Continued from Entitlement I
Flora swallows the rest of her herbal concoction in one gulp and goes to the bathroom. She wants to prepare herself so that she can head to the hospital. She was there in the morning but came back to check on Julian. She is going to leave him with the house assistant, Nadia, while she heads back to the hospital. Her daughter Wendy is with her grandmother Grace, Nelson’s mother. Julian would have been there as well, but when he went down with a flu. Flora decided to have him remain in the house so that she can monitor him. She also doesn’t want to bother her mother-in-law with a sick child.
Grace was perhaps more affected by the death of Bernice and the boys than Nelson himself. She loved her late daughter-in-law and the boys to bits. Nelson is an only child, so his children are the only grandchildren Grace and her husband Humphrey have. Unlike Flora who comes from a poor background, Nelson’s family is middle class. Both of his parents are university professors. Grace had problems with fibroids which made her pregnancy very difficult. After Nelson was born, doctors advised her that due to the size and nature of the fibroids, it would be necessary to remove her uterus in order to save her life.
It was a difficult and painful decision to make, she confided in Flora, because she had always wanted to have a house full of children. She and her husband agreed to adopt babies and fill the house. They went to an agency, found a child and did all the paperwork. The social workers even came to their house and interviewed them. At the very last minute, when they were due to receive the baby who was to be their second child, the biological parents of the baby came forward and said that their baby had been taken from them without their consent.
The whole saga played out in the media for a few days, and it emerged that the agency was operating without a proper licensing and it was shut down. This whole experience left them scarred, and even though their friends told them that there are other legitimate agencies that do the adoption work legally, Grace and Humphrey were done with the idea of adoption. They decided that they would just be content with their son.
They were therefore very excited when Nelson brought a very pregnant Bernice home. From what Flora has heard, Bernice was a very pleasant lady, and she and Grace hit it off immediately. Grace and Humphrey live just across the fence. The land in Makongeni is ancestral, and they have been commuting from there to the University of Nairobi, where they teach, every single day. When Bernice got pregnant, she was welcomed by Grace and Humphrey into their home, and she lived there with them for a couple of years, while Nelson was building his own house.
According to Nelson, the boys loved it at their grandma’s and spent many nights there. They would quickly finish their homework and run across the fence. Grace and Humphrey were quite literally co-parents with Nelson and Bernice. Bernice herself enjoyed the company of her mother-in-law and they spent quite a lot of time together. Flora is not surprised. Grace is a very pleasant woman, and joy to be around. Flora also enjoys being around her, and they have forged a friendship. Flora’s children also love spending time with their grandmother, just like the late boys.
Flora takes a quick shower and dresses. She went to the hospital in the morning without taking a shower, and she hasn’t gotten around to do it even after getting back home. She started by feeding Julian, and then giving him his medicine. Unlike his sister, Julian is a good feeder. But disease usually ruins his appetite, and so feeding is a slow and straining exercise. After he completed his meal, Flora gave him his medicine, bathed him and put him to bed. Then she started taking her own herbal concoction, which her house assistant had prepared for her.
After sprucing herself up, Flora calls her mother-in-law to alert her that she is leaving. Grace spent the whole night at the hospital with Nelson, and only left in the morning when Flora and Humphrey arrived. Humphrey was left at the hospital when Flora came back home to check on Julian.
“I am sorry to wake you up mother…”
“No, it is okay my dear. I got some sleep at the hospital. You saw that extra bed in Nelson’s room? The nurses told me that I could use it to catch some sleep and I did. Right now Wendy is teaching me how to play some game on my laptop.”
“Okay mother. I just wanted to alert you that I am headed to the hospital so that I can relieve Father. When you get a moment please come and check on Julian. I have fed him, given him his medicine, bathed him and put him to sleep. I have also told his nanny how to feed him when he wakes up. But you can keep an eye on him just in case.”
“Don’t worry about that, my dear. Your children are safe with me.”
“Thank you mother.”
“And tell my boy that I will come to be with him in the evening.”
Flora swallows hard before responding. Nelson has been unconscious since the day of the accident three days ago. Each day they have been hoping that he will wake up, but each day they have been disappointed. Doctors are still running tests to see if he has any head injuries because they don’t to understand why he is in that state. What tests have revealed so far is that he has a broken leg and blunt trauma to the chest. He should be awake by now, but he isn’t. Doctors suspect that he is in a state of shock.
“Okay mother, I will.”
“We need to keep the faith my dear. Nelson will be okay,” Grace says after noticing her daughter-in-law’s hesitation.
“Sure mother. Thank you so much.”
Flora is absent minded as she drives to the hospital. She doesn’t understand why all this is happening to her. She has tried her best to be a good Christian. She tries to be kind to everyone. She tries not to sin, and repents when she does. She has always tried to be a good daughter since she was a child, and until now. She has always tried to be the ideal big sister. But her parents and siblings have neem treating her so horribly. One of them even snatched her husband, and they all cheered. Flora has always tried to be a good wife. But her first husband cheated on her with her sister. Now she has a husband who appreciates her, but he is lying in a comma. Why is life so unfair? Why won’t the Lord have mercy on her?
Tears are rolling down her cheeks as she drives towards the hospital.
At the hospital, Flora is met by unexpected good news: Nelson is finally awake. She finds him talking to his father, and he beams when he sees her. Flora’s heart leaps with joy. She wants to jump at him and hold him tightly, but he is still in a frail condition so she restrains herself. She leans forward and pecks him on the cheek.
“Hi sweetheart? Welcome back to this side of world,” she says with a smile.
“Thank you. It very dark where I was. Do you know why?”
His speech is a little slurred, but he has his usual mischievous twinkle in his eyes. His mind appears to be fine, which is a huge relief. One of the things doctors had said is that he might have suffered brain damage which would only be evident when he woke up…if he would wake up. But now he is not only awake, but his mind appears to be perfectly fine.
“Yes I do. You went before repenting so you were taken to the gates of hell.”
Nelson and his father laugh good-naturedly.
“Yes, that may be true. But my only sin is that I went without you. And since you are my sunshine, my world was plunged into total darkness.”
Now it is Flora’s turn to laugh.
“You are such a sweet fool. I am so glad you are back. Don’t ever do that to us again. And by the way, what really happened?”
“Brake failure. I was heading home as usual. When I got to that stretch of road about two kilometers from our home, a group of children suddenly started crossing the road. I pushed down the brake pedal, but it went all the way down without stopping the car. Once I realized that my brakes had failed, I knew I was going to hurt a lot of kids. So I decided to drive off the road. It was an impulse decision, and the next thing I knew, I was going down a valley. Then everything went blank.”
Flora and her father-in-law exchange subtle glances, but Nelson picks it up immediately.
“What? Is there a problem? Why are you looking at each other like that?”
“No, it’s okay son. We are just so proud of your self-sacrifice.”
“You are lying to me father, and you know I don’t like that. Tell me what is going on.”
“The people who witnessed the accident did not say anything about children. The driver who was right behind you said he had been right behind you for a while. He said he was comfortable with the speed at which you were driving so he did not see the need to overtake you. And then your vehicle suddenly veered of the road. He stopped a few meters ahead and came to check on you. He is the one who called the cops and he stayed there until they and an ambulance arrived. He did not mention any children, and the people who came to the scene shortly afterwards did not talk about any children either. The vehicle has also gone through inspection and the brakes are fine.”
“I really don’t know what is going on father. I saw those kids with my two eyes. I don’t drink and I am not mad. But the guy couldn’t have been lying either because why would he?”
“It’s okay son. Don’t stress yourself too much about that. The most important thing is that you are fine now.”
Humphrey leaves shortly thereafter, leaving his son to spend time with his wife.
It is already dark when Flora finally heads home from the hospital. Her mother-in-law has arrived to take her turn with Nelson. Grace is so excited to find her son awake.
“At least we can sleep well now,” she says with a smile looking at her daughter-in-law. “Julian is also fine. I checked on him before I came. He is awake and he has already eaten. I made sure of it. I left him playing with Wendy at your house.”
“What is wrong with my son?” Nelson asks.
“He is down with a flu but I already took him to the hospital, so don’t stress about it,” Flora replies, and then turns to her mother in law. “Thank you so much mother.”
When Flora gets to her house, she is surprised to find her sister Ruth and her children in her house.
“Ruth, what are you doing in my house?”
“Mother said that I should come and help you take care of the children as you take care of your husband. Look at the time you are coming home. You need help.”
“That is why I have Nadia as my house assistant, okay? I don’t want you in my house, so get out.”
“What is your problem, Flora? Are you afraid that Nelson will want me more than he wants you like Jerome did? Are you insecure about your abilities as a wife?”
Flora loses her temper and gives her sister two hard slaps across the face.
To be continued on Wednesday
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