(Continued from The House Manager II)
The last lesson of the day at St. Daniel’s High School ends at 4.00 pm. That is also the time when tea is served in the staffroom. Classes at Mama Rose Academy, the school that Kyle attends, end at three thirty; but Robert knows that he still has time to take tea. He usually leaves St. Daniel’s at 4.15 pm and will arrive at Mama Rose Academy at 4.30 pm. That will give the boy enough time to train and play football with his friends. It will take them another fifteen minutes to get home.
As he sips his tea, Robert listens to his colleagues arguing about one thing or the other. He wonders whether he will miss the staffroom banter if he decides to quit. He has been teaching at St. Daniel’s for twelve years and he has formed solid friendships with some of the teachers. He gets along with all the others. He is definitely going to miss the staffroom if he quits.
Robert’s furniture business has been picking up, and of late he has been entertaining the idea of taking the plunge and throwing himself fulltime at it. In preparation, he has already cleared the SACCO loan that he had taken earlier. In case cash becomes tight after he quits, he doesn’t want to be saddled in debt.
He is in the same position that his wife found herself years ago. His business is growing day by day, and it is demanding more and more of his time. He is finding that he enjoys working with wood as much as he enjoys teaching Physics and Chemistry. Robert learned the basics of carpentry from his father, who happens to be a rural carpenter. Inspired by his wife’s success in fashion designing, he honed his skills on YouTube. He made the mistake of sharing his thoughts of having a side hustle with Mercy, and since that time she nagged him until he opened a small workshop, where he did what he considered a hobby. He used to go to the workshop every evening for two hours just to unwind and be alone. In the process, he upgraded the furniture in their house. Some of their friends, including Lucia and her husband Isaac, loved their sofas and tables and placed orders. The hobby is now a fully-fledged business that is demanding his full attention. He considers himself an artist, so he does not produce furniture for the mass market. He prefers to custom make pieces for his clients. They are costly, but his clients love them.
The only reason he has not quit his teaching job so far is because he is afraid of walking away from the safety of a permanent and pensionable government job.
At 4.15 pm on the dot, Robert leaves the staffroom and drives to Mama Rose Academy. He finds Kyle waiting for him, sweat dripping from his young body. The boy is proving to be a very skilled footballer. His pace, dribbling skills and his ability to score from tight positions has made him one of most spoken about footballers in the school. Robert enjoys watching his son play. He and his wife Mercy do not miss any of the school games when Kyle is playing.
“How was training today son?” he asks as he pulls away from the school parking lot. On the drive home they always talk about Kyle’s sporting activities. Later, after he has come from the workshop, he will help Kyle with his homework and that is when they will talk about school. Kyle is a bright pupil; the problem is that sometimes he gets too carried away by football that he forgets to study. But Robert and Mercy, both teachers by training, take turns in ensuring that he keeps up with his school work.
“It was okay dad; although I miss teacher Andrew. He was friendlier than the current coach.”
“You will get used to Miss Anne, son. Just be nice to her, okay? Remember she is also a teacher and an excellent footballer.”
Anne replaced Andrew as the school’s football coach earlier in the term, after Andrew left the academy for a TSC job. Robert knows that some of the bigger boys in the school’s senior football club have been disrespecting Anne, which in turn has made her rather hostile to the boys. He is not only determined to make his son respect the new coach, but he has already spoken to the parents of the other players. He has also spoken to Anne several times. He understands her: she is young and therefore insecure. With a little experience, she will be able to handle the boys firmly without necessarily being hostile.
When they get home, Kyle bolts out of the car even before his father switches off the engine. He is always starving, that boy. Fortunately, when he gets to the kitchen he will find Ruth has prepared a snack for him; she always does. That girl has been a blessing to the entire household, Robert thinks. He walks to the house carrying his son’s school bag.
“Hello baba Kyle. Have you had a good day?”
“Yes, I have had a good day, Ruth. What about you?”
“Me too, thank you. May I serve you a cup of tea or do you want to take it to the workshop?”
“I will take it with me to the workshop. Just put it in a flask for me. Where is Mama Kyle?”
“She went to bed. She said she was tired and wanted to take a nap.”
“Okay. I will check on her and then I will leave.”
“Do you need anything else other than tea? Scones perhaps?”
“No, two cups of tea will be enough for me at the workshop.”
Robert walks to the bedroom with a smile. He is already thinking of various ways to tease his wife for being asleep during the day.
“Who is my beautiful sleep…”
He does not finish the sentence. He has just opened the door and seen his wife on the floor. She is foaming in the mouth and there is vomit next to her. He rushes to her side and tries to wake her, but she is limp and unresponsive. He touches her chest, he cannot feel a heartbeat. He touches her wrist the way he has seen doctors in movies do. He cannot feel a pulse.
Robert refuses to believe that his wife is dead. He takes her into his arms and races outside, yelling at Ruth to follow him. He knows his actions will make his children panic, but saving his wife’s life is his top priority. Ruth gets out of the house, followed by Kyle and Jude. Robert orders the boys to jump to the back of the seven-seater Toyota Noah. He never goes anywhere without having little Jude strapped on his car seat, but today he has no time. The boys comply, although Jude is already crying and Kyle is near tears himself.
Ruth gets the middle seat, and once she is seated, Robert eases Mercy into her arms. Most of Mercy’s body is the seat of the car, but her head is resting on Ruth’s lap. Robert shuts the door and runs to the driver’s seat. The hospital is two kilometers away, and Robert drives like a mad man. He switches on the full headlights and the hazard lights and honks incessantly, bullying other drivers out of the way. He stops honking only when he gets to the hospital gates, where the guards sense his urgency and swing the gates open.
Bathsheba Hospital is a level five private hospital that is reputed for its excellent patient care. It is popular amongst teachers because it is one of the few facilities in the area that accept the teachers’ AON Minet insurance cover. Robert parks in front of the emergency centre and jumps out of the car without switching off the engine. By the time he opens the passenger door to get Mercy, two nurses have materialized with a stretcher.
The nurses place Mercy on the stretcher and then wheel her inside. Robert follows quickly, until they get to a door where a third nurse appears and tells him to stop.
“I am sorry sir, but you cannot go beyond this point. We need to give doctors time and space to do their work. One of the doctors will come to give you an update.”
Robert does not argue. Instead, he paces about the corridor, completely unable to relax. He keeps glancing at the door, waiting for the doctor to appear as promised. It seems like eternity before a female doctor finally appears and motions him to follow her. She leads him to her sparsely furnished office.
“I believe you are the one who brought the patient who is currently being treated in the emergency centre.”
“Yes I am.”
“What is your name kindly?”
“My name is Robert Maniya.”
“What is the patient’s name?”
“What is your relationship to her?”
“I am her husband. Please doctor, just tell me how she is. I can answer all the questions later. But I really need to know how my wife is.”
The doctor leans back on her seat and sighs softly.
“Your wife is still in critical condition, Mr. Maniya. When she got here she was clinically dead…”
“What? What does that even mean?”
“It means that when she was brought here, she had stopped breathing and her heart was no longer pumping blood. Traditionally, she would have been declared dead. But because of technology, we have been able to resuscitate her. She is still not able to breathe on her own, so we have put her on a ventilator. But at least her heart is pumping again. There is a chance that she might be brain dead because her brain cells were not receiving oxygen when blood flow stopped. We are giving her medication, but we will know the extent of the brain damage in the next few hours. If she is brain dead, then we will have no option but to switch off the machine and declare her dead.”
Image by Hakan Yildirim from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/sunset-dusk-dawn-silhouette-sky-3089285/
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