Behind The Lens
December 10, 2015
Service Review| Monarch Hotel, Nairobi
December 22, 2015



He shit in bed again.

I had just taken lunch. A large steaming mug of soy tea and bread.  It wasn’t my turn to clean out the sheets but Sister Regina was out picking a call. She always did that. I suspected it was her way of coping with the misery. As I turned him over, a mere bag of bones, Limo clawed helplessly at the metal beds’ headrest writhing in pain, his jaw twitching uncontrollably.


This disease had robbed him of joy and replaced it with gloom. Limo had been a giggling ten year-old when he came to Ward 6 C nine months ago. Now his tiny frame was curled up rather miserably on the rickety hospital bed.

In other surrounding beds similar to his lay children with vacant looks on their faces and anguish in their limpid eyes.

His cello sat untouched at the foot of his bed. The sturdy black leather case slightly ajar revealed the instrument that had once lit up the little boy’s eyes. This music prodigy was wasting away after a long brutal fight and his spirit was crushed. Like a bird with a broken wing.

I went about arranging the heavy woollen quilt around him, checking his vitals and murmuring soothing words to him. I could tell he could hear me because he quietened down and lay on his side.

As I turned to walk back to my work station I noticed the muted TV screen. The image of a cheery young face with a dreamy look on his face held my gaze for what seemed like ages. His brow was bent as he sought out the perfect note. His arm arched over his beloved cello with the flair of a master, that was the Limo I had come to know. I could feel that strain of music in my soul without hearing a single note. A huge lump caught in my throat as I turned away.

The remote fell from his limp hand with a clutter. I jumped. The TV burst out in a garbled high-pitched noise which shuttered that sacred moment. Limo’s sunken eyes rolled back in his head. There was no beeping machine or IV stand hooked to his hands because the hospital management board had decided he didn’t stand a chance. I began administering CPR. He remained motionless.

I tried again and again. Nothing.

My ankles had a niggling ache where I had been standing for hours. Preparing bed pans, measuring insulin, cutting up yards upon yards of gauze.  I was tired. Sister Regina shook her head and murmured that this was best for him.

He was like a broken toy which couldn’t be fixed.

Then she dialled the morgue attendants’ extension line.



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