By Tafi Mhaka
Cynthia is a 27-year-old lady who lives in Bulawayo and although she has a loving family and a respectable job, Cynthia is single and lonely. That excruciating lonesomeness is beginning to cause her sleepless nights and endless anxiety. Cynthia needs a man whom she finds desirable to sleep with, not because she requires romance in her life: Cynthia wants to have a baby.
She wants that man in her life for one night of warm workmanship and single-minded sexual intercourse so she can conceive her baby. She wants a sperm donor; and no, a fertility facility is not an option: her immediate family will not support artificial insemination.
So Cynthia needs somebody whom she could wine and dine if she had to. Preferably, somebody, she knows on a personal basis. Somebody, she knows tremendously well. So she has asked James, an ex-boyfriend of hers, to father her first baby.
James is rather uncomfortable about her unusual request – he has a girlfriend whom he is committed to and Cynthia knows about this relationship. But Cynthia wants a baby, just a baby. Her mind is made up: her baby will not have the benefit of a full-time biological father in her household. Not in the short-term or long-term. Not ever. That is, with any luck, her grand plan for James: her future baby daddy.
Should James rise to the challenge and fulfil his contractual and manly obligation would both parties abide by the basic rules of non-engagement though and not catch feelings for each other? Perhaps the subtleties of planning to have a child free of romantic attachment are not problematic and Cynthia is simply being practical about childbirth?
Why should romantic idealism and hard-to-keep promises hamper the making of human life after all? Nonetheless, has Cynthia exhausted all her probabilities of meeting Mr Right himself? If at all he exists somewhere. She could spend Fridays and Saturdays out and about with family and friends meeting new people and mingle with worthy bachelor’s at the local church on Sunday mornings.
That could be the best solution to her baby-making dilemma, but certain people claim meeting a potential match on Tinder is theoretically better than doing so in real life. So if all else were to fail, Cynthia could go online and find herself a real stud to charm.
Could this, however, signal the beginning of an age where children are born through business-like scenarios and relationships morph into cold and calculated and quick-ending affairs? Picture a world where warm hugs and long kisses and late-night WhatsApp love notes will be undesirable after the baby making business is done. Yet what would happen if James somehow developed strong emotions for Cynthia and her newborn baby?
Having a baby is a very special experience and close bonds formed through childbirth are so phenomenally intense and personal, disappearing forever after the child has been born could be near impossible when Facebook and Twitter and instant messaging platforms are ever-present.
Life could also become complicated one day when the baby asks about his or her father. How will Cynthia explain that she merely required a brief sexual release from James? And will poor James be obliged to become an absent but acknowledged biological father since Cynthia never had him in her plans all along?
Men have long been highly skilful at becoming hard-to-find disappearing acts whenever two red lines appear moments after an anxious home pregnancy test has been completed. But Cynthia is changing the game big time, this time. Call her the chief vanishing act in this baby drama: she is the real player.
Still, what if she wants another child three years later, but James has moved on and married his girlfriend and has had his second baby? Will Cynthia send James a friend request on Facebook and follow him on Twitter or call him – or will she find an alternative male candidate for her second bundle of joy? Whomever Cynthia chooses to have a baby with, will her independent-minded action be a miserable denunciation of men and modern relationships or a joyful climax for female empowerment in 2017?
And exactly how will Cynthia benefit from this hands-off approach to building a family? She will not have to worry about James cheating on her with another woman for one. Marital infidelity will be a non-issue in this relationship and exclusivity will remain foreign to her needs. But romance and sexual freedom are must-haves in her life. Two: Cynthia will not have to worry about becoming a victim of spousal abuse and bearing the brunt of male aggression and anger and mind games right in her own home.
Three: Cynthia will not have to worry about meddlesome and talkative in-laws and friends and remaining devoted to an unfulfilling and stressful relationship. So she will also not have to give a damn about people she really does not know or care about honestly. What is more, if she bagged a new job in Cape Town this week, she would not have to consider somebody else’s employment situation or precious happiness before accepting or rejecting the offer.
Perhaps love can conquer all and move partners and spouses to overlook common human deficiencies and faults and challenges in long-lasting unions. Yet not everyone buys into the idyllic notion of romance. Or rather: not every beautiful baby, or happy family, comes after a long and formulaic relationship.