My friend Eddie has brought me up-close with fatherhood. He has this cute one year boy called Ariel. Terrific kid. Beautiful.  He took after him {not that Eddie is beautiful, but anyway}. The mum came out nil. haha. But no. I think that nose resembles the mum’s. Just the nose. Otherwise it was a raw deal for her. Sorry, C. Good luck next time.

Talking of which, I really hope my boy takes after my legs, if nothing else. I have great legs, legs you can eat ice cream on. No, seriously, I’m not kidding you. Chics will be dying to get a piece of him, just because of those legs. Hairy Maragoli legs. My resolution this year is to invest in red shorts with flowers, just to showcase my full potential.

Anyway.

Last December Ariel fell sick. His body temperature was high it could exacerbate global warming. He had a running stomach. He cried incessantly. That shrilling, piercing cry borne out of excruciating pain. And anger, perhaps. {One year olds don’t talk, so you can only guess}. Eddie and the wife ubered him to the Nairobi Hospital. He got admitted. He {Eddie, not the kid} left the facility late that night. Weary and dejected and deflated. But I knew it must have been more grueling for the wife, who’d remained behind with the kid. That was Friday.

I joined him the following day, 10 am, at his house {we live in the same hood} so that we could go to the hospital together. We did a mat. There are these flashy but noisy matatus that ply our route that he really fancies. Says they are cool and fast and stylish. I think they are shit. Shit because I can’t read or just have quiet time thinking through stuff. I’m forced to listen or watch Lil Wyne, high on whatever he smokes, rapping in an underwear. But because I didn’t want to tussle and haggle with a man nursing a sick child, we boarded the thing.

1.30 pm, Nairobi hospital.

It’s not yet visiting time, but Eddie being the charmer he is, thaws his way through the security guards, cracking them up in raucous laughter. {It’s an art he’s mastered even at his work place, forging solid camaraderie with cleaners and security guards}. They slap handshakes and bop fists. When we are beyond earshot of the guards, he tells me he just can’t wait till 3 pm, the official visiting hour; because he’s sure his young wife is worn out by now. And he’s dying to see how his son is fairing. Rules can wait, or be bent.

We make our way to the St. Mary’s pediatric wing. He’s booked the wife and the son to this private facility. Each patient is assigned their own room. There are two beds; the mum’s and the kid’s. there’s a large sink with a lavender scented disinfectant hand wash. The water is hot. The room smells of lavender. Then there’s this small fancy cupboard where you can keep fruits and kwinja {haha} and bottled water and stuff. Room service is a buzz away. Over head, there’s a plasma TV complete with DSTV connection. Supersport 3. United are just about to faceoff with Totenham hotspurs in what promises to be an explosive showdown, a smash. The TV has been muted though, so the room is super tranquil.

The wife is in bed, reading. Baby Ariel is fast asleep, his chest heaving slightly.  Eddie takes the wife in his arms. I realize nothing connects a couple like a sick child. Not even a seven figure a sportspesa jackpot. The embrace is long, and silent, then their eyes lock, a moment of vulnerability. I step outside to pick an imaginary  call.  Then the genius in me, seeing how idle I’ve suddenly become, leads me to the washrooms, I pee nothing.

I amble back to find Ariel awake, crying. The cry is intense and haunting and uncontrollable. He is in inexplicable pain. The dad is holding him. The mother, now standing in those flowing blue hospital attires, looks on helplessly. She’s clearly tired. Tired and worn out. The baby looks fragile. He has lost some weight. His eyes have lost their spark. His skin has lost its richness. His personality has lost its vim. I can’t reconcile the bubbly and radiant kid who crawls all over the house, and jumps all over me, and laughs, and throws tantrums when being fed, and breaks things to demand attention, with this frail kid right here before me. I feel distraught.

By the way, you should see Ariel in his element. Playing with his dad, sitting dexterously on his protruding belly, farting and laughing like he’s offered humanity a rare gem. Lying on the carpet with his tiny ass raised. He loves this advert of radio maisha on KTN, where those guys pull a jig on some Ali Kiba song. He’s scared to hell by some advert on Samantha bridal manenos. Sometimes I hold me, and this is my favorite part, and he attempts to lick my nose. Every time I hold him he constantly reminds me of what I’m missing out on – fatherhood. He makes me envious of Eddie.

But today he’s lost his buzz, his groove, his mojo. The boy is sick.

I look at Eddie and read trepidation. I’ve never seen him this vulnerable. {He’s usually this cocky guy and prances around with an Atwoli like swagger}. He’s softened up today. But tries to exude this calm mien. Impressive.

I gently collect the kid from him. He is still crying. His body feels like an oven – hot. He is on a drip. I notice traces of blood at the base of the drip. The wife punches the button atop the baby’s bed to call the nurse. She arrives in an instant. She works the drip. It’s clearly painful. Ariel’s cry surges to heart gripping decibels. I admire her efforts in trying to sooth the baby though. She’s kind and sweet and sharp witted and beautiful. I’m hopping her shift just started, because I’ll be punching that button a lot tonight to ask her silly questions.

But seriously, I wonder how it feels to have a sick child. I’m wondering what’s grazing Eddie’s mind right that minute. Seeing his boy in such a state; weak and in pain and drained of health and happiness. The emotional stability he has to demonstrate because the wife is looking up on him. The follow-ups with doctors. The bills…

Thankfully he has this comprehensive medical cover for the wife and kid, so, much of that headache is sorted. But the emotional drain is something else. The leadership is something else. The uncertainty is palpable and weighing heavily on him. And so I think one of the incontestable keys of fatherhood is security. That and provision of emotional stability and leadership and vision and selflessness.

I hand over the kid to the mum who tries to breastfeed him. The cry subsides, somewhat. We turn and catch the action at Old Trafford. There’s calm in the pitch, pandemonium on the stands. Whereas I’m so sucked into the game, Eddie keeps darting his eyes behind at the baby. The match means shit to him. He monitors the drip. He keeps feeling the kid’s forehead with his hand.

Then suddenly the cry notches several octaves high and hits a new crescendo. You can almost feel the pain of this kid. You wish he could just talk and explain what on this wicked earth is troubling him. The couple is mortified. Mortified and frustrated. Eddie tries to tell him something soothing but that gets lost in the wave of pain, dissolving in the scream.  He just stares at him in exasperation. Almost defeated. Brave face on though.

Then there’s this polite knock on the door followed by a slight push. And in comes a bunch of trendy yuppies, the wife’s young siblings  – two sisters and a bro. Millenials {the lingo and outfits}. And her mum too! She has this vivacious motherly aura about her that just fills the room. Sets everyone at ease, except Eddie of course, haha. He even doesn’t know what to do with his hands at first, then eventually clasps this palms together. He talks less. Good strategy.

So granny picks the crying kid and literary talks him into quietness. We all watch awe.

baby-and-blog
Source: Baby & Blog
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