New Responsibility – Chapter 9
Charles entered the room wondering how he should reveal the conversation of a half hour ago with Omario with his estranged wife. He’d have to soften the hurtful references, but she needed to know and make plans to get away from London as soon as possible. Perhaps she could return to see her parents in Jamaica for a while as she sorted out her plans for the final year of residency at the hospital in Cambridge and how to care for a child while she did so? He didn’t know how she’d deal with financing that without any support from Omario.
Taniyah smiled as he entered the room and presented her with the attractive flower arrangement, she could take it with her when she was discharged from the hospital.
“Charles, I don’t know how to thank you for everything you’ve done. After delivering my child as you did despite obvious nervousness, I could never forget you. Not the kind of sight one would like to see after waking up in the morning, was it?” She beckoned to the nurse fussing with the baby in a crib beside the bed.
“Nurse Gwen would you please show Mr Nelson how to hold the baby properly. I think he needs a few lessons.”
The nurse picked up the baby expertly and bought it over the other side to Charles showing him how it should be held and watched as he received it carefully smiling at his male clumsiness. Taniyah beckoned him to the head of the bed.
“What do you think of my daughter you delivered?”
“I thought the birth was a miracle and while I was frightened I’d do something wrong in my inexperience when I held your baby it awoke feelings in me I didn’t know were possible and for the first time in my life I wished I was a father myself. Because I was an instrument in that delivery, I’ll never forget the experience so thank you for trusting me Taniyah.”
Taniyah adjusted position to see him better and flinched. “They had to do some repair work which is quite normal, and I’ll be sore for a while, so I’ll be in hospital until my doctor decides to release me. But as you are here today, I want to ask you a very personal favor and if you feel uncomfortable about it that’s alright and I’ll understand. Are you familiar with godparents?”
“It’s probably a custom not practiced much in this generation. Basically, parents will invite a willing person they know not necessarily a relative to be a godparent and that means if the parents of the child are removed by sickness or death the godparents will take over responsibility of the child’s upbringing and nurture and give them guidance when they are mature enough to fend for themselves. I’m inviting you to be the godparent to this child. Obviously Omario has forfeited this right to nurture and guide by abandoning his child.”
Tears came to Charles eyes as he thought over this invitation. It would be crazy for him to say yes because he was not married but Taniyah was healthy and that would not be a problem for him at this time. He wanted to be involved in the life of the child he’d helped bring into this world. He nodded his head. Taniyah smiled and he could see she was becoming exhausted after her ordeal. She smiled again.
“What did you say your mother’s name was?
“June Ann Bailey-Nelson. Bailey was her Maiden name.”
“Then unless you have any strong objections Charles, I’d like to record my child’s name as June Ann Gordon in honor of the mother who produced an upright and compassionate son. I wish I didn’t have to record the name Gordon but it’s still my married name and to do otherwise would raise questions. Now I need to inform in laws and parents of the birth of my child. I noticed I’m running low on battery on my iPhone. It will take a while to charge it and I have a charger in the red suitcase. Could you find that and maybe nurse Gwen can show you where there is a power point to do that. If you have Facetime on your phone, could you do me the favor of loaning your phone to me and I’ll start by informing my parents. I’m getting tired and want to get these things out of the way so I can sleep a while and you will want to go home for your own personal business. The nurse will be taking the baby to the special baby room but has kindly kept a crib here so I can video call the families. As the Gordons seem to be supporting me, I’ll phone them after that.”
Charles copied the address into his Facebook app and made a video call and when a distinguished man came online, he held the phone out and Taniyah took it. She greeted her father warmly and he replied coldly. “Who is this Charles Nelson appearing as the caller on my screen daughter. Is he your neighbor and is he there as I want to talk to him!”
Taniyah was surprised at the reaction. “Dad I’m in hospital having delivered you a grand-daughter June Ann Gordon this morning. The ambulance was a bit late getting to my apartment and this man delivered the baby just before the ambulance arrived. I’ll put him on so you can thank him for his kindness.” She handed the phone to Charles.
The father yelled. “Have you no shame man, the days of slave owners using and abusing black and brown people were over long ago. You cannot use women at will just because you are white. Omario phoned a few minutes ago and told us he was leaving Taniyah because you had forced yourself on her soon after moving next to their apartment. He tried to be forgiving but it was too much, and he has left distressed to find a wife who will be faithful to him. What will happen to her now? You have bought disgrace to our family and to yourself. You think I should thank you for your kindness in delivering a child of your shame? Never!”
Charles stood for a moment shocked, then handed the phone to Taniyah seething with anger. This was his payment for kindness rendered to the Gordons. This was Omario’s revenge knowing he couldn’t be deported for such an action which would not be considered a criminal activity in the UK. He wished he’d never met and befriended Gordons. He wished he’d not agreed to be a godparent to the child. He was tempted to walk away, but realized it was not Taniyah’s fault he was forced to endure this humiliation in front of the nurse. What would she be thinking about him after that outburst?
He cleared his head and realized Taniyah was yelling at her father as the nurse attempted to take the phone away from her and calm her down. He heard the rapid-fire conversation. The reaction of the parent Gordons when they discovered Amoy had surfaced in the UK and was with their son. The truth about Omario’s teenage fling with this servant girl that had produced a child. His anger when it was confirmed the morning sickness was a pregnancy before the arrival of Charles Nelson. Omario bringing Amoy into their home on the pretext of helping her in the pregnancy. Her confronting her husband who hurt her because she’d discovered from his parents Omario’s past life with this girl who they’d thrown out of their home and how Taniyah had to flee to a neighbor who was now being humiliated for her safety. How Omario had left with the girl then thrown her out that same day forcing Amoy to come and beg for money from the neighbor so she could find accommodation. Then there was silence, and the nurse gently removed the phone and shut it down.
The nurse spoke. Mr Nelson, I heard it all and I feel so sorry for the way you’ve been treated for showing kindness to this woman. I know you’re hurt but this woman seems to have no family or friend support now and it’s important we get her stabilized for the baby’s sake. Under normal circumstances I’d ask you to leave while we did what we must, but may I request you put your feelings aside and help us get this woman calmed down and stabilized. Your help will support the work we have to do here to have her released in a frame of mind that will ensure a happy mother baby bonding for the next few weeks. It’s important. I’ll explain to the other shift nurses what has happened, so you get all the support necessary and special privileges.”
The nurse moved a chair beside the bed and indicated he should sit as Taniyah stared at the roof. She checked Taniyah’s vital signs and then took his hand and placed it in Taniyah’s. “This will help her to know someone cares.” He saw Taniyah glance down at her brown hand in his and sigh. Then closed her eyes and was soon in a deep sleep.”
The nurse spoke. “You can take your hand away now!” and he did nod off to a fitful sleep in an uncomfortable position on the chair as the nurse wheeled the baby out. Later Charles woke with a start with someone’s hand on his shoulder. It was a doctor with a new nurse in tow. He whispered.
“Could you step outside while we do an examination, please Mr Nelson.” Charles got up and retreated to the corridor. His bones ached from the uncomfortable position he was in while sleeping. Eventually the doctor emerged into the corridor.
“I believe this woman doesn’t have any family to be of assistance now. I’m her family doctor and we have received a report of what transpired earlier today. I’m sorry. Apparently, you are the only close friend she has we’re aware of with the husband now out of the picture and a danger to her mental health. Do you have any suggested plan for this woman when we release her in a couple of days? Are you romantically attached to her? Excuse me for asking such a personal question but I need to know. We must deal with both her mental health as well as her physical health as she commences motherhood. She’s not far from becoming a qualified doctor, so we have a special interest in her welfare.”
“No romantic interest Doctor, just a close friendship. You might view it as a brother sister relationship and no more than that. I know you will find that amusing considering we are of different races.”
“I do not find human relationships amusing Mr Nelson.” The doctor smiled kindly. “Please do what you can to preserve this talented woman for the medical profession. We look after our own.” He patted Charles on the back. “She’s in good physical condition and surprisingly so is the baby. We are concerned to keep her mental health stable now after all she’s been through. She is sedated so please return home and let her sleep. Will you be back tomorrow? I know you probably have a job to go to but come back when you can as a special favor to me. I will see your meals are supplied at my expense. Wait here for a few more minutes.”
“I have the rest of the week off doctor so will come in every day to see she is back to good health, and I’ll arrange for suitable accommodation for her and the child. I have an interest in her survival and return to finish her medical requirements for registration which I believe will be one more year in a residency.”
The nurse left and soon after as he was preparing to go one of the staff arrived with a hot meal from the kitchen with a note. Courtesy of Dr James.
Surprise Visitor – Chapter 10
Charles returned next day to a sober and determined Taniyah and he sat to study his godchild. It developed in him a yearning for parenthood. Taniyah was frantic to find her phone which seemed to have disappeared. Eventually he inquired at the nursing station, and they handed the phone to him. No more personal calls unless they were supervised by Charles was the order in handing it over and certainly no phone calls like the one observed by that nurse who’d overheard on that first day of admission. He reported this to Taniyah who to his surprise nodded in agreement. She gave him her password and asked him to keep a track of calls and messages and if anything needed to be done, she would tell him. There were numerous messages from Omario demanding the keys and his deposit back reinforcing the fact he only wanted his money and be free from paying her rent. Charles told her about the phone call he’d had from Omario and what his response had been. She laughed.
There were countless emails and messages from Taniyah’s mother who’d heard Taniyah’s spirited rebuttal to her father’s phone call. She was mortified and her father was in depression having learned the truth. He wanted Charles phone number so he could apologize having learned the truth, but Charles was to hurt to want to speak with her father again. There was a message from her sister in Cambridge. Charles had not known about a sister in the UK and stored that in his mind as he looked for a solution to her future accommodation in a safe place. There was a message from another woman in Cambridge who on enquiry happened to be one of her close friends during study years. He stored that too. The sister had also been contacted by Omario and she was initially hostile hearing his untrue story, but the parents had contacted her to try and make peace with Taniyah on behalf of her parents and was distressed that her sister was not responding. Apparently, she’d even made a trip to the apartment and found no one home. She did not know about the birth yet, so Taniyah asked Charles to contact her and explain she was unable to use the phone yet. He agreed to contact her close friend too.
It was Friday evening, and these had been an exhausting couple of days for Charles. He arrived home apprehensive that Omario could be there to harass him and then remembered his threat of immigration intervention would probably keep him away for a while. He took note of an unfamiliar new BMW parked in front of the apartment complex and saw it was a car rental. Must be someone visiting one of the residents. Climbing the steps, he moved to the corridor outside his and his neighbor’s apartments and stopped when he noted a well-dressed older gentleman pacing in front of the Gordon apartment. Moving forward to take a closer look he spoke to the person who appeared to be of Indian heritage and quite prosperous.
“Are you looking for someone sir?”
“I was told this is the apartment of Taniyah Gordon, but no one has answered the door and I’ve been back here several times today.
“She has been admitted to hospital sir. May I know your name as it can pass on any message tomorrow. Unfortunately, she does not have a phone now.”
The man recoiled. “Are you Mr Nelson her neighbor?”
“Yes sir, and what is your name?”
“Ewbank and I’m here to offer you my most humble apologies for the disgraceful treatment I gave you on the phone two days ago. I’ve made a special trip from Jamaica to set things right and see how I can help Tahiyah under the circumstances. Will you please find it in your heart to forgive me sir, I have so much to thank you for and please accept my apologies.”
Anger welled up inside Charles and he turned to use the key to enter his apartment turning his back on the man.
“Please Mr Nelson, I want to have your forgiveness and see how Taniyah can be helped now Omario has left her without support. I’m sorry I believed his story and it didn’t help when the Gordons phoned us to reinforce what we’d been told by Omario.”
Charles sighed and beckoned the man should follow as he entered his apartment. He indicated the couch and sat to face him. The two men studied each other in silence, then Ewbank spoke.
“You’ve been good to my daughter sir, and I feel at a loss to express just how sorry I am for listening to Omario’s evil report and accusing you. Please accept my apology.”
Charles anger evaporated and he attempted a smile. He remembered Omario telling the history of those islands of the Caribbean and how colonialists had exploited slaves and the people bought from India to work on cane fields for a pittance. Ewbank had a good reason to mistrust white people and it was unfortunate that history provided a barrier between races now.
“The Gordons were good to me when I moved here from Cambridge, and I suppose our common experience in coming from that city bought us together. I was amazed and disappointed to learn of Omario’s darker side as that had not been apparent to me when I moved in. I think it was a shock to your daughter to learn of his duplicity too. She has my sympathies, and I will do whatever I can to help her. I’m glad you made the trip to set things right with your daughter. You can count on my support. Your daughter has given me a list of people to contact in Cambridge to inform them about her daughter’s birth so perhaps I can turn that list over to you.”
Charles reached for a pen and paper and began writing from the notes stored on his phone. He added Taniyah’s hospital ward and room number.
“Do you have accommodation in London Mr Ewbank? I have the key to Taniyah’s apartment.”
Ewbank shook his head. “I’ll be returning to my hotel now that I have information on the whereabouts of Taniyah. Will she be returning to her apartment from hospital?”
“Probably, but I was going to work on some potential accommodation in Cambridge where she can have support from friends there and we need to get her there as soon as possible to ensure Omario doesn’t harass her or the baby. He is quite unpredictable now. Perhaps you can look into that and let me know if I can be of further help.”
Ewbank extended his hand tentatively to test whether he was forgiven, and Charles shook it. “I’ll visit with Taniyah Saturday and Sunday and then will have to get back to work as my client business will have been piling up while I cared for your daughter’s needs. I’m glad you are here to care for her. Having family support is much better than that of a stranger.”
Ewbank took his leave respectfully and Charles headed for the shower and bed. He didn’t have sufficient energy to prepare a meal. He was soon fast asleep but took the precaution to set an alarm for a reasonable time to be awake on Saturday.
To be continued.
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