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My mum came later that same day; she had been dropping in each day with food and a change of clothes. I marvelled at the way she was able to walk without making a sound even on high heeled platforms. She had a grace and softness about her that belied the spine of steel she had.
I smiled fondly as her flower patterned gypsy skirt swished around her ankles as she stopped to greet Mrs. Chido, a mother who had her baby a few cots from Halima – she had come over the day before while my mum was around to say hi. She had just been discharged from the hospital herself and had refused to go home unless she was leaving with her baby.
My mum did not look like anybody’s mother; much less like a woman over fifty years of age. Her hair, done in fat, shoulder length braids and held back with a floral print Alice-band did not have a strand of grey in it. The women in her family aged well; I only hoped I’d inherited that gene.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” she queried putting down the picnic basket she held.
“I’m just thinking you are the most beautiful fifty-four year old I’ve come across.”
“I’ve been telling you to go out more.” She answered with a raised eyebrow “you stay cooped up in that flat of yours, where on earth do you want to see anybody at all in that forsaken corner of the earth where your cottage is located?”
I rolled my eyes heavenward “Mama, that forsaken corner of the earth is practically opposite your own house.” I pointed out
“God forbid.” She sniffed “We are closer to civilization!
I laughed gently. We had been whispering so as not to disturb the sleeping babies.
She bent over the cot and gazed at the sleeping baby “sleeping beauty” she cooed “oh she’s so beautiful! How could anyone throw you away sweetheart?” I felt my chest constrict as she went on “and such a beauty too. We’ll have to stop thinking and actually go get that gun hmm? Sweetie pie… those boys will not be able to stay away will they?” and she went on cooing to the sleeping baby for a few more minutes before she turned and sat on the extra chair next to me.
I blinked the tears away from my eyes and bowed my head. I did not know how I was going to bear losing this girl. I felt my mum’s fingers as she lifted my chin and stared into my eyes.
“Baby girl,” she began gently “do you know what you are doing?”
I sighed. It was a question I had repeatedly asked myself and I still could not find an answer. “Ma, I know I only saw this girl for the first time in my life a few days ago, but I love her more than my life!” I said fiercely.
She kept my gaze for a while then nodded and let go of my chin. “You should have been a mother several times over by now.”
“Ma please I really don’t want to talk about that.” I pleaded.
She sighed to show she understood and stretched out her hand to take mine in hers. “What did the Social Welfare people say?” she asked
“Mrs Kalif said that they are looking for a wet nurse for her.”
“After that?” she prodded
“Then they will put her with a foster mother until they can find someone to adopt her.”
“Did you let her know you are interested in adopting the baby?
I nodded “But she said there are a lot of couples who have a stable home life and are desperate to adopt a baby. She said the waiting list is a mile long and I really should not get my hopes up.”
“Oh sweetheart.” She gently squeezed my hand “she is right you know.”
“I know ma, but shouldn’t there be an exception for someone who has first dibs? I found her ma!” I was almost wailing, but I kept my voice down.
“First dibs?” my mum asked with a frown “You do not get first dibs with a human being girl.” She scolded
I sighed “I know ma and I’m sorry. I’m just so discouraged.”
She used her free hand to pat my cheeks “chin up love, you will get through this.”
She was right. Whatever the outcome, I would get through it. But I would give it my best shot.