Two Phone Calls: Man Down
The fact that this story is from the day after Fool’s Day should have been the first clue. It gets a little interwoven at the beginning which means you will need to pay only 17 shillings’ worth of attention. Michael was off from work and “bored to death”. In the process [which we must all trust] that included watching all movies available to him and walking around the house in his boxers [I clearly don’t know what boys do], Albert called [insert ominous music].
Michael and Albert have been friends for the longest time. This is something you say when you encounter a partnership that has lasted through tsunamis and COVID19s and so many birthday showers that you cannot count. A friendship that lasts the years. How many years, you might ask? Maybe if we cut them down and count the rings but otherwise, they have known each other a decent while. So Albert called saying he was not working that day [see? Birds of a feather] but his day, unlike Michael’s, had started with a mindset of getting to work.
That morning, Albert received a call from his other friend who had almost the same history as with Michael, only in this friendship, they had schooled together from primary school to university, and, as if to just add icing on this friendship, they came from the same village as well. This friend, Judas, had been admitted at Mater Hospital in South B.
“I didn’t now Judas very well by that time other than the stories I had heard. He had a reputation with women. The kind where he ‘could never let a skirt pass by without pursuing it’ if you know what I mean,” Michael tells me.
Albert was concerned, and if your friend is worried about something or someone, they become your problem by osmosis. The concern is transferred through the phone call and immediately Michael agreed to meet with Albert. “Up to that moment,” he texts, “we didn’t know why exactly he was admitted.” They met in town, Michael of course having dressed first, and tagged along to the hospital that housed their Judas. This was the first time either of them was going to South B’s Mater Hospital and so they had to seek help from another person.
Judas’s sister, Erika, [17 shillings worth, remember?] was their compass on getting around the grounds. She and Albert had a “thing” back in the day until it ended unceremoniously. “I’ve never gone deep into getting the facts on why it “unceremoniously” ended but going by their body language, you could tell there was still a flame somewhere waiting to be ignited…” says Michael.
Erika took them to the ward where their soldier was. they found him lying on the bed, unconscious, but out of the pathway that shows “the light”. The doctor attending to him assured them of his getting well soon. Soon is a peculiar word. It gives you hope without really giving it. Soon is the kind of peanut butter that clumps together and tears holes into bread. It is room temperature water after a couple hours’ work in the afternoon sun. It is something that is good, and powerful and delicious, while at the same time being average and bland and discouraging. Even doctors don’t know how soon is soon.
Michael sets the scene. “The hospital presented a gloomy picture. I was moved to see the condition of the patients while at the same time noticing how the behavior of the doctors and nurses was worthy of great praise. Their prompt and quick and services accompanied with sympathetic attitudes were rays of hope for the dying and diseased.”
When I was younger [ergo about 3 years ago] I was lying beside an old flame of mine, [details to this encounter are blurred on the basis that my parents read this blog] and I learnt a new word. I don’t recall each new word I come across, but every time I use this one, I just do. At some point, in random conversation that is my niche, I assume he wasn’t feeling well, and he said he “felt like regurgitating”. I remember how frantically I searched for this word in my head as if some pirate had hidden it in a chest. I know I knew I did not now its meaning, but I still remember searching, desperate to not let him upstage me in this sudden battle of Find the Mystery Word. And I remember coming to the conclusion that the word did not compute and gathering the words in my mouth to ask what it meant. I hated asking it. I hated myself for not knowing this one word, and I had to swallow a tiny part of my Luo pride and ask.
Michael left the hospital. Well, he left the scene he had described to go outside for some air. At the time he still did not know what had happened to Judas and he thought it rude to ask people whose minds were clinging on to ‘SOON’. “So I sat outside waiting for Albert to let me in on what had happened and at the same time I really don’t like the smell of hospitals, they make me feel sick.”
If you have watched enough movies in your day, you have encountered a scene where a character sees something that is disgusting and they use the words “I think I’m gonna be sick” and somehow always finds an empty bin to barf into. Therefore, ‘be/feel sick’ is equal to barf which is equal to puke and is in fact equivalent to regurgitate.
After around an hour, Albert walked out of the hospital and went: “You guy imagine Judas tried to commit suicide because of a woman!”
There was shock. Judas had outdated his own reputation. “I couldn’t believe that this was the same person whose reputation in getting women preceded him and yet there we were, in a hospital because a girl had broken up with him. It was unbelievable.” Mwanaume hisia…
As Albert was spilling the details to what had transpired, Erika came and called them back in. They found Judas conscious, able to talk but not very audible. “He still looked weak,” Michael adds, “I heard one of his aunties whispering to her friend that the woman Judas had been staying with had to be using dark magic on him…that for the past three months he wasn’t even sending money back home as he always did, and that the lady should be kept far away from their son.” Yes, I know you are thinking of your aunty who would say this about you. It’s okay, almost all of us have at least one of those. They are cut from the same cloth, these aunties. “Judas is the only son in a family of five daughters. He was somehow pampered and according to the norms of his community, he was the one who was to take over the homestead.” This occurrence was a heavy blow to the family; to think that their son nearly died because of a woman was a huge blow.
Because it was getting late, and Michael and Albert had ensured their friend was safe and in good hands, they left so they could beat the rush hour. On the ride home Albert told Michael that on the previous day [which happened to be Fool’s Day], Judas had told him that he had found evidence that his girlfriend, Genevieve, had cheated on him with the head of ICT at his workplace. “I didn’t see why he would use this as an excuse to commit suicide while he himself was involved with a number of women. Why was it right for him to cheat and wrong for her not to? It was baffling,” says Michael.
Two weeks later, Judas was discharged. They went to get him and took him to Pangani. He looked energized and had so many jokes you could hardly imagine it was the same person who had tried to commit suicide. So Albert asked him why he had tried to do such a stupid thing. “His response was that he was so madly in love with the girl that he couldn’t think of being with anyone else. I laughed. I couldn’t help it.”
I ask why he laughed at that answer.
“His idea of love was messed up. And his character wasn’t helping sell the ‘love narrative’. But oh well…they still got back together. A year later they got a kid together, I’m assuming it’s his because he believes she looks like him”
“You don’t think the kid looks like him?”
“Does he still cheat?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he texts. “Even after 2 kids. They even fight. They seem to not be able to leave the relationship. Reasons to this I don’t know.”
Well, everyone loves differently. Or obsess. Or lust.
Then, I asked the question you need answered. “What about Erika and Albert?”
“That was left as it was. Both went their separate ways. Albert married someone else”
I thought this was disappointing. “But flames don’t just go out,” I texted back. “People go back even after 20 years.”
Michael agreed. Then added that people’s preferences also change with maturity and exposure, and I said that maturity is relative then realized that we were starting to sound like philosophers.
PS. If you have a Young Love story, hit me up on any of my socials. Twitter and Instagram (@mir_awu) and on my Facebook page: MIRAWU