For Better, For Worse, Charlotte Basirika

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]This is one of the stories that came out of the  Writivism 2014, a  project of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, with the assistance of several partner organisations, which identifies, trains and engages readers and writers in public discourse through literature. As part of this years activities, they will have The Writivism Festival from 18 – 22nd June 2014. Like the Facebook page for more updates

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For Better, For Worse

Table set for romantic dinner, gorgeous form fitting dress, glorious aromas wafting in from the kitchen, baby fed and tucked in.

Now where was this wonderful man of hers? The telephone number you have called is not available. Thumb twiddling. She hears a car outside and goes to the window, but it is just Sam from across the road returning from work. High pitched squeals and giggles as he scoops his children up. They are good people, the Mukasas. His wife Rose is a warm kind lady.

7pm. He said he would be home for dinner. Calm down Liz. A watched pot never boils. She checks on the baby. Mickey is a reincarnation of his father. The chubby child who is just learning to get around on his feet – waddling like a dazed penguin – is in deep exhausted slumber. ‘Blessed Virgin of Fatima watch over my boy,’ she whispers as she pulls the covers tighter over him. The phone rings. Michael, finally! But no, the number is strange. The voice on the other end is impersonal but urgent. She should head to Mulago hospital immediately. Someone named Michael had listed her as next of kin. They would explain when she got there.

She picks up the baby and runs across the road, pounds on the door. “Rosie, please help me watch over Mickey for a while,” she says, shoving both baby and a bag of supplies into her confused arms. “It is Michael. I will explain when we get back.” She runs to her car mentally planning which route would have the least traffic. She abandons both thought process and car and settles for a boda-boda. Sam’s offer of a lift falls on deaf ears. She calls Michael’s mother during the ride.

‘Madam it is past visiting hours,’ says an indifferent nurse at the hospital front desk. “Names of the patient?” she continues without giving her a chance to explain. Liz hurriedly explains the strange phone call and the lady then directs her to follow the nurse who has just returned with a file. She is led down a maze of never ending corridors, beds, squeaky wheel chairs, clanking of food carts, nurses scurrying about, and bodies writhing in pain on the floors. She barely hears the explanation the nurse is offering in unaffected tones. “Truck. Lost control. Overturned. Hanging in there”. She feigns composure as the curtains are parted to reveal tubes, needles, beeping machines and her fiancé with limbs hoisted. He tries to sit up when he sees her. He winces. The nurse helps him back into the pillows, and steps out.

‘Lovely dress, Lizbeth, I would be winking if my eye wasn’t swollen shut,’ he rasps. She holds his hands and manages a laugh through tears. He smiles and asks her why she is being such a wimp. Didn’t she know he was Michael Omara the Lion of Teso? She should be the one reassuring him but the roles are reversed. “How is my little man? Still trying to climb onto everything?” he asks of his son. “Is it too soon to build him a tree house? Should I wait a little longer so we can build it together?” She simply squeezes his hand, perhaps a little tighter than she should. His breaths are now gasps. She rushes out to get a nurse. There is none in sight. She is frantically calling out for help. She bumps into a priest and gets an idea. She takes him back to the room.

Father John is bewildered. He sure has heard some strange requests in his day but this has got to top them all. Thankfully he has just administered penance to an elderly widow down the corridor so his holy water and prayer books are still with him. The priest asks if she’s sure and even the scoffing from the nurse, who has just arrived with Mike’s mother doesn’t deter her. It is a rushed ceremony, the scoffing nurse has spread the news and there is a small gathering in the tiny room. The vows are almost inaudible. The beeps slowly die out. Many struggle to maintain their composure.

*End*

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