He gives and takes.

Lizzy drive slowly behind the Toyota in front of her. There were many cars around, and everyone had to drive slowly, it was after all, a District hospital.

She passed her hand through her purse to see if she had her wipes and hand wash, she had msyophobia and hospitals did little to comfort her. The smell of disinfectant filled the air, mixed with faint smells of urine, vomit and blood. The scent made her skin curl, but she had to be here, she needed to be here.

On her left was a couple walking home. It was evident that the lady had been discharged, they had a basin and a bag obviously full of her belongings. She looked sad, dazed, in her own world. Lizzy wondered what the woman had been through, she seemed crushed. As if on cue, the lady broke down to tears as the thoughts escaped Lizzy. She stopped walking and sat down all together. She was unable to hide the tears and her pain could be heard in her sobs, as if beckoning everyone to join her mood. The man quickly but gently moved to her side, squatting to hold her close. He was comforting her, and Lizzy could see, from the way the man moved his mouth, he was consoling a miscarriage, telling his wife, as she assumed, that all would be well, that they would get another baby soon and the pain would go away…

A hoot from the car behind her forced her back to reality, it reminded her that that one woman was one story out of many in this hospital. Some had happy endings while others were doomed from the very beginning.

She wondered what her story would be like today.

Her dear uncle had been ailing from something for a long while. She called it something as a joke, as most doctors were unable to diagnose what it was. The District hospital had been their last resort, and for the past four days, he had shown improvement. He was able to sit down now, feed himself, and even laugh again. She was grateful for each step he made towards recovery.

You see, Lizzy’s father passed away when she was six years old. He was a wealthy man and her mother, a spoilt woman who had never worked her entire life. She had been born in the era where women attained an education to attain the right man, not the right job or life by herself. So when the relatives tried to take the family wealth from her, she was hopeless and defenseless. Uncle Phil was the only one who defended them. He hired the lawyer and fed them when all accounts were frozen during the cases. He beat up his older brother who wanted to marry his dead brother’s wife in the name of culture. He educated her, put her in line when she wanted to quit school. He had become their father and protector out of love and kindness.

              x-and-quibilah-and-attallah-1962

And now, now Uncle Phil needed her. She had grown up independent and liberal, thanks to him. Because of him, she was a successful lawyer and business woman who now took care of her family. If it was not for him, she would have never worked so hard. So she owed him, she would be there for him, with him and beside him till he got better.

The Private wing always smelt better, their food was good and less crowded. Opening the door, she found her aunt sleeping on the chair beside her husband. She sighed, aunty needed to rest on a proper bed. This was her second night her. Today she had to go home, shower, eat home cooked food, sleep for  a few hours then get back.

As always, she was stubborn at first, but after assuring her that her husband would not be alone till she was back, she hurriedly grabbed her car keys and sped off.

Turning to look on the bed, she found her uncle smiling at her.

“You were always the strong willed one, the only child my wife could never say no to,” he said sitting up.

“I learned from the best,” she said smiling back. “How are we feeling today?”

“We,” he said holding her hand, “shall be ready to go home sooner than you expect.”

“I’m glad to hear that,”she said gently squeezing his hand.”I had missed seeing you like this.”

The next two hours flew by fast. They debated about politics, talked about the farm and what various relatives were up to. He seemed happy and rested, she was relieved.

He yawned and lied back.

“Lizzy,” he called.

“Yes uncle?”

“You have been a good girl and a strong woman…never let anyone change that, you hear me?”

“Uncle, stop talking like that, you’re scaring me,”she said.

He laughed. “You think I’m about to kick the bucket? At this state I cannot talk about serious things before someone cries!”

“Uncle I’m just worried…”

“There is nothing to worry about child. The Lord gives and the Lord takes, all we should do is appreciate the time he gives us. Now,” he said clearing his throat, “fetch me a glass of water, something nasty irritates my throat.”

She stood up and moved to the small table right in front of the bed. Her Uncle was special,she thought, he expected us all to have a brave face all this while. But he was right, though, she was grateful for this trying process, it reminded her how important he was despite all these years.

She turned round and moved closer to the bed to hand him the glass of water.

He looked so peaceful, lying on that bed with his eyes closed, like he was in a very deep sleep.

It had only been a minute, there was no way he would have slept so fast….oh no, oh no, no!

As the scream escaped her mouth she remembered that woman by the pavement, the pain in their voices could be heard. The pain was unbearable, indescribable, but so very real.

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