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The Day My Baby Died (a Short Story)


It is one of the few times you’ve felt at peace, content, felt like you had done something right.

You had let the Arab guy drag you into his stall. Somehow his zeal had endeared him to you and even though you had tons of baby clothes your mum had sent from Nigeria, you still wanted to check out his stuff. Or maybe it was the fact that he didn’t look at you derisively as many of the people here do, or because his zealousness reminds you of the traders back in Nigeria. “Madam, look at this” he says holding out a shirt and pair of shorts, “Your baby would love it so much.” You laugh heartily. “I love how you just assume I’m having a boy; I’m actually having a girl.” “Oh.” Undeterred, he dives into a stack of clothes on the floor and produces a pink floral dress which you at once fall in love with. You hold the dress close and the baby kicks. Even though she has been kicking a lot lately, you still take it as a sign she loves the dress too.

The day you go into labor, you watch as the nurse places the baby in your arms, her white pale skin clashing with your vibrant dark one still clumped with sweat from your delivery. You would have preferred it if the delivery nurses had been black, but as usual, had to make do with what you got in this foreign land. You suddenly feel scared as you look into the baby’s crying face. What made you think you could take care of this tiny creature? For the umpteenth time, you wish your mother were with you. During the drive home, you express your fears to your husband. “We’ll figure it out” is all he says, shrugging.

You watch as your husband dresses for work “I have to go in, it’s urgent” he says. “You’ll be fine?” You nod, ignoring the tight feeling in your chest. He closes the door loudly on his way out as he normally does, and the baby wakes up. You must remind him once again to stop doing that. The baby continues to scream throughout the day, no matter what you do. “She must hate you” you think.

It is getting dark, and the baby has cried all day. Your husband isn’t back yet. You get up from the corner you had stayed huddled and pick up the baby. Her face is red from all the crying. She needs a bath. As you wash her in the tub she continues to cry loudly, and you suddenly understand. She doesn’t want you. She knows you don’t deserve her. She knows you can’t take care of her. You must do what’s best for her. You gently let go of her and watch as she sinks to the bottom. Soon the crying stops. Ah. There we go. You take her out and dry her slowly. You comb her little tufts of hair and dress her in the pink floral dress you bought the other day. You place her on the bed and lie beside her. She looks so beautiful, peaceful, and happy.

It is one of the few times you’ve felt at peace, content, felt like you had done something right.

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