(Continued from Henpecked I)
Michael feels a soft squeeze on his hand. His mother stirs and her eyes flutter open.
“Go home to your wife son,” Tabitha says softly. “There is no point of getting in trouble on my account.”
“Mom, you are awake!”
“I am son, but I am still sleepy. I will fall asleep again soon. But you go home. Mercy is the one who has just called you, isn’t?
“Then go home son.”
“I don’t want to leave you alone mother.”
“I was alone before you came son, and I was fine. I will be fine even after you leave. So don’t worry about it.”
Her words hit him hard. Of course she was alone. This is the second time he is coming to see her since she was hospitalized a month ago. He should be ashamed of himself.
“I am sorry mother.”
“I know I have failed you. I am so sorry.”
“Son, you have not failed me. I am happy because you are happy. I worked so hard so that you can be comfortable. If you are happy, then my joy is complete. The only thing I am not happy about is the acrimony between you and your sister. I don’t want to die before you make peace with her.”
“Veronica is right to be mad at me, mother. It is part of the reason I am saying I have failed you. She is right, and I am wrong.”
“I don’t understand son. What are you saying?”
Michael is unsure as to whether Tabitha is playing dumb, or whether the disease is slowing down her mental abilities. Of course he has failed her. He is capable of lifting her from this situation but he hasn’t. That shouldn’t be too hard for anyone to understand.
“I am not happy with my life mother. I have made decisions in my life that have led me this pool of helplessness. With the money they pay me I could have afforded to take you to the best hospitals. But in the last two decades I have made decisions that have ensured that I am constantly broke.”
“What decisions are those?”
Michael lowers his voice so that other patients cannot hear what he has to say. He leans closer to his mother.
“My wife is a spendthrift, and I think I gave her too much leeway over our family finances. That is why I am always broke. Mercy is not the kind of person I thought she was when I married her. I don’t know what to do mother. I feel like I am trapped in that marriage. I have become a zombie, living from one day to the next. I really don’t know what to do.”
“Talk to your sister, son. Right now I can’t think straight because of all this pain. And anyway I don’t want to appear to be undermining my daughter-in-law. But your sister and her husband have done counselling courses and I think they are sober people. Talk to them and hear what they have to say.”
“Veronica doesn’t want to see me mother.”
“My phone is under my pillow. Can you give it to me?”
Michael reaches under the pillow, takes his mother’s phone and hands it to her. She dials a number and puts the phone in her ear.
“Relax Vero, there is no emergency, although I would like you and Peter to come to the hospital…no, I am fine, but I would like to talk to you…I will tell the sister I want to speak to you urgently…ten minutes?…okay that is okay.”
“Veronica and her husband will be here in ten minutes.”
“She will not be happy when she realises that I am the one who made you call her.”
“You did not make me do anything. And don’t worry, your sister is a good woman. She will hear you out. But now I don’t know whether they will let her in because it is past visiting hours. How did you even get in here?”
“Being a senior government official has some advantages, mother. Don’t worry, I will take care of Veronica and Peter’s entry.”
“What did you do to mother? And what are you doing here?” Veronica asks angrily when she sees her brother. Her husband is a step behind her.
“I come in peace Vero.”
“I said I don’t want to see your face again!”
“Cut it Vero,” Tabitha says firmly. “He is your brother and he needs your help; you and Peter. That is why I called you here. Hear him out and help him in whatever way you can.”
“How can we possibly help him, mother? He is a millionaire and we are nobodies.”
“Just hear your brother out.”
“Okay, spit it out. What do you want?”
Tabitha shakes her head.
“You are going to be more friendly than that. And you will not talk here. You want everybody in this ward to hear your brother’s secrets?”
“He would have taken you to a private ward in a private hospital and we wouldn’t have this problem.”
“That is enough, sweetheart,” Veronica’s husband Peter cuts in. “Mother has requested us to help Michael and we will. Now let’s go so that mother can rest.”
“Thank you son. You can set up Michael in my house. Let him spend the night there.”
As he drives to Peter and Veronica’s house, Michael is lost in thought. He is following their car, an old Toyota Corolla. What exactly is he going to tell them? Is he ready to open up to his elder sister and her husband? He doesn’t know why he even opened up to his mother in the first place. He was probably just overcome by guilt. And now Tabitha has dragged his sister into his business. The truth is that he and Veronica are technically strangers. They have hardly been catching up ever since he got married, and he knows that that is entirely his fault. Veronica initially tried to reach out. She would call and send messages. But she got tired of getting ignored and stopped trying.
Still, she did not hate him until their mother fell sick. Before that, she and her husband took on the responsibility of taking care of Tabitha without complaining. She became angry when their mother fell sick and he refused to help. He cannot blame her.
It is actually embarrassing that he doesn’t know where his mother and sister live. In the past twenty years, whenever he came to Gatundu he would be in a hurry. He would visit his mother at her kibanda, and then he would pass by his sister’s work place before returning to the city. He has met Veronica’s husband maybe twice before.
Peter, who is driving the Corolla, indicates that he wants to turn left. Michael signals as well. They drive through a rough road for maybe five hundred meters before they make a turn and stop in front of a wooden gate. Veronica steps out of the car and opens the gate. Michael follows Peter and parks beside the Corolla on the small grass lawn that is outside a stone house. He switches off the engine and steps out of the car.
“Welcome to our humble abode,” Peter says warmly as he leads him through the porch to the sitting room.
“Let me fetch you something to eat,” Veronica says from behind him, as she closes the front door. She no longer sounds angry, which makes Michael wonder what Peter told him on the way here.
Mercy is furious. Two hours have gone by and Michael has not returned. That is so unlike him. Usually, if she gives him such an ultimatum, he comes back home running. She has been calling every half an hour. In the first hour the calls went unanswered, and then he switched off the phone. That is so unlike him. Mercy wonders whether he is seeing another woman. Maybe he was lying to her when he said he was with his mother in Gatundu. When she cannot bear it any more, she calls her best friend Cess.
“I agree, that is a major red flag,” Cess says. She is a nurse, and her husband is a doctor. They operate a medium-sized hospital in Lang’ata.
“What do I do?”
“Just wait for him in the morning and confront him.”
“I can’t sleep Cess.”
“Okay, fine. Are you up for some adventure?”
Cess is a wild girl. She always has a crazy idea up her sleeve.
“What do you have in mind?”
“There is only one way of finding out if your husband is with his mother.”
“We drive to Gatundu hospital and see for ourselves.”
“Cess! It is almost midnight.”
“You are the one who said you cannot sleep.”
“Okay, but what if he is on the way back? If he comes back and realises I am not in the house I am the one who will be accused of cheating.”
“I am your alibi, girlfriend. I am the one who will drop you in your house after our adventure, so that if Mike tries to misbehave we will just say you were in my house.”
“What about your husband?”
“He travelled. Actually, I have another idea. If we find the old woman alone, I can inject her with a drug that will make her sleep forever. Then your problems will be solved for good.”
“Do you have the drug?”
“It is at the hospital. We will just pass by there so that I can pick it up. It is an anesthesia that my husband uses during surgeries. If someone gets an overdose, the result is death.”
“What if they don’t let us see her?”
“Then we bribe whoever we find at the nursing station. We will just tell her that she is our aunt and we have flown in from Jamaica to see her.”
Cess laughs and Mercy joins in.
“You worry too much Mercy. Just trust me. By morning that woman will be dead. If Mike has a girlfriend, then he will have to find another excuse for seeing her. Then we will bust him.”
Image by Vinzenz Lorenz M from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/hand-glove-injection-inject-6276264/
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