My ojek (motorbike taxi) driver thought I was pregnant the other day.
‘Aww, Miss! You’re carrying a baby?’ he cooed as he pulled up, gesturing to my stomach.
I clambered onto the back of the motorbike and locked my helmet in place, debating.
‘I knew it! How many months, Miss?’
Fuck. What number should I give him? Clearly I’m showing so I can’t be less than three, but surely I can’t look as big as seven?
My newfound pregnancy was news to me. I thought I had just merely had a huge dinner of rice and cap cay and was wearing a more mature, you’ve-got-it-together wrap dress, not that I had a little bun in the oven. Although I’ve become used to people offering me credit cards and Sky TV with this dress, this was the first time I’d ever been considered a mother. Or at least had it said vocally.
‘Is it a boy or girl, Miss?’
‘I don’t know actually, my husband and I want to keep it a surprise.’
Because you know, whilst I was creating a baby, I might as well create a husband too. Embellish the story a bit more.
‘Ahh, that’s good.’
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So why did I lie about being pregnant? I can tell you exactly why I lied about being pregnant, and it’s because when I was about 14 in school, I thought a teacher was pregnant too. Excited for her, I asked enthusiastically when she was due and was horrified when she said, ‘I’m not pregnant.’ I felt even more awful when she started frantically offering up the reasons for her stomach, listing off her medical conditions and how they affect her, etc. She was mortified, I was mortified, and subsequently from that day I learned to never enquire if someone was pregnant without 100% knowing it first.
So I lied because I wanted to spare us both the embarrassment, even though I found the whole thing amusing. Hell, I even tipped the guy at the end because he was driving so carefully over the bumps and insisted he take me as close to home as he could – not an easy task with all of the barriers that surround our area. The only thing I was concerned about was the fact he told the guards I’m carrying, so I hope they’re not expecting a baby to pop out in four months and then ask me where s/he is when s/he inevitably doesn’t arrive.
‘You gave him a tip, why!?‘ was one horrified colleague’s comment when I mentioned what had happened the next day. The other women showed me their stomachs and told me ‘well, if you’re pregnant, then wtf am I?’ whilst the men just laughed. Even my partner had laughed on the phone, so let me tell you I’m lucky I’m fairly body neutral* because otherwise this would’ve been a terrible moment for my mental health, as well as clearly suggesting that my going to the gym four times a week is doing nothing for me (even if it is).
I thought it was entertaining though, even if a week later a colleague asked me if the particular dress I was wearing that day was the one I was wearing when I was considered pregnant.
‘Because pregnant women like to wear those kind of baggy dresses to hide their bellies. Are you sure you’re not having a baby?’ He teased.
‘Yes, I’m sure,’ I laughed, but damn, I genuinely wondered afterwards for a bit if I actually was.
(I’m not, Dad, don’t worry).
*Not quite body positive but not body negative either.