The Latest Love of My life
I stare at her, a warm feeling moving through my body. Her tiny fingers curled around my big ring finger. She has fallen asleep while poking various parts of my face and hand to check if I was really playing peek-a-boo or if I had truly fallen asleep. Earlier, she had refused her bedtime bottle, and I hadn’t had the heart to make her stop squirming out of my lap so I could give her the bottle.
I watch her fuss a bit making sounds only she and her creator can understand. Every attempt to make her lie down has been thwarted thus far. It is way past her bedtime and if I don’t take action it will only get worse. I pretend to huff and puff for a few seconds in the same way she does when she can’t get her adults’ attention. I pique her interest. I lie down, cover my entire body, including my head, with my comforter. I lie very still waiting to see her next move.
I feel her crawl over and slowly start pushing the comforter away from my face. Discovering my shut eyes and limp arms she proceeds to poke at first my eyes, then my nose, and finally my fingers. She settles on my ring finger and grabs it firmly. She finally lowers her body next to my pillow still holding on to my ring finger. I watch her clementine-sized hand clasp my finger for dear life. She begins to make soft chewing sounds until her breathing evens out and her body goes completely still.
Afraid to wake her, I lie for a good fifteen minutes before I move.
When I move I discover the most beautiful scene: her perfectly-shaped round head crowned with ten round balls of hair that her mother has so meticulously carved out; her tiny lips which pursed together can’t be more than a half-inch wide; her flat nose that earlier had made me question my mother about using hot water to “shape” it. (People who think all is lost because I am “so dark,” comment that “at least you have the white nose.” Hey! I want my niece to have a chance.)
I stare. She is stunning, exquisite, even as I worry about her flat nose.
I watch her and feel the glow take over my body. It’s intense. This is what they mean when they say, “it’s different when it’s your own.” The love is instant, exact, overwhelming and exciting all at once. There is nothing she needs to do to win my love. Although she is not from my womb I feel that bond between aunt and niece and I realize that it is possible to have this amazing feeling change my mind about these little presents from the gods and ancestors. (Mind you, not to have one of my own, but rather to protect her fiercely and vow to inflict harm on anyone who dares hurt her.) I’ve never felt this way before.
I tell her mom, I want her to sleep with me. She warns that she doesn’t sleep through the night. I laugh. I’m ready for this I say confidently to not betray my inner doubts. Since it’s my first time meeting her and her last night visiting at my mom’s, I know I need to seize the opportunity. I want to seal the bond even more. I, the cynic, decide to share a bed with a baby not quite a newborn, but also not quite my preferred kindergarten-aged children with whom I can carry on conversations. A baby in the in-between stage of developing her identity. But this one is different because she is mine.
I watch as she stirs every so often and mumbles in her sleep. I want to arrange her head more comfortably on the pillow but I am scared to wake her. I just pray she is comfortable and sleeping well.
She is beautiful. She is mine. I am fiercely attached to her and it’s only been six hours since meeting her.
(PS. She did wake up screaming for her mother around 2 am. I was petrified thinking it was something I’d done. Her mother came to claim her. I tried to go back to sleep, but thoughts of what had just transpired got me out to bed to write. What you have read is the product of my 2am epiphany.)
(PSS. I chose to make this my first post of the New Year because I hope to spend more time with Kuku (she is my namesake too!) as soon as I have the chance. To love her is my New Year’s Resolution. To be a better lover and protector to those I am in relationship with, but especially to those who have no way of immediately reciprocating this gesture, is my NYR.)
Afehyia Pa o! Afe si sei d3m na wo p3 nyina ay3 hƆ
Afi o Afi. Afi be n3 nƆ f33 nƆ ni ka otwi nƆ eba min
Hapy New Year. A year from today, may all your wishes have come true (loosely translated)
Basically you say Happy New Year then you say, “a year from now ________(fill in the blank with whatever you wish to personalize it)