Episode 87

Chris Bawa can feel a weight on his chest, and he can feel the middle finger of his left hand gripped loosely.
He is in darkness, and it takes a moment later for him to realize that his eyes are closed.
He opens his eyes slowly, lazily, by degrees.
He is lying on a bed, big and comfortable.
He can feel a dull pain in his right thigh, and slowly he recalls the amazing thing that had happened and how he had almost ended his own life.
Now it seems he is in a hospital, because he can see a white ceiling and the ceiling-fan that has the black inscription: EDEN HOSPITAL.
The ceiling-fan is not rotating because he can feel the cool comfort of the room, a modulated temperature from the air-conditioner.
Chris lies very still.
The window blinds are drawn, and the room is relatively dark, telling him that night has crept in.
For a moment his sane mind re-lives the horror of Junior lying so still in Ward 7, and in the darkness a pained grimace passes over his face.

A moment later he realizes that the weight on his chest is a head.
Somebody is lying by his side, and that somebody’s head is on his chest, and that somebody is holding his big finger!
Sadness spreads through Chris’ heart.
Only Junior can hold him like that, and Junior is still fighting for his life!
He gives a tremulous sigh as he feels the tell-tale sting in his eyes that tells him that once again tears are not far from his eyes.
Oh, Champ!
The moment he whispers he hears an indrawn breath, and then the fluorescent bulb in the ceiling comes on immediately.
Chris shuts his eyes tightly against the glare, and from far away he heard the choked-off sound of a muted cry.
The pressure leaves his finger, and he feels the weight lifting off his chest, and then Chris opens his eyes slowly, and finds himself looking into the handsome face of Junior.
Chris stops breathing.
He goes absolutely still!
Surely, he is dreaming!
Surely this cannot be right!
Surely this is just an extension of his warped and diseased brain, a halo conjured up by the inner cravings of his heart.
He closes his eyes, opens it, and Junior is still there, looking down at him with a slightly-pucker
ed brow, that peculiar look of his that says he is confused by something.
Junior changes the angle of his head and slowly reaches up and holds the bushy beard on Chris’ face, giving it a gentle tug.
Oh, Daddy! Why is your face so full of Bonny M hair? I really really really don’t like it at all! You look like a terrorist!
And that is when Chris begins to shake.
His whole body trembles violently, and he reaches up with unsteady hands and touches his son’s cheeks, and then he cannot really see Junior because his eyes are rendered sightless by his tears.
Oh, Champ! Oh, Champ! Oh, Champ!
His great arms come off the hospital bed and he crushes his son to his chest in an effusive embrace, and his huge body begins to shake as he weeps.

After a while he feels Junior struggling.
(voice muffled)
Hey! Hey, Daddy!!
Do you think I’m Crankson? I can’t breathe, Daddy! You’re killing me!
Chris releases his son immediately, and the boy rears up above Chris again, and his little face is filled with happiness as he rubs his face with mock seriousness.
Champ! This is a miracle!
Have you got knives in your beard? The hair was cutting my face!
Hey, Mommy, your husband is awake? You can do the licking-face now, if you want!
He looks down at his stunned father and continues to giggle.
When you were asleep Mommy was doing the licking -face thing, and I told her to stop because I wanted to lie on your chest, and she wasn’t really really really happy about that!
Chris turns his head slowly.
Effe is sitting on a chair beside the bed.
She is the one who had switched on the light.
He sees how strained her face is, how beautiful she is, how loving those eyes are.
They look at each other, and in that space of time something hidden passes between them.
It is a reaffirmation of love, the realization of the horrors that has plagued them, of paradise tottering on the brink of extinction, of love reigning supreme, of silent pledges to fight for a love that has been buffeted from all angles by really abnormal winds of destruction.
Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh! No-no, no-no, no-no! I know when you are goggling eyes like that! This is a hospital, Mommy and Daddy, and I’m really really really here!
Effe and Chris smile at that, but they do not break eye contact.
Effe raises a hand and brush tears from her cheeks, and her rings glitter in the light.
The rings. His rings. Wedding rings.
His wife.
My Angelface. I have wronged you. I have hurt you so badly.
Effe bites her lower lip, and although her tears fall unchecked now, she maintains eye contact with him.
Chris-Love! I hurt you more. In so many ways. I allowed my pain to take over by reasoning capabilities.
Chris slowly reaches out for her with his right hand, and Junior gently moves across Chris’ body and lies down on his left side, in the crook of his arms, his little dear face awash with embarrassed curiosity and expectation.

Angelface. Please, forgive me. I’m so sorry!
Effe leans forward and grabs his hand, her fingers curling tightly around his, her body shaking as she stands up with a little sob that dissolves all her fears and horror!
She carefully slides over the bed.
My love! Chris-Love! Forgive me too! Just forgive me, my love.
Junior clamps both hands across his face and shudders.
Oh boy! Here it comes! The licking of faces! Disrespecting me, your only son!
They do not mind him.
Her lips cover his, and their tears mingle, and their heart sigh in that most powerful moment.
Their lips seal, a healing balm that finally caresses the seething pain in their hearts.
Their kiss is gentle and sweet.
After a while Effe leans back and falls into the crook of his right arm.
You still stink, Chris Bawa!
Junior giggles insanely and tosses his legs in the air.
Yes! I smelt it, but I really really really didn’t want to say it!
It is coming from his beard! It stinks like a skunk!
The three of them giggle.
Chris draws Effe into a fierce embrace.
I made a promise to God. I begged Him to heal Junior, and I’ll become a dedicated Christian.
There is a silence between them, a coldness that suddenly freezes them.
If you did that, why did you pick up a gun, Chris-Love?
Stan came to you and found you lying in a pool of blood this dawn. I was having some painful contractions at the same time. He called Jon Fii, and they brought you
to the hospital in the prison ambulance. You would’ve bled to death, my love. At that same time when I was having the contractions, Junior also came out of the coma.
Junior grabs his father’s middle finger tightly.
No more guns, Daddy! Ever ever ever again, my Daddy.
Chris sighs miserably.
I was so lost, my dears. It was a really dark time for me, I guess. But it’s not a solution to any problem. You have to confront your demons in life head on. Killing yourself is not an option. It is a promise. No more guns, ever again!
They lie in the bed, the three of them, silent and brooding, and suddenly Chris jerks, startled, as he feels a gentle kick in his ribs from Effe’s bulging belly.
Effe laughs happily, filled with a buoyant joy.

That’s the bulge, Chris-Love. The scan confirmed that we’re going to have a girl.
Junior scrambles across his father’s body fast, his face all excited.
Ohhhhhh! My sister! Lemme see lemme see lemme see lemme see!
He rubs his little hand over the bulge in Effe’s belly as her baby girl strains against her belly, as if she also wants to be a part of the conversation.
She’s going to be a feisty one, I can tell.
Yes, stubborn. As stubborn as her father, no doubt.
Stubborn is good. But she’s going to be beautiful too, as beautiful as her mother.
Junior falls back into his father’s left side, and he heaves a sigh of relief.
Hm. Hm….hm. Hm!
Say it! Go on! Say it and stop behaving like humming frog.
Junior giggles.
So, my baby sister is going to be born soon?
Yes, my Champ. I can’t wait to meet her.
They are quiet for some time, each lost in the magical moment of their happiness, each hoping it will go on forever.
So. There’ll never be a divorce?
No, Champ. Never.
We’re going to be together, as a family, and remain a family, yes, my Prince.
Till you’re both old and talkatives like granpas and grandmas?
Effe and Chris giggle.
Yeah, Champ. Your Mommy and I used to talk about that a lot. Walking-Stick love. Yes, I’ll love that very much.
Effe runs a hand tenderly down his throat and, out of the sight of Junior, gently tweaks his right n—-e.
Yes, Chris-Love. Our ‘Poma’ Love.
So, it’s like, my sister is going to have a flat dicky like all girls, right?
Chris laughs at that, so loudly that Effe reaches up and puts a hand across his mouth.
D–n, Champ! Yes, but you can’t call it a dicky!
But how would we call it? A flato?
That sounds like some damaged car.
Alright. Flatter. We’ll call her dicky a flatter!
As both of them laugh, Effe shakes her head.
Silly fools!

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