The wait. The anxiety. Dozens of steps had been made. The nurses, often, looked at me. Giggled. Then they were back to work. At 1130hours, the wait was over. Ayanda was here. The mother, Asio, was fine. Only she can explain the pain she had been through.
“She looks like you,” she said. “No she doesn’t. She look like you,” I say. “She looks like you,” she said. “No she doesn’t. She look like you,” I say. [This debate is still ongoing. It will probably never end.]
A few hours after Ayanda was born, I sneezed. Almost simultaneously, she sneezed too. There was a five seconds silence in the hospital room. Then laughter. Someone remarked: “You can’t really deny you’re her father.” Then there were more giggles.
That is what Ayanda has been for us in the last one year. She’s grown. Called her mother “Auntie” and called her father, erm, no name yet. She smiles often. Then cries. Then pulls the table mats off the table. She will eat. Then she’ll refuse. With her big eyes [this is a feature she picked from her mother] she gazes at the world.
Asio is the heroine. I am just the writer. She endured nine months of an extra 3.3kgs. She went shopping for baby clothes. She was induced. She had to push. I was pacing in the corridors. Then there is breastfeeding. Then the lifestyle adjustment. The baby bump. It is called motherhood. In the last one year, I have learnt a lot from her [wait, she doesn’t know].
The one year has been roller-coaster.
I have not missed a single day in the immunization room. These are moments we don’t get back once missed. Watching that injection being sunk into her tender skin is painful. You’ll feel sorry for her. Of course she will cry and the keeping her quiet is another challenge. Tears will roll down her cheek.
Often, the breast does the trick. Not my breast. Asio’s breast.
She’ll throw her head back and forth. That way, you can’t ignore her.
A few months ago, I walked into a baby shop, without Asio. I got strange stares. With the exception of the shop owner, I was the only male shopper. Clothes were bought. They were perfect fits. I chest thumped. I did it again more recently. And my-oh-my, I could do it again.
Then there was that moment at the pharmacy when the pharmacist asked:
“How many kilograms is your child?”
I replied: “From the last visit to the Dr’s about a week ago, she should be 10.5kg.”
She turned, looked at me and said: “Wow, you know your kids weight? That rarely happens with fathers who buy medicine from the shop.”
“It is normal to know a child’s weight. A father just has to be interested,” I replied.
Parenting is not that easy. At least you do not need a text book to know that. All children a unique. The experiences are different. There is a lot of sacrifice. In fact, if we have not attended your party, wedding meeting, wedding, introduction and long-nights-out et al, we apologize. Sometimes, the little one needs out attention and we must adhere. She is our responsibility.
That said, we appreciate the invites.
Some have asked, what’s her name: She is Natukunda Ayanda Aturo. Natukunda in my language – or well I don’t have to tell you the language, do I? – means “He loves us.” This is also my mothers name. Ayanda is a Zulu name [its meaning; “they augment.” Usually given to first a born] This name was picked to celebrate the great African Girl – Our daughter. I do watch Isidingo [since 2001] and the first time I heard the name Ayanda, I liked it. I had to find out what it means. We want her to be great. Aturo means flower in Ateso. In celebration of multiculturalism, integration and intermarriages, a name from her mother had to come in handy.
So, questions like, what is her christian name? should be answered by this explanation.
Note, name picking is never that easy. I had a list of fifty. Asio had given me the responsibility of finding a name for our baby. In nine months, I was doing just that. I was pregnant with names.
Today we celebrate her life. Today, Ayanda makes one more step into greatness.