It was confirmed. They would cut me up in the morning, remove it and stitch me up.
The thought makes me swallow a knot, my stomach tightens again. I feel the dampness on the bed sheets. I am sweating and it is not due to the heat. I close my eyes. Maybe this is a dream that I will wake up from. But even with my eyes closed, I feel the soft damp bed sheets on my back and hear the traffic outside. It is no dream.
I open my eyes. An old white fan stares at me from the white ceiling. It looks out of place but so am I. I try to imagine the fan rotating fast and then spinning out of control, detaching itself from the wall.
I fail to. My mind is still focused on the doctor cutting me up.
The thought brings a familiar feeling. I rush out of bed and head to the bathroom.
I have to diarrhea again. I want to blame the medicine they gave me to clean my stomach in readiness for the operation but it’s more than that.
I push open the bathroom door and get in. The bathroom’s cleanliness still puzzles me. I pull down my pants without closing the door. After all the bouts I have had, I am too tired to bother with it. As I sit, I touch the smooth white wall tiles. It feels strange to my fingers but I have no time to think about it. I push.
What a relief.
I feel weak and the unpleasant smell engulfing me is not helping.
Why am I so nervous now? I wonder. If the plane had arrived in time, the operation would have been done. I would be in bed, in pain and with a scar.
My stomach tightens. I get another bout.
“It will not hurt at all,” that was what James had said. “The only memory would be a thin scar.” I had listened to James, looking at his gold chain then.
It seemed to glitter more then with each stride he took. And James made lots of strides when talking.
I had watched him wondering how he got rich. James seemed to have more than enough and as far as I knew, he was as uneducated as I was.
“Had he made the same deal?” I still wonder.
I had thought about asking him but decided against it. I didn’t want him to think I was intruding especially after the way I reacted when he first told me.
My first thought was the guy was nuts.
And I had started walking out just before I heard the amounts of money involved.
“Three thousand dollars,” the words had come from Marcus, a colleague of James who spoke with an American accent. Those were the words that had made me stop in my tracks. Not shillings but dollars, 3000 US dollars. I didn’t know then how much that was in shillings but I was sure that it was more money than I could save, maybe in half my life. And it didn’t help when Marcus repeated the amount and added the word cash.
My mother could have her arthritis treated. I could open a shop, a real shop not a kiosk, for her and still have enough money left to start my own business selling second hand clothes.
3000 AMERICAN DOLLARS! Saying no to that was out of the question.
I had been so excited with that thought then that I had forgotten that if something went wrong, I would die. I had been more worried that my blood group might not be the B+ they needed. That was then. I have bigger concerns now.
I stand up and flush the toilet. The sound of the water spinning fascinates me. I flush again; the bowl emits little water.
I walk out of the bathroom. I can hear Shah snoring. James had introduced him as an Indian friend. I did not say anything but I knew that Shah was a bodyguard, kept there to ensure I didn’t change my mind and walk out. As if I could? Where would I go to?
If I had a place to go to, I would because I had stopped trusting James.
The conversation James and Marcus had on the plane when they thought I was asleep is what opened my eyes. James had said something about getting another deal and that’s when I concentrated only to hear Marcus say that this was an easy one. I still remember what he said word for word.
“This one was easy. If we could get three other donors, that’s 71 G’s if the client pays for all expenses.”
James is ripping me off blindly and there is no way out for me. If I do, how would I pay them for the plane ticket? How would I go home? I have stopped believing in him. Suppose he takes much more than one kidney? Then what? I could die in India and all my mother would get would be my ashes. Someone had once told me that Indians didn’t bury the dead, they burned them. The thought of my mother getting my ashes fills me with dread.
I leave the toilet door open; I have no strength to close it. I open the small fridge in the room. I take out a bottle and sip the water.
I recall my mother’s face when I arrived home with James and Marcus. Although she smiled I had seen the worry on her face. I knew she was not comfortable about James and Marcus. Her wrinkles had deepened when I told her that I got a job that would entail a lot of travelling.
I had expected her to jump in joy when I gave her half the money James and I had agreed on in shillings but all she did was cry.
“Did you steal this money?” she had asked
“No mum. “
“Do you swear by the breast you sucked you have not stolen it?”
She had looked into my eyes with worry. I had not told her of the operation and had no plans to do so.
“I will travel out of town for a while and come back in three weeks mum.”
She had given me that look that said I know you are doing something wrong but I won’t ask.
“Then go son, with my blessings. I have raised you well. You leave my hands healthy and well, may the lord bring you back the same from your work unscratched.”
Maybe her words cursed our plans. First, the plane arrived in Mumbai late.
Secondly, the slight delay at the airport and the traffic found us at the doctors over two hours late.
As if those were not signs enough, we found the doctor on another operation. We were forced to reschedule. What other signs did I want from God?
James and Marcus could not have hidden their reaction at every one of these instances.
“Bull crap” Marcus repeated to himself. Shit was the only word James said.
They wanted to get a drink after that and that’s when we came to the hotel. They wanted me to relax and take some medicine to clean my stomach.
“Here is 500 US dollars. You will get the rest after the operation,” James had told me before adding that if I walked around Mumbai without a passport, I would be arrested. Then he took my passport.
Shah had came into the room just before had finished his brief. I assume that they had called him immediately when we arrived at the hotel. After the introductions, they left me with Shah. I was not expected to go anywhere but incase I wanted to go anywhere, Shah was to take me.
Shah looked nothing like a friend. He had given me a look that made me feel small before sitting down and switching on the TV. He had changed the channels until he found a channel that showed an Indian movie.
After swallowing the tablets, I went and stood at the balcony. The streets were busy. There were more people on this road than any I had ever seen anywhere in my whole life. The noise fascinated me, the number of bicycles were more than I could count.
I had reached the land of people, bicycles and noise. I stayed on the balcony watching until the diarrhea bouts started.
That was when we changed places. Shah went outside, holding his nose in disgust and I got on the bed after the third bout.
I stand in the middle of the room thinking of my passport. James had it with him and he had said I would get arrested if I walked without it. I look outside; Shah is still asleep snoring soundly.
I walk to the door, open it softly and walk out. I am sweating and shaking. I walk on. Ahead, I see a train station. I join the thousands that wait for the train. And when it arrives, I push and shove myself in. It starts moving slowly. I find a seat and look outside. I am no longer shaking.
I have 500 dollars and my kidneys. If I get arrested, they would send me back home alive.
I smile and watch the landscape.