(Continued from The Divorce I)
When Felix tries to open his eyes, pain shoots throughout his body.
“It is okay son. Take it easy,” a gentle voice says. It is Agnes. Slowly, Felix remembers what happened. He remembers seeing the gun and hearing the gunshot. He doesn’t remember feeling any pain, but he remembers seeing his own blood and realizing that he had been shot. He cannot remember anything that may have happened after that. He doesn’t even remember what Camilla’s husband and his friend did after shooting him. He must have gone into shock before he passed out.
But right now, even though he has been unable to open his eyes, he is conscious. He feels Agnes’ hand stroking his own gently. He can feel her voice gently assuring him that it is going to be okay. In the past few years, Agnes has been like a mother to him; or a loving grandmother. She is definitely old enough to be his grandmother.
She is a retired nurse, but she and her late husband managed to build a healthy portfolio of rental properties before they retired. They also acquired three farms which she manages. Her husband died seven years ago. Although she is inching towards eighty years, Agnes is still a strong and energetic woman and she drives around in her Nissan X-Trail, supervising the workers in her farms and checking on her rental houses.
When she is not whining about her children, the diseases in her body or the universe in general, Agnes is usually trying to hook Felix with her housekeeper, Judy. Judy is a woman in her late thirties. She has two children from a previous marriage.
“I pulled her away from that man because he was going to kill her,” Agnes told Felix one day. “That man was a violent drunk, and he couldn’t appreciate the gem that Judy is. He had turned her into a punching bag. Judy cooks and takes care of my home. She and her children live here with me. I pay her children’s school fees, but I also I give her something small at the end of the month for her upkeep and personal savings. She is a good woman, my boy. You need a woman like her to take care of you. Forget those small girls who are always making noise on the internet. What you need is an African woman who will cook for you, wash your clothes, take care of your home and give you healthy babies.”
Felix has learned the art of turning these conversations into a pleasant banter, keeping Agnes happy but without making any promises. It is true Judy is a good woman, but Felix doesn’t have any feelings for her. Besides, he doesn’t feel ready to get married to any woman, leave alone a mother of two. He needs to sort out his financial problems before he starts thinking about marriage.
Over time, Felix and Agnes have developed a strong mother-son bond. Felix knows that if Agnes knows that there are nights that he sleeps hungry, she would order him to report to her house at every meal time. But Felix usually doesn’t want to overstep the boundaries, so he only goes to her house when she invites him.
Today though, food is the last thing on his mind. His entire body is on fire. He cannot even tell where exactly he was shot, because the pain is distributed all over his body. He assumes he was shot in the chest though, because that is where he saw blood before he passed out.
“The doctor says you are going to be okay, my boy,” he hears Agnes say. “None of your vital organs were hit by the bullets.”
Felix wants to smile at her, but the pain is too much. So he squeezes her hand gently.
Camilla has been trying to reach Felix the whole day, but she has not been successful. His phone is off. She has gone to both his old office and his new one but they are both locked. She is now pacing in her house, wondering whether she has been conned, when a new thought occurs to her. Agnes is the one who referred Felix to her, so why not call her?
Camilla has known Agnes since she (Camilla) was a little girl. After the death of her parents, Camilla went to live with her grandparents. She was seven years old at the time. Her grandparents were close friends with Agnes and her late husband Humphrey.
“Agnes, I have been trying to reach Felix all day but he is not available. Do you know where he is?”
“He is in hospital, sweetheart. He is fighting for his life.”
“No way! But he was fine yesterday.”
“He was. After he left you he came to my house. He said he wanted to say thank you because I referred you to him. About half an hour after he left my house, I got a call from his phone. But when I picked, it wasn’t him. It was a Good Samaritan telling me that Felix was on the road, dying. Apparently the man had taken Felix’s phone and since I was the last one he had called, and since my number is saved as “Shush” on Felix’s phone, he called me. I rushed there and with the help of that man, I took him to hospital.”
“I am on my way.”
Camilla is crying as she drives towards MP Shah. Why is her life surrounded by so much pain? Death seems to be everywhere in her life. Her father’s sisters were the first to die. Camilla had not even been born yet, but she saw their photos in her grandparents’ album. They were twins, and they died in a school fire when they were in secondary school. Camilla does not have memories of her aunts who died as teenagers, but she vaguely remembers her uncle Gerald. He was a pilot in the Airforce. She cannot remember much about him either, considering that he died when she was five years old, but her vague memories have been reinforced by photographs. He died in a plane crash during a routine air force training exercise. He did not have a family, which means that Camilla’s father, Donald, was left as the only surviving child of Mr. & Mrs. Waka, and Camilla as their only grandchild.
Camilla was an only child. Her mother Felicity had fibroids, and the condition became so bad during the pregnancy that Camilla had to be removed at seven months to ease the pressure on the uterus and relieve Felicity from pain. She was put in an incubator. Doctors wanted to remove Felicity’s uterus, but she wanted other children so she refused. The fibroids were suppressed with medicine. Doctors strongly urged Felicity not to get pregnant again, and at the insistence of her husband Donald, she agreed. But she refused to have her uterus removed. She visited her gynecologist and got a contraceptive implant.
For seven years everything was okay. Donald and Felicity brought up their child Camilla. Donald knew that Felicity wanted more children so he suggested that they should adopt. But Felicity refused. One day, seven years after the birth of Camilla, Felicity happily announced that she was pregnant again. Donald was furious and anxious about her health, but there was nothing he could do. She said that her pastor had prayed with her and assured her that God had healed her of the fibroids.
For five months, the pregnancy was smooth. Scans showed she was carrying twins and that the fibroids, while still there, remained small. Donald started becoming cautiously optimistic. During the sixth month of the pregnancy though, the fibroids swelled again. A month later, Felicity had to be rushed to hospital. She did not make it, and neither did the unborn children. One of the children died in the womb. The other was removed the same way Felicity had been removed, but he died in the incubator a few hours later.
Donald was crushed. He left the hospital in tears. As he drove home, he was so distracted that he did not see a stationary truck that had stalled in the middle of the road. He saw it when it was too late. He crashed into it and was killed instantly, leaving Camilla an orphan. Camilla was taken by her grandparents. After the death of her father, Camilla was her grandparents’ only living descendant.
Camilla’s grandparents died in a road accident nine years ago, leaving her in charge of their vast estate. Although she was only twenty one when the car accident that killed her grandparents happened, she had already graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, and her grandfather had over the years been teaching her how to run a business. In nine years, she has not only sustained the business, but she has grown it immensely.
Financially, she was thriving; but socially, she was a mess. With all her immediate paternal relatives dead, she was sad and lonely. Her mother had been an abandoned child who had grown up in a children’s home, so Camilla does not have any maternal relatives either. That loneliness is what drove her into the arms of Joe, her estranged husband. He was a prince charming when they were dating, but after they got married, he started cheating on her with other women and stealing from her company. Although Camilla had always suspected that Joe was cheating, she did not have any proof. It is not like she was looking though. She did not want the proof, because she did not want to lose him. Somehow, she knew that if she caught him red handed, she would have to kick him out of her life.
Although she was hurting, she kept these things to herself. But recently she caught Joe in bed with their house manager. She promptly fired the girl. Joe was furious, and they argued about it. In the course of the argument, Joe slapped her. Camilla could condone many things, but not physical violence. She kicked him out of her house, the house her grandparents had built, and opened her heart to Agnes, her grandmother’s best friend. Agnes introduced her to this lawyer called Felix. Now Felix is dying, and Camilla can’t help but feel guilty. She feels like she is cursed.
All these thoughts are swirling in her mind as she drives towards MP Shah Hospital. Suddenly she sees a huge lorry speeding towards her, on her lane. Images of her father’s mangled BMW and her grandparents’ wrecked Volvo come to her mind. Is this the end? But why couldn’t she have died before she gave birth? What will happen to her twin daughters after she dies? She is sure that Joe will waste her property with women, and her children will suffer.
The huge truck is now a few feet away from her, its headlights blinding her. Camilla closes her eyes and screams. There is a loud crash and everything turns black.
Image by Netto Figueiredo from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/crash-car-car-crash-accident-1308575/
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