despite the spells of doom from spectators?

We were the perfect, happy married couple

With nothing but favor to look forward to

Do you remember those days my love?

But now…

Now you barely look at me

You barely talk to me

You don’t touch me anymore

It’s been a year since you last touched me

Now I regret supporting the decision to buy the largest bed the supermarket had

The same bed has grown into miles

I barely sleep because I’m cold on most nights having gotten used to your strong arms wrapped around me

I hate the ambience in the house after you get home

Some nights I lie about having a night shifts because I cannot stand to see you like that

Like someone I never knew

I’m I supposed to embrace this cold stranger just so we can pretend to be happy to our family and friends?

I am tired of the lies and the hypocrisy

Do you remember when you used to love me?

We used to banter about having children

You wanted 3, I wanted 2

We giggled about it because we couldn’t fathom being responsible for other adults

We were only open to the idea

I recall how much I wasn’t opposed to the idea

Because what would be better than having your look alike?

You’re all I wanted to see and be with

We were goofy

But we had each other

Do you remember those days my love?

Now I’m pale and sickly

I barely eat

My appetite is a thing of the past

These injections are wearing me down, making me ghost of who I used to be

But you’re too busy killing yourself with work to notice

My performance at work has become suboptimal because I can only pick a struggle

I wish one of the struggles wasn’t you

You abandoned me when I needed you the most

You let me visit the clinics alone

You leave all the injections to me

Do you know how inflicting pain on oneself intentionally is extremely difficult?

The bathroom has become my site of solace in this massive mansion

I have cried rivers there… For us

For you

This has become my preoccupation

It’s taking a toll on my physical and mental health

Stop punishing me and support me

It’s not my fault I’m unable to conceive

It’s not my fault I cannot give you babies

At least I’m trying to fix us

Are you?