the ones left behind

THE ONES LEFT BEHIND III

Stories from the Diaspora

By Sheillah Maonga

To read part two, click here

“We got your number from his phone. Often, in cases like this, we go through his recent calls and see who he calls frequently. That is how we got your number.”

“Why did you go through his phone? I don’t understand.” I asked. My mind was still not fully awake.

“Ma’am, your fiance isn’t very well.”

” What do you mean? Where is he?”

“He is in hospital. That’s why we are calling you.”

“In hospital? When did he become ill? He was not ill when he left here a few hours ago. You are not making sense at all. Is this a prank call? Who are you and what do you want? I’ll call the police if you are winding me up.”

“I am the police and this is a serious call, Miss Nkatha. Police do not prank people.”

“How do I know you are saying the truth? You are just a stranger on the line.”

“You can verify all this by going to Bethlehem Hospital. He is admitted there. I can give you the hospital number you talk to them. You must go and see him tonight.”

“Why?”

“He is in a very critical condition. Does he have any relatives?”

“Only his mum is here. The rest of his family are in Kenya. You know where that is?” I asked. Even if I was in shock, I still couldn’t surpass the opportunity to teach people about my country.

“I know that is in Africa. Is it a town in Nigeria?” He asked, his voice unsure.

“No. Kenya is a country by itself. It is in East Africa. Nigeria is in West Africa. Have you ever seen a map of Africa?”

“Do you have his mother’s number?” The policeman asked, refusing to partake in my imposed geography lessons.

“I don’t have it.”

“Never mind. We will find her tonight.”

“She won’t make it to the hospital tonight. She lives in the sticks. It is a 10-hour drive from her home to here.”

“Then you’ll have to go and see him tonight.” He said firmly.

He had given me the details and I had gone to the hospital.

The first thing I saw when I had reached the high dependency unit was the visiting hours. I was way past them. They ended at 6pm. Here I was there at 1am. I had also noticed that they only allowed relatives. By blood or marriage. I was neither. I had wanted to rip that poster from the wall.

A nurse had come and called my name. She had told me the police had said I was coming so they were expecting me. She had held my hand and told me that she was sorry. I had asked her why.

She had told me that we needed to hurry to see Jared.

“But your notice says visiting time is over and only relatives can visit.”

“The police said you are his fiancee. We make exceptions in exceptional cases.” She had said.

“Yes, I am his fiancee.” I said with satisfaction. This was the second person I was telling. I felt nice saying it. “Why is he an exceptional case?”

“You need to see him now.” She said. “Come, I’ll take you.”

“The police said that too. It is as if I’m needed there for his treatment. I have no medical training. He is the pharmacist. I am only a kindergarten teacher.” I said light-heartedly.

“The police didn’t tell you?” She asked, as she stopped mid stride. Her eyes looked concerned.

“Tell me what?” I asked.

“Why you had to come here tonight.”

“The police said it was because he was in a critical condition.”

“He is. Is that all the police said?”

“Yes.”

“They did not tell you anything else?”

“No.”

The nurse had sighed.

“Is there something more he should have said?” I asked, and for the first time that night, real fear sat at the pit of my stomach.

“Come. Let’s go you see his doctor first, before you see your fiance.” The nurse had said, her voice final, clearly indicating that she didn’t expect further questions.

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