HANGING ON THE PRECIPICE - EPISODE 2

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Poster source: pixgood.com  Ikemefuna sat beside her on the bed. He stroked her swollen h...


Poster source: pixgood.com 


Ikemefuna sat beside her on the bed. He stroked her swollen hand while little Chizuru played on the floor. Despondency walked all over Ikemfuna’s mind as he stared helplessly at her. When the morning nurse walked in, she stared at Ikemefuna and Maryanne. It had been years since the last time she saw them. “Good morning Mr. Izuako,” she said. He looked up. “It is you,” he answered flickering through his mind for her name. “It is Vivian sir.” “Yes, Vivian. I can’t believe this is you. You work here now?” “Yes sir.” “I am very happy for you. How are you parents?” “They are fine. Your wife is not well?” “Yes,” he answered. His face reflected the gloom that had set camp in his mind. Maryanne was in a deep pain, but that voice was unmistakable. She turned slightly and looked. Vivian had grown into a beautiful lady. She recalled the last time she had seen her. It was an unpleasant experience, particularly for Vivian. Vivian quickly glanced through Maryann’s file. “My colleague that handed over tome mentioned a lady with kidney failure. I could never have imagined it was Aunty Maryanne. Have you had any luck with finding a matching donor?” Ikemefuna shook his head pitifully.

“I will be praying that you find one soon enough.” “Thank you Vivian. Congratulations for coming this far in life.” “Thanks.” She gave Maryanne her medication, checked her vitals and started for the door. Suddenly, Maryanne began to jerk. “Come back Vivian. I think she is having a seizure,” Ikemefuna shouted. Vivian ran back and held her down. She rang for the doctor who arrived promptly with two other nurses. They asked Ikemefuna to leave the room. He paced the hallway with Chizuru seating sullenly on the bench outside his mother’s room. “Is mummy going to die?” He asked his father. He was torn as he stared at his son. The reality dawned on him that Maryanne may actually die, but he could not bring himself to say that to Chizuru. “The doctors are doing all they can to save mom.” “But she has been here for some time now daddy. Why is it taking them time to make mommy better?” “Some things take time Chizuru. This is one of them.” “I just want my mommy back,” he replied. Ikemefuna could see that his eyes were misty. He hugged him and stroked his hair. “Everything is going to be alright Chizuru,” assured him, even though he had no idea how. Chizuru buried his head into his father’s for comfort. He was discernibly afraid and daddy’s hug offered some solace in his hour of trouble and confusion. Little did he know that as his head was tucked into his father’s chest, tears circled Ikemefuna’s eyes. He dug out his handkerchief and quickly dried his eyes. If Chizuru were to see him cry, he’d lose any hope that his mother would be well again.

The doctor and nurses came and informed him that Maryanne was stable again, but to let her sleep for some time. He remained outside with Chizuru for another three hours before rejoining Maryanne. “I think I recognized that nurse,” she muttered after Ikemefuna had settled in beside her on the bed. “That was Vivian, our former house maid,” Ikemefuna informed her. “I thought I recognized her. Now I remember,” Maryanne said in a whisper. Silence ensued between them except for Chizuru’s toy car that rolled along the floor. As soon as he saw his mother talking again, most of his fears disappeared. Vivian had packed her things and run away from their home one afternoon when Ikemefuna was at work while Maryanne had gone to fix her nails. It was a terrible afternoon for young Vivian. Although Maryanne was in the habit of beating her with any object that was within her reach, this particular afternoon was like nothing Vivian had experienced before. “I told you to iron all these clothes and to wash the bathroom and mop the kitchen and living room floors. What have you been doing since I was gone?” Maryanne asked, charging menacingly at her. She had washed the bathroom, and was in the middle of ironing Maryanne’s clothes when she returned, but she expected her to have finished all the chores.

“What have you been doing? She asked as she slapped her across the face. She fell backwards and crashed against the fridge. She slapped her yet again and Vivian tried to run past her and out the door, but Maryanne grabbed her by the arm and flung her against the wall. Her head crashed violently into the wall leaving her dazed. She wriggled on the floor in an excruciating pain. “Aunty please stop. You are going to kill me. Please stop!” She pleaded, holding her head. Maryanne ignored her fervent plea for mercy, took the hot electric iron that was sitting on the ironing board and pressed the blazing surface into her left thigh. Vivian yelled from within her guts. “Ayoooo!!!” She shouted in tears, kicking and jerking in a frantic attempt to free her left thigh. Maryanne raised the sweltering iron and residues of Vivian’s skin charred on the hot surface like meat dripping oil while roasting over hot burning charcoal. She placed the iron back on the ironing board and walked into the living room. “Clean that thing and get back to work,” she ordered her emotionlessly as she walked off. She remained on the floor watching the whitish patch that the electric iron had left on her thigh as drops of blood quickly rose to the top, forming ball-like dots across the white patch. The pain pierced through her soul. She wanted to be home with her parents where she could feel safe again. Living with the rich in a luxurious home had brought her nothing but agony. She desperately craved their little hut in the village, with an expansive compound in front. Somedays, Maryanne had starved her of food but in her family, she never went without food, despite their poverty. Her parents always came up with the goods from their farm.

“What are you still doing there?” Maryanne yelled at her. She jumped to her feet despite the pain that was stabbing mercilessly at her left thigh. Maryanne unbolted the front door and left. “I am going to fix my nails. If you like keep playing while I am gone,” she warned. Vivian stood by the window and watched until her car sped off. She went to the room where she slept. Under the mattress, she found her little purse. Her aunt, Theresa had given it to her two Christmases ago. Often, Ikemefuna did not ask for his change when Vivian bought something for him. She stashed away every penny in that purse and hid it under her mattress. She threw her clothes into a polyethylene bag and her old, shabby-looking shoes into another. She found one of her old clothes, which she had outgrown. She tore it up and wrapped it around her left thigh to stem the flow of blood. Then, she changed into a better dress, took her bags and hit the road. 

“Where are you going?” The gateman asked him. “Faruk, I don dey go be this. This woman na devil. She wan kill me. See my leg.” She untied the cloth on her left thigh and showed him the injury. “Wetin do that to you?” Faruk asked. “Electric iron. She pressed hot electric iron into my leg. Devil! I don dey go!” “Walahi, that woman no be small debil (devil). Dey go make she no pluck your eye next time. Me too I dey plan to leave. When she blow her horn two times if I neba open gate, na so she go insult me tire. Dey go Bibian (Vivian),” Faruk encouraged her. The pain was still knifing through her but the thought of being home again steered her forward. Vivian went to the motor park and boarded a bus to her home town. Ikemefuna found out about the incident from Faruk. After arguing with Maryanne, he drove to Vivian’s village to apologize to her family the next weekend and give them money to cover her hospital bill.

“Mr. Ikemefuna Izuako, I have to tell you to prepare for the worst. You should start making plans for a possible funeral. If we don’t find a kidney in two to three days, your wife will be dead,” the doctor told him ominously. He held his head in his hand as he left the doctor’s office. The next morning, Maryanne was in a deep pain. She turned and groaned. Ikemefuna, his mother, Maryanne’s parents and some friends were all misty-eyed as they looked on powerlessly. Relatives came in their numbers to see her in case she passed away that week. Word had circulated that she would not likely make it past a week. By night, Ikemefuna could not sleep a wink. He sat opposite her wishing he could offer one of his kidneys to save her. By morning, Maryanne had a terrible seizure. After she was stabilized by the nurses, it was obvious that death was imminent. Then, the doctor came in and announced that he might have an answer. 

He told the nurses to prepare Maryanne for surgery immediately. Hurriedly, they got the theater ready and wheeled her in. “What is going on doctor?” Ikemefuna asked before the doctor went in for the surgery. “We found a match for your wife. We have to do the surgery right away. She does not have much time.” The surgery went well and two days later, Maryanne was talking again. “Doctor I can feel the difference already. I am getting my strength back!” She announced. “We are thankful. It is good to have you back again. It was a close call.” “It was indeed. Thanks for saving my life.” Thank God and the Good Samaritan who gave one of their kidneys that you may live. If we hadn’t found a match when we did, you could have died.” “I thought I was dead actually. I had given up. So, who is this Good Samaritan?” “They prefer to remain anonymous.” “You cannot tell us at all? We have to thank them at least,” Ikemefuna persuaded him. “I am afraid I cannot tell you. I have to respect their wish,” the doctor insisted. Two weeks after returning from hospital, Maryanne received a letter and it read;

Dear Maryanne,
It is good to know that you were saved. I hope this new life marks a whole new beginning for you. A second chance…One that will bring joy to those who come in contact with you, and not sadness. One that will protect the vulnerable left in your care. Not just your own children but everyone below you including other people’s children. I once hated you. I prayed for your death sometimes, and at other times I prayed that you would live to suffer. I wished you would feel the pain that you made me feel when I was powerless and vulnerable. You were supposed to protect me but instead, you tortured me. Each time I looked at my left thigh, a wave of anger and hate rushed through me.

Intriguingly, when I saw you lying helplessly on that hospital bed…the place where I most wanted to see you - in deep pain, I realized that I was not you. I did not have to be you. Instead of gloating over your misfortune, I felt pity for you. The revenge that I so very much desired was somewhat before me, but it was stale…yes stale and meaningless. Seeing you in pain somehow healed me from the hate that had been running in deep channels in my mind from that day you cruelly dug a hot burning iron into my thigh without remorse. I realized I did not have to hate you or wish you ill to be happy. All I wanted to do was to help, and when I found out that I was a perfect match for you, something in me wanted to hold back my kidney so you could die, but a much stronger part of me rejected that petty, miserable and vengeful path. I am so glad I did the right thing. I did not do it for you…I did it first for God, and then for me. To free me from the tiny little cell of hate and anger into which you threw me the moment you placed that iron on my thigh.

Now I am free and I am thankful. I hope you too find freedom from all that anger and wickedness. Please remember that the kidney that works within you to keep you alive came from someone else. Take good care of it…show some love and kindness to others. When you have the urge to hurt someone else, please remember that you have another person’s kidney within you Vivian!

Maryanne was crying like a baby after reading the letter. “Are you alright mommy?” Chizuru asked her. “I am fine honey,” she answered, but she could not stop crying. “We have to find her Ikem,” she said through tears to her husband when he returned from work. “I am so ashamed of who I was,” she cried. “It is okay honey. We’ll find her. We’ll find her,” Ikemefuna urged her.


THE END

This story was written by:

Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: HANGING ON THE PRECIPICE - EPISODE 2
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