So, Mrs Tex recently had a baby. Habemus nueva Texina – dodgy Latin for we have a new Texina. After delivery, we were moved into a recovery ward. 6 women in the room, with their baby-daddies (“partners” is the politically correct term in England) and frequently wailing babies, each couple with its unique story, from my perspective, at any rate.
The couple beside us on the first day (we were there for 48 hours or so), appeared to be a (British?) man of Arabic descent and a woman who sounded eastern-European. They stood out, not because I am xenophobic, but because I noticed after a while that they were communicating in heavily accented English, like in Maria de Los Angeles or one of those Hollywood movies set in Germany, in which all the officers of the Reich speak in a thick German accent, the thickness being directly proportional to the proximity of the officer from the Fuhrer. The other foreign couples only spoke English to the nurses. It was for this reason that I noticed them and started paying attention to their conversations. Their most remarkable exchange was when he asked her, for the umpteenth time apparently, “Are you alright?” She retorted angrily in her thick accent “Every time you ask if I alright!! What you want me to say??? Ugh!” And then she walked out and left him with the baby for a bit.
Then there was the Yoruba couple, like us, across from us. Except that the just-delivered mum wasn’t too happy with her partner. How could I tell? Well, she had this very loud conversation on the phone, in Yoruba, complaining bitterly. Husband’s name has the same intonation as Rotimi, Kayode, Bidemi. Shall we call him Deremi? Conversation and a contextual translation for non-speakers of Yoruba are provided below.
|E wo, inu mi o dun si Deremi joo. O ti lose spark e as a husband.||Look, Deremi’s bloody pissing me off right now. Carries on like he has no clue about being a husband anymore.|
|Ko ki n ba mi se anything mo. Ko ti e ki n help mi rara.||The man does nothing to help me around the house. Nothing!|
|Shebi bi mo se n s’ise l’oun naa n s’ise. Meanwhile, ko ni fun mi l’owo anything.||We both work, don’t we? Yet he doesn’t give me a bleeding penny.|
|Maa lo si’bise, maa s’obe fun’le, maa we f’awon omo then, to ba d’ale, a wa ni ki n lie down s’ori bed…||I go to work, come back and cook, bathe the kids and then at night the plonker wants a shag…|
Yeah, very colourful. Moving on now to the most interesting couple we shared the ward with. I shall use their real names because they sounded middle-class (why then were they in a public hospital?) and the chances that they’ll read this blog post (it’s not from the Economist or Horse & Hound) by an inconsequential African are slim. So, meet Matthew and Alice of posh street, South Kensington.
Matthew and Alice had twin girls, who we shall call Bethany and Margaret. Having Matthew and Alice in the next cubicle was like being next to Boris Johnson and Lady Thatcher. Strong, affirmative, cultured language and, to my constant amusement, the most officious (almost pretentious) manner of speaking to each other. When they arrived (they took over from the Arab/Romanian couple), they came in congratulating each other.
“I do say, Alice, that was quite a stunning, five-star performance, you having the twins. Well, done!”
“No Matthew, indeed, it is you who are the star of the show, with your unwavering support for me these past months.”
Ho, Hum, La, Dee, Da. Then they settled in and Matthew picked up Bethany, who apparently was already his favourite, as he never really mentioned or spoke to Margaret. “I simply adore you Bethany, you precious little sausage, you. A priceless sausage you are!” And then he proceeded to call her a sausage for the next hour. Lovely sausage this, pretty sausage that, Ho, Hum, La, Dee, Da.
Eventually, Matthew’s upper-crustedness kicked in and, unlike us plebs and foreigners, he wouldn’t spend the night on a hospital chair beside his wife. “I feel awful at leaving,” he said, “but I don’t think I really could stay, could I? I’ll be back first thing in the morning. A million thanks again for being such a smashing champion.”
“No Matthew”, she replied, “I would like to reiterate my appreciation of your care and attention. You’ve been wonderful.”
I swear she said reiterate. To her husband. Reiterate. Ho, Hum, La, Dee, Da.
When he arrived the next morning, she said “I’m afraid I’ll have to put you on nappy duty straightaway.”
“Grrrrrrreat! I thought so. Ah, Bethany’s done a poo. A super poo! She’s a super pooper. Super pooper, super pooper.”
Later, the doctors gave the twins their first physical exam, after which Alice informed Matthew “The twins have passed their first tests with flying colours!”
“O!M!G! Smashing!!!” said Matthew. I saw him do the running man, in my mind’s eye.
Alas, we were discharged and saw no more of the diamonds in the rough. I could probably do 500 more words on Matthew and Alice.