Remember my village sister Alice cooking by the fire from a couple posts back? https://whatyoumightbemissing.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/oh-right-stuff-gets-hard-sometimes/I was wondering about her struggles, and thinking that I should make an effort to find out more about her, instead being stuck in my head with my own troubles. After all that, and living with her for two months, I somehow didn’t realize or know that she was pregnant (Ya, don’t ask how). I only found out the night she was going in labor, when she had to get a taxi to the hospital.
Her boyfriend had got her pregnant and then left for South Africa with unknown time of return. Third trimester pregnant seems like a pretty obvious starting point for asking about someone’s life. I had only wondered that she seemed older to not be married by Malawi standards, and that she was noticeably the least happy person in the family.
I was the first one to visit her at the hospital the next morning. She was already discharged and sitting outside the maternity ward on the covered walkway.
As I peered into the seemingly huge bundle of blankets she was holding, Alice smiled a beautiful smile I had never seen from her. Peaceful contentment and joy was on her face as she adjusted the blankets to proudly show me her baby…. A perfectly healthy baby boy.
When I got home that evening after work, the house was a buzz with visitors over to see the new little one. There’s really nothing quite as magical as a newborn baby. Everyone was all smiles and glowing. Especially Alice as everyone took turns trying to get a closer look.
As I showed up in the small crowded room it created a bit more of a buzz. I didn’t quite understand why, like they thought it was the first time I had ever seen a baby or something. Then eventually in my limited understanding of Chichewa, and my limited speaking ability, I’m pretty sure I was asked to name the baby, and that now he’s called Kondwani.
Kondwani means “Be Happy” in Chichewa. I already had thoughts about baby names during the day after first seeing him, and wondering what his name was. Kondwani had actually been the first name that had come to mind, and it really stuck. It was the name of one of the Health Zone Supervisors I had stayed with a couple months ago. One of the nicest and most genuinely happy Malawians I had ever met. Then I knew it was especially fitting, because the arrival of the baby seemed to give Alice so much new happiness. And me too as I held the precious little bundle with a huge smile on my face, everyone laughing and saying “Dzina labwino!” – “good name!”
Small disclaimer: This seems like some pretty personal stuff to be writing about someone when you still don’t really have a clue about her situation. I’ve never actually heard the story from Alice or talked to her about how she feels about her situation, because of the language barrier. My info comes second hand from her younger brother.