Bumpy had been the road, tiring had been the journey, long had been the wait. Not so many times had she been this troubled in her life. As the bus pulled to a stop, she was half conscious. Someone tagged at her shoulder and she shot into absolute consciousness.
Where were you to be dropped off?”
“The hospital gate please.”
“But that’s where we are!”
She got up, adjusted her blouse, buttoned her trench coat and got off. The bus pulled off when she had barely touched down. She grumbled, she was in a foul mood. It was dark, but she could tell that the earth beneath her feet was unusually soft. She tried to move but her foot was stuck. Her foot then slid out of her shoe involuntarily and to her discomfort, she stepped onto something sticky. It did not feel like mud and she quickly figured out that she’d stepped on wet tar. She put her shoe back on and pulled her leg out of the sticky mess.
At the gate, she was tense. It was dark and eerie. A single soul went by while she was fighting tar. She hadn’t been scared. But she had another problem, she was pressed. She felt her bladder press onto her shrunken uterine walls. The feeling was at times painful, but a sweet kind of pain. She had to go to a toilet and relieve herself soon. She knew she was not going to be able to hold it in much longer. She did a little dance while her thighs stayed firmly pressed onto each other. She ran her eyes around the place, she was hoping for a suitable spot to do the dirty. She spotted a well hidden spot then sulked as the security lights of the hospital came on. she stayed quiet, composed.
“Hello, how can I help you?”
“I am here to see a patient.”
“Visiting hours have long expired. Try tomorrow.”
“The problem is, I have nowhere else to go to. The bus that dropped me just left.”
“So you want somewhere to sleep?”
“Not really. I came in from Nairobi. My daughter is in here, with my mum, I’ve got to see her.”
He wanted to argue. On second thought, he asked her to call the guardian of the sick baby. V’s phone was flickering the low battery alert and it was by immense luck that she got through to her mother. Leba came to her rescue and the understanding gatekeeper let them in.
V knelt by Ara’s bed as soon as she got it. She could barely recognize her own baby. She felt sad, she felt sorry, she felt guilty. The little girl stared at her. She was either in too much pain or was too weak to move like was her norm. V’s mind ran back to the little happy cherub she’d had to leave behind two months earlier, and her heart sank. She knelt beside Ara and just watched. She was on her knees, a perfect position for a quick prayer. She didn’t pray though, she just watched.
V thought of Sam and texted him. He wasn’t too happy to hear the news. Sam barely knew Ara yet he cared for her. They talked for a while. V felt stronger. Angela also called to ask if she’d arrived safely and how Ara was. Angie had given her the money for fare when she was too annoyed too ask for it from her father. She was upset that nobody had cared to tell her what was going on. After talking to Angie, she thought of Steve. She wanted to tell him about Ara. Steve was another friend of hers. A silent mysterious handsome guy that would always make her feel better when he said everything would be okay. V loved Steve. She had met Sam through him and she had learned to love Sam as well. She and Steve had been close friends before he moved to a new place and they had cut on the amount of time they would spend together. That particular evening, she couldn’t talk to him. They had not been in contact and she had no idea where to start. She sighed and put away her phone. She would probably talk to him the next day, or not.
Talking to her friends always made her feel relief. She derived her strength from them. Odd thing was, her friends thought she was so strong. Sometimes she wished they knew that they were her strength, her safe heaven, her pyramids. She thought of them and smiled. How different they all were. A pack of misfits that made one beautiful piece. V wasn’t good at making friends, a fact not so many people were aware of. Her paranoia did not allow her to let people close, neither did her pride. So, when she made friends and was comfortable to let them close, she had a problem letting then go.
That night she did not sleep, tired as she was. She stayed up and watched her daughter. She wanted to catch up on the time she’d lost. And tiring as it was, watching Ara breathe was beautiful for her. She was sad that it was Ara on that bed, and not her, but she found consolation in the fact that she was there to see her through it. She might have not been the best mother in the world, but she had promised herself that she would give it her best while she could.