The moment I opened my eyes to see Emeka staring down at me, I thought I was dead and sat right up. The cold dried air in the lush white room licked at my exposed arms; my skin spouting Goosebumps. The sunlight sneaked in through the slightly opened window furnished with bright yellowish cotton curtain, gradually dispelling looming darkness and dizziness that shielded my eyes. My heavy eyes finally rested on the form in front of me and I saw him smile before noticing for the first time the drip that was dangling from my sudden movement. I tried to speak but my dried throat fought to stay shut. I looked at him, questions lining my expression.
“You are alive, in a hospital and I have been stationed here for 2 days” he said, putting up a brave smile and tracing his hands on mine. I nodded slowly, going on reminisce and like a slap, the images of U.D’s body lying on the floor had my eyes opening in wide alarm. I forced my throat opened.
“U.D” I called, the thought loud in my head but my voice coming out in nothing but rasp whisper. I looked around, desperate for strength. Has Bassey buried him? How did I get here? What was Emeka doing here? And Bassey? My thoughts ran round in circles.
The scrapping metallic door announced the entrance of a white uniformed Nurse with spilling bosom who marched past Emeka and reprimanded him for starting a conversation when I had not fully recovered. Taking out another syringe, she filled it with another dose of liquid and injected the drip. Once more, I fought for control to stay awake; albeit it was impossible.
I sank slowly into another sleep and praying that I open my eyes one more time.
The wait at the large gate was getting ridiculous and I was about driving back home when I first noticed the commotion coming from the house that Funke had driven into less than an hour ago. The shout coming from a man on the front steps in the large compound spelt trouble and I moved closer. Few minutes later, the bodies began rolling out. I rushed to the large see-through gate and noticed the stretcher containing her body lift off the ground and into the stationed Ambulance. My heart missed a beat and I rushed to my car to follow the convoy that sped from the house.
The drive to the hospital was fast and I stuck to the Ambulance in rather hot pursuit, praying that she was not dead. I rejected the thought and cautioned my wild mind from forming scenarios.
“What is going on here” I asked the man removing the bodies from the Ambulance after slamming my brakes and jumping out of my car in the almost empty car park at a private clinic.
“Who are you?” he asked as another man joined him. He looked like the man who was on the front steps.
“What is going on here Joshua?” The man asked as the bodies were rolled to the emergency ward.
“Who are you?” he asked as an old Doctor appeared in the reception.
“I am her brother” I lied through my teeth and without thinking too. The man stilled and I spotted a shift in his demure.
“What happened Bassey?” the Doctor asked in a hurry. It would seem as if they knew each other.
“I don’t know. Idris and I saw syringes in the room” he informed as the old Doctor rushed on with the bodies.
Soon, a hoard of Doctors and Nurses descended on the two bodies that was rolled into the emergency ward and I stood, still in shock. Syringes? Was Funke into drugs now? I paced, keeping my eyes on the prickly Mr. Bassey who kept asking if Funke was alright and responding to treatment. The closed-mouthed Nurse said nothing and went back into the emergency ward.
It would be another gruesome 3 hours wait before the Doctor-who had addressed Mr. Bassey earlier-emerged. We stood in union as he announced the good news. Both were ‘stabilized’ but were in dire critical situation.
“They both had large traces of Pentothal and Pavulon in their system but it was a good safe bringing them in as at the time you did. U.D has a yet to be identified substance, maybe Neostigmine, but we are not absolutely sure. However, we flushed them with Saline solution and they are both responding to treatment. The lady’s recovery rate is slower, Is she asthmatic?” he looked at me with the question and I nodded in affirmation. Funke was asthmatic.
“Your brother will survive but we hope the untraceable substance will not be fatal. Both are under observation” he announced sadly as he held Mr. Bassey’s shoulder who stood with a forlorn expression; probably trying hard to mask his emotions.
“Please, I’d like a private room for my sister” I intersected, still playing the brother card. The Doctor simply nodded and signaled the Nurse who left to make that happen. Soon she was transferred and I sat beside her with heavy heart, wondering how these substances had found their way into her system in less than an hour. I wanted to be by her side when she opened her eyes because I wanted to prove myself to her. Moreover, something wasn’t right about the extra attention Mr Bassey paid to her earlier. Perhaps I was jealous that he fussed about her, constantly asking about her well-being and if she was regaining consciousness was annoying as well as suspicious. I had lost my nerve and had quietly told him to stay off her right before planting myself in her room. I had left her before and lost her. I wasn’t going to do that again.
And the unexplainable had happened.
Both of them had survived but in critical condition. How possible was that? They had stopped breathing for Christ sakes!
And I had the new big brother to deal with. I couldn’t go in to suffocate the duo. Doctor Osas had a Nurse stationed in U.D’s room just as Dad had requested from China. I paced and wondered where I had gone wrong and stopped in mid steps. I should not have brought them as at the time I did! I should have let the substances cool in their systems….but why did U.D mix the lethal injection without the Potassium Chloride? That was the deadliest and was the ace card in ensuring instant death from an induced cardiac arrest. He had been fixated on lethal injections and the man that had survived it a while back and had jokingly acquired it for a test on our Neighbor’s dog but never carried it out. Or so he told me. I didn’t see the dog after a while and the bottles containing the trio separately had disappeared. He claimed to have gotten rid of it. Now I knew he had never gotten rid it and I was the ultimate animal. The thought flamed me some more.
I wasn’t the best of persons but he had absolutely no right to kill me or plant an injection nevertheless in my throat over a fine piece of ass. I swallowed and strolled out to take a drag. I decided to take a drive and clear my head. While I was relieved that I didn’t have deaths on my hands, I wondered what the future held……if they lived. I smoked some more. I found myself parking my car in Vicky’s multi-tenanted parking lot and rang her door bell. She appeared eagerly at the door and dragged me in. I needed the comfort and she did comfort me indeed.
It would be early hours of the morning before I would wake up to an irritable ringing phone. It was from the hospital.
“Hello Mr Bassey, please your attention is needed at the hospital” the crisp voice informed me. I knew that the worst had happened. U.D was dead.
But it was not to be.
“We can’t find U.D” it was Doctor Osas in his night shirt and large round glasses perched on his slightly slanted nose.
“What do you mean you can’t find him?” I asked, both bewildered and angry at the same time.
“I was informed that the Nurse stepped out to relieve her bowels and she came back to an empty room” he answered calmly.
“Great!” I threw up my hands in frustration and chuckled in exasperation. The old Doctor studied me.
“And the CCTV footage?” I asked, rubbing at my groggy eyes.
“There is no feed” he said with a straight face. I belched another sarcastic laugh as I walked out of the hospital but not before informing him of the termination of his job as the Odiete’s personal physician.
“My father is going to have your license and close down this porous lab you call a hospital” I threatened as I walked out and got behind my wheels before blindly driving to Sage’s house. I had to lay low for the next days. Whatever the case might be, U.D was alive and I had the uncanny feeling he was coming to get me.
I drove off, afraid yet bold.
This was not in any way over yet!
I opened my eyes just in time to see the small build of a Nurse take her leave. The past events still blurry but the strength to pull out the needles and ventilator was fueled by the need to complete what I had started. Bassey wasn’t going to go free. I struggled off the bed and held on to the bed rails to steady my legs. As if I had known, I had taken the anti-dote to the injection before charging into his room; betting that he would over power me and inject me. He had done exactly that.
Stumbling into the laundry room after I managed to walk noiselessly on the quiet hallway, I changed into the next available uniform and crawled out of the building through the back door that opened to the Generator House. Just then, the alarm started whining and I knew they had discovered that I was missing. My heart palpitating because of the side effect of the drug and the fear of discovery, I stilled and waited; leaning against the wall column while the alarm continued in close distance. I calmed myself and decided to inch closer to the gate but I stopped short of running into a security guard who was probably out to get the best security guard of the year award. He ran past and I dragged myself to the Hilux parked at perimeter closest to the gate and pulled myself up just as I saw more security guards come out for a full compound search. Climbing into the back, I laid down and pulled the trampoline over my head as the full search began in earnest.
Bassey’s voice loomed as he drove roughly into the compound and jumped out of his car without killing his engine. Careful, I climbed down and ran over to his car, opened the boot from the control point at the front seat and climbed into his boot in good time. Minutes later, I saw him storm out and enter the car. Cursing and chuckling with disgust, he pulled out of the parking lot and we drove out of the hospital together.
I had plans.
I woke up to stare at the white P.O.P ceiling and I felt his eyes on me. I avoided his gaze and found myself swallowing the tears that threatened to fall from my eyelids. I had woken up sometime during the day and looked around bleakly before I noticed him sleeping in great discomfort on the small couch just few meters from my bed. My heart went out to him. He opened his eyes as if he felt my eyes on him and I closed mine immediately, pretending to be fast asleep. He shifted his weight right before standing up to cross the few meters separating us.
Sitting down on the chair stationed permanently beside the bed, I felt his gaze on me and consequently felt his hand brushed my hair off my face. He stood up again to arrange the bed cloth before planting a light airy kiss on my forehead. He sat down and dropped his face in his palms before whispering a prayer I was unfortunate to hear.
“God, please, if You are still there, let her live. Let her live. Give me one more chance to do her right. Please, I cannot afford to lose her again. Please” he said in hushed prayer and I saw what looked like his shoulders shaking in silent sobs. I closed my eyes as the memories of the past washed through me.
It had been a day after I was taken to the hospital by an unknown person and had woken up to the tiny whitewashed school clinic. The dingy lit room smelt of an awful mixture of sick urine, vomit and Izal disinfectant, the hot steady air suffocating me and hungry mosquitoes singing in my ears. The room containing about sixteen beds with occupants was lit with a lantern and despite the opened windows, we shared the mixed hot breaths of each other. I turned to face the wall and wept. I wept for the trust that was broken, the baby I had lost and the pain of betrayal. I stilled as I heard footsteps enter the room.
“Miss Funke” it was a male voice. I wiped my eyes and turned to face a young male doctor.
“Yes?” I answered quietly.
“How do you feel?” he asked coming close with a slim Nurse on his heels.
“I am okay” I braved, when in actual fact I wanted to go hide in a cave and never come out.
“Do you feel pains on your abdomen?” he asked coming close.
“Just a little” I lied. I still felt cramps but the shame of what I knew had happened wouldn’t allow me volunteer information.
“Glad you feel better” he said displaying a down-to-earth smile. I nodded and avoided their eyes.
“You are really a lucky girl” he continued after a while after the plain faced Nurse took my vitals and left the room. I tensed as he sat down.
“So you were brought here by a good Samaritan” he said looking at me as if he waited for me to grow horns. I simply stared on.
“Abortion is not the only way you know” he continued. My eyes watered. How do I tell him that I wanted the baby so much I had dreams of her sucking on my breasts? Or that I freely gave myself to a man I thought was my soul mate?
“The damage of taking that unalterable solution is incomprehensible. The hemorrhage was contained in time but we had to carry out an evacuation immediately” he said studying my expression. Without any thought, tears flowed down my eyes freely and I didn’t try to control it.
“You will be okay” he said now sympathetic. I nodded and he left shortly afterwards. I drained eyes all day and night.
Everything happened as a blur after that. The visits from friends I had ignored because they warned me insistently of the dangers of throwing caution to the wind, the friends I never knew I had and the kind doctor who came daily to make sure I was recovering as I should. I was discharged and life of course continued; without a womb.
“Good Morning” he greeted.
“Good Morning” I replied tersely.
“How do you feel?” he asked sitting up.
“I am okay” I replied without turning to face him.
“I am so sorry” he said as if he knew what I was thinking about.
“Yes, you should be” I answered stonily.
“Let me make it up to you” he said softly, eyes hopeful.
“How?” I asked, my heart missing a beat.
“Marry me, I promise you I will spend the rest of my life making you happy” he said, eyes dancing, looking at me, willing me to say yes.
“I can’t Emeka”
“Why?” he wailed, dismayed.
“I can’t have children” I announced and it looked like I had punched him in the face.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!!” he said burying his face in his hands once more.
“It’s fine. No, it is not fine, but I have learnt to live with it” I said bravely while I bled at heart.
“I must marry you now. There is no alternative” he said, kneeling down and grabbing my hand.
“Don’t” I begged him now. I knew I was emotionally weak and was on the verge of saying yes.
“I am betrothed to another” I finally found an excuse.
“He has gone missing”
And my world came crashing down. What did he mean? Was he dead? Where did he go? Had Bassey succeeded in hiding his body? So many questions and yet no answer.
“What do you mean he has gone missing?” I asked, alarmed.
“He is not in his room, nowhere on premises” he announced, still on his knees.
“Please, sit” I said, trying to sit up. He helped.
“What happened?” I asked with difficulty. My mouth suddenly dry and throat itchy.
“I really don’t have the details but the alarm went off a night ago and he was reported missing” he was saying as the metallic door scrapped again and the fresh face of Bisi appeared.
I broke into smiles as she hurried to my bed and enveloped me in a bear hug. The Doctor and someone who looked like the Mr Odiete entered.
“How are you feeling now?” it was Bisi.
“I am okay” I smiled as my eyes focused on the man.
“That is a relief” it was the Doctor.
“Why did you inject my son with poison?” the man asked with a stoic expression and I found my tongue clinging to the roof of my mouth as all eyes rested on me to answer the question that was probably on everybody’s mind. It was time to tell them what I knew but the absurdity of it all took a toll on me.
I broke out in cold sweat.