Blood Vessels

Today, I’ll tell a happy story. Happiness of a kind that brings peace and satisfaction. Happiness that we sometimes feel but seem not to embrace.

Wanjiku gazes at the little blocks of plastic perfectly put up into the miniature house on top of the desk in Thuo’s room. She looks sharply at the building blocks, piece by piece. Then as a whole. The little grey structure is lit up gracefully by the rich morning sun rays that pierce through the tiny window of Thuo’s room. She hasn’t gone to work today. She couldn’t find the energy to go to work today. She is still in her pajamas, a bare and disheveled form of herself. Wanjiku is dissatisfied. With herself. With her life. With what has happened to her. Specifically, with what has happened to her son. What Thuo had constructed was pure and clean, and flawless. An irony to her current conception of her life. Wanjiku feels the rage and sorrow; a lethal mix of both; creeping through her skin and take over control of her. She lets herself loose and pushes the little house of building blocks to the floor. They shatter with a clattering, a childish but surprising splitting of the building blocks, into endless pieces. They scatter all over the room, covering the floor in a sort of debris-like manner.

Wanjiku stares for a second, covering her mouth with her hands. She is shocked by what she has done. She is shocked at her actions towards reality. Where had this anger come from? Wanjiku drops to the ground, mumbling, hurriedly as if someone is after her. She brings together the pieces in one wave of motion with her hands, bringing them all to pile up at the centre. She is confused. Tears form on her eyes. Her chest feels heavy. Right now she won’t sob. She has to see Thuo.  Somehow she wishes life was a lot like building blocks. Then she could just put the pieces in place even if they broke apart.

***

At the hospital, she becomes weary. Before she enters his room, Wanjiku notices that she didn’t bring him his favorite banana milkshake. She halts, thinking about whether to go and get one for him. But the restaurant was fifteen minutes away. She decides that she would ask him if he wanted another drink. One that wouldn’t force her to go all the way out of the hospital. The heat is unbearable that day, but Wanjiku still has her coat on. She pushes the door into Thuo’s private ward, gingerly.

Inside, the nurse had just finished fixing a needle into his skin and is clearing the room. Thuo is in the bed, in blue, patient clothes, with one hand connected to an overhead intravenous medication. The other hand is holding a remote. He turns up the volume for her to hear. Thuo is watching cartoons. He always loved cartoons. To her, Thuo seems perplexed by her visit. She hadn’t visited him in a week and there she stands, beside the bed, all righteous and apologetic. But what else could she expect from him. Thuo was only eleven. Yet the disease had taken the past two years of his life away from him. Just like that. He hadn’t gone to school because she wouldn’t let him be thrown into stigma by other children. He hadn’t played outside because she feared that he might fall down at any time and lose him. Now Thuo was gazing away from her, intently.

“Hi dear.” She could feel her son pushing her away. She forgets all about his milkshake. Wanjiku went on around the bed, to the other side and sat there, also looking at the TV. She would sit there until he broke and finally look at his mother’s face. But Thuo simply turned to the other side. She didn’t want to see him that way. So heartbroken. So fragile. So brittle. She wanted her son back.

The doctors thought it was leukemia at first, but then even after treatment, he got worse. The first time Thuo broke his leg, he had tripped on a stair, while going to sleep. She rushed him to hospital that same night. The doctor said that he should eat foods rich in calcium or vitamins. She tried to give him those multi vitamins. But then the seizures started. In the morning when he was just about to board the bus to school. Wanjiku had already turned her back to him when she heard the screams.  The tiny and feeble screams of ten-year-old kids. She took her son in her arms once he stopped seizing. Bringing his head close to her chest. Then one day Thuo came home and when she tried to hug him, Thuo pushed him away. With such brutality that she remained speechless. Aghast and horridly shocked. He didn’t know who she was. He didn’t know that she was his mother. She didn’t know who he had become. When she tried to grab his hand and pull him to her sight, she could see in his eyes, the thing that had consumed him, eating into his life; into her life.

There, at the side of the hospital bed, beside her son, she could feel his pain, she could conceive him as the doctor had told her, in her mind. They said that it was only a matter of time because the ’disorder’ made his veins pop like popsicles. She smiled at the imagery. She knew she was breaking from inside. Like an implosion. In truth, she had tried. To be there for him. From when he was admitted five months ago.  For the first time, she wanted him dead. She didn’t know why but she did. To relieve him of his pain. The thought of ending him crossed her mind. Did she really have the right to choose for herself; Did she really have the right to think of him that way? Did she? Should she?

She ran out.

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