“I couldn’t wait until Thursday sir, the boy’s health is worsening,” Ndubi pleaded with Mr. Ron trying to catch up with him as he walked towards the gate to his ‘palace’- as it had been nicknamed by the locals.
He had just parked his brand new sleek black Volvo by the road side next to his house.
“It’s ok, don’t open it. I am only taking something then I’ll be off on my way,” Mr. Ron said to the security guard at the gate who was frantically pushing the gate for his boss and trying to salute at the same time.
“Sir…!” Ndumbi called to Mr Ron again this time rushing a little past him to slow him down, hoping to get his attention. “I am sorry to have to bother you in this way Sir but my son is badly sick.”
The guard closed the gate, and then rushed to push open the smaller pedestrian gate for his boss but Ndumbi holds the gate closing it back up.
“Please sir you don’t understand, my wife is with the boy at the road side waiting for me, the boy is hardly conscious now...”
Ron stared at Ndumbi spitefully for a while. The look would have made the most persistent person on earth give up but a life was at stake here. He was determined to get Ron’s attention. The dogs on the other side of the gate were barking calling for their master.
“Is it that you have a problem with your ears or that you just take me for dirt!?” Ron exclaimed. At this the keeper withdrew from them both and kept at some safe distance.
“Sir, I’m not in any way taking you for dirt and I have heard you this many times but ... see ... I’ve been coming to this place for the past one month now and you only postponed the days, now I am not even asking for all the money, I... I only need to take my son to the hospital.
… He’s very sick ….. I’ve left them at the roadside waiting for me….. I don’t have a coin in my pockets to board a bus let alone pay the hospital bill...” Ndumbi paused for a moment, his throat tightening as if the reality of what he had just said became fresh to him, when Ron interrupted his thoughts...
“You want to tell me that you don’t have some money, any money to pay for the bus…I mean, where do you take your money,” Ron asked trying to push his way through the gate but Ndumbi, almost in spite of himself, held on to it, bringing the two men too close to smell each other’s breath.
“I only need Frw 10,000, please,”
“And I need to rush and make the necessary arrangements for my family’s vacation, it’s in six weeks; remember?” Mr. Ron said
“Yes Sir I remember ...but…”
“You haven’t even yet fixed the timer you were bragging about….the one for the security lights. ...And you know I wanted to have them all working by the time my family leaves…”
“But sir, you said that would be the job that would follow after the alarm systems….it wasn’t even in the contract I signed,” added Ndumbi who was now getting agitated, his voice rising with his temper.
“No no no no. I remember you bragging about how you can install timers on all my gadgets”
“Just give me my due the rest we’ll discuss after my son gets better; right now I need to get him to the hospital”.
“I don’t get lectured, if I may remind you young man, by people of your calibre,” Ron said pushing him away forcefully and walking past him through the gate.
Ndumbi couldn’t follow him through. The dogs barking inside and the guard who had been moving closer to the men again as the voices became louder, shifting his rungu from hand to hand put Ndumbi in his place; outside the gate.
He was tempted to leave and find help elsewhere but there was no where else to go to. Pacing up and down, scratching his head in desperation, Ndumbi looked up to see Ron walking towards the gate again, caring a large envelope in his right hand, but waving his left hand in dismissal as soon as he had seen Ndumbi.
“Then don’t even give me the money, help me to take my son to the hospital in your car,” Ndumbi pleaded, his voice now shaking with emotion.
But Ron walked to Volvo totally ignoring Ndumbi and started it. Desperately Ndumbi tries to raise his voice above the rumbling engine “Please…,” he cried, “…help me take my son to the hospital!!”
Chasing that mighty car, chocking in the dust it sprayed as it raced down the road, he finally realized he was chasing after the wind.
Stopping in the middle of the road and kneeling on its dust, with no one else but him, the dust settling down and the vegetation that pitifully gazed at him, he cried and cried again.
By the dusty roadside, there was a small grocery run by Mama Virginia. The wind was blowing through the rusty roof that covered it. Ndumbi came running to her and inquired of his wife and son who had been waiting for him beside the grocery.
“I saw her walk that way carrying the boy about an hour ago,” Mama Virginia answered pointing to the direction they had gone.
“O my God she’s trying to walk to the hospital,” whispered Ndumbi as he started to chase after them.
It was almost 45 minutes later when he caught up with them. Nikki the wife was dragging her exhausted dusty body holding the boy at the front. She heard Ndumbi’s panting and thundering feet behind.
“He is not breathing, my baby is not breathing,” she sobbed turning to him. He rushed and took the boy.
“Danny! Danny answer me…” he called shaking the boy’s head gently “Danny, Baba is here, we are getting you to the hospital and you’ll be fine… isn’t it so Danny...?”
Ndumbi saw Danny’s eyeballs moving under but he did not open his eyes.
Nikki walked three meters to the side and stared at her husband and son. She thought she was losing her mind with fear and too strong an emotion she had not known before. “Is he okay?” she asked.
“Let’s just get him to the hospital,” said Ndubbi breaking out into a run.
“Is he okay? Tell me! Is my son okay?” she raised her voice running fast behind him.
He did not say a word but kept on running. Their distance was now increasing, Nikki couldn’t keep up. She followed behind whispering prayers and the husband talking to the boy, “You’ll be okay my dear son and I’ll take you fishing as soon as you are fine,” he promised.
Two miles later, Ndumbi’s eyes fixed at the far horizon and not blinking, his speed had drastically reduced, his body heavily sweating and no longer was he talking to the boy. His mind seemed displaced.
Nikki was catching up with him; she wasn’t sure what was happening. She reached for his shoulder to get a good view of the boy who seemed peacefully asleep. Ndumbi moved away from her, she followed behind and reached for the boy.
“Don’t touch him!” he half shouted, but she had already stretched her hands to hold the boy. “Let me hold my son!” she insisted. “Don’t touch him please,” his voice was gone, only a hoarse grumble came through his lips, tears rolling down his cheeks and falling on the boy’s shirt.
“Don’t touch him!” he lowered his body to his knees on this dusty road. Terror gripped her heart as she stood behind them. She now wasn’t sure she wanted to touch the boy.
Her eyes fastened to Ndumbi’s back. She started wailing and walked past them to their front. Ndumbi raised his head to face his wife.
“He is cold”
(To be continued...)