Celebrating East African Writing!
Half an hour later I was at the hospital’s reception area, the white walls adorned with uninspiring paintings needed a facelift. Hordes of journalists were there with their cameras and notepads. They saw me and made a rush, questions flying all over. How did they know me? I smiled politely, shook my head and moved past them to the smartly dressed uniformed hospital security guards. One of them blocked me.
“Where do you think you are going?” He thrust his chest forward, raised his chin to ear level and sneered at my small frame.
“I am David Mavita’s daughter,” I replied in a low tone. The guard straightened up and his look changed to amusement, his lips curling into a wry smile.
The shame of being a politician’s daughter had long worn off. The taunting and fights that I got into while in school had hardened me. I flashed my national ID and the guard let me in. I headed to the ICU on the left wing of the hospital. I obeyed the ‘Please switch off your phones’ sign.
He was there, a small curled up figure wrapped in the hospital’s green bed sheets. Winding tubes from Dad’s body to the noisy machines, in an otherwise serene atmosphere, dominated the room. A clipboard with a chart hung above his bed.
There was a tall, slim man in a white lab coat. Two nurses, dressed in blue pants and white tops, were hovering around Dad and monitoring the readings from the beeping machines.
“Hi,” I croaked.
The man turned and his quizzically furrowed forehead and raised eyebrow made me complete my introduction. “I am his daughter!”
The same pitiful look sprung from the three, the two nurses gawking shamelessly. I chose to ignore them. Dr. Katana. I read his name tag.
“Are you alone?” Dr. Katana asked. His mannerism – a slight bow and the gentleness in the voice- told me that he was a coastal person.
“For now, yes!”
Mum was in the USA with Jerry, our last born brother, who had stuck by Mum after my parents’ divorce seven years back. She had since severed all contacts with Dad and the rest of his family in Kenya. I, nevertheless, kept in touch sending endless emails that had never been answered. Joni, my other brother, was somewhere in Nairobi. I knew I could get him.
The doctor pulled me aside. “I need someone in the family to take legal responsibility of the situation.”
“You can talk to me now,” I told him. Silence. I could feel the wheels of decision churning noiselessly in his brain as he fixed an intent gaze on me.
The constriction in my chest became tighter. Was the situation that bad?
Several corridors and turnings later, we were in the doctor’s cramped office. He took a seat, so did I, opposite him.
My eyes did the talking.
“Okay,” he exhaled heavily. “Your dad is on life support. All his vital organs have failed. He was brought in too late, almost three hours after he was found collapsed in his room. Hypertensive stroke. Very very weak pulse. No fight.” The doctor’s baritone faded as he looked out of the curtainless square window into the distance.
“What do we do next?” I croaked, my bulging eyes certainly getting bigger.
“We need permission to switch off the machine,” he summarised. He showed me the forms.
“Give me today to round up the family,” I pleaded, the strength in me ebbing away.
After exchanging contacts with Dr. Katana, I exited via the back door. I needed to contact my brother Joni, my mum and Tim, my hubby. My head spun. A hurricane of emotions overwhelmed me and I had to force my feet to move.
I switched on my phones and again a flurry of messages bombarded my screens. I ignored them. I scrolled down the contact list and landed on Joni. I dialed but the response was a disappointing, ‘the number you have dialed is no longer in service!’ I tried mum’s number and again there was no response. Tim was also unreachable. I left voice messages for them.
I was home by 3pm and my first stop was my son’s bedroom. Pope had fallen asleep next to the box. Still dressed in his blue Spiderman pyjamas, I lifted him and gently put him on his wooden poster bed. He did not stir. I stole a glance at the bird. Possible.
“He did not eat enough,” the housegirl told me about my son. “How is mzee?” she inquired about my dad.
I shook my head, tears welling in my eyes. “Not good at all.”
She understood the mood and did not pursue the story. “You must eat!” she gently ordered me. I sat down and wolfed two platefuls.
“Has anyone come home?” I asked Mary. I was thinking more of the moral support from the neighbours.
“No.” I now was fully convinced about the ICC list was acting as a deterrent. Nobody wanted to be associated with those on the list.
I decided to make some calls. Dad’s older brother, Uncle Koech, was the first one.
“Hallo Uncle? This is Jackie, his honourable Mavita’s daughter! ” I piped.
“Dishonorable Mavita!” My uncle barked. “Ten million shillings of insurance money is what your father sold our parents for! Please do not call me again!” Click.
I knew of Dad’s problems with his siblings but I thought that in times such as these they would show more solidarity and less hostility. I decided to call Aunt Maureen, Dad’s younger sister. She had always been sensible.
“What can I do for you Jackie?” her voice was ice cold and impatient.
“It’s about Dad’s condition. He is in a coma…..” I did not get to complete my sentence.
“Your father, just like he has always been, is on his own. Having both our parents killed just because of money was sheer madness.” She hung up. Same frosty tone. I slowly sat down and stared at the blank TV screen. I decided to switch it on to catch up with the latest.
The newscaster sounded excited. “A politician, Thao Matek, whose name was adversely mentioned in the 2007 election violence, was found dead in his home today……
“An ex-minister, David Mavita Mingi is currently in a coma at the ICU of Kenya Hospital. Reliable sources indicate that the former minister is on life support.”
“Another politician has been stopped at the Ugandan border disguised in a bui bui.”
The images of the dead, displaced people, machete-wielding youth, and hacked limbs dominated the TV screen. It was depressing.
“Muuuuuum!” Pope’s scream startled me. Was that a tinge of excitement at the edge of his voice? A breakthrough?
I rushed to his room.
“Look, it’s twitching!” Thrill. The feeling of watching the sun rise early in the morning with the promise that the day would be warm.
“Time for you and your bird to eat,” I told Pope as I excused myself from the house to go and continue with my search for my brother. It was almost 7pm.
….to be continued.
© Clifford Oluoch. See more of Clifford Oluoch’s work here
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