Summary: A young man, visiting his dying mother in hospital, is in turmoil because of her impending death, and also some mistakes he's made in the past. He finds peace for both, though.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: 10min
Actors: 1M, 3F
Francis Maina: An intelligent, well-dressed young man. Has always played the devoted son. Likes to appear calm, collected and sociable. Now with his mother on her deathbed, he faces a crisis.
Naomi Maina: A kind, polite, old lady, currently dying of a terminal brain tumour. She has always doted on her son, whom she considers the perfect child.
Setting: A private room in a hospital. There are machines and a small stool with a flower vase in it. There’s a bed, on which lies Madam Maina, pale and near death.
Francis: So, with the score tied at 1-1, RVP gets the ball and squares it to Kagawa on the edge of the box. Now, everyone expects Kagawa to shoot, so Pique throws… no throws doesn’t even describe it…hurls himself in front of the ball to block the shot. No one notices Cleverley unmarked right behind him. Perfect shooting opportunity. There’s just one problem. He can’t shoot! But it’s the Champions’ League Final, so he takes a whack at it anyway. And then… miracle of miracles…it’s a goal! 2-1 for Manchester United! It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. (Long pause) But then, you’re not really listening, are you. No, you’re not listening at all. I can’t really blame you for that, though. Terminal brain tumours tend to have that funny little effect. I wish you would listen…I mean I wish you could, I wish you could listen. I really do.
Nurse: Hello, Mr. Maina. How are you today?
Francis: (Puts on a smile and turns to the nurse) I’m very fine, thanks for asking.
Nurse: (As she checks Naomi’s vitals and writes on a chart) I see you’re talking to your mum. That’s very good. The doctor said that would help her brain recover more quickly.
Francis: (Still with the fake smile on his face.) Yes, yes. Of course. (After the nurse leaves) Oh, what nonsense! Help her brain recover. This tumour is INOPERABLE! (Shouts after the nurse) Do you hear me. That means they can’t operate. They can’t fix her. There’s no hope. None whatsoever. Maybe Jesus could do something. But Jesus isn’t here! There’re only two options with a tumour like this: you die quickly, or you die slowly. (shouting) And for some reason, my mother has decided to die slowly! (A long pause, as it slowly dawns on him what he’s just said.) Oh no, oh God, I’m sorry, I…(runs to his mum’s bed and kneels down beside her, taking her hand.) I’m so sorry, mum. So so sorry. I didn’t mean what I said. (He starts to break down and sob.)I swear I don’t want you to die. I love you mum. Please don’t die, mum. Please don’t.
Nurse: (Runs into the room, attracted by Francis’s screams) Is there something wrong.
Francis: (Putting on the fake smile once more) No, nothing’s wrong. (He rises from his kneeling position, rubbing his right knee) I just fell and banged my knee on the ground. (Laughing) I hope I didn’t scream toooo much like a girl.
(The nurse walks out shaking her head. She already thought Francis is very silly, now her impression of him seems to have been confirmed.)
Francis: (Sighs deeply, then goes and kneels down at his mother’s side again. He takes her hand and kisses it, then places it against his temple. After a pause he starts to speak softly to her.) Please don’t die, mum. Please. I don’t know what I will do without you if you…if you…(unable to say the word “die”) Please don’t leave me, mum. (He goes up to the bed side stool and gets her Bible. He opens Psalm 103 and starts to read.) Here, mum. Let me read you your favourite Bible passage. “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…” (a pause) Oh, how I wish it were true. But, as you can see here, you’re not exactly very healed right now. And I’m not exactly very forgiven. I know what you’re thinking, mum. How I gave my life to Jesus when I was 12 years old and all that. How I’m an usher in Church, and a dutiful server of the Lord. But I still don’t feel very forgiven. I mean, you don’t know the things I’ve done. (Unable to face his mother, unconscious though she is, he turns and faces away from her before saying his next words.) Once, when I was still a first year at the university, I went to a party in some rich fool’s house. There was this girl, this super super beautiful girl, who came up to me right in the middle of the party and said she had something very personal and important to tell me. So we went upstairs, to the master bedroom to talk. It was dark and…(Too ashamed to be near his mother for another second, he goes up to the window and starts looking outside. After a moment, in a very soft voice.) So you see, I’m not all that holy.
(He stands there for a second, and then kneels down with his elbows resting on the windowsill, contemplating the surroundings. Suddenly, and this is meant to be so sudden as to catch the audience completely by surprise, Naomi opens her eyes, turns her head to look at her son and speaks.)
Naomi: Why, David is that you?
Francis: No, mom, it’s not dad. It’s me, Francis.
Naomi: (Not understanding, her mind is too far gone. She thinks it’s her husband in the room and starts looking away from David to another side of the room where she believes he is.) I hope you had a good day at work David. I hope that manager you’ve been complaining about isn’t still giving you a hard time.
Francis: Starts getting frustrated. No mum, it’s your son, not your husband. Your SON, Francis. Mum, dad…(finds it hard to say)…dad’s dead. He has been for over eight years. Oh, why can’t you remember any of this?
Naomi: (Continuing with the previous conversation.) If I were you, I would tell him to either leave you alone or find a new head of production. It’s not every day he’ll meet someone with as much experience and training as you, and if he isn’t smart enough to appreciate it, he’ll just have to learn the hard way, now won’t he?
Francis: Why won’t you listen? I’m not your husband! I’m your son. (Buries head in hands) Why won’t you listen to me?
Naomi: Now David, I have some news for you. You just have to promise me that you won’t tell the children. I’m going home today. (After a pause, as if David were saying something.) No, not going back to Molo, silly. I’m going to my real home. To be with my Father. (A pause) How do I know? Trust me, my love, I just know. (A pause) I know you’ll miss me terribly, but it’s not up to me. When the Father calls me, what choice do I have but to comply. Besides, this old body of mine is ready to go, even though my soul isn’t.
Francis: Mum, you’re scaring me. Mum, what are you talking about?
Naomi: (Still looking away from him at the imaginary David) My only worry is for the kids. I don’t know what they’ll do once I’m gone.
Francis: No, mum you can’t die. Please mum, don’t die.
Naomi: I worry the most for Francis. That boy has so many demons from his past that he’s fighting. Oh, he thinks I haven’t noticed but I have. He depends so much on me for advice and guidance. I’m scared of what he’ll become without me around. (Another pause as Francis is speechless) You want to call him so that I talk to him one last time? No, there’s no time for that. I’m just about to leave. Here (reaches under her pillow and picks up a piece of paper) give him this. It’s a letter I wrote when I was still strong enough. Make sure he reads it. I hope it will be enough for him once I’m gone. (Lets go of the letter and it falls to the ground. Now speaking to the imaginary David.) I love you. Make sure you visit me one last time today evening before I leave. (Lays her bed back on the pillow and closes her eyes.)
(Francis stares at her peaceful form for a moment then goes over to the other side of the bed and picks up the fallen letter. He reads it silently while facing the audience. Upon finishes, he takes one long look at the audience so that they can see the grief and sadness slowly disappear from his face replaced by a look of joy. He places the letter on the bedside stool.)
Francis: (Kissing his mother on the forehead.) Thank you. I love you. (He leaves)
(After a moment, the nurse comes in with one of her colleagues. She goes over to Naomi, checks the readings on the machine then writes on a chart. As she’s doing this, her colleague sees the letter.)
Nurse 2: Oh what’s this? (Picking it up and inspecting it.) It’s a letter…from Naomi! That’s impossible! The doctor needs to see this.
Nurse 1: Hold on a second. Let’s first see what it says. It might just be a trick from that silly son of hers.
Nurse 2: Ok then. (Unfolds the letter and starts reading.) Dearest son, the days of my pilgrimage are now almost over. By the time you read this, I’ll probably already have gone back home, home to the land of eternal day where the glory of God shines unending. I’m going to live in the city whose gates shall never be shut and drink from the river of the water of life. And I have a message for you. I’ve seen the shame in your eyes. Time and time again I’ve seen it. It’s always there. I’ve been praying that you will trust me enough to confide in me. It looks like I’ll die without ever seeing that prayer answered. I don’t know what horrible thing you did that makes you feel so haunted. But I know that God knows. He knows all the skeletons in your closet. Every little sordid detail. And he loves you anyway. He always has and he always will. And so will I. God bless you, Francis.
© Copyright Mwendwa Kiko, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.