The flight of stairs seemed longer than usual, I know this, because I had been there just two days ago. I finally reached the third floor and walked down a long hallway. The floor tiles were slightly wet, like they had just been mopped and smelt of antiseptic.
“Careful dear” an old man, who was wringing water out of a mop, called out to me, when I nearly slipped.
“Thank you Sir” I replied, wondering why I hadn’t seen him, just some minutes ago. Maybe because I was so deep in thoughts, but who wouldn’t be? I finally got to the end of the hallway and knocked quietly on a wooden door.
“Please come in” , came a reply from inside. I turned the door knob and eased the door open.
“Do you think the hospital management was wise in situating your office, so far away, considering that you’re a bearer of bad news?”
Dr Seun laughed my question away, stood up from his desk and walked towards me, his right hand extended for a handshake. “How are you feeling Nana?”
“Gay as always” I replied sarcastically, not bothering to take his hand.
“Please sit down” he directed me towards a chair. I wanted to decline, but I knew he wouldn’t speak if I wasn’t seated. “I told you to come along with someone, even if it’s just a friend.” Dr. Seun said, while returning to his chair. He flipped through a red file on his desk, first from the back to the front and then vice versa, as if afraid to read the contents of the file.
“Please I don’t have all the time in the world to spare.” I said, my shaky voice betraying the emotions that were rushing through my throat.
“The chemotherapy wasn’t successful. I’m afraid you have only three days to live.” Even though I had imagined the scenario a million times, before even stepping into the hospital, the reality of it, was still too much to bear. I thanked the kind Doctor with a smile, picked up my bag which had fallen on the floor while I was in shock, raced out the door and through the hallway. The floor in the hallway was still wet, but I didn’t care. “I have only three days, so I might as well end it sooner.” I laughed sarcastically to myself, as my heels slipped. Soon I ended splat on the floor. The old janitor was beside me in an instant “Careful child. This is only a Doctor’s report, God’s report can be very different.”
I rolled my eyes and hissed at him “So the reason why this hospital employed you is so you can eavesdrop on patients conversations and then tell them there is a God?” He smiled, which further annoyed me. Conscious that he had helped me back to my feet, I reached into my bag and brought out three crisp Naira notes and threw them at him. He didn’t move or even try to pick the money, but kept on staring at me and smiling, as I walked away. I pushed the ground floor button on the elevator and the door opened instantly. Why hadn’t I taken the elevator earlier? I wondered to myself, even though I already knew the answer. As the elevator door closed, my mind drifted back to what the janitor had said. “God’s report” I scoffed. Who was he to tell me about God? I bet he didn’t even know half about God as I did. My parents were both penniless missionaries, always dependent on God for their next meal. Despite their lack, they had still given their best to train my brother and I both in the way of Christ and in our education. I remember the day I got my scholarship to study law in Harvard, I had been extremely excited. “When I graduate mommy, I would have enough money, so we can leave this God forsaken village, with all its suffering and move to the city.”
My mother had laughed out loud “Suffering? When have we ever suffered?”
“Mother we always pray for our next meal!”
“And has God ever left us hungry?”
I shook my head. “But I think it’ll be more divine to have a store full of food.”
“Who told you we don’t have that? Nana you have to start learning to see through the eyes of faith.”
Faith! I hissed in my mind and left mother alone, so she could say her evening prayers. Four weeks later, I crossed the border and started my studies. As the years went on, I advanced greatly, God had been too slow to catch up, so I left Him behind.
“Faith!” I hissed out loud in the elevator. I’m sure that was what the janitor would have also told me to have. I wasn’t falling for that nonsense, the Doctor had said I had three days to live and since I was no slacker, I planned on going out with a bang.
My car was parked far away from the hospital and it had began to rain. I stared at the water droplets, imagining how soaked I was going to be if I attempted racing to the car. Had it been a normal day, I would have waited for a handsome gentleman man to offer me a spot beside him, underneath his umbrella, but this was no normal day. I walked out the hospital door and descended down the stairs into the rain, attracting stares and gasps from everyone around. “Madam, What is wrong with you? Can’t you see how heavy the rain is?” An old Nurse scolded me. As if in response to her statement, a lightning flashed in the sky, followed by a loud bust of thunder. This sent everyone scampering for safety. I laughed loudly at their cowardice and soldiered on, the wind threatening to lift me off the ground. By the time I got to the car, I had lost my hat, ninety-nine percent of my makeup and my dignity as the rain had soaked my light gown, exposing the lines of my underwear. “Chirp! Chirp!” and the car unlocked. I threw my bag behind and started the engine. The heater came on automatically. “Did I tell you I was feeling cold?” I asked the car’s Air conditioning unit. I placed my feet firmly on the brake pedal and was about to shift gear, when my phone rang. I didn’t feel like speaking to anybody, but I suspected it was my mother and with her, it was better to pick the call than wind up with a headache caused by guilty conscience.
“Hello darling. How you doing these days? You seem very distant. Is there anything you need to tell me?” Just like mother to always know when something was going wrong. She must have had one of those her spiritual dreams. I laughed inside. “Mom I’m fine. Just that work keeps me so busy these days.” “Baby, You don’t sound fine to me.” “Mom, just believe me for once!” my voice had started to sound irritated. “Okay dear, I’ll be praying for you.” I tapped the end button, before she had a chance to say anything else.
The rain slowed down to a drizzle as I got closer to my neighbourhood. I parked in front of a supermarket and walked in. “What’s the strongest wine you have?” The young chap at the counter looked me over, maybe I looked too decent to be consuming alcohol, or it was more because I was still soaking wet.
“The wine section is over there.”
I gave him the sexiest smile I could muster and walked in the direction he had pointed. An hour later, I sat on my living room floor slightly drunk, with pictures strewn all over the floor. “Oh mom, you always look so beautiful” I said to a picture I had picked up “Oh how great you’ll have been if you hadn’t taken all this Holy Spirit thing too personal. The phone rang. “Hello Damien. You’re calling about your offer?”
“Yes” came the soft reply.
“How about tonight? It’s Friday isn’t it?” He didn’t respond. “No response? Are you in shock?”
Damien cleared his throat “Oh, I’m just waiting for you to quit playing and get serious.”
I laughed “That’s my problem with Nigerians they’ll rather believe a lie.”
“Wait… wait are you serious?”
“Dead serious man.You want me to call somebody else?”
“No! No! babe, I’ll pick you up at eight.” Before he dropped the phone, I heard someone in the background congratulate him about a fish, he had caught. I shook my head and smiled.
Photo credit: Ammakonadu.wordpress.com