"Do you want that I give you this baby?" Either she's a mind reader or I should be a fortune teller. Or maybe it was just a weird coincidence.
"Huh? Uh, no..." I laughed awkwardly. How do you respond to that?
"You are supposed to buy bread" she replied.
"You are supposed to buy bread for the baby."
"I don't have any money and I don't know where I would buy bread" I said, gesturing around the ward, "I'm sorry."
"Do you have nan?"
"Like pre-nan?" I said, referring to the baby formula used by the hospital.
"Yes, do you have nan?"
"No, I'm just volunteering here. I don't have anything." I walked away and pretended to be busy writing in my notebook.
A few minutes later she sent a little boy over to get my attention. I didn't want to be rude, so I walked over to her.
"I want to ask you a question" she said when I got close enough to hear her.
"OK." What now?
"I want you to visit my baby."
"Where is your baby?" What was she talking about?
"She is in the nursery." At this point it became evident that she was not a mother of one of the malnourished children. The only explanation for her presence in the ward was the TV she was watching.
"Oh, I have to stay here today. I'm working here" I said, waving my hand around the room. "Why do you want me to visit her?"
"I want you to greet her."
"Oh OK. Well I have to stay here. Maybe if you bring her here later I can greet her."
"Sawa" she replied, meaning OK in Kiswahili.
Mwanafunzi looked skeptically at the women over his shoulder as I walked towards him.
"What did these women ask you?" I explained to him what had happened and he raised his eyebrows as he responded, "They asked if you wanted a baby?"
"No, they asked if I wanted that baby."
Mwanafunzi laughed and shook his head. Flies gathered on his back as he leaned over the white cart which doubles as a desk and file cabinet. They formed moving polka dots on his white lab coat.