Celebrating East African Writing!
The time she had received a phone call that Richard had been involved in a grisly road accident and was admitted in a hospital, it seemed the world had stopped spinning for Rose and she had sat staring blankly in the space digesting at the news when this mysterious caller, for though he was using Richards cell phone, had ended off by telling her that his life was not in danger and that he was recovering sufficiently to be discharged in a few days.
That had somehow lifted her spirits up, for she had apprehensions that the awkwardness in the callers speech concealed what she feared most and her pressing on for further details was rebuffed off for the caller insisted that Richard would be more than happy if she in person would pay him a visit to the hospital duringvisiting hours the next day.
What the caller had told her, for he never he never gave her his name – she could make out it was a male’s voice – was that Richard had been admitted to the General Hospital, which was also the provincial referral hospital, in the last four days and as such he was calling to inform her that Richards forthcoming visit, which was slated on for tomorrow, would not be and that Richard was sorry and had not been able to inform her following this sad fate.
Rose was downcast. She had planned to surprise Richard in a way that would have endeared her to him. She looked at the gift box containing what she thought was a unique gift containing what a man could receive from a woman and that had seen her sacrifice the whole of her monthly pay to buy it and now which was resting atop a stool in her rental room awaiting for tomorrow, the surprise day, when her fiance of long standing would come calling … but fate had dealt him a cruel blow and in reversal, its her that would be seeing him at the hospital tomorrow and ….
For starters, it occurred to her that she would bring him a cheer. Why not take the gift box with her, for it would deeply communicate what woulds would not convey in his present situation. Why not? Surely, it would more than cement their current relationship that had withered severe storms, for apart from subject of gossips and innuendos hurled their way, was envied by many a hanky pranky.
They had been in this relationship for the past three years, though frosty at times but not as appallingly as the rumor mills made it sound.
Rose works in a beautician shop. She remembers that time back when a total well groomed stranger had walked into the shop. He looked like the type found in glamour magazines and had introduced himself as working with an insurance company and as thus, was hawking the company’s latest product; offering the ordinary man in the street with an affordable insurance package and demistfying the myth that its the moneyed type that could only be covered.
She had been taken by the man’s pursuasive speaking manners. He had a way with words that drew people to him as a lamp does to moths and before she knew it, she had a crush on him that she found herself asking for his phone number for, as she said, she’d be delighted if the man would tell her in person what the insurance scheme entailed at more appropriate time for her hands were full then. Mr Perfect Magazine cut man had obliged.
And she had called at most mundane hours at night and the two had chatted on and on and it didn’t take long for the duo to have a fancy on each and before they knew it, they were dating.
He would come to her workplace with the company car during lunch hours and take her to luncheons where he would treat her to mouth watering hor’s d’oeuvres or sometimes at the weekends he would take her to picnics or amusement places.
Then one day, she did what she still considers a cardinal sin by proposing to him and he was silent for so a long time as though hit by an apoplectic axe and she was in the process of apologizing when he let out a great guffaw of laughter and had hugged her but had said nothing. This though had gladdened her but he still had not given her an answer.
Then a few weeks back, he had surprised her by taking her to a mall where he had bought her an expensive dress suit, the kind she had regarded as that attired by the society’s bourgeoisie wives. That had lifted her morale a nadir high.
When morning came, Rose busied herself with the preparations of going to see Richard in the hospital. She looked her feminine best with the dress suit attire with a matching handbag that she carried the gift with and with a spiked hair style.
Richard lay on his back staring at the ceiling. His head was swathed with bandages that were ringed about like a giant turban. the left hand was in plaster cast and an intravenous drip ran to his right arm where it connected with a vein. He did not recognize his visitor until she softly whispered to him.
He smiled at her weakly and through labored speech filled her with details. The company car that he had been driving was crushed to smithereens by a twenty four wheeler truck but he had managed to escape with his life.
It was while preventing herself from crying that Rose had showed him the gift she had brought him and he motioned to her to open it to him and she obliged.
A brand new pair of alligator skin shoes.
Richard smiled at her but shook his head sadly. “I’ll never be able to put them on,” he said.
“Its a gift … a gift to you. I had hoped you would come wearing them after your recovery,” Rose said.
A sad tear rolled from Richard’s eye. “I’m sorry you had to go to that length to waste your money, but I’ll never be able to put them on.”
Rose was copiously weeping. He motioned her to pull the sheet covering his lower body back which she did.
It was then she got the horror of life. Richard’s right leg was amputated from his thigh.
“And I’ll be wheelchair bound the rest of my life,” he said
© Paul Kariuki 2010
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