I wanted to write this while I was still seething with anger. While I was still hopped up on righteous indignation and the need to make someone feel accountable. But now all I feel is sadness. A deep, ridiculous sadness. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning. 2.30 am and we are tearing down
We turn the corner and he materializes out of the darkness. A ghoulish figure. Lonely. Staggering. Alarm bells sound as
instincts kick in. He raises his hand to stop the car ahead of us and the driver goes on. And then he comes into full view. Blood everywhere. His face bruised and battered. A single yelp of surprise comes up from us both. I take my foot off the accelerator for but a brief moment then the speedometer needle inches higher again. Mercy still has her hands clasped around her mouth. Horrified. Her mouth agape as if in a silent scream. Nairobi
“Turn around.” She says. Equal parts request and order. I hesitate and then turn the car around. Both our dads were the victims of such nocturnal misfortunes and something about this hits a bit too close to home. We approach the man cautiously. Scared of what might be an ambush. Up close, his face is a mangled mess. His eyes are almost completely shut by the swelling and his lips and gums are bloody rivulets. The car stops next to him and he clambers into the back seat. Mercy has a tonne of questions.
With the mixture of blood, pain and obvious intoxication, we can hardly tell what he is saying but we manage to find out he was mugged and brutalized a couple of hours earlier and had since then been trying to get help. The car is filled with a noxious odour. We suspect he either lost control of his bowels or the beating had ended up with him in a sewer. The windows are firmly rolled down.
We take off to go to the nearest hospital while the man continues with a string of unintelligible thank you’s and God bless you’s. Minutes later we are at Nairobi Women’s hospital emergency room. No one else is in the room. It’s quiet. The receptionist looks at him with concern on her face but makes no attempt to help. The man’s blood leaves a trail on the white tiles and the security guards stare at us apprehensively. Here, we find out his name. Johannes. He has his driving license and the picture on it makes us wince even more. The beating has left him unrecognizable.
The staff makes no move to help him until we coax them into offering him gauze and cotton wool to stop the bleeding. A male nurse walks up to me and asks us to take him to Kenyatta. The three thousand shillings Mercy has offered for his payment will only be enough for consultation and outpatient service and then they will be forced to release him. Even at four am. Frustration begins to rise.
Minutes later, we are back in the car. The hospital staff watches us leave with a mixture of pity and disbelief. Kenyatta looms in the distance. Mercy can’t believe they turned him away. She swears to go on a twitter rampage the following day. Pretty soon we are at
. It takes us forever to find the casualty department. Exactly what dying patients need…a game of hide and seek with the emergency room. The staff isn’t helpful and we find ourselves seeking help from other patients. At this point I can tell we are almost regretting being good Samaritans. Little did we know that the night was only going to get worse. Much worse. Kenyatta Hospital
We locate the ER and it’s nothing like the stuff they show on television. McDreamy isn’t patrolling the corridors looking into his patients’ eyes with that soulful gaze. No one is yelling ‘Stat!’ or running through with patients on a gurney while reading out their vitals. No. Here despair hangs in the air. Patients are set around on beds looking gloomy while some try to fall asleep on the steel chairs. Eyes shift to us as we enter with the man shifting slowly behind us.
We ask for the procedure. A receptionist curtly directs us to a triage area. Before we can get there, a janitor orders us out of the vicinity. He has to clean. Later, a nurse comes through to the triage area and we stand outside to give them privacy. Inside, we can hear her bark orders at Johannes. What’s your name? Take off your coat! What’s wrong with you? Mercy has tears in her eyes. These people must be used to these situations. They’ve probably seen worse. Much worse. But why must they be so mean?
Soon Johannes is out. He still looks and shuffles like a zombie. We have to pay for his registration. We take the form to the cashier who doesn’t look up for a second before referring us back to the receptionist. That number is taken. We make a quick trip and then we are back. The payment is made and then back to the reception to get forms filled out. What’s his name? We already gave you the name. We need to see his identification. I take a deep breath and walk over to Johannes who has fallen asleep on the seats. I rouse him long enough to get his license and then we are back at the reception.
The receptionist runs to the nurses’ station and then to find the nearest security guard but before he can we are off. We are livid and laughing at the same time. It’s not a happy laughter though. It’s surprise at how the night has turned out. At this point I can’t remember if the parable of the Good Samaritan ended with him being hounded out of an inn by a Roman soldier asking for his phone number. I’m pretty sure it didn’t. Then again this is
. 5am and we drive away wondering what will become of Johannes. Nairobi