I ducked into the alley between the aluminum booths at the Ugandan market. A sign pointed: "Antiques." It should have read, "Miracles."
I didn’t know what I was looking for, just that I’d know when I saw it. I wanted something irreplaceable and perfect – something to remind me of my work with refugees, and of the woman that this dirty, relentless and fulfilling work had made me.
I crept farther down the alley, to a curious shop that heaved, floor to ceiling, with statues.
"Do you have any statues of women?" I asked. The owner showed me a few. They were interesting, but not right. Suddenly, he lit up.
"I know the one!"
He dragged out a heavy trash bag, diving headfirst into the plastic. A minute later, he emerged with a mud-covered chunk of wood.
I brushed off dust and old mud. Underneath, I found a woman carved atop a big spoon, clutching her breasts. A diamond was carved onto her stomach. Her face looked sad and pained. It was the most beautiful and heart-wrenching expression I’d ever seen. It stole my breath.
Yes. I had felt that facial expression before, after my surgery five months ago when the doctor told me I would never have children. No chance.
I bought the statue right away. No question.
As I left, the owner stopped me. He handed me a piece of paper. "Luba," it read. The name of the statue.
I carried my Luba the rest of the trip in my backpack and would not set her down. On the plan, I kept her in my chair with me. I couldn't stop staring at her. Her beauty was in her raw honesty.
I went home and hung up the Luba in my house.
Still intrigued, I decided to look up the word "Luba." I found pages about spirit cults and "medical and divination purposes." I gasped. I had bought a fertility doll.
The next day, I got pregnant.
Bettie Anne turned 1 on Monday. She has grown into a pure fireball. Strong and curious, starving to digest all of the magic of this world. I still find myself staring at her in awe and disbelief and goosebumps.
I had asked for something irreplaceable and perfect, and that is exactly what I got.
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