Pitfalls of Love III-By Edward Maroncha
(Continued from Pitfalls Love II)
Jedidah is rushed to Fadhili Hospital by well-wishers. She is in bad shape. The doctors at Fadhili take her to the theatre almost as soon as she is wheeled into the emergency centre. Fadhili Hospital is a new mission hospital in Westlands founded by an Italian-American priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Father Lazio says his mission is to provide health services to the poor. He seeks financing from donors who include wealthy individuals, corporates and even ordinary citizens through crowdfunding.
The hospital has attracted a lot of financial support. As a result, it has excellent facilities. It strictly admits patients who cannot pay and who cannot even afford monthly contributions to the National Health Insurance Fund. As expected, hundreds of thousands of people seek its services, some genuinely poor while others seeking to take advantage. But Father Lazio has a team of private investigators whose job is to dig into the background of patients for screening so that the hospital admits only the most deserving of cases.
In spite of that, the hospital does not turn away emergencies. Anybody who is in a critical condition is treated until his/her condition is stable, The investigators do their background check while treatment is ongoing. Once the patient’s life is out of danger, he/she is transferred to either his/her hospital of choice or Kenyatta National Hospital if he/she is found to be capable of meeting hospital costs.
However, sometimes a patient is admitted as an emergency case and Fadhili Hospital staff realize that the patients need the technical expertise that Fadhili can provide and which they cannot afford even in public hospitals, even though they are not desperately poor. These cases are taken to Father Lazio for review, and if they get his approval, then they get free treatment at Fadhili. Jedidah falls in this category.
She has a delicate spinal injury that the doctors know need immediate care. She risks losing her life or at the very least, her mobility. If she is transferred to KNH, the doctors at Fadhili know that she might be long dead before she gets the attention she needs. Kenya’s largest public referral hospital is still overwhelmed by patients. But if she stays at Fadhili, they can save her life although they cannot guarantee that she will be able to ever walk again. Chances are high that she will be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of her life.
Jacob instinctively knows he has made a mistake. Yes, he loves Charlotte and has always hoped that she will be his wife one day. Yes, she has been giving him lots of attention recently, and has even been going out with him publicly. But he knows Charlotte will never love him the way Jedidah loves him.
That is one of the reasons he has stayed with Jedidah for that long. Contrary to what some people may think, it was not his intention to use her. He just did not want to lose her…even though it is Charlotte who really causes his heart to beat fast. He started seeing Jedidah when he was heartbroken because Charlotte had just dumped him. After Charlotte left, he had told himself that he would stop living a double life and mend his relationship with God. That he would remain sexually pure until marriage. And so he has never even attempted to get intimate with Jedidah. This was supposed to be a Godly relationship leading to marriage.
But then three months later Charlotte was back, sassy as ever, and before Jacob could resist he was back in her arms eating the forbidden fruit with the gusto of a starving mongrel. He thought about silently breaking up with Jedidah, in such a way that Charlotte would never know that he had moved on with his life, but then Charlotte suggested that they keep their relationship secret. Without her saying it, Jacob knew that she was still in a relationship with the old tycoon.
He decided to dump Charlotte then-because he knew she was using him-and remain with Jedidah, but like a moth drawn to fire, he could not pull himself away from her charms. Instead, he found himself becoming more and more emotionally distant from Jedidah. Yet he could not bring himself to dump Jedidah either, because he knew she truly loved him, and he did not want to lose that. So he forced himself to stay in a relationship with her, even though he found her increasingly annoying, because he knew Jedidah, not Charlotte, would probably end up being his wife and the mother of his children.
Charlotte is a ball of fire. Intense and passionate, but also cunning and dangerous. That is why he finds her irresistible. She is unpredictable, unlike Jedidah who is a good Christian girl and whose life follows a routine pattern. Jacob has always taken for granted the fact that Jedidah loves him. But the moment she splashed juice on his face and stormed out, he knew he had lost a jewel. Now all he has is a ball of fire that might just as well consume him to ashes.
The call comes from Jedidah’s friend Consolata. She has been called by someone from Fadhili Hospital. Apparently Jedidah has been involved in an accident. Consolata is on her way from her house in Limuru-she had just left her house headed to Jedidah’s house in Kikuyu when she was called. They called her because she was the last person Jedidah talked to before the accident. Could Jacob rush to Westlands-since he is in the CBD-and check on her? Consolata can hear him hesitate and knows he is still with Charlotte.
“Can I call you back?”
“Seriously Jacob? Are you going to consult that harlot over whether or not you are going to check on your loyal girlfriend of five years?”
“Don’t call Charlotte that,”
“She is a commercial sex worker Jacob, whether you like it or not. She sleeps with old rich men for money.”
“You don’t know her,”
“You know what I said is true, Jacob. She is stringing you along because you are cute and broke but her real interest is in the old man who pays her bills. Don’t you know that the things she does to you she was taught by an experienced, old man with arthrit…”
Jacob hangs up and Consolata laughs softly. That was fun. If only her friend wasn’t dying, they would have laughed about it. But her friend is dying, and she needs someone to check on her before she gets there. She scrolls her phone book and dials Morris’ number. Consolata does not even remember how she got Morris’ number but she is glad she has it. She knows Jedidah cut ties with him earlier in the evening, but if he is a serious man he will show up.
He picks at the second ring.
Morris is just closing his shop when Consolata calls. His heart is conflicted. Jedidah already made it clear that Jacob is the priority in her life, and he doesn’t want to appear desperate. Or more importantly, he wants to guard his heart: she doesn’t love him, and the safest thing he can do is to keep his distance from her, so that he can forget about her. But on the other hand, she is in trouble, and he can’t ignore the fact that he cares about her.
“Why are you telling me this, Consolata? Why do you want me to go see her? She has a boyfriend,”
“But you are her friend, Morris. I know you care about her,”
“She sort of said she doesn’t want me to hang around her. She wants to fix her relationship with Jacob. I don’t want her to wake up and find me jostling for her attention with her boyfriend. I don’t want to be the source of strife between them. Earlier this evening she told me she has chosen him, and I respect that,”
Consolata is impressed, and her respect for Morris soars. She has always admired him and has even been urging her friend to consider him. She thinks he is a way better man than Jacob, but Jedidah does not see it that way.
“Jacob will not be there, Morris. Do not worry about that. Besides, Jedidah is unconscious. She will not even know you are there. You are simply going there as a concerned friend, to help me, another concerned friend,”
“Okay, I think I can do that,” Morris says, even though he knows he is making a terrible mistake. He knows his heart will melt again when he sees Jedidah in a vulnerable state, and then he will get heartbroken all over again when she gets well. In spite of that, he leaves his house and makes his way towards Fadhili Hospital.
“Who is that?” Charlotte asks suspiciously.
“Consolata, Jedidah’s best friend. Apparently Jedidah has been involved in an accident and is admitted at Fadhili hospital,”
“That is sooo sad. I hope she recovers quickly.”
Charlotte speaks so pitifully that you would think she and Jedidah are the best of friends.
“I am going to see her,”
“You are doing no such thing,” Charlotte says a bit too sternly. That catches Jacob by surprise. Early in their relationship, before she started sleeping with her sponsor, she was domineering. But ever since she started sleeping with him again she has been super sweet. Not a single word said in anger. But right now her old self has revealed a glimpse of itself to him, in a moment of weakness. But Charlotte quickly realizes her mistake. She quickly pulls him closer to herself.
“It’s not that I do not want you to see her babe,” she coos softly, stroking his cheek gently. “It is just that I was hoping you could take me home tonight. Then you can go and see Jedidah tomorrow.”
Jacob can feel his heart beating faster and his body temperature rising, and he knows he has lost that battle. He knows he will spend the night, not on Jedidah’s side at the hospital, but in Charlotte’s arms in her bedroom.
Jedidah becomes conscious three days after her surgery. Morris, Consolata and her mother have been taking turns to watch over her. The staff at Fadhili have allowed the three to stay with her round the clock, save for the brief moments when she gets the injections. Her mother is staying at her house in Kikuyu. She was given the spare key by Consolata.
When she wakes up, it is Morris who is by her side. Consolata is at work and her mother has just left to go and freshen up.
“Morris? What are you doing here?”
“Taking care of my friend,” he replies calmly.
“Look Morris, don’t get this wrong. I appreciate what you are doing for me. But I think you should go home. I know you love me, but I don’t feel the same way. I don’t want you to have your hopes up, or for me to date you because I feel I owe you,”
Morris feels a hot knife slashing his intestines. The walls collapse around his ears. He should never have listened to Consolata. He should never have come to this place. In spite of his hurt, he manages to maintain a calm face.
“Okay, I will leave. After your mother comes back,”
“Momma is here?”
“Yes. She is staying at your house,”
“That is the more the reason you should leave now, Morris. I do not want her to start getting ideas,”
“Why are you doing this Jedidah? Is it because you still love Jacob? You know he doesn’t love you, right?” Morris asks before he can stop himself.
“Please leave,” she says.
“You heard the lady. Leave,” a male voice says from the doorway.
They both turn. Jacob is standing at the door with a banquet of flowers. Morris looks at Jedidah. When it becomes obvious that she is not going to say anything, Morris slowly picks his jacket and leaves.
To purchase a copy of last month’s novella The Warrior Princess, you can follow either one of two ways:
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See you all on Tuesday.