years I’d given her enough? Was early death preferable to sinking into a
childless and bitter middle age?
Linked to these, the big ones: What is the measure of a life? Can it
be counted in years? Achievements? Family? Respect? In stubborn persistence?
What is it all about anyway? Why are we here?
It is 1998. Gossip seeps through the village: People say Jamilla is having
abortions. Multiple abortions. She has been “moving” with James for
three years, yet no child has come. What other explanation could there
Suspecting that Jamilla’s aunts are involved with this rumor, I take
Jamilla and one of Boris’s sisters to see Dr. Gyader, the head of Wa Hospital. He explains, for twenty minutes, in terms they can grasp, exactly
what has happened. He is explicit: Jamilla has not been having abortions.
She has no uterus. She cannot conceive. She will never bear a child.
Do they understand?
Jamilla and her aunt nod, dry-eyed, yes. They are strong women; they
can take what fate throws at them.
Back home, afterward, Jamilla sits on the edge of her bed staring out
the small window of her room. I go in and sit next to her. I take her in my
arms, and we weep for things that cannot be mended but only endured.