Halimah dashed into the living room, jittery. Her hands trembled as she pointed towards the passage leading to Tony’s room.

“What is it? What has come over you?” Andrew bellowed giving her a cynical look.

Halimah stuttered, sweat breaking out from her pores. “It is… it is… it is Tony, sir,” she said.

“What happened to Tony?” Shalom jumped out of the brown leather sofa, slid her leg into her slippers and ran to her son’s room. She pushed the door open and let out a sharp cry. “Andrew!” She hurried towards her son and shook him vigorously.

Andrew appeared at the door. He shoved Shalom aside and rocked Tony. He lifted him in his arms and dashed to the compound, Shalom on his heels. He dropped him in the back seat of the black Pajero, barked a command at Kofi to open the gate and raced out of the compound raising dust and a snide remark from the elderly woman he narrowly hit. His car came to a screeching halt at St. Nicholas hospital’s parking lot. He jumped out of the car to alert the nurses of the emergency situation. They swung to action following him to the car with a stretcher. They pulled out Tony and placed him on the stretcher before heading towards the back of the building where the Intensive Care Unit was located. Nurse Toun, a fair, slender nurse of average height held Shalom back from going after the other nurses.

Shalom and Andrew paced the reception avoiding each other, cold stares burning in their eyes. After thirty minutes of pacing the full length of the reception and howling, Shalom sat on a plastic chair towards the nurse’s station and buried her head in her cupped palm. She drew in air and let it out in a sharp breath.

Dr. Collins walked in through the front door to the reception. “Mr. Andrew,” he beckoned at him. Shalom sprang up from her seat and hurried towards his direction. He gave her a cold smile. “Madam, let me talk to your husband in private.”

“Doctor, you don’t have to.” She raised her voice and slapped her palms together. “Say what you have to say here and now. I want to know. That is my son we’re talking about.” She wrapped her maxi gown around her and held it at her waist.

Andrew glanced at her and shook his head. “Can you just be patient for once and let me hear what the doctor wants to tell me.” He turned and faced Dr. Collins. Shalom glared at him and fell silent.

Dr. Collins looked from Andrew to Shalom and back at Andrew. He placed his hands on Andrew’s shoulders. “We tried to resuscitate him but it was too late. The damage had already been done. We’re very sorry.” Dr. Collins walked away briskly.

Shalom let out a shrill cry as she crashed to the floor. She pounded her fist on the floor severally before gasping for air and passing out. The nurses ran to her and carried her to one of the wards to resuscitate her. Andrew rested his back against the wall, placed his hands on his head and stared into space, tears streaming down his face.

Shalom’s occasional sniffing was the only sound that could be heard in the car as they journeyed back home. Andrew almost crashed into a stationary truck along the road on two occasions. He wiped the tears that clouded his vision with his palm and managed to maintain focus on the road. Shalom and Andrew went into separate bedrooms when they arrived at the house. Halimah was nowhere to be found, but plates were set on the table for dinner.

Two months had passed since Tony’s death. Andrew and Shalom barely exchanged words, each locked up in their worlds taking their loss in stride. Halimah moved around the house walking on eggshells. Thankfully, the twins had been shipped to their grandma’s place for the long term break. Gloom and darkness hung around the house like that of a deserted place

Shalom pushed herself into Tony’s room after many failed attempts. Each time she got to the door, she would weep and turn back, memories flooding her heart. While Tony was still alive, she could count on her fingers the number of times she had gone to the room. She always had an acceptable reason not to check up on him since he started locking himself in. The room remained the same way it was since his demise. Memories of him stuck in the room and his scent was poignant. Clothes were jumbled up in the wardrobe. A picture frame of him with a football in his arm hung on the left side of the room. His medals and the trophies he won for his school’s team served as memorabilia on the wooden bedside table. A full mirror stood opposite the bed. She ran her hands on the picture and closed her eyes tight, pain piercing through her heart. Memories of his innocent, tender chuckles and his childish antics flooded her mind. He had been the centre of her happiness many years ago, until…

She walked over to his wardrobe and picked up one of his shirts. She pressed it on her nose and sniffed it in. She dumped it and picked another. Her mind raced. She thought she had gotten the strength she needed to clear up the room. She had stopped Halimah from doing it. She wanted to cling to the remaining memories she had of him though it had been a long time they shared fond memories together. She wobbled to the bed and crashed in it. She stifled the tears with the pillow as her body shook in anguish. She pulled herself from the bed and blew her nose into the edge of her black maxi gown. She picked up the duvet on the bed and folded it. A small transparent bottle containing a white substance fell off and rolled under the bed. A blue leather journal caught her eyes when she picked up the pillow. It held her attention. Tony was not one to keep journals, at least to the best of her knowledge. He had always had issues writing, and that had been a source of problem when he was in Primary 1. She cleared the room in a haste and went up to her room with the journal in her hand.

 

To be continued…