Death at the hospital

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Diseases are the enemies of people. Having read an apology from Socrates a few days ago, I wouldn’t term death as an enemy of the people. But a malady is one. Becoming ill ransacks one the flexibility to appreciate the God-given life, and furthermore the independence to eat what you find alluring. It brings wretchedness upon a person. I don’t think there is anything more terrible than sicknesses.

A cousin of mine became ill on Saturday. He’d traveled from Kisii where he’d gone for a thin holiday, which also coupled up as an election break.  He resides in Kawangware which was a hotbed of chaos. Not to say he is cowardly but careful. Those are two things- being a coward means you will look for money and vacate from such a place. Being careful implies predicting a situation beforehand and hacking a solution for it.

It is safe to state that he’s not blessed with money. Inferable from the way that he grew up when truancy was the swag and not going to class was typical, he didn’t get educated well enough. I doubt if he went past class 8. At times he talks about things that influence you to consider him not absurd but rather very uninformed. So he’s poor in both ways-monetarily and insightfully.

The situation he was entangled in was complicated. He appeared at my cousin’s house on Saturday morning right about when we were about to leave for church. He griped of feeling unwell. Being typical Africans who take the hospital as the last resort, we asked him to take a rest, even as he breaks his back with food that was lying lazily in the house. Czar (cuzo) and I left for church. We tagged his 2-year-old son with us since the Missus wasn’t ready yet.

For a very long time, I have come to affirm two things about women which I used to consider buzzwords. One, they never listen. They will just sit there, you talk, they hear, shake their heads in what seems like an agreement, then go and do what they think is right- something which you told her not to do. They can only hear. They all have listening disabilities.

Two, women and time are prime enemies. Observing time has proved to be the most prominent catastrophe that ever occurred to women in the history of our world. You only wonder what they do with time. In most cases, men have learnt to leave them and inform them to catch up.  Can any woman in here tear down this mystery for us? Yvonne? No? What about you Winnie?

Anyway, Bob’s (my sick cousin) sickness advances. Whatever that is eating him in the stomach roars to life and starts not only teasing him with little bites but it makes him growl and cry and roll on the floor. Ever seen a man cry, groan or even scream in pain? The pain overmatched the one we used to feel as young boys during circumcision when this old and experienced village doctor would slice our foreskins with a knife in cold blood.

Czar rushed from church, didn’t have a car because the previous day we’d had a small accident and the offender had been instructed to tow it and repair it, to go and take care of business. I joined them later.

We discover that hospitals don’t work during weekends. He’s administered Buscopan which really doesn’t help much because he groans all weekend. We’re referred to either Kenyatta or Mbagathi.

Monday shows up at the door. The weather is shitty but he has to see a doc because he’s in a bad state. Czar drops us off at The Junction where we catch a bus. In my butt pocket, I have 4k, which I hope to spend. I cross my fingers that the medication doesn’t exceed my pocket because then, stress will start infiltrating everyone around. Y’all know that it is a season when being broke is a common phrase.

We end up in Mbagathi.

I didn’t know that an HIV test was being charged until people at the hospital started to complain about the 410 bob that was being charged for this service that is supposed to be free.

Mbagathi sounds like a colonial territory for the British where British soldiers would come to roost after bloody war with the Mau Mau or something similar. And they would walk around naked or in very baggy underwears with their guns still by their shoulders because any time there could be an attack. You don’t need to be caught unawares. Better be naked than being weapon free.

We discover that actually, my cousin is not really sick. There are sick people who don’t need to say a word for you to notice how bad they’re hurting. Even the doctors leave many people waiting on the line to attend them because they’re critically ill and might eat the dust anytime.

I tend to think doctors are the small gods of this world. Everyone goes to the hospital and demands to see the doctor. We all believe that they can cure our misery and prescribe us something that can scare our brokenness.  Doctors see everything in us. They touch our women and men where we cannot touch them in our entire lives. They have seen it all.

Sometimes I wonder how they cope with their marriages after getting used to all these grim things they see every day. Don’t they experience nightmares? Do they touch their wives’ nipples and stand back and say, “Baby, I think your nipple is not straight. Can you turn on the bedside lamp so that I can examine it?” because I believe everything they see is disease related. The missus being high on the other end of life wonders what kind of man God gave her who can’t take sex for what it is.

Since we’d been referred to Mbagathi or Kenyatta, we directly went to see the doctor. We line up just like other folks. Though at some point I get irked when I see kujuana come into play where doctors bring in patients and help them jump the line. The Kisii in me gets rankled and I go straight up to the doc and raise hell. We go in next and we are asked to go for H-pylori test as well as an Ultra-sound.

From my younger days, I’ve spent much time in and out of hospitals. Meaning that I have learnt to know what is what. I know first aid, dressing wounds, administering injections, prescribing drugs and reading examination reports.

I go for the H-pylori first because if it tests positive then the need for an ultrasound is pointless. H-pylori testing positive means you have ulcers, a thing an ultrasound might not determine easily. Ultrasound is expensive too, going up to 2500 bob.

As we await the results, a woman blasts into an uncontrollable scream. It is the kind of cry that can even wake the dead. It pierces through our ears and everyone is drawn to attention, wanting to know what is going down.

We learn that she has lost her only kid. We also get to know that she doesn’t have parents and no husband. Which leaves her alone and deserted.

There is no way to describe the pain of losing a child. There are no words to compose that inclination by any stretch of the imagination. Losing a life is not a thing people take in easily. Coming into terms to a loss of a child takes humongous strength and leaves a sore dent in a woman’s heart; because carrying a child for nine months, feeding them and bringing them up takes monstrous effort.

As mentioned before, I am an emotional man. I cry easily when confronted with emotional situations. The screaming of this woman moves me and many other people, half of the hospital cries with her. There is no way to comfort her. You cannot comfort a woman who has lost her baby, unless you’re Jesus and you’re bringing the baby back to life.

What do you even tell her that can make her feel better? Where will you hold her to make her calm down when every part of the body is aching and surrendering to the pain? What words can you tell her to make her think everything will be fine? Is there something that really cures death, or the feeling left behind after the death of someone close?

Pain is something people experience at their own personal level. It is so intimate that no subject can understand its profundity. It brings sorrow and tears down people’s hearts, it confuses men and women, it alters the functioning of the brain, and it eats into people’s minds. People make silly decisions when they’re desperate and experiencing pain.

People drown themselves, some strangle themselves, others take poison, while others shoot themselves dead. Only a few manage to stand at the face of death and push through it. These are the strong hearted. They acknowledge that death is normal and there is nothing to it that can reverse it; though many live with the pain in their hearts.

Socrates says- to fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils. And surely it is the most blameworthy ignorance to believe that one knows what one does not know. It is perhaps on this point and in this respect, gentlemen, that I differ from the majority of men, and if I were to claim that I am wiser than anyone in anything, it would be in this that as I have no adequate knowledge of things in the underworld, so I do not think I have.

It is on this point that I also say that maybe death might not have been the worst thing ever to a human being because it is something we’ve no knowledge about. Perhaps, it might be a blessing.

Mzangila Snr

Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?



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