Chiku couldn’t help stare at the large bulge that was Rebecca’s baby-to-be. It made her reflect upon the gynecological exam Dr. Kessel had just given her. At sixteen, she couldn’t imagine being anyone’s mother, except maybe a chimpanzee’s. Rebecca was only fourteen, an eighth grader back home, a middle schooler. How could she be a mother? Yet even in wealthy well-educated America girls in their mid-teens were getting knocked up all the time, having their babies, and changing their lives in ways unpredictable and permanent. Not Chiku. Boys could go to hell.
“When was the last time you saw him?” Chiku asked.
“Two week. Three week. He ask me how my baby doing. I tell him, fine. He give me twenty francs. He always give me money.”
“And that was it?” Chiku gazed at Tim who was still holding all of the things she had given him from her buried stash. “What about Dr. Fisher? Do you know why he’d be in my dad’s house?”
Rebecca dipped her head in thought then gave out with a startled grunt as the baby inside her gave a hefty kick. “Soon,” she said, “Any day my Abasi.” Then she staggered against Chiku.
“You okay? Maybe she’s coming out now.” Chiku was aghast.
“No. No. He. Not yet. No water.”
“Well, you can’t stand here. You have to sit, Rebecca. In the shade.”
Chiku pulled the pregnant girl into the cooler cover of the banana tree. “You want water? Something to drink?”
Rebecca leaned against the tree rather than risk getting herself into a position from which she couldn’t rise. She panted, holding a hand against her belly, Chiku watching that hand move not of its own volition but due to the child inside raring to get going with life.
Not for me, Chiku thought.
Rebecca said, “I okay.”
“When the water break, then we know.”
“Know what?” Chiku asked.
“That the baby is coming,” Tim said. He placed his hands on his friend’s shoulders. They were trembling as if she were the one about to go into labor. “Honestly, Chiku, what do they teach you in Brookline, Massachusetts?”
“How to avoid reality.”
Chiku took Rebecca’s hand. It was cool and sweaty and on her ring finger she was wearing something that looked awfully familiar to Chiku. “Nice,” she said. “Amethyst. My color. My ring, actually. How’d you get it?”
“Your father give me.”
“Cool. It matches your dress.”
Chiku didn’t care that it was an old ring, one that she had either lost or forgotten some distant time in the past and that probably couldn’t even fit her fingers anymore. She just wondered why her father would have given this particular girl this particular ring.
“I think they kill him,” she said.
“What?” Chiku’s eyes darted from the purple colored ring to the black face of the Hutu teenager.
“They were mad mad.”
“Fisher. Your father. Dr. Kessel. They all mad. And the others.”
“What others?” Chiku asked. “Does Colonel Fundanga know?”
“Colonel Fundanga one of them,” Rebecca said. “I keep quiet. Bad enough in the camp. I don’t want to die.”
Rebecca let out a long breath, took in a deep mouthful of air, and let out her discomfort once again. Then she smiled at Chiku before saying, “They come for you next. You his daughter.”
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Genre - Young Adult
Rating – PG
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