When I got back to the office I called Francis to get the update on our father’s health condition that he had promised. He insisted there was nothing to report because Father was doing great and the doctor felt he could be discharged.
“Francis, is the doctor sure or is he basing the decision to discharge Dad on a feeling?”
“What did you hear me say Major?”
“He has to be sure because we cannot discharge Dad and then bring him back to the hospital again!”
“He has a home Major, hospitals are meant to be visited not dwelled in, what is wrong with you? Dad is fine and he needs to wake up and move a bit, check on his cattle and feed his hens or something, did you see hens in this hospital?”
“Stop joking Francis,please tell me that he is really okay.”
“He’s fine Major. He’s ready to go home.”
“Fine. I will talk to Raphael. He will come and pick him up and take him home and you can go back to your Theology classes.”
“Are you okay Major? You sound a little tired, is something wrong?”
“I am just exhausted from work. I will be fine and thank you Wuod Meja for taking care of Dad. I owe you a lot.”
“We owe him Major. You know how Dad is, saying things and shaking his head like no one listens to him.”
“Yes, he’s always saying that we do not listen, but he’s done us proud. I will call in the evening to talk to him about his discharge. Have a good one Francis.”
“You are the only one who calls me Francis! Everyone calls me Jayalo but not you Major. Have a good one too.”
I looked at the time after he’d hang up. It was almost two o’clock. My brother might see himself as a priest but he would always be Francis to me. The boy who always insisted that I cool his tea or porridge before serving it to him. The boy who had typhoid when he was ten and made my Father weep. He promised God he would go to church everyday if he was healed. The boy who always looked up to me even when I brought home a report card reading C+ in Mathematics. Father would yell, “how can you not know Mathematics and your Uncle is an Accountant?”
The boy who acted as a messenger to John and I. Each letter was delivered with the seal intact and promises of love and better tidings. The same Francis who broke John’s nose when he saw him with that girl from house number ten. Matilda, Martha, whatever!
My Francis, a priest?