At the hospital they found Dora still weak and quite jaundiced, but sitting in an armchair beside her bed and wrapped in a hand-knitted blanket of rainbow colours. Definitely not hospital stock thought Freya. Dora had gained full consciousness the previous evening. As usual, Intensive Care beds were in demand so she’d been moved to a regular ward.
Budi, Dora’s fiancé untangled his hand from hers and stood to greet Freya and Mani, once more effusive with thanks for their care of Dora. Then he moved his chair back, his expression one of appreciative relief as he quietly observed the emotional meeting of friends.
Though still frail, Dora was well enough to navigate the intravenous drip lines and hug Freya enthusiastically as she bent down. Then she held both of Mani’s hands for long seconds, murmuring, “Thank you, thank you so much,” to both of them.
Dora was all attention as her rescuers took turns to tell the story of her evacuation. A nurse signalled for them to tone down the hilarity when they graphically enacted disbelief at how every step of officialdom had been smoothed in Loki and Nairobi. First time anything about moving around in Africa had gone without a hitch.
Rolling her eyes heavenward, Freya said, “I think Ken has powerful connections.” The questioning quality in their muted laughter and shared glances seemed like acceptance of divine intervention.
At the same moment Mani and Freya noticed that Dora was tiring and got up ready to leave. Both women brushed away tears as they hugged. Mani dropped a kiss on Dora’s forehead. Budi moved forward, embraced Freya and kissed both cheeks, then shook hands firmly with Mani, passing an envelope as he did so.
“You have to open it now,” laughed Dora.
As she took in the gold text of a wedding invitation Freya exclaimed, “Couldn’t keep me away.”
Dora said, “My mother decided that if she went ahead with wedding plans I’d have to recover. She moved the date of course and included some old traditions we hadn’t been thinking of. I vaguely remember her going over the arrangements before I came round properly.” Dora stopped for a moment and swallowed a small sob. “One of the nurses told her to keep talking through my coma, and talk she did. It really is true what we were taught; the sense of hearing is very robust.” She reached for Budi’s hand. “Budi went along with anything Mother suggested even though we’d wanted to keep it simple. He thought she needed therapy too.” A special luminosity shone through the sallow yellow of her complexion as she turned to Freya and Mani, “I hope very much you can both come.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish