CHRONICLES OF THE STRANGER
She continues to cry until Maame Akosua coughs gently to get Enyonam’s attention.
And, before I forget, here is the nurse who has been assigned to take care of you, Kwame. She is indeed a good woman and I’m sure you’re going to love her! Her name is Maame Akosua.
Maame, standing at the foot of the bed, smiles warmly at Kwame.
Hello, Mr. Awuah.
After a while Enyonam’s phone rings, and she stands up and heads for the door.
Maame straightens up the room and hums a song, putting everything where they are supposed to be.
The door opens, and Nana Yaw comes in.
He stares at Maame for a while, and then he sits down on the edge of the bed.
You’re the nurse Madam Klinogo assigned to my father?
And have you been taken through the drills about what to do and what not to do?
I’ve been a nurse for thirty years, Mr. Awuah, and I’ve handled patients in far worse situations than your father. Believe me, I know what I’m going to do.
Nana Yaw nods and stands up, his face so miserable that Maame feels her anger evaporating.
I didn’t mean to sound rude. But he’s my father, and I want only the best for him.
Go home now, Doctor, and get some rest. Believe me, your father is in good hands. He’s going to be fine.
Nana Yaw nods again.
He bends quickly and kisses his father on the forehead, and then he turns round and quickly walks towards the door.
Maame Akosua sees the look of hardness in Mr. Kwame Awuah’s eyes as he stares at his son’s back, and she scowls with confusion.
It seems to her that the father didn’t particularly like his adopted son.
A week passes quickly.
FOSUAA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL is doing brisk business now.
There is a cloud hanging over the hospital though.
This is because the rich and powerful business mogul, Mr. Kwame Awuah, is lying helpless in a hospital bed.
It is expected that he will die any day.
There is absolutely no hope for him.
His condition has rapidly deteriorated in just seven days.
Everyday powerful men and woman come to visit him, much to Maame Akosua’s surprise.
It dawns on her that Mr. Kwame Awuah had been very good to people in his years, and he is well-liked.
Letters and flowers arrive in droves for him every day.
Maame tells Enyonam that she wants a video player in the ward, and this is installed.
Maame stands beside the bed and looks down with pity at Mr. Kwame Awuah.
Everyday great people visit you. A lot of good wishes messages come for you. People bring flowers and cards. It seems you’re such a good man. What I can’t understand is why a grand man like you has hated God all your life and refused to accept that God exists. But that is going to change, do you hear me, Mr. Awuah? They say you have but a short time to live, and so I’m going to prepare your heart to be right with God. It is all I can do for you in this situation.
She rummages in her bag and brings out two books.
They are both Bibles.
One is a huge King James Version red-letter Bible, and the other is a voluminous children’s Bible.
She sits on the bed and shows them to Mr. Kwame Awuah, whose eyes suddenly go wide with anger.
I see you’re angry, and I’m really sorry, but I want to do this. This Bible has English with those yea and ye, and thou things, and I don’t like them much, so I’ll leave it in this room and pray that you will be able to read it one day. Now, this is a children’s Bible, and I have the video too. I’m going to read to you as we watch the video, okay?
Kwame Awuah blinks rapidly, signalling his displeasure, but Maame pays no heed to him.
She pops the CD into the player, and as the images of a dark earth rolls on the screen, formless and foreboding, she begins to read the Bible to him.
After a while she sees that his eyes are closed, and she stands up, puts off the video, and leaves the ward to get some food to eat.
The moment she goes out Kwame opens his eyes and looks fiercely at the door. It is plain that he detests that woman very much.
Later in the day Nana Yaw enters the ward, and his eyes fall on the Bibles on the table.
Rage fills his face as he picks the Bibles and almost shove it into Maame’s face.
And what the hell is this?
Bibles, sir. I was reading them to your father!
Nana Yaw’s jaws work viciously as he glares at the woman.
My father doesn’t believe in that, do you hear me? I don’t want you doing anything, ANYTHING, you’ve not been expressly told to do, Nurse! You can take this as a final warning, because maybe you didn’t know my father is an atheist. Next time, if you want to do anything, ask first! Do you understand?
Good. Now take your damn Bibles and get out. I want to speak to my father!
The nurse takes the Bibles and walks out.
Nana Yaw paces the ward for a while, rubbing his forehead, and then he suddenly pulls out a chair and draws close to the bed.
He sits on it, almost wringing his hands, and then he looks up finally into his father’s eyes.
He leans forward and puts his chin on his steepled fingers.
Words can’t express how sorry I am, Father. I hope you can hear me, Father. You see, when you married Araba you remember I was then in Oxford University. I came home during the summer break and met my new step-mother. I was shocked, Father, when you told me you met her at a presentation function and she told you she was a teacher. She told you a lie, Father.
For a moment he cannot speak as pain thrashes his heart, and then he resumes.
I knew her before I went outside. I knew her as a stripper at a bar. The moment I saw her I became angry, and she knew I was going to inform you. That night she drugged your cup of cocoa, and you fell into a deep sleep. She then came to my room and cried and said she has changed and that she loved you. She begged me not to tell you the truth. I didn’t believe her, and then… then she got out of her clothes and I couldn’t resist her. I was drunk, and I couldn’t resist her, Father. That was three years ago, Father. And it has continued ever since. I travelled a year ago, hoping to forget all about her, but I couldn’t, Father! I love her!
Nana Yaw bows his head shamefully for a moment, and his body trembles hard. He sighs miserably and shakes his head dazedly.
I’m sorry you found out the way you did, and I’m sorry it has done this to you. My conscience is killing me, and I feel a great deal of remorse. But I love her, Father. There’s nothing I can do about it. I just want you to understand that I never meant you any harm. It just happened, and I’m very sorry!
Nana Yaw stands up and turns away with a huge sigh.
Without another word he leaves the ward.
And Kwame stares at the door… and silent tears fall down his cheeks.
Maame comes back and sits on the bed, and smiles reassuringly at him.
Two days later, when Maame has finished cleaning Mr. Awuah, something happens that totally takes her unawares.
It is almost two weeks to the day he suffered the fatal heart attack.
The wardrobe has been stored with a lot of clothes and underwear for the sick man.
She covers him with talc, and then dresses him up.
She then calls Nurse Enyonam who helps her to fix the sensors back on him.
He’s deteriorating… Wouldn’t be long now, I guess.
I’ve been praying for him. I don’t get it though. His wife doesn’t visit him often. It’s been almost two weeks and I’ve seen her here only once.
Yooo! Posterity will judge all of us one day!
The two women chat for a while, and then Enyonam leaves to attend to other things.
Maame looks at Mr. Kwame Awuah and smiles mischievously down at him.
Now, let’s try something. Can you hear me? If you can hear me please blink once.
Mr. Kwame slowly blinks once, and a broad smile spreads across the face of the kind-hearted woman.
Well, isn’t that simply wonderful? Well, your son warned me not to read the Bible to you again, but I know a whole lot of Bible stories. Do you want to hear more? If you want to blink twice. If you don’t want to blink once, and I’ll not worry you.
Mr. Kwame Awuah looks fixedly at her for a long time, and then he blinks once, and Maame scowls with disappointment, but just then he blinks again, and a huge smile spreads across her face.
She sits down on the edge of the bed, and then she begins to tell him about the life of Jesus Christ.
Can I call you Kwame? One blink for no, two blinks for yes.
Kwame blinks… twice.
Alright! That’s so sweet! You can call me Maame! I’m going to tell you about Jesus Christ. Blink once twice when you’re tired and wants to rest, okay?
He blinks twice… for yes, and she sits and smiles at him and admits that although he is a little bit short he is a very handsome man, and he reminds her so much of her husband.
Oh, her dear, loving husband!
Maame begins to tell him about Jesus Christ, and some of the miracles Jesus did. After thirty minutes she looks at him and touches his cheek gently.
Are you tired, Kwame?
He blinks once… no!
You’re enjoying it, aren’t you?
Two blinks… yes!
They look at each other, and suddenly Maame feels a tightness in her throat.
She sits back suddenly.
Erm… listen, I’ll just go and relieve my bladder, okay? I’ll be back in a jiffy!
Maame stands up and rushes to the bathroom.
She really doesn’t feel like urinating.
She wants to put a little bit of distance between them.
Quite suddenly she is feeling emotions she knows she has no reason to feel for Mr. Kwame Awuah.
After a while she seems to hear voices in the ward, and she stands up quickly.
She opens the door, and then she comes out, but she is still hidden by a jutting wall because the washroom is recessed.
She hears the voices of Nana Yaw and Araba.
Maame smiles, and has taken a step forward when Araba speaks, and her words arrests Maame so that she comes to a complete halt.
She looks around the edge of the wall silently.
She sees Araba standing near the bed and looking down at Kwame.
By her side is Nana Yaw, and his arm is around his step-mother’s shoulders.
I’m sorry you saw us making love, Kwame. That’s rather unfortunate. I didn’t mean you harm. But I felt stifled. You’re older, and your tastes are different. At the time you met me I was broke and lost, and in need of money. You provided money and security, and then Nana Yaw came along, and we fell in love! It is as simple as that. I’m not going to apologize for loving Nana Yaw. But I’m sorry you’re sick because of what you saw, and I hope you’ll be able to forgive me before… well, before you die.
Maame almost gasps, and she withdraws her head quickly.
Her heart is thudding furiously, and there is horror written all over her face.
On the wall opposite her she can see their reflection in the glass of the window.
She sees Araba bending and kissing Kwame’s forehead.
And then Nana Yaw Awuah speaks.
And then the two of them suddenly hug and exchange a long, deep kiss!
Maame cannot breathe!
How heartless can some people be?
It appears as if they are deliberately taunting Kwame Awuah!
This is so diabolical!
This is unacceptable!
Evil at its finest!
She watches their reflection in the glass, and she shuts her eyes tightly as her heart beats with pain.
Nana Yaw draws back from her suddenly.
No, no, love. Not again! Not here! Let’s go home.
Not home! I can’t hold on! I need you in me now!
Nana Yaw kisses her and mauls her breasts.
Then let’s go to my office!
They rush out and close the door behind them.
Maame’s legs are too weak to support her.
She bends and slowly sits on the floor and holds her head, trying to calm the murderous rage that is assaulting her, making her wish for a gun so that she can chase those cruel people and gun them to the ground!
After a long time her heartbeats calm down, and she stands up groggily and enters the ward.
She stands by the side of the bed, and when she sees the tears of anguish coursing down the sides of Kwame’s eyes, her own eyes well up with tears, and trickle down her cheeks.
Oh, my dear! You saw them? You saw your wife and your son cheating on you?
Kwame Awuah looks at her, and blinks…
(shaking her head)
And that’s why you had the heart attack, isn’t it?
Two blinks… yes!
Oh, dear! How sad! Oh, you poor, poor dear! Now I understand all your silent tears! Oh, dearest Lord!
And she sits beside him on the bed, and as Kwame’s wife and his son make violent love not very far away, a kind-hearted nurse called Maame Akosua takes Kwame in her arms, and comforts him with her tears!
The following evening Maame Akosua sits beside Kwame Awuah and slowly shows him her wedding ring.
I’ve been wearing this for twenty-years, Kwame. Let me tell you something shocking. My husband died twenty years ago.
The light plays on Kwame’s eyes, and it seems to Maame that his eyes dilated a little, as if he is shocked.
Tears swim in her eyes, and then Kwame blinks rapidly.
It takes a moment for it to dawn on Maame that he wants to know about her husband.
Oh, my dear husband, Akwasi. Well, you remind me a lot of him, Kwame. He was a most gentle and loving soul. I knew him for just a year, and then we got married. I went to his arms a virgin, and we had a most sweet wedding night. The following morning when I turned to him, he was dead, just like that!
The tears of sadness slowly fall down her cheeks, and she sees the sadness in his eyes. He shares her pain.
I would have died too, Kwame. But, in the night, before he died obviously, he managed to open his Bible and write in it: NEVER LEAVE THE LORD’S HAND, MAAME! And from there my relationship with God has increased, Kwame. My heart was rid of pain because God was with me. Oh, I was called a witch, and I was shunned, but in all that strife the Lord strengthened me!
He thinks that her face looks like an angel just at that moment in time!
That’s what I want to tell you, Kwame. You will find strength in the Lord only if you will put your pride aside and believe. You will get well and right this great wrong that has been done you if only you can break your heart down, repent, and accept the Lord Jesus as your personal saviour. I’ve prayed for you, but I want you to pray with me, in your mind! Do you want to know more?
Two rapid blinks…
And that is the night it all began for Mr. Kwame Awuah, confirmed atheist; that is the night that his heart begins to accept that indeed, there is a God of mercies.
To be continued….
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