I entered my cubicle hurriedly and realized Terry was lying on the floor motionless. It seemed like the situation had gone from bad to worse. I knelt next to her, and realized that she had fainted. I fidgeted as I tried to loosen her clothes – the first thing I knew about first aid, and tried opening her mouth to drop in the medicine.
It wasn’t working, and I stopped, feeling stupid. I wondered what the right thing to do was.
Now my mind was empty of any First Aid ideas.
I looked at her again, looked at the tablets in my hand, and sat on the floor to think. Nothing came to mind.
I decided to look for help. Perhaps someone would advise me on what to do. I feared that if I did not act fast, something terrible would happen to poor Terry.
I went out again in looking for Julius, but found that he had already gone to his quarters. I knocked at his door, but got no response. About fifteen minutes had gone since he opened the gate for me and now, it seemed he had so fast been taken by his sleep than I had expected. Anyway, with my persistent knocking, he woke up a few minutes after and came with me.
Then, another idea sprang up in my mind. Natalie, being a woman and a nursing student on attachment at the Eldoret District Hospital was in a better place in administering first aid on Terry than Julius. In my opinion she knew what to do best. I dashed to her room as Julius waited for me and started knocking on her door. A few knocks awakened her and she recognized my voice instantly. Thank God!
“Is that Frank?” she asked, her sleepy voice exhibiting laziness.
“Yes, it is me. And I need your help,” I said.
“What is it Frank surely that cannot wait until morning? It is midnight and I am asleep woiye.” And she chuckled. That, however, gave me hope that she was willing to listen and help.
“Please wake up. It is about Terry. You might be the only help for her at the moment.”
She said with a lot of pity
“What has happened?” she asked, now getting serious.
“She has stomach ulcers,” I said, not able to explain anything more. I only wanted her help and I trusted that she was the right one based on her little nursing experience.
“Okay, don’t worry my dear, all shall be well,” she said.
She got out shortly in her night gown and a sweat pant. We then went into my room. Every time I looked at Terry, my heart wrenched with sadness but when I looked at Natalie, who seemed to be so concerned and calm, I relaxed a bit.
For some seconds she looked at her, then felt her fever, and asked me, “For how long has she been like this?”
“I don’t know. I had left her about an hour ago to go to the dispensary to buy her medicine but when I came back she was here sleeping motionless on the floor.”
“You have tried, but you should have told me to stay with her surely. Maybe we should have prevented this.” she said with a lot of pity. “And neither did I know that she was sick nor something was happening in your room. I would have helped.”
True, if Natalie had known about this she would have nursed Terry while I was away buying her the medicine. But unfortunately, I did not seem to remember to inform her about Terry as I left. And with the distance between our rooms, I guessed it was hard for her to notice that something was wrong in my room. Our flat had only three inhabitants despite the eight rooms that were in the compound. Four rooms that separated Natalie’s room and mine were unoccupied due to renovations that they were undergoing and one that separated her and Julius who occupied the first room from the gate had no tenant.
Seeming confused, she asked, “What can we do now? What are we going to do?”
What to do! I was surprised. Why the hell was she asking me questions instead of doing what she had learned in medical classes? I asked myself.
Worry plus confusion continued to web our minds
“What is done to patients with this condition? Can’t you suggest any first aid?” I asked.
“I think more needs to be done. But we can help her in the meantime; let us make her sleep flat on the floor to make her get a free flow of air.” She busied herself in making Terry sleep on her back, Julius looking at us with guilt written all over on his face, I think remembering how he had spoken to me as I went to the dispensary. “Call Mr. Wanyama quickly to help us with one of his cars to take her to hospital. Don’t waste time,” she ordered me.
Mr. Wanyama, our landlord lived behind our flat and so we were sure of his quick help. However, I had often feared to make phone calls to him due to his harshness and I feared to disturb him from his sleep. But after debating with myself for several seconds and fearing for Terry, I decided it was better to disturb him and save my princess.
I dialed his number. But he did not pick. I tried again, and again, and again but with no avail. Worry plus confusion continued to web our minds. No one had courage to get out of the compound to his house, walking with a dying patient.
For almost half an hour we sat near Terry with Natalie fanning her while I tried phoning, and Julius trying to help where possible. Then a thought came to his mind. Mr. Wanyama’s wife could pick my call. Several times Wanyama had not picked his phone calls at night when situations called, but his wife often did.
So I called her and she received upon the second trial.
“What is it?” she asked with a hoarse sleepy voice. I had to save her the stories. Not to waste her time.
“I need your help. Terry is dying here. Please save her.” I was finding it difficult to speak to her.
“Who is Terry?” she asked.
Now I felt like crying
“My…my…my…” I mumbled, a bit slow in my requests. “My wife,” I managed to finish eventually.
“Oh, the lady you came with is your wife?” she asked and giggled arrogantly like I was not supposed to have Terry as my wife. However, I answered in affirmative ignoring her arrogance and the noticeable satire which seemed to tell me I was not fit for marriage. I could not tell the perception she had on me but I didn’t mind asking. “And she is your real wife?” she continued but still I kept my cool and replied with kindness, wishing for her quick help. “I was wondering that I have no tenant called Terry. Anyway, can’t she wait until morning? If she is not seriously ill why can’t she wait?” she asked.
Now I felt like crying. Why do some people take other people’s lives lightly?
“It is serious and as we speak now she is unconscious and it looks like she is not getting better soon, please,” I pleaded.
“But we have a problem here too Frank. There’s no chauffeur around. My husband too…I think is too tired. He just arrived from a daylong business meeting. I think our car too has a small hitch,” she replied. I wondered why she had so many problems to explain to me. What if I was reporting that their house had caught fire? It is surely easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than the rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
It took a long time trying to convince her to help us. Our landlord and his wife seemed to have decided Terry should wait until morning. Nothing would happen to her. She said so and hung up which made us to dig deeper into our minds.
Doctor Maiyo, Natalie’s friend and a doctor at the District Hospital to whom Natalie had established acquaintance with came to Natalie’s mind. He lived at the nearby estate, a few minutes’ drive from ours and he didn’t take long before he picked Natalie’s call. At first he had thought Natalie had accepted his offer of going out with him that night being a Friday night but thank goodness he didn’t hesitate to help when he was informed about Terry’s condition. Another angel sent from above to save Terry.
For two days Terry stayed in hospital
The problem was that he wasn’t well conversant with our estate. He got lost severally, missing the right paths to our flats for quite a long time. However, after some many minutes of giving and taking directions he arrived and parked his Toyota Premio outside our gate, though fearing the place outside might risk his life. To secure himself he demanded us to hurry. We picked Terry quickly, covered her with a shawl and carried her to the car with Julius, adjusted the front seat to be flat and lay her there as Natalie rushed to pick her sweater from her room and locked it. Terry hadn’t shown any sign of ‘coming back’ and I was overly worried given the amount of time she had been unconscious. I only wanted her to get appropriate medical assistance as soon as possible.
Natalie and I hurried into the car to accompany her to St. Paul’s Mission Hospital, leaving Julius behind. A few minutes later, some minutes past 1am, some concerned nurses were strapping her on a gurney and pushed her to the ward to be admitted.
From there I felt some sort of relief. And for the first time I remembered to thank Doctor Maiyo and Natalie. Julius too had done his best, I thought. Then I flashed back to the few hours ago and remembered Mr. Wanyama and his wife. I thought of them as my enemies at that moment. I wished I had not known them. I even wished I wasn’t their tenant either. I wished someday they would be in my situation to feel the pain I was going through. I felt incapable of thinking positively towards them; they had turned me down at my girlfriend’s greatest time of need.
For two days Terry stayed in hospital. Being a weekend, Natalie, with the kindness and love of a blood sister, volunteered to stay with her until Anne, Terry’s mother, joined her the following afternoon. She stayed with her the entire night and daytime until Monday morning when Terry was discharged.
Both went home in the upcountry where her mother would nurse her until she got properly healed. As for me, I swore to move out of Mr. Wanyama’s houses immediately.
That Monday morning after Terry had been discharged I took some days off from work to move out. I wanted to move to a safer place with a better landlord. A landlord with feelings for humanity. In the nearby estate where Doctor Maiyo lived I found a house and moved in that very evening.
Two days later, Natalie told me on phone about two men, armed robbers that police had shot a few flats from Wanyama’s Houses the night we took Terry to hospital, and killed them. I concluded they were the men that had gone past me at Nehema Dispensary. She said she had also decided to move out due to fear and insecurity. She was also appalled by the type of landlord Mr. Wanyama was. She felt it was too easy to lose life in Mr. Wanyama’s apartments, judging from how he had ignored Terry’s case that night.
“What if she found herself in that situation one day?” Terry mused, it was better to move out in time, which she did.