“Are you telling me that my mother will never walk again?” Kelvin had followed the doctor to his office after his mother’s operation.
I didn’t say that sir,” the doctor said. “I said that she may not walk again, may not…which means that there’s still a possibility that she might walk.”
Kelvin made no effort to hide his frustrations. “You are a doctor sir, not an English Professor so don’t play semantics with me. That’s not why am sitting here. Just tell me what’s wrong with my mother.”
The doctor pulled the chart behind him to show Kelvin exactly which areas of his mother’s spinal code was affected.
“This is the affected area from the impact of the accident,” he said “As I was explaining to you earlier, the spinal code is made of nerve cells that are responsible for the transfer of sensory data to the brain as well as motor commands from the brain to the peripheral nerve roots, from here to there for sensory and from over there to there for motor commands.”
Kelvin couldn’t sit any longer in the doctor’s Biology class. He got up from the chair and pushed it to the side in anger. “Just tell me, is she paralysed or not and if she is what do I need to do to make sure she walks again?”
Unfazed by Kelvin’s anger, the doctor answered, “Fortunately for her, she didn’t suffer complete damage to the nerves. She’s lost sensation in the lower part of her body…this area here,” he pointed to the chart again. “Her legs, to be precise,” the doctor added. “She will not be able to walk…at least for a while, unless she undergoes intense rehabilitation and….”
“How long will that take?” Kelvin cut him off.
“There’s no definite time,” the doctor answered. “Recovery usually depends on a person’s will to get better. Despite her age, I noticed that your mother is no stranger to physical exercise which is a very good thing in this case. I have a number of recommendations that might help for a quick recovery but some of them are expensive and….”
“Forget about the cost,” Kelvin said. “Just tell me what I need to know and I will take care of the rest. I just need my mother to get better soon.”
Once Kelvin was done in the doctor’s office, he went to see Evelyn who was anxiously waiting for him in her ward.
Without saying a word, the look on her face told Kelvin everything she was thinking.
He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her.
“Is it bad news?” Evelyn asked.
Kelvin could feel her shaking against him. He released her and held her away from him, looking straight into her eyes.
“She’s alive,” he told her.
Evelyn heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Seriously?” She said. “Oooh, thank God.” She said whilst unconsciously rubbing her stomach.
Kelvin’s eyes went straight to her hands. “Are you…safe?” He asked.
Evelyn could tell he was talking about the baby. “We are,” she said.
There was relief in Kelvin’s eyes. “Thank God,” he said.
“I am so sorry Kelvin,” Evelyn said, the unshed tears making her eyes glow in pain.
Kelvin took both her hands and brought them to his mouth. He too was shaking from the fear of what could have been just a few minutes ago. Because he felt he needed to be a man for both his mother and his woman, he held everything inside.
Evelyn felt the coldness in her husband’s hands and she felt him fight back the pain threatening to rip him into pieces.
“What are you saying sorry for?” Kelvin asked, his head bowed and his chin resting on her hands. “You didn’t do anything wrong, someone else did. I am just glad everyone is fine.” And he kissed her hands, pressing his lips hard and staying like that for a while…with his eyes still shut.
Feeling every bit of the pain he was desperately trying to stifle, Evelyn took his hands instead and squeezed them tightly, as if to tell him, I’m here.
She watched him in silence, two cold streaks of tears rolling down her cheeks.
Evelyn had a lot of questions to ask about Beatrice but she didn’t dare ask Kelvin in that moment. In that moment she hated her fate; how in the world had she found herself in such a position?
Her own mother, the woman that had given birth to her wanted to kill her.
Her mother in law, the woman that wanted her life had just saved her by risking her own life.
And her husband, the man that loved her like no other ever did was stuck between loving the love of his life and hating the woman that had given her life.
Consumed by all these emotions, Evelyn was caught off guard when she felt something warm drop onto her hands;
Her husband’s silent tears.
A few hours later, Thando busted into Evelyn’s room at the hospital. Without saying a word, Thando threw her arms around her best friend and sobbed without restraint.
“Did you break your legs?” She had suddenly stopped crying and was now examining Evelyn’s knees where she was bandaged.
Evelyn laughed. “I had landed on my knees when Mervis pushed me out of the way. I landed hard and bruised myself, made things worse by crawling over to her when I realized I was in too much pain to try and stand.”
“I still can’t believe that woman saved you. Yoh.” Thando said, pulling the chair closer to the bed and sitting down.
“I know,” Evelyn said. “I also still can’t believe it. I am both sorry and grateful at the same time.”
“I can only imagine what your husband is must be going through. Your mother just tried to kill you and his baby but she ended up almost killing his mother. What a world we live in.”
Evelyn’s guilt at being the centre of all this misfortune froze her tongue in silence.
“How I wish that bitch died in that accident,” Thando said. “I feel like walking over to her room right now and pulling out her life support.”
“Are you talking about Beatrice?” Evelyn asked, her eyes lighting up at finally getting some information.
“Yes,” Thando answered. “Who else can I be talking about? I saw her children standing outside her ward. Wanted to grab them and whip them till their buttocks turned red …but they looked so pitiful so I just let them be.”
“Beatrice is on life support?” Evelyn asked.
“Yes, seems her brain has finally caught up with her heart; they are both dead now. I guess when you have such a hard heart, even the grim reaper has a hard time grabbing you into his realm.” Thando said.
“What about the man in the truck?” Evelyn asked.
“He’s fine, just a few broken bones here and there but he will live.”
Evelyn sighed in relief. “What do you think is going to happen to Beatrice?”
“You mean if she lives?” Thando said. “If she lives, she’s going to regret living and she will kill herself right away. And if she dies, which is the most probable case, she is going to regret dying like an animal and wish she had killed herself while she still looked good.”
“I am serious Thando,” Evelyn told her friend.
“So am I,” Thando said, stifling a laugh in the process.
“What did they say her chances are?”
“What are the chances for a brain dead person sweetie?” Thando asked. “Anyway, I’m not sure, I wasn’t paying attention when Kelvin was telling me. I was too busy celebrating in my head when I heard she was on life support. Of course I would have been happier if she didn’t exist any more but….” she shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly.
Evelyn sent her friend a disapproving look. “It’s not good to wish anyone dead no matter how bad they are Thando.”
“That’s why I said existed,” Thando defended herself. “I didn’t say die. There’s a difference.”
Evelyn could only gape at her friend in disbelief. sometimes Thando completely forgot the fact that Beatrice was her friends mother…that no matter how evil she was, she was the woman that gave birth to Evelyn.
Three Days Later
Evelyn watched from behind the curtain as Kelvin stood starring at Beatrice for over five minutes, his teary eyes moving back and forth from her face to the machine above her.
She had seen that look in his eyes before; the deep burning and deathly look that had reaped through her and made her blood turn the opposite direction.
And when he reached out his shaking over and placed it over the machine, Evelyn froze, her hand over her mouth.
She knew she needed to stop him from making the kind of mistake that he could not live with but instead, she just stood there, rooted to the floor and unable to move.
If she could, would she stop him from pulling the plug? She wondered.
Did she want to stop him?
Stuck in a dilemma, all Evelyn could do was cry silently as she watched her man struggle with his conflicted emotions.
Consumed by emotions he could not understand, Kelvin finally gave in and broke down in tears. Releasing his hand from the machine and letting it drop to his hand.
With one hand still holding on to the rail of the bed Beatrice was sleeping on, Kelvin’s knees gave in and he sat on the floor, sobbing, his whole body convulsing from all the pain he had been stifling for the past week.
Evelyn ran over to Kelvin’s crouched sobbing body and she wrapped her arms around him.
“I’m so sorry,” Kelvin was clasping on to her arms and shaking from the realization of what he had almost done.
“It’s okay,” Evelyn told him, repeatedly stroking her hand through his hair and drawing his head deep against her.
“It’s okay,” she kept repeating.
Minutes later, Evelyn walked over to Kelvin who was seated on a bench under a shade outside the hospital carrying two canes of Liquifruit. She handed him and sat down next to him.
“Thanks,” he said as he accepted the drink.
Kelvin opened his cane of juice, took a sip from it and turned to look at her. “I really meant to turn off that thing,” he said to her.
“I know,” Evelyn said, avoiding his gaze.
“You know?” Kelvin asked.
“I do,” she answered. “But I also know that you wouldn’t have.”
“What make you think that?” He asked. “I really wanted to do it Eva. I felt it in my blood…I wanted to see her stop breathing…to go quite forever so that she can’t try to hurt my family again. In my head I killed her a hundred times over. In my head she had already died.”
Evelyn put her drink down and fully turned also to look at him. “Thinking about doing something and actually doing it are two different things.” She said. “Do you think that you are the only one who thought about pulling the plug?”
Kelvin threw her a questioning look.
She laughed softly. “Yes,” she said. “I thought about it. Every time I walked passed her room the thought crossed my mind. How can anyone be so cruel?” Evelyn’s cried. “Was I really her daughter? How can you hate me so much? What did I ever do to her?”
Kelvin held his wife in his arms and waited for her pull herself together.
“You don’t need to think about such things,” he told her.
Thirty minutes later when Kelvin and Evelyn walked hand in hand through the corridors of the hospital heading to Mervis’ room, Mark almost bumped into them as he came running and crying from his mother’s room.
Kelvin and Evelyn looked at each other and as if reading each other’s mind, they rushed to Beatrice’s room and found Moola sobbing over her mother’s limb body.
All the machines in the room had been turned off.
Moola looked up at the two intruders and sobbed even harder. She looked over at Evelyn angrily before storming out of the room.
“She just pulled the plug,” the doctor informed them. “It’s the hardest thing anyone can ever do for their loved one.”
Looking over at Beatrice’s body, Evelyn realised that the last thing her mother ever did for her was to try and kill her.
She broke down in tears and fell to the ground, crying for all the love she never received and all the apologies she would never hear.
Evelyn felt her heart burn over the lost hope she had desperately held on to, believing that one day her mother would realize her mistake in holding her responsible for the past and love her like she did her other children.
Pounding the floor over and over again in anger and pain, Evelyn kept asking herself;
Kelvin knelt down beside his wife and held her tightly in his arms, grabbing her hands so she could stop hitting the cold floor.
* * *
2 Years Later
Evelyn rushed into the supermarket, grabbed a trolley and went about grabbing a few last minute items for the house warming party she and her husband would be hosting that evening.
She had asked Kelvin to get the groceries but as usual, he got some and forgot others.
She was paying on the till when her phone rang.
It was Kelvin.
“How far are you?” He asked. “The guests have already started arriving.”
“I’m coming honey,” she said. “Just give me five minutes. I hope you’ve turned off the oven.”
“Oh yeah, that.” Evelyn heard him running.
“Bashi Mapalo seriously!” She said.
“I’m sorry babe, I was setting up the sound system. There, it’s off now.”
“Haven’t they burnt?”
“No, I don’t see any smoke.”
“Check honey don’t just look for smoke. They could still be burning inside.”
“Okay, but hurry up. I’m losing my head over here.”
“I know. I’m hanging up, I need to pay now.” Evelyn smiled apologetically at the cashier waiting and handed her the money.
Evelyn was shocked to find so many vehicles parked outside their house when she opened the door and drove in.
Did they all decide to come at the same time? She asked herself.
She found a free spot to park and quickly got out of the vehicle with her plastic bags.
She used the back door into the kitchen to avoid meeting everyone when she wasn’t so ready. She opened the kitchen door and was shocked to find the room dark when she clearly remembered leaving the lights on before she left.
“Did something happen to the chandelier?” She asked as she put down her plastic bags.
She was just about to find the switch when the lights suddenly came on and she found her two year old son standing on top of the kitchen Island clad in a suit and bowtie and wearing very shiny shoes holding an iPad in his hands
Evelyn suddenly had an idea why her husband had been acting mysterious the past few days.
“Mapalo,” she said, smiling and walking towards her smiling son. “How did you get up there?” She asked.
“I have something to show you,” the two year old hunk managed to say.
“What? Show me then,” she said.
Mapala clumsily pressed something on the ipad and raised the screen up for his mother to see.
Evelyn gasped in delight when she saw the slide dancing on the screen;
WILL YOU MARRY MY DAD, AGAIN?
IF YES, PICK ME UP
AND TAKE ME TO THE
LIVING ROOM WITH YOU.
“Why are you crying mum?” Mapalo looked concerned over his mother’s reaction.
“Where they bad words?” he asked. “Dad told me they would make you smile.”
Not wasting any more time, Evelyn picked up her son, took the ipad from him and walked with him to the living room.
Evelyn laughed when she found all her friends and her husband’s friends all waiting for her in the living room.
She was pointing an accusing finger from Thando to Sibusiswe. “You guys knew about this and couldn’t even hint to your friend?”
Thando shrugged and busted out laughing.
“Well,” Sibu said. “It wouldn’t be a surprise if you knew about it.”
“Says the woman who absolutely hates surprises.” Evelyn fired back.
“But this isn’t my party young lady,” Sibu said and walked over to her to get Mapalo.
A smiling Kelvin walked over to his wife and went down on his knees.
Everyone in the room jeered.
“Why are you doing this?” Evelyn asked as he took her hand.
“Because I never did it right the first time.” He said.
“I told you, I didn’t mind. I meant it when I said I was okay with it.”
“I know you did,” Kelvin said. “But I still I still want you to have the kind of proposal that you deserve…and I wanted to do it with someone blessings as well.”
“Someone’s blessings?” Evelyn asked.
And Mervis appeared from behind everyone.
“Oh no,” Evelyn gasped. “Mum?” She said. “And you are walking!” she added when she saw Mervis walk over to them, dressed in a form-fitting long blue dress and looking ten years younger.
“When did this happen?” Evelyn asked. The last time Evelyn had seen her mother in-law was eight months ago when they had travelled to Dubai where she was undergoing rehabilation so the whole family could spend the holidays together.
She had been using clutces then.
“A few months ago,” Mervis said, her radiant smile warming Evelyn’s nervous heart. The two of them might have gotten closer ever since the accident, but Evelyn still felt some level of responsibility for everything that had gone wrong in the Kangwa family.
Evelyn couldn’t stop the tears from pouring.
She knew that all was forgotten and forgiven, but seeing Mervis smiling brightly at her made her feel a little guilty…wondering if she deserved that kind of happiness.
Seeing the conflicting emotions written all over Evelyn’s face, Mervis reached out and held her hands. “This is a happy moment for you today.” She said. “Forget everything else that’s happened in the past and celebrate this moment. Every woman remembers her wedding day for the rest of her life…so you better be the happiest when you experience it.”
Evelyn threw mother and son a questioning look. “Wedding day?” She asked Kelvin.
Kelvin was shaking his head and smiling. “If you say yes, and with my mother’s blessings, we are getting married today. Everything is all set up. You just need to get into your dress and let the ladies fix your make-up because we will be taking a lot of photos.”
Evelyn looked over at Sibu and Thando and they were both looking suspiciously guilty despite the huge grins on their faces.
“I will deal with you two later,” she told them. And then looking back at her husband. “YES, I will marry you over and over and over again.”
Without saying a word, Kelvin pulled her towards him and kissed her.
Embarrased, Evelyn pulled herself from him. “Mum is right here honey,” she told him, hitting him on the chest.
Kelvin grabbed Evelyn’s hand and together they got down on their knees before Mervis.
“Look kindly on us mother and give us your blessings,” Kelvin said.
Thinking about how far they had all come, Mervis couldn’t help shedding tears.
In her heels and expensive designer gown, Mervis went down on her knees in front of the two and put her arms around them.
“Of course you have my blessings,” she told them.
Mervis’ words were received by applause the friends of the couple.
Two hours later, Evelyn stood in front of the mirror and starred at her reflection, unable to recognize herself in her new goddess form.
“Why pink?” She asked the two who were busy admiring the result of their work.
“We thought about white,” Thando said. “But white is too normal…and we all know that this isn’t any normal union. We settled for pink because you are not such a girly-girl and we wanted you to feel like a girl on your special day.”
“It’s perfect,” Evelyn said. “I absolutely love it.”
“You look like a princess,” Sibu said, moving closer to fix her veil. “Are you ready to walk down the aisle now?” She asked.
“I am,” Evelyn confidently stated. “But wait,” she turned to look at the ladies. “Who’s going to walk me down the aisle?” she asked.
“Me,” Mervis said from the door.
“No, no, no, no….” Thando rushed to hold Evelyn’s head. “No more crying woman, hell no. Make-up is perfect the first time around. I won’t be fixing it again.”
That alone was enough to drive Evelyn’s tears away.
With Mervis by her arm, Evelyn stood by the door and looked at her husband standing at the end of the aisle, looking like an improved version of James Bond. He was smiling and softly tapping his leg, like he always did when he was nervous.
To his side was Mapalo, his son, her son…their son.
That’s my family standing there, Evelyn thought and smiled.
They are mine.
This is my family, she said as she squeezed Mervis’ arm.
“Maybe because you look so different now, I forgot you were my daughter…Nora…. I forgot.” Mervis whispered as she looked deeply into Evelyn’s eyes before walking her down the aisle.
“Mum?” Evelyn was looking at her mother in-law with deep concern. “Are you okay?” She asked, thinking that perhaps the accident had done something to her brain that the doctors had not yet detected.
Mervis laughed. “Relax,” she said. “I know you are not my Nora. I’m just saying…thank you for letting me be your mother.”
Evelyn smiled and blinked back the tears, remembering Thando’s threat early.
Even if I am to be your forgotten daughter, I don’t mind. Evelyn said to herself whilst looking at her mother in-law.
As long as you call me your daughter…I don’t care whether I’m forgotten or not.
“Come on my daughter,” Mervis said, as if she had read her mind. “Let’s take you to your husband now.”
Evelyn looked at Mervis’ arm where hers was locked and then she looked up in front where her husband and son were standing, then she looked at the smiling faces of all their friends seated in their back garden….
Home, she thought. I am home.
Breathing deeply, Evelyn straightened her neck and faced forward. Smiling, she said to Mervis;
“Take me to my family mother.”