Beware the grip of a woman giving birth

Childbirth has a softening effect on even the toughest of souls

In Summary

• Wives can be a pain in the side, Makini learns, but now is not the time to disown them.

• While my roommate (that’s what I’ve come to call Millicent) is giving birth, I’m at the Police Post, trying to sort out a robbery case.

While my roommate (that’s what I’ve come to call Millicent) is giving birth, I’m at the Police Post, trying to sort out a robbery case. Kiko’s house has been cleaned out.

Niambie tena, bwana Kiko,” I tell him. “Who stole your stuff?”

“That kimwanamke I married.”


“I will need a list of the things you say your wife stole.”

“I just told you, Sergeant Makini, everything! Kila kitu! My house is empty.”

“But you said she bought the sofas with her money.”

“Yes, with Chama money. The utensils and kitchen stuff, too. But who do you think gave her that money?”

I close the Occurrence Book.

“Look, Mr Kiko, when your wife takes stuff both of you jointly own, it’s not technically theft.”

“What is it, relocation?”


“You need to locate your wife and talk things through.”

“Screw her! She took my manhood, man.”

“I don’t understand.”

“How am I going to explain it when everybody knows my house is empty and my wife is gone?”

“That’s easy. You tell them…”

Inspector Tembo, my boss, stumbles into the office. Out of breath.

“They need you.”

“I’m busy. See? A citizen needs assistant.”

Tembo grabs me by my collar. Hauls me to the door.

“Sgt Makini,” he barks, “you go home to your girlfriend. And that’s an order!”

“She’s not my girlfriend!”

“Are you disobeying a direct order, Sergeant?”

“No, sir!”

I head for the door.

“You were saying something,” Kiko shouted. “I tell them nini?”

“You tell them a thief took your stuff,” I shout back, “plus your wife.”

It’s like a war zone at my house. Millicent is screaming for two. Bertha is shouting herself hoarse.

“Are you the husband?” Bertha asks. “See if you can get her to shut up.”

I’m about to say no, when I notice Millicent’s pleading eyes. She looks so helpless on the bed, her trembling hand outstretched towards me. Pity overcomes common sense.

“What do you want me to do?” I ask Bertha.

“Hold her frigging hand or something. Just keep her still long enough for me to pry this baby out of her.”

I stand at the head of the bed and give Millicent my hand. I regret that decision immediately. Millicent’s grip is tighter than I had imagined. She crashes my fingers in hers, squeezes with all her might.

“This is for all of you bastards!” Millicent screams. No more self-pity in her eyes. She looks about ready to kill me.

“Push!” Bertha commands.

Millicent does.

“All the bastards that impregnate women and leave them.”


“Screw those bastards,” I plead, “but I’m not one of them. I’m one of the good guys.”

“Yeah, right. You don’t want me either.”


“But I want you. I do. We’ll talk as soon as…”


Millicent squeezes some more. My hand nearly pops out of my arm. I scream.

“First priority is for you to give birth to this baby.”

“First priority is to get it out of me. I don’t want it.”

“Tembo said as much but we’ll talk about that later. For now…”


“There is no talking, Makini.” To Bertha: “Get this thing out of me, woman!”

We hear a baby cry.

Millicent releases my hand. Her entire demeanour softens, tears roll down her eyes as she proffers her arms for the baby.

“It’s a girl,” says Bertha.

“My mother,” I hear a voice say.

Millicent and Bertha turn to me. I turn behind me. No one there. I turn back to them.

“I didn’t say that,” I say.

“Yes, you frigging did,” Millicent says. Smiling blissfully.