SAMUEL COBBY GRANT
Kuuku Laing woke up on Monday morning feeling refreshed. He had his bath and wore khaki trousers and a polo shirt.
After a cup of Milo, he set off for work without calling Pat with the feeling that she wasn’t going to entertain him anymore after the way he treated her on Sunday, but he had no regrets whatsoever for his behaviour.
He felt it was payback time for Pat for conniving with his mother and not even the furious look on his Mother’s face had fazed him. He had walked over to the car to find her standing by it, ashen-faced and he had tossed the keys to her and left to find his own way home.
So, he left for work, walking the whole distance and he was almost at the gates of the factory when Pat drove past him into the parking lot. She ignored him and he cared less about that.
As soon as he crossed the main road, he saw Manza running towards him and she jumped into his arm when she got to him. He looked at her and around with some level of embarrassment and extricated himself from her arms.
“I heard you came to see me,” she said, holding on to his arm.
“Yes, I did. Twice, but you were nowhere to be found,” he stated, making a comical face at her.
“Hmmmm, it’s my Auntie o, she wanted to discuss something with me. That’s why I am here to explain everything to you.”
“Don’t worry. I will see you this evening,” he assured her.
“Ok. I will expect you then,” she said, enthusiastically.
He saw her off and saw that Pat was still in her car, her head on the steering wheel. He hesitated when he got close to the car but continued to the locker to change.
When he got to his workstation, he was told by his supervisor that he had been transferred to the Blending Room as part of the company’s new policy of training all operators to be able to handle all machines and equipment.
Work in the Blending Room allowed him to have a lot of free time and it wasn’t as tiring or as messy as being on the Cutting Machine.
At break time, he didn’t see Pat, not even a glimpse of her. And neither did he see her at closing time. Her car wasn’t even in the parking lot.
He went home and was relaxing when he got a call from Manza, having given her his phone number in the morning.
“Eeii, Kuuku, what happened? I have been waiting for you saa.”
“Awww, sorry. I forgot.”
“I am on my way to Pipe Ano. Meet me at the junction in thirty minutes,” she said and hung up.
He sighed tiredly and put on a black T-shirt over a pair of jeans and made his way to the junction.
He was almost at the junction when he sighted Ayi buying jollof rice from a vendor and hailed him to draw his attention.
“Where are you off to?” Ayi asked.
“I am going to meet a lady visitor at Pipe Ano. She doesn’t know my house,” he explained making Ayi look at him in surprise.
“Wow. This is the first time I am hearing of you having a lady visitor,” Ayi said with wonder.
“Hahaha, I am just meeting her, not harming her,” Kuuku told him.
They then walked towards the junction with Ayi eager to see the mysterious lady who was about to break Kuuku’s celibate record.
Manza, in her eagerness to meet Kuuku and make a good impression on him, put on a pair of shorts that showed off her long legs with a T-shirt that had her nipples straining against it and her high heels completed the picture to make her look ridiculous, but one could safely say that she was dressed to kill. When the taxi stopped at the junction for her to alight, she saw Kuuku and Ayi standing together, obviously waiting for her. She ducked instinctively, asking the taxi driver to take her to TTI, a short distance away. He protested just like how the other passengers complained but there was nothing any of them could do as TTI was on the way to its final destination.
Kuuku had seen the taxi she was in when it stopped but when no one alighted from it, he shrugged and placed a call to ask her where she had reached and she explained that her Mom had refused to allow her to step out of the house.
“But why should your Mom do that?” he asked, with amusement.
“It’s all because of the presence of these serial killers o. She doesn’t want me to be killed,” she said, dramatically.
“I see, maybe another time,” he said and cut the call not exactly disappointed as he had no interest in her whatsoever. He was just being courteous towards her as she had acted friendly towards him.
Ayi left soon after that.
Meanwhile, she had alighted at TTI, and had walked back the short distance to Pipe Ano. She didn’t see either Kuuku or Ayi.
She wanted to call him but she couldn’t, so she went home cursing Ayi and her stars for the lost opportunity to know his house.
Pat was feeling really very awful. She was having such a blinding headache but she had refused to take any painkillers because she felt that it had more to do with her heart than with her head. She was furious with Madam Lawrencia for dragging her into her issue with her son and was also furious with herself for allowing herself to be portrayed as his fiance when she wasn’t.
Feeling that she had made a fool of herself in his presence she understood why he didn’t want to have anything to do with her. He had been nothing but kind and courteous towards her and she felt that she had no right to put him in that tight corner. She had even refused to pick up the avalanche of calls she had received from his mother, blaming the elderly woman for ruining the beautiful friendship she had with Kuuku. It was no wonder that he had been avoiding her. She went into the bathroom, wet a towel and placed it on her forehead.
She stared into the bathroom mirror and shouted angrily.
“Does he think he’s the only handsome man in the world? Does he know my worth that he’s flexing me like this?”
She went back to the bedroom.
“Maybe I should give him a warning letter for refusing to acknowledge me, ” she mused, and smiled.
“To show him who really is the Boss,” she smiled, knowing he probably would be unperturbed.
Her heart lurched painfully when she remembered how that cheap girl had run to embrace him in the street.
“Slut. That’s what she is.”
“So after what Nii did and me not looking at any man for four years, I am now crying for the attention of a man who doesn’t even want to hear the sound of my footsteps,” she wailed and fell into a troubled sleep.
Kuuku, the following morning was getting ready for work when he had a phone call from Nana Yaw, Pat’s brother.
“Good morning, Mr Laing.”
“Good morning, Nana,” he replied lamely, unsure of what this call was all about.
“Please, I have been calling my sister from last night to this morning but she’s not picking up. Can you please check on her for me?” Nana Yaw implored. “This is so unlike her.”
Kuuku felt a pang of guilt, and of fright. He cut the call without saying anything and dashed off to see what the matter was.
Quickly he opened the main door with his copy of her key, which she had given him when she moved in and went in in a hurry. He noticed the wet towel, half-empty water bottle, and went into the bedroom since the door was ajar. He found her on the tiled floor, in just her undies. With a gasp from shock, he quickly got to her side and put his ear on her chest to determine whether she was breathing and was a bit relieved when he saw that she was breathing but shallowly.
He looked around for some apparel and his eyes landed on the bathroom robe. Swiftly, he put it on her, snatched the car keys from the low table in the room and carried her to the car. He drove fast but carefully to the Ghapoha Hospital where she was attended to immediately.
He sat on one of the benches outside to wait as the doctor attended to her. After close to two hours, he was allowed to her bedside and she was fixed with an IV.
She opened her eyes when he sat on the only chair by her bedside.
“Thank you,” she mouthed to him and fell into a tranquillizer-induced sleep.
He sat by her side watching her and seeing how vulnerable she looked as the fluids from the IV dropped with rhythmic precision, pumping fluids into her veins. A call from Nana Yaw jerked him out of his thoughts and he briefed him on the situation, assuring him that she was sleeping peacefully and also that she was in one of the best hospitals in Takoradi.
He then called the Production Manager to brief him. Then, he called his supervisor to inform him of his inability to get to work that day without going into details.
After getting an assurance from the nurse that she was going to call him as soon as Pat woke up, Kuuku left the hospital.
Sombrely, he drove straight to her house and cleaned the whole house, even mopping too. He even did the dishes, cleaned the sink and the fridge.
Madam Lawrencia Laing, otherwise known to Kuuku his son as LL wasn’t happy with her son at all. His ungentlemanly behaviour at lunch that Sunday had annoyed her very much. She felt that he was becoming rebellious. First, he had left the comfort of the Mansion to go and live like a nobody, and as if that wasn’t enough, he had chosen to work as a factory worker when he had a Degree in Mechanical Engineering. And to top it up, his treatment of that girl in front of guests was totally uncalled for. She was very angry with him and had been waiting for him to call to apologize.
All those thoughts were going through her mind as she drove in her latest 4×4 Mercedes. Out of nowhere, a running kid popped out from the sidewalk and into the middle of the road, intending to run across the street. She desperately wretched the steering wheel to the left to avoid hitting him, and almost had a headlong collision with an oncoming taxi cab. Then, she saw the kid, a boy, standing in the middle of the road, frozen with fright. Hurriedly, she got out of the car and went to him.
As soon as she got to him, he started shivering and passed out and fell into her arms. It was only then that the mother appeared and forcefully pulled her son from her arms, accusing her of trying to kill her son. But bystanders heaped insults at her, and told her of what actually happened.
“Please sit in my car. I’ll take him to the hospital,” Madam Lawrencia told her and drove to the nearby Ghapoha Hospital where she paid for treatment for the kid. He was admitted promptly, and placed under observation as there was nothing physically wrong with him. But he was treated for shock, with its accompanying drip.
She sought out the Hospital Administrator who happened to be a neighbour and briefly told him what had happened.
As she stood by her car, she began to have some sort of a delayed reaction to the whole situation and she saw that her legs were shaking. She debated with herself whether to drive or not but she eventually left after receiving a reminder of the meeting she was going to before the kid ran across the road.
In the evening, KL went to the hospital with a bag containing soup, some underwear he had bought at a boutique, and Milo, milk, sugar and biscuits he had gotten from the supermarket. He even brought her a change of dress and a towel.
He went into the private ward she had been taken to. It had a TV, a ceiling fan and a bath. He saw that the IV had been taken out and she was sitting on the bed with her head against the head of the bed, watching a sitcom on TV.
She smiled weakly when he entered the ward.
“Hungry?” he asked, happy that she was alive.
“Yes, very,” she told him with bravado.
“Would you like Milo or light soup?”
“Some light soup, please.”
He then brought out the food flask he had brought and scooped some soup into a plastic bowl and handed it over to her with a spoon. But he, on seeing how clumsy she was with the spoon, took it back and proceeded to spoon-feed her with the soup he had prepared with smoked fish and shrimps.
Neither of them spoke as he fed her. He stopped occasionally to clean the corners of her mouth with a paper napkin. Some of the nurses saw what was going on and peeked in on them admiring their closeness and his devotion to her. But neither Kuuku nor Pat noticed any of the nurses or their inquisitiveness.
His phone rang and he saw that it was Nana Yaw who informed him that he had arrived in Takoradi and needed the location of the hospital.
“Just pick a taxi and tell him you are coming to Ghapoha,” he directed.
He went out to wait for him, and that allowed Pat some time to freshen up in the bathroom.
In about fifteen minutes, Nana Yaw arrived in a chartered taxi, accompanied by an elderly woman who was an older version of Pat. She looked very worried and exhausted.
“This is my mom, Mr Laing.”
They shook hands and he led them to the ward.
Her mother rushed to her side upon entering and embraced her.
Kuuku saw that she had changed into one of the dresses he had brought; the one with flowers of different types and colours in it.
“Ohh, my baby,” her Mom said, with tears in her eyes.
“Mom!, do you want to suffocate her?” Nana Yaw said jovially.
Kuuku smiled with them and excused himself to allow them to have their moments together.
As he got to the tree-lined car park, he saw Dr Annan, the Administrator wearing a dark grey suit and holding a briefcase making his way to his car. They greeted each other.
“Did you come to visit the kid?”
“Kid?” Kuuku asked, getting confused.
“You still do this?” The Doc said with amusement “The trick with your left eye.”
They laughed and as he was about to ask the doctor about which kid he was talking about, his mother, Madam Lawrencia herself drove in, parked and walked stately towards them.
She gave both of them a peck.
“What are you doing here. Are you well?” she asked with concern.
“Naa, I am ok. I came to visit Pat,” he said, casually.
“Yeah. She’s on admission here.”
The doctor excused himself and left.
They went to check on the little boy, for whom she had brought a lot of toys and biscuits, chocolates and drinks and then went to see Pat. When they went through the door, his mother stopped in the middle of the ward and stared at Pat’s mom who was also staring back at her as if she had seen a ghost. Then, they then shouted in unison.
And they embraced, amidst laughter and jubilation. Their children just gaped at them, wondering about how they happened to know each other.
“But what are you doing here?” asked Pat’s Mom.
Genevieve, trying to come to terms with the fact that her former coursemate and roommate at the University, whom she hadn’t seen for a long time, was standing right in front of her.
“It’s been such a long time, Genevieve,” she said and explained why she happened to be there.
“So you are this fine young man’s mother?” she said and smiled, her mind in overdrive.
“Yes, he is. And he is a friend of your beautiful daughter,” Madam Lawrencia said and smiled too, realizing that she had found an ally in her friend.
With those elderly women around, no one had a chance to speak. They chose to watch them talk without cutting in.
They stayed long after the required visiting time and only left when they saw Pat struggling to keep her eyes open.
Nana Yaw wanted to go and spend the night at Pat’s house with her mother but Lawrencia would have none of that.
“How can I allow you to go all the way to Tadisco Down when I have more than ten comfortable rooms here at Chapel Hill,” she said and took them home.
The next day, which was a Wednesday, Kuuku woke up very early. In fact, he woke up much earlier than his usual wake up time. He made Tom Brown, had his bath and left for the Hospital. He wanted to be done early enough to enable him to go to work. He didn’t want to miss another day’s work.
He went straight into the ward after giving a tin of Milo to the nurse on duty. She was still asleep so he quietly laid the food flask on the small table, and sat on the chair by the bed, watching as she slept.
She stirred into wakefulness and saw him seated beside the bed. Her heart oozed with an overflow of gladness. He looked so handsome, though she could clearly see signs of exhaustion on his face.
She excused herself and went to the bathroom to freshen up. She had her bath, changed into a new dress and came out looking fresh and vibrant.
“Killer, thank you for everything you have done for me. And I am sorry for what I and your mother did,” she said remorsefully.
“It’s nothing, I know you would have done the same for me if it had been me on the bed,” he said and went on, “And as for what you did with my mom, you are going to pay me back with a thousand kisses,” he said just to make her feel less bad, not that he meant it.
“After all, it has also given me the chance to use your car as if it were mine,” he said and laughed.
She found herself laughing with him. He spoon-fed her again and left after telling her jokes that made her laugh till she had tears in her eyes.
To be continued…[insert-comment-form]
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