“He is not at his best right now ma’am.” Mary said with her eyes meeting the woman’s squarely for the first time. She felt a tight knot in her chest as she admitted her failure.
“ he has relapsed into a state worse than the one I met him in I’m afraid and the problem is I cannot even say that I am sure that I know when it started to get worse. “
The woman looked at Mary; a certain light was in her eyes. Surprise? Maybe. Mary gathered herself; she was too wary to try to hide the fact that she communicated in proper English and could express herself pretty well too. What was the point anyway, she was leaving this place soon. The woman in front of her seemed concerned, but Mary knew better than to let herself be carried away with the seeming concern. After all, where had she been all this while? If she was really that much of a good grandparent to duke, where had she been? Mary looked up into her eyes, trying to confirm if she was free to go. The woman met her gaze with a fiery look
“We need to take him to a hospital” Mary shook her head.
His father will never allow it. He never lets the boy out of the house. “Mary said with a resigned look on her face.
“Well, he’s not here to stop us now is he” the old lady said with some anger in her voice. Mary shook her head in response
“I’ll lose my job…” Mary stuttered.
“And I will give you a job. That selfish bastard isn’t deserving of your services anyways.” She said wistfully. What Mary did next surprised even her
“Oh no no no!!! My boss is many things but selfish isn’t one of those things. Please don’t call him selfish.” The old lady looked at Mary and laughed. Then she became suddenly serious
“He’s my son, I’ll call him what I damn well feel is fitting” she said and turned on her heels.
“Pack a few clothes for both of you, put him on your shoulder and meet me by the car.” Mary wanted to argue, she wanted to say something, but she knew there was no use arguing with this woman. She would have her way, so she put her clothes and dukes in a single bag. She dragged the sleeping boy out of bed and lifted him onto her shoulder. He was much lighter, he had lost so much weight and the pajamas he had on suddenly looked borrowed. She fought the tears out of her eyes, brushing one tearful away with the back of her hand. She walked out the door and headed towards the exit of the house. The minute she opened the door and stepped into the sunlight, the boy stirred and seemed to be about to wake up, but he didn’t. She sheltered her face from the sun with one hand and proceeded to walk towards the car. The sun was however too much for her who had not been outside for nearly two months. She missed a step, stumbled and fell. As she started to go down, she dropped the bag containing the clothes and somehow managed to make sure that duke fell on top of her and not the other way round. She hit the floor with a dull thud. The driver who brought the woman rushed to her side and took the boy from her. At this point, it suddenly occurred to Mary that no matter how deeply asleep the boy was, he should have woken up when she fell. He wasn’t asleep, he was unconscious!
Her screams pervaded the house. She was saying so many things at once, in the confusion that followed; no one noticed the shadow that moved swiftly through the house.
To be continued soon…
Story by Nancy Olakunle