(Continued from A Heart of Flesh III)
“Rose? Anne?” a man asks as he draws close to them. Anne has already calmed down and they have been standing in silence for the last five minutes, each one of them lost in her own thoughts.
“Doctor Stephen! What a pleasant surprise!” Rose replies.
“Hello Rose, Anne. What are you two doing here at this time of the night?”
“There is a boy we have brought here. As you know, our house back there is on fire.”
Stephen Adika nods. He was the superintendent of Kanyenje Health Centre before he was booted out by Fancy. Actually, his was a very humiliating experience. He is a senior doctor and a consultant pediatrician. He was one of the many senior doctors that Gitonga had tapped to head the health centres. Stephen is a hardworking man. In addition to his administrative duties at the health centre, he was also actively seeing patients. When children were brought to the health centre with illnesses that COs weren’t sure how to deal with, they always knew that they could send them to Dr. Adika.
Dr. Adika is a tall, thin man with a protruding Adam’s apple and sunken cheeks. He is bald, and the tufts of hair on the sides of his head are sprinkled with grey. He is not the kind of man you would think at first glance that children would be comfortable around. But in reality children like him a lot and quickly, and that is because he has a charming smile that immediately puts one at ease and makes you forget his severe physical features. His smile radiates warmth from deep within his eyes. He has a deep and raspy voice that sounds musically beautiful when accompanied by his charming smile.
When Fancy took over as Governor, she replaced all these senior doctors with younger men that she could control. In essence, Dr. Adika and his colleagues would have to report to medical officers they had been mentoring before Fancy took over. That was not all, these younger superintendents made it their business to humiliate their former bosses whenever they got a chance.
It did not help matters that Gitari, the new CEO of the County Referral Hospital, is an arrogant and utterly corrupt fellow whose only job experience was as a stage manager for a matatu Sacco. True, he has a Bachelor’s degree in commerce and claims to be pursuing his masters; but the man he replaced, Dr. Kobia, was an established executive. Dr. Kobia had a Bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery, a Master’s degree in internal medicine and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Before coming to the County hospital, Dr. Kobia had been the Deputy Country Director of the Association of Pan-African Doctors.
Dr. Adika and his fellow senior doctors are proud professionals, and they did not take it kindly when the new crop of administrators started trashing their professionalism. One by one they fled the county hospital and its satellite health centres, knowing that with their impeccable credentials they would not be jobless for long. Today the entire county health care system does not have even a single consultant doctor, but more tragically, that fact does not seem to bother the Governor or his clueless CEC-Health.
“Yeah I do remember that it was a furnace back there. You are still there?”
“I was until this evening. I have just been fired.”
“Why have they fired you?”
“I brought this patient here contrary to the instructions I had been given.”
“Makali wanted you to take the boy to his clinic.”
“You got that right. But it is all fine, because I have not even received my salary for the last three months.”
“And you Anne, have you been fired as well?”
“Not really. But I probably will be when he realises that I accompanied Rosemary here.”
“Look, I think I can help you get out of that place, if you wish.”
“I am already out but I will appreciate the help,” Rosemary says. Adika smiles kindly.
“I was hired by this hospital as a consultant pediatrician, and I know they are always looking for experienced and committed staff. I am actually going to see the CEO right now, so I will convince him to hire the two of you. I will call you in the morning to inform you about his decision. Would you like that?”
“Of course yes,” Rosemary says. Anne simply nods her head.
“You don’t even want to know how much they will pay you?”
“I know you are a good man, doctor. And if you think the package they give wll be adequate, then I trust that. Besides, I am officially jobless so I can’t afford to be choosy.”
“Actually, this hospital pays as well as the county. They usually want the very best, and they are prepared to pay for them. We can talk more about that after I have talked to the CEO. But I want you to report to Kanyenje Health Centre first thing in the morning.”
“I want you to collect your dismissal letters. That will help you to sue the county government. My colleagues and I have discovered that we made a mistake by resigning. We should have waited to be fired, because that was surely coming, and we would have sued Fancy and her cronies for unfair dismissal. It is one way of fighting the impunity that is going on in that county. The good thing is that the judiciary is not devolved.”
“Okay, we will go to the health centre in the morning. Hopefully Makali will come to the health center in the morning and fire us.”
“He will be there, I can assure you of that. He is a very vindictive man and will be waiting eagerly to humiliate you. You can take that to the bank.”
Dr. Adika wishes them goodnight and then departs to see the hospital director and CEO, who had asked to see him before heading home. Shortly thereafter, Mark’s uncle emerges from the hospital and tells them that Mark had been admitted and that his mother would stay with him.
“Okay then. Can I give you a ride home?”
“I will be most grateful, daktari. Actually, just take me to the health centre so that I can take my motorcycle.”
“Hop in then.”
Rosemary drives back to Kanyenje, drops off the man at the health centre and then takes Anne to her apartment before going to her own.
Rosemary wakes up feeling refreshed. Adika’s job offer is putting a spring on her step, even though it has not been confirmed. She knows that her brother might not approve, because he wants her to remain a missionary at Kanyenje, but she cannot continue fighting a losing war. Besides, she has been fired, and there is nothing she can do about that. It is not like she can employ herself at the health centre. She takes a shower, dresses and takes breakfast. She decided that she would not go to the hospital at 5 am, having worked for almost fifteen hours yesterday.
She is just heading out when someone knocks on her door. She opens it and is surprised to see two police officers standing there.
“Are you Rosemary Gatakaa?” one of them asks.
“Yes I am,” she replies, puzzled. She does not see why uniformed-and armed-police officers would visit her.
“We need you to follow us to the police station.”
“Why, is there a problem?”
“We need you to follow us to the police station,” the officer reiterates.
“What is this about?”
“It is about the young man you left to bleed to death at the health centre yesterday,” the second police man says bluntly. “You are under arrest for the murder of John Mwingu.”
“What are you talking about? There was no such young man at the health centre yesterday.”
“You will tell that to the judge, not to us.”
Before she can say more, she is manhandled out of the house. They do, however, allow her to lock the door before roughly leading her to the police van. Nobody talks on the way to the police station. When they get there, she is horrified to learn that there is a whole family there making statements to the effect that they had taken their kin to the health centre and that she and Anne had left him to bleed to death on the benches of the health centre.
Dr. Makali has made a statement saying that he had been seeing a patient at the referral hospital the whole day and that nobody had informed him about the young man until it was too late. He said that he was later informed that the COs and nurses were absent from duty without reason and promised to crack the whip on them. He also said that he was informed that Rosemary and Anne were the only ones at the clinic when the young man was brought, and that they had criminally left the young man to die.
As she is led to the cells, Rosemary panics. It is clear that there is a well-planned conspiracy to send her and Anne to jail. There is what appears to be overwhelming evidence of her guilt, and she is certain that a doctored post-mortem report will be produced against them in court. The stacks are solidly against her and Anne.
When she gets to the cell, she finds Anne already there, crying. But this time Rosemary doesn’t have the strength to comfort her younger friend. Instead, she breaks down and also starts crying.
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