Lifestyle

In Sickness and In Health I-By Edward Maroncha

(Happy new year good people! I hope you are all refreshed and ready to take on the new year.  Let’s do this!)

Kenneth smiles at his wife of seventeen years as she drives down to the bridge. He knows where she is taking him.  Creek Point Hotel & Restaurant, a three star hotel, sits on the banks of Kathiru Creek. The creek is tiny, but it is permanent and doesn’t dry out even in the harshest of droughts. During the rainy season, such as now, it swells into a sizeable river, and the waterfall that is behind the hotel becomes beautiful scenery.

Kenneth and his wife Fancy have a preferred room at the hotel: the room that is next to the waterfall. There three such rooms actually, on the ground floor, first floor and second floor, but Kenneth and Fancy prefer the room on second floor, because it has the best view. Besides the waterfall, from the second floor one is able to see Kathiru Conservancy, the three hundred acre game reserve that was once owned by German conservationist Ralf Schroeder and his wife Kathleen. The conservancy has all the large herbivores, including elephants, buffaloes and rhinos, as well as other smaller herbivores such as giraffes, antelopes, zebras, gazelles and deer. The conservancy was set up to protect elephants and rhinos.

Initially, there were no carnivores on the conservancy. To tame the number of herbivores, Schroeder and his wife used to host hunting expeditions and even used to offer game meat on the menu of the conservancy restaurant, which is located inside the conservancy itself. But two things happened that changed that. The first is that an American journalist visited the conservancy and was far from impressed. He came on a day when there were three hunting expeditions, and he was offered a chance to go on one, and he agreed. While his new colleagues on the hunting expedition showed off carcasses of zebras and antelopes that they had shot with their hunting rifles, Dave the journalist took photos.

A week later, a story ran in the New York Times about a Kenyan conservancy that allows people with the ability to pay to hunt down animals for fun. The story generated some heat, fueled by animal lovers and the matter was even discussed by the Kenyan National Assembly. But the story would probably have run its course and died a natural death had the second event not happened.

Unfortunately for Schroeder and his wife, a trigger happy hunter shot down an endangered white rhino during a hunting expedition and even had the audacity to boast about it on social media. That caught the attention of the world, and there was universal uproar on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

The government of Kenya swiftly announced that it was talking over the conservancy with immediate effect. Schroeder and Kathleen sued, and the government was ordered to compensate them, but they never got the conservancy back, and it is now run by the Kenya Wildlife Service. KWS outlawed hunting on the conservancy, and scrapped off game meat from the menu of the restaurant. To control the number of herbivores in the conservancy, KWS introduced carnivores such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and a rare species of wolves. The wolves are also an endangered species. The idea was to allow nature to balance out the numbers, and so far it seems to be working. The number of elephants and wolves is growing, and two rhinos have given birth this year, with one more expected to give birth next year.

Kenneth and Fancy are able to watch most these beautiful animals from the comfort of their room, without having to go to the game drive. The water fall is inside conservancy, and that is where most animals come to drink water, and that includes the elephants.

Creek Point Hotel is owned by Schroeder and Kathleen. The hotel was part of the conservancy, but was ceded to the couple by the government as part of the settlement ordered by the government. The boundary of the conservancy was re-drawn to exclude it. Schroeder and Kathleen even got into an arrangement with KWS that allows their guests to go on game drives in the conservancy, although absolutely no weapons are allowed during those drives.

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Creek Point Hotel has become something of a healing point of the marriage of Kenneth and Fancy. Whenever there are unresolved issues between them that threaten to tear down their marriage, they come here and iron out those differences. But they come here during happier times too. They have celebrated the last five wedding anniversaries here. It helps that their wedding anniversary is in late May, when the children are usually away in boarding schools, so Kenneth and Fancy are usually able to come here and even spend a week in the serene environment, and sometimes even go on game drives.

They celebrate other events such as birthdays, business milestones and other events in other places, and so Creek Point has become something of a sanctuary for their marriage. That is why this trip is so curious to Kenneth. There is no strife in their marriage at this point in time, and their wedding anniversary has already passed. So Kenneth is wondering why Fancy has brought him here. He has tried to ask, but she just smiles at him without answering.

Most of the staff members at Creek Point know them, so when they arrive a valet takes their car and they walk the short steps to the reception.

“Hello Ken and Fancy,” the receptionist called Mercy greets them warmly. “It’s good to see you once again.”

“It is good to see you too Mercy,” Fancy says cheerfully.

“The room has been reserved as you had requested. Here is the key. Do you have luggage this time?”

Both of them laugh.

“No Mercy,” Ken replies. “As usual, we are light travelers.”

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Fancy leads Kenneth to their room and when they get there, she immediately starts undressing him. She also removes her clothes and then takes her husband’s hand and leads him to the shower. They make love while standing, with the shower running. After making love, they finish showering, they dry themselves, and Fancy insists on giving her husband a full body massage.

Kenneth is now very curious. He really wants to know why he is being treated like a prince, but Fancy is still not talking. It is not that Fancy does not pamper him: she does. It is only that today she seems to be going the extra mile, and Kenneth is curious to know why. He racks his brain but he cannot remember doing anything out of the ordinary for her. Perhaps she wants a favor from him. But what could she possibly want that makes her go to these lengths to please him? It is not like he could have refused her anything, as long as it is something he can afford.

After dressing up, they head down to the restaurant for dinner. They are still talking about the ordinary things of life such as their business, the first pregnancy, their business and the church they attend. After dinner they take coffee and then head back to the room. Fancy undresses both of them a second time and they make love once again.

“I want you to remember this night. Hang on to these memories after I am gone,” she finally tells Kenneth.

“Gone where?” Kenneth asks sleepily, while stroking her naked back. “Are you planning to leave me?”

It is a rhetorical question. Kenneth knows that their marriage is as strong as ever.

“Yes Ken, I am leaving.”

It is the change in the tone of her voice that makes Kenneth to suddenly sit up. When he looks at her face, he realises that she is crying.

“Why babe, what have I done?”

Fancy stretches her hand and strokes his right cheek gently.

“No baby, you have not done anything wrong. If there is a gift that God gave me, then it is you. I am really happy that I have you in my life.”

“Why then do you want to leave me?”

“I don’t have an option, sweetheart. I am dying. That is why I want you to have a night to remember. I am not sure how many more nights like these we will have. So tonight I want to give you the best memory for you to remember me with when I am gone.”

“What are you talking about, sweetheart? What do you mean you are dying? You look perfectly okay. Or do you plan to commit suicide?”

“I wouldn’t do that to you and the children. The thing is, I have stage four breast cancer. Doctors told me that I have about four months to live but I am afraid that those four months might be horrible. I don’t know when my health will start declining. It could even be tonight.”

“When did you learn that you have cancer?”

“The results of the biopsy came about three days ago, and that is when I started planning this. I wanted to break the news to you in this environment where there is more life than death. I discovered the lump in my breast about a month ago. I mentioned it to my gynecologist and he recommended a biopsy. The results came back positive.”

“Many people have beaten cancer, babe. We can fight this, together.”

“Cancer is treatable if it is detected early, sweetheart. But in my case, doctors told me that it will be pointless to remove the breasts, because the cancerous cells have spread to the rest of the body. Doctors have told me that they can extend the time I have on earth to up to a year by intensive chemotherapy, but they don’t think I can go beyond twelve months.”

Fancy is crying freely now, and Kenneth cannot restrain his tears. He holds her in his arms and they cry together.

(To be continued on Friday)

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/sheet-music-red-rose-red-flower-6305620/

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See you all on Friday.

 –Edward.

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