Darkness was beneath my eyes; thick blackness all around me. I wasn’t even sure whether my eyes were opened or closed. I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t move or even feel my body. Now in slow motion, I opened my eyes. They came across a big light. The light grew bigger as it neared. I realised I was at the hospital when I saw four doctors surrounding me. Hospital machines were around making a beeping sound. Drips, ventilators, and tubes even in my head, chest, stomach, nose, even in my arms, all around in my body.
“He’s opened his eyes. Phew! Finally.” One of the doctors said, relief written in his eyes.
Doctors were on top of me. I didn’t know what they were doing because I couldn’t move. My body was numb. I tried to move. I tried and tried and tried. I pushed myself so hard, so hard that only my arm moved up a bit. I even wanted to say something. I wanted to ask these doctors why I was there. I wanted to ask them who am I. But the words wouldn’t come out.
“W-h-a-t a–m I… Uunhh.” I couldn’t finish.
“Take it easy man. Just relax. We are taking care of you. You don’t have to do or say anything right now. We are professional doctors and you are at the hospital,” the second doctor assured me.
As I was lying in that hospital bed I wondered if these people noticed that I wanted to talk. I really wanted to say something. I had questions that needed answers. I noticed that there were only three doctors now. Within a few minutes, the other doctor walked in. This time he was with the woman I didn’t recognised. She was looking at me as if she was seeing isporho, a ghost. Her staring made me to question myself, was I badly injured? Who is this woman? What is my connection with her?
“Oh Lwazi mntanam (my baby).” This woman was in tears. Was this really my mother? Why did I not know that?
“I am so sorry Mama.” Doctor 2 intervened. “The other report we were given by one of our professional psychiatrist Dr Van Zyle is that the attack caused brain damage to your son. The metal objects that were used to hit his head were the cause.”
The report made her weep and feel weak. I could see her feeling hopeless. I didn’t know what to feel. But one thing that was on my mind, the most painful thing is that I didn’t recognise or remember this woman as my biological mother as she claimed to be. That had hurt me a lot. Tears started streaming. Who attacked me?
“Ohw sulila mntanam sizoyinqoba nale, don’t cry, we’ll conquer this as well.” Mother assured me. “So Doc, for how long is he going to be like this?”
“Just give him time, Mama. He will pull through this. Luwazi is very strong. He is a fighter this one. And besides, he is now under treatment to prevent further physical and neurological damage.”
“Thank you Doctor,” responded Mother. The other doctors left the room. It was now me, my mother and Dr Ramii who was giving report.
“W-h-a-t h-a-ppened Ma?” I asked this person who claimed to be my mom. She innocently looked at me, wiping her never-stopping tears. She sighed and started talking.
“For those who have witnessed the scene, it was you and your friend, Zama. You got in this house and started stealing goods. You were both caught but Zama managed to get away. The mob justice was on to you; you were brutally beaten. They assaulted you with a variety of weapons. That is why you ended up being here at the hospital.”
She glanced at Dr Ramii who was paging his files. “Doc, you said that he is suffering from brain damage and that he might not remember some of the things. Does that mean that he’ll be like this all his life?”
“He might re…” we got distracted by the other doctor who got in and handed a paper to Dr Ramii. Dr Ramii carefully looked at the hand-out and then back to mom.
“Ms Mangali…” she took a deep breath.
“I am so sorry to share this bad news again with you. The other report just came in now. Luwazi is also suffering from a spinal cord injury. Meaning that there’s a high chance that he may not be able to walk again.”
My mother couldn’t help herself; she was crying and screaming as if she just received news of death. She made a lot of noise that the other nurses and doctors entered the room and tried by all means to calm her down.
I was also in tears silently. The report made me emotional as well. But I again asked myself, what am I crying for? For putting myself in this mess? Because clearly, according to my mother’s story, I was a criminal even though I don’t remember, I was stealing people’s goods, things that are not belonging to me. Who knows, maybe I was doing beyond that.
Maybe I was also a killer or a rapist. Now I am here, bounded here at the hospital, hurting my mother, crippled. I will not be able to do anything for myself. I am being punished by God surely, and I don’t blame him. I am paying for my sins.
Tell us: What punishment do you think thieves deserve?