By Cecy Gaitho
I do not know why Sam Mateso crossed my mind that day. Probably, the thought was sparked by the call I had just received from my son Jackson Kihoti, telling me the good news of his fiancée’s pregnancy. It was a blessing to see how a responsible young man he had become and I was happy that his fiancée Maria was going to have the best support system around her, during the pregnancy.
Carrying my own pregnancy many years before had not been a walk in the park. You see, it has been almost thirty-five years since he walked out of my life, leaving me pregnant and hopeless. I was seventeen and in school, and the thought of facing my poor and sickly father with such heartbreaking news was never going to be easy.
I was forced to drop out of school, as my mother had passed on seven years earlier, leaving my dad to raise me all on his own. We were extremely poor and Sam Mateso had taken advantage of this situation, to lure me into his house, with the promise of paying my school fees. To say I was elated is an understatement.
I almost lost my son as I was giving birth
When I discovered I was pregnant and he wasn’t going to take responsibility, I cursed the day I met him. This day, I am a happy mother, as my son is a renowned lawyer at J. Kihoti Advocates and Associates, a law firm that fights for the poor and oppressed. All said and done, I have been happily married for 25 years and I am the chief Matron at the Madre Teresa Charity Hospital, which we started together with my husband, to help the community around us. Fate turned things around for me, and I am forever grateful.
As part of my daily routine, I move to all the Madre Teresa hospital wards, encouraging patients and also to see their recovery progress. I am naturally an extroverted and compassionate person, which is the reason why I have been able to run this hospital for twenty years. We have won several awards and our excellent services are praised far and wide.
Ours is service to humanity. I am particularly concerned with the maternal health care, as I almost lost my son as I was giving birth, with the help of a village midwife. My poor father could not afford taking me to a proper hospital. Mama Sarakasi was always sought for midwifery services, despite four in ten women losing their lives in her so-called expertise. How my son and I survived her crude birth weapons is still a miracle.
She had been in labor all night
It is during such visits that I met a young lady in her twenties. The nurse on duty informed me that she had been in labor all night and the baby was not forthcoming. If the labor persisted for six more hours, they were going to schedule her to an emergency caesarian section, to save her life and that of her unborn baby.
Such cases always reminded me of my own situation, and I always found myself shedding tears. I wished my father could have lived longer to see me prosper. Whenever such incidents occurred, I always remembered his drawn face as he helplessly watched me bleed day after day. All he could do was encourage me to be strong for the sake of my son, whom I had named after him.
And when a neighbor told him of the “Muhonia” leaves which would stop the bleeding, he didn’t hesitate to go to the forest and get me the cure herbs. Even in his grave, I owe this man my life. As I left the labor ward, all I could do was encourage and assure her all would be well. I trusted the expertise of my surgeons, who were highly trained and dedicated to their work.
Nurse Katherine came to my office some minutes before my lunch break. I was scheduled for a meeting with the hospital board 45 minutes later and therefore, I needed to get prepared. The success of this hospital could largely be attributed to the committed staff and board members, who always came up with quick responses to difficult situations.
She had charmed her way into my heart
Sister Kathy, as she was known, had been very instrumental in coordinating activities around. She was my right hand person, and her easy demeanor made it easy for patients to talk to her. She had an infectious smile and a knowing look. She never looked down on anyone and nursing to her was a dream come true. We were in the middle of negotiations of opening more branches for our hospital and deep within, I knew Sister Kathy would manage any of the branches mandated to her.
“Please Matron, an old man here wants to see you over his daughter.” She said with worry written all over her voice. This was usually her way of saying that someone really needed my help, and pleading with me not to turn them down. She had charmed her way into my heart and thinking of her, I saw her as the daughter I never had. There was no way I was going to turn her down even if it meant skipping my lunch. “Tell him to come right in.” I responded.
As the old man made his way into my office, I suddenly felt a hint of recognition leap into my heart. “Maybe he had been to this hospital before.” I thought to myself. It was not unusual for patients to come to me time and again, especially when they did not have the money for treatment. Although we did not charge much, many of our patients were from poor backgrounds and thus, we had to find well-wishers who could support the hospital. As he sat down, I could tell that the man was really desperately in need of my help in whatever way he needed it.
His wife carried off everything else he had
“My name is Samson and I come to you for the sake of my daughter.” He said pleadingly. He went ahead to narrate about his daughter who had been raped and had been admitted here in the labor ward for the last one day. She needed emergency surgery and he could not foot the one thousand shillings that he was required to pay before procedure began
He lived in abject poverty; auctioneers had sold off everything he had over an unpaid debt, while his wife carried off everything else he had, leaving him with their small daughter. “Life has never been fair to me,” he said as he cried uncontrollably.
“It is going to be alright”. I said as pity swept through my heart. The girl had been gang raped on her way from the church, and they had not reported the matter to the police because they could not afford the expenses. Furthermore, it was going to be difficult, especially because the rapists were the sons of a well-known rich man from their village.
A desire to tell him off became strong
There were forms to be filled before I could grant the permission for the operation to continue, that required personal details. From the corner of my eye, I saw him write Samson Mateso, from Mlachake village. Was I daydreaming or was this the same Sam Mateso who left me pregnant?
Wait, was there some confusion somewhere? I looked at him closer and suddenly realized it was the same man, who left me for the dogs. The man whose actions had led my father to depression and eventually to an early grave, when my son was only four months old. It was because of him that I had become a teenage mom, with no one to turn to after my father’s burial.
Thankfully to a non-governmental organization that stepped in and helped me together with my son, I could not be where I was. Spite rose in my throat and a desire to tell him off became strong. “Maybe I should use this opportunity to revenge!” I thought angrily. This man had almost destroyed my life and maybe if I hit back, it would make me feel better and also revenge over my father’s death. Inwardly, I was bitter but outwardly, I let a smile as he handed the papers to me.
I needed to find out more about the duo
“Repay evil with good!” I could hear my preacher’s voice speaking directly into my heart. Luckily, Mateso did not recognize me all through and I was going to make a decision in the next ten minutes. His daughter needed an emergency surgery and my move would seal her fate. If I did not sign the papers, she was going to die with her unborn baby.
Fighting tears that were threatening to fall down my cheeks, I signed the papers and handed them over to the senior surgeon. The happiness on his face was palpable. “Do not worry, we are here to help the community.” I said as I tried hard to conceal my own pain, which had come back fresh and real.
“The operation was successful.” Sister Kathy burst into my office three hours later. I had gone to the meeting late, as I dashed to the nearest shops, to get some baby clothes for Mateso’s grandchild. As Sister Kathy led the way to the wards with me in tow, we found Mateso seated on the bedside too excited that a grandson had been born to him.
As I handed the clothes to the girl, gratitude was written all over her face. The first phase had been successful, and I needed to find out more about the duo. They looked emaciated as at when I first met them. I was going to serve Mateso revenge, in the sweetest way and it was not going to be easy with all the pain within me. An eye for an eye would make both of us blind, and I was going to make both our eyes open.
I was armed with all the information I needed
Three days later, I was armed with all the information I needed. I had contacted the police over the rape case and a speedy court process would begin in a week’s time. I had visited the Demolishers and Finishers Auctioneers over Mateso’s debt and everything was working my way. Soon, some of his possessions would be restored. My preacher would have been proud of me, repaying evil for good.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Hiti brothers are going to remain behind bars, pending further investigation into the gang rape case.” Lady Justice Shauri announced as happiness leaped through my heart. Knowing her no-nonsense demeanor, I knew justice was going to be found. My son Jackson Kihoti was going to represent Mateso’s daughter and given his history, he never lost any case.
“Thank you matron for helping me all through.” Mateso said to me as we stood outside court Number 7, after the judge’s verdict. “Always my pleasure to help the oppressed in our society.” I said as I stretched my hand towards him, with my son standing next to me. Journalists were pressing on to us, as each sought for an interview with the three of us.
He was a pitiful sight
“Er…Mr. Mateso…” I called as he was turning to leave.
“My name is Helina Nyakio, MzeeTulivu’s daughter. And this is the son you fathered 33 years ago. Meet your daughter’s lawyer, Mr. Jackson Kihoti.” The cameras glared on, as sweet revenge was served to the man who left me to the dogs almost thirty-five years ago.
He stood there speechless; too embarrassed for his own past failures and the fact that the child whom he abandoned was now his only daughter’s savior.
“F…Forgive me Nya…Nyakio…I w…was a fool ba…back then…” He said as endless tears gushed down his face.
He was a pitiful sight. And though it was sweet revenge for me, I could not explain why tears rolled down my cheeks. Were they of joy or bad memories that I had carried for the last three decades and a half?
My son came hugged and consoled me, then he said, ‘’Come mom, let’s go,’’ as he led me away leaving Mateso to entangle himself from self afflicted distress.