(Continued from A Woman Scorned III)
“He is alive!” one of the cops says as they load him onto the police van.
“What do you mean he is alive?” another one asks.
“He has a pulse even though it is a weak one,” the youthful cop says, feeling proud that he has finally gotten a chance to use a line that he hears often in the movies. He always wanted to be a doctor but his grades in school did not allow.
“What is a pulse?”
“If you hold his hand here, you can feel blood pumping in his veins,” the youth says, holding the Bishop’s wrist.
“I don’t care whether blood is pumping or not. The guy is not breathing, and his heart is not beating so he is dead as far as I am concerned.”
“It is the heart that pumps the blood. So if you hold the hand you will feel his heart beat,”
“This man is dead, and if he is not dead, then he will die before we get to the hospital,”
“Let us take him to the hospital. If the doctors declare him dead, then fine. But let us assume he is alive, and rush him to hospital.”
“As you wish,” the older cop says.
Katheri Hospital is a small hospital that was founded three years ago by a retired surgeon, Dr. Phineas Ngugi and his late pediatrician wife, Dr. Salome Ngugi. They set up the facility when they retired from government service. Unfortunately, Salome died two years ago, leaving Phineas as the only doctor at the hospital. But their last born daughter Fridah graduated last year from Moi University with a degree in Medicine and Surgery. She did her internship at her father’s hospital and was licensed to practice medicine two months ago. Phineas also hired two more doctors this year, making it a total of four doctors. In addition, the hospital has 10 clinical officers and tens of nurses working under them.
Phineas owns a forty acre farm. He and his late wife Salome took loans in the course of their employment to buy and develop the farm. Their home sits on once acre of land. On one side of the house is a beautiful mausoleum that Phineas built for his late wife. They constructed rental houses on another acre of land, and this is where almost all the non-local staff at the hospital have rented apartments. Some of the younger local staff members of both the hospital and the farm seeking independence from their parents have also rented apartments there. The piece of land is divided into three parts: one side has one bedrooms and two bedrooms, another has bedsitters and the third one has single rooms and double rooms.
The hospital sits on ten acres, and the rest of the farm is used for commercial farming. The farm has grown over the years to become a thriving commercial enterprise. Phineas rears dairy cows, pigs, chicken, ducks, geese and rabbits. There are also two acres of grafted mango trees and two acres of avocado.
Phineas has three daughters. Karambu, the first born, runs the farm as the CEO because Phineas channels all his energies to the hospital. Karwitha is a gospel musician based in Nairobi. And Fridah is the doctor.
When the Bishop is brought by the police, it is Fridah who is on call. She glances at him and realizes instantly that she will need the help of her father. Having done her internship at this small hospital, she rarely encounters severe cases like these, so she finds them precious. They are her opportunity to learn from her old man.
“Rebecca, get me Dr. Ngugi,” she tells a nurse. “And you Joe, take the patient to the theatre. Rose, get the theatre ready. Allan, get me Dr. Auma,”
Dr. Auma is an anesthetist and one of the two doctors that Phineas hired this year. The sleepy hospital suddenly springs to life. The other patients, most of whom are not very sick, crane their necks to see what is going on. There are whispers as the patients, most of who are neighbours and know each other well, try to figure out who the patient could be.
“It must be Timotheo. I hear he has stomach cancer,” an old woman says.
“I thought it is his kidneys that were the problem?” a younger man asks.
“Yea, his kidneys have a problem but the cancer is the real challenge. I hear doctors have given him a month to live,”
“Doctors like playing God. What makes them think they know when someone will die?” another lady asks. She is a deacon in the local Presbyterian Church.
“I hear big hospitals in Narobi have these big machines called maran. You are put inside there are they can tell when you will die,” a local preacher called Jeremiah declares.
“God forbid. I wouldn’t get inside anything like that. God is the giver of life,” the deacon says piously.
“I think you are talking about MRI machines,” a young lady says. Her name is Kendi. She is a secondary school teacher and the daughter of Mwiandi and Gatune. Ever since she came back from University last year, all the young men in the village plus their mothers are jostling for her attention. There is general consensus that she will make a good wife.
“Yes those ones,”
“They cannot tell when you will die. Doctors only use them to tell where you are sick,”
Jeremiah is not convinced, but you do not argue with someone who has been to the University. So he holds his peace.
“Poor Timotheo. At least we have Phineas and his daughter. They will take care of him until the Lord calls him home,”
Phineas and his family are saints in Katheri, and for a reason. They pay NHIF monthly fees for all the poor residents of Katheri, so that all the Katheri residents are able to access medical care without paying anything, and without the hospital going bankrupt. In addition, many of the residents are employed either at the farm or at the hospital, and it is generally agreed that the Ngugis pay well. They are not exploitative. Plus, the Ngugis are humble people. They attend the local PCEA church, where Phineas is an elder and Salome was a member of the Woman’s Guild. They mingle freely with the local population and even their daughters do not have the airs associated with rich kids. In fact, Karambu is married to a local boy, a secondary school teacher and the son of Kiambi and his wife Gatiria. Because Kiambi and his wife are dirt poor, Phineas and Salome refused to take dowry from the boy, and told him to build a decent house for his parents instead. For these reasons, nobody speaks ill of the Ngugis in Katheri. The whole community mourned when Salome died.
“Timotheo died last night,” a man who has just arrived says. His name is Alfred and he is a local journalist. Nobody knows who he really works for. Some say he works for the Daily Nation, others say he works for the Standard. The school teacher once told Jeremiah that Alfred works for Freelance, and Jeremiah, being the village know it all, was too embarrassed to ask which newspaper that is, because that would be admitting that he has never seen it. But he spread the information anyway. So Alfred either works for the Nation, the Standard or for the Freelance. Probably all of them. He once told Jeremiah that he writes for all of them, provided they pay him. Jeremiah was puzzled. How do you work for multiple employers? Alfred was not born in Katheri but he knows everyone in Katheri and has been assimilated into the community. He says he is from Githongo, a neighboring village, but Jeremiah has his doubts. Alfred has rented a bedsitter at Phineas’ estate.
“Timotheo is dead? Poor soul. At least he has rested,” the deacon says. Nobody doubts what Alfred says because unlike Jeremiah, Alfred knows his stuff. He often says he is paid to know.
“If Timotheo is already dead, then who has just been brought?” Jeremiah asks.
“You haven’t heard?” Alfred asks, pretending to be stunned at their ignorance. He likes dazzling villagers with the latest gossip, because that makes him the centre of attention.
“Why don’t you just tell us?” he has forgotten all about the joint pains that kept him up the whole night yesterday.
“It is the famous Bishop that they have been looking for. The one who has been all over the news,”
“Jeremiah M’Ikiara,” a nurse calls out. It is Jeremiah’s turn to see the doctor. The preacher curses under his breath, then looks around to see if anyone else has heard the profanity. His church has twenty followers and he cannot afford to lose any of them. He founded The Grace of God International Ministries when he was kicked out of his position as the chairman of PCMF (Presbyterian Church’s Men Fellowship) and excommunicated after he disagreed with the church on doctrinal issues. He happened to have attended a conference hosted by an American televangelist and came back armed with a new gospel and a fire in his belly. He wanted to change PCEA’s theology but got excommunicated for his efforts. His church is not even registered with the Registrar of Societies, and the only international thing about it is the grace of God.
Jeremiah smiles sweetly at Mary the deacon. There are rumors that he seduces and sleeps with the widows in his church, but nobody has any proof. It is probably just malicious gossip by the local Presbyterian leadership.
“Sister Mary, you look more sick than I am. Why don’t you go in first?” he asks smoothly. He is not willing to miss out on the fresh gossip that Alfred has brought.
“We are following a line, Jeremiah. It is your turn,” the deacon replies. She is not willing to miss out on the gossip either. Jeremiah rises reluctantly and goes into the consultation room.
“Anyway, as I was saying, the man who has just been brought is the famous Bishop. Apparently he is Zakayo’s friend, so he came to hide here. But Zakayo didn’t want trouble so he told Tito, his farm manager, to call the Police. When the Bishop saw the police he ran to hide in the cowshed and a bull gored him to death. It is Tito who called me. I have tried to get the nurses here to talk to me but they are not talking. But the police officers have told me that the man is dead.”
“So if he is dead why were they running around? I even heard Fridah telling a nurse to call her father and tell another to prepare the theatre,” Kendi the school teacher points out.
“They probably wanted to do a post mortem. You know this is a high profile case so it has to be treated with care,”
That seems to satisfy his audience. Alfred, with nothing more to do at the hospital, runs to his apartment to hawk his story to the newspapers. This is a big one so he needs to sell it before anyone else gets a wind of it. If someone gets the word out on social media, the big media houses will be here with their big helicopters and high profile reporters. He needs to be the one who breaks out the story.
Shortly after Alfred files his story and it appears on the social media pages of the Daily Nation, the phones start ringing. Dorothy Kanini is the receptionist on duty at the hospital when the first call comes. The other receptionist has gone to the post office to get mail. There isn’t much to be done and the two agreed that Kanini could handle whatever calls and visitors the hospital receives. Kanini has been trying to get the latest gossip on the mysterious patient who was brought a while ago.
The people in the theatre have not yet come out, and nobody else seems to know anything, so Alfred’s account has more or less become the official story. Dorothy has even seen the story on the Daily Nation Facebook page, so it has to be true. She is itching to share the gossip with someone, but she is confined to her station at the front desk.
“Katheri Hospital, good morning?”
“Good morning. My name is Zack and I work for the Nairobi Tribune. I just need to confirm a few details,”
“I am not allowed to talk to the media,”
“Come on dear…I just want to verify a simple fact. I won’t even mention your name because I don’t know it. Come on, tell me…is it true that Bishop Kithinji is there and that he is dead?”
“I don’t know whether I should be speaking to you…”
“Come on darling. The story is already out. Nobody will ever know it came from you. I just need a confirmation,”
Dorothy glances about. There is nobody near. The patient’s waiting area was designed to be a distance from the reception area so that the receptionists could have some privacy while answering calls.
“Yes, he is here and he is dead. They are doing a post mortem now,”
“Who ordered the post mortem?”
“Look sweetheart, I just told you what I know. If you want more details you will have to ask the boss. But like I said, he is in the theatre,”
“Okay baby girl, you are such a doll,” Zack flirts with her for a few more minutes then hangs up.
By the time the other receptionist comes from the post office, Dorothy is having fun with the journalists on phone. She has decided she will only speak to the male ones and tries to gauge by their voices how they look like.
Katheri Police Station is also flooded with calls. Most of the senior police officers are away, probably running their matatu businesses and cutting deals with the local businessmen and farmers, so Corporal Mutwiri is the one who talks to the journalists. He picks the calls and simply tells them that the man was found dead, gored by a bull.
Within an hour of Alfred filing the story, it becomes Breaking News in all the leading stations. Most have sent their reporters with choppers to Katheri Hospital. They land at Katheri Primary School and are met by their branded vehicles which have travelled by road from their branch offices in Meru town. Nobody told the guards not to allow them in, so after signing the guest book at the gate the cameras roll into the hospital in the branded vans. The reporters have gone to the police station but the cops have declined to talk to them. Not even corporal Mutwiri. Some have already talked to Dorothy but they know they cannot approach her here. Those who have tried have been met by a stony silence. So they are keeping themselves busy by talking to anybody they find at the hospital compound. The guards have their hands full trying to keep them away from the wards, operation theatres, laboratories and other sensitive areas.
The reporters have had to listen to one embellished account incident after another. Almost everyone the reporters talk to claims to have witnessed the bull goring the Bishop. One man even claimed that the bull that gored the Bishop was actually his, not Zakayo’s.
Back in Nairobi, one man watches the news with glee. His name is Titus Nkanasa. He hates the Bishop, although he has hidden that fact well. So well in fact, that he has risen in rank to be the Deputy Presiding Bishop of Divine Miracles Tabernacle. He actually has a degree in theology, and therefore has always felt that he should be the Presiding Bishop of the church as opposed to the semi-illetarate Kithinji. But Kithinji owns the church, and is very street smart. He connects with his congregants at a very personal level. Dethroning him would have been impossible. So Titus has been waiting patiently, knowing that his time will come. And now it has.
With the Bishop dead, the throne is now waiting for him. The only person who might challenge him for the seat is the Bishop’s son, Leo, who is currently serving as the youth pastor. But Titus has a game plan. He will call a press conference where he will announce the unfortunate death of the Bishop to the world. Then declare himself the Acting Bishop. He will consolidate his position and get the Board to confirm him.
The first step towards consolidating his position and warding off Leo is wooing the boy’s mother. He has been a widower for over ten years, so that will not be a problem. Titus has always lusted over the late Bishop’s wife. Now he will seduce her with sweet words, gifts and lots of attention. For a woman who has been married and mistreated by a brute like Kithinji, she will blossom under his attention and unfold like a flower. He will promise her marriage, a Godly, loving marriage, and it won’t be long before she falls for his charms and sleeps with him. That will be the ultimate coup.
As his girlfriend, she will support him fully. He will sleep with her until he consolidates his position at the helm of the church, then depending on how she pleases him in bed, he may either dump her or keep her as a concubine. He has no plans of ever getting married again. With all these pretty young women whose bodies need exploring, he does not need a wife to monitor his activities.
He picks up his phone and tells his secretary to convene a press conference.
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