A novelist, poet, motivational speaker, and love coach. I love living life in the present.
Paradise street had a garden at it's entrance. It was neat and well taken care of. Before now, it was not a resemblance of paradise street as it's lawns were unkept, with a bad entrance. The only reason why it became popular was because of one rich man, who decided to come hide himself among the poor; for whatever reasons, nobody knew. He improved the roads, created a nice scenery in front of the entrance, provided cleaning services for the street and paid for the garbage to be cleared every week. This kind acts, attracted other rich and semi class men who wanted to also hide from public eye.
The street had twenty numbered buildings. And some of the occupants on the street were benefactors of the rich, especially tenant’s who have been there for ages living in low income houses. Yes, no matter where you are; you will always have the poor among you.
Number seventeen was one of the most ugliest houses on Paradise street. And most of it's occupants were clowns. Cynthia Obi lived on Paradise street and unfortunately; number seventeen.
She lived in the Mimi flat with her widowed mother and was very religious. Too religious and beautiful to be part of the clowns. As she was about to step out to the passage of the building she shared with six occupant's, the noise in the compound startled her as usual.
I can never get use to this noise. What is going on this early morning again!
Her mother who heard her voice from within, asked what the matter was.
It's piggy again o. Piggy was the nickname given to the dirtiest occupant in the building. Her name was Yemi, and she had two children but had been sent packing along with her two boys by her husband; who fell in love with her best friend. For his children sake, he came down to the ugliest house on paradise street to rent a room and parlor for her and the boys.
Piggy was very lazy and dirty. To avoid washing the general toilet she shared with her door to door neighbour; she bathed herself and her boys at the back of her window and also made it her toilet. She would toilet inside a nylon and throw it in the dustbin on the street. Also, because the kitchen was not inside her apartment but at the far end of the passage, which she still shared with this other neighbour, and saw it has serious work going there to cook; she did the cooking in her room. The whole ceiling and walls of her room was black and often choked with smoke.
When piggy just moved in. Cynthia was friendly with her as she tried to preach to her after hearing her sympathetic ordeal with her best friend stealing her husband. Initially, Cynthia would go in to visit her and watch a movie at her place. And on one of those days; something terrible happened.
They were so engrossed in the movie that Yemi's youngest son's cry for water sounded like a distraction. With a loud voice she told her son to bring the water plastic and quit distracting her. The little boy of two years dragged the five liter plastic to her. She opened it and started giving the child water directly from the plastic, only for her to perceive the smell of kerosene some seconds later.
She turned to Cynthia who was also enjoying the movie and said.
Oyinbo “ the title she normally referred to Cynthia being she was light in complexion’’ it's like I can smell kerosene o.
Turning her attention from the movie, Cynthia tried to perceive deeper. And then it caught her attention.
What are you giving him to drink! She screamed.
Jesus! Yemi exclaimed getting up in a rush, and lifting the five liter plastic in her hand which she gave her son from to drink, to her nose. It's kerosene! My God!
How come? Why did you give him kerosene?
No! She exclaimed crying and jumping up and down like a crazy woman. I thought it was our church water o. Pastor told us to fetch water in five liter plastic and bring it to her to bless. She blessed it and that's what we have been drinking. We also use a five liter plastic to store our kerosene too. I didn't notice it's the one for the kerosene that he brought to me to give him to drink o. My God Oyinbo what should I do?
Give him palm oil to drink quick!
And lots of palm oil was given to the two year old. Who drank a lot of with in wonderment.
You see why it's not good for you to cook in your room! See now, you have given your son kerosene to drink because you keep it in your room! Cynthia shouted at her in fear and frustration.
And that was the end of her going there. She had many reasons to avoid her. She was dirty, lazy, careless and quarrelsome. And now, she had started her trouble again this morning.
Oyinbo come and see o! She screamed as she sighted her coming out of the passage to the compound. See this useless man! After cheating on me with my best friend, and leaving me for her, he now brought her to my house to insult me in the name of making peace. Eh, he opened big video shop for her, did not even give me a dime to start my own business. Now he brought her here because the stupid friend of mine gave birth and wanted forgiveness. Instead of her to just ask for forgiveness and go; they started playing love before me, he even helped her to fetch water from the well to use the toilet.
Before Yemi knew what was happening, there was a heavy slap on her face form her so called husband.
Kilode! Eh Yemi Kilode! What is it? Why are you disgracing yourself like this. He shouted at her.
And that gathered the whole compound. At least, the jobless ones, which included a notable occupant of the building living upstairs; He was nicknamed Americana because he has a foreign intonation and had spent all the better part of his years living in European.
Why na! Why did you slap her. Kiloshe! What is wrong with you. If it were to be abroad you did this shit, you would have been arrested.
Baba please don't mind this stupid woman o! She is too quarrelsome, that's why I chased her out of my house. I brought her second to make peace with her and she decided to still continue with her trouble. Did you hear the other woman's voice? She is inside sitting quietly.
By this time. Mama Fred, our neighborhood Watch had already flown down and stood beside Yemi listening to the details of how it all happened.
The drama was over soon, as Yemi's second as her husband puts it; came out of the house with her baby tied on her back, her hand bag in her hand and the car keys in the other. Walked with so much confidence and without a single shame of a woman who stole her best friend's husband. Swaying her fat hips as she walked towards their husband, extending her bleached hand to him to hold; he grabbed it without saying a word and knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted to leave, and that was what they did.
He just opened the car door for her, got into the driver sit, and drove off with out saying a word to Yemi; leaving her behind shouting helplessly at the wind.
Cynthia! Cynthia! Aren't you going to get ready for where you going to today? You are here listening to this rubbish. Your phone has been ringing. The lady has been calling you. Have you forgotten you booked an appointment with the doctor for her today? Cynthia’s mother reminded her.
Yes mum! Running inside. Please give me the phone let me call her back. At the first dial, a voice responded
Hello Aminat please am sorry I missed your call, am prepared already and will meet you at the bus stop in ten minutes.
As Cynthia walked down to jegede bus stop, she couldn't help but pray that the news wouldn't be as she feared.
Aminat has a lump in her breast. She was very naive about her situation and never bothered to show anyone because according to her; she felt no pain. And since there was no pain, there was no need to panic and no need to see a doctor. She was deceived by one networking health person that his supplements would cure her and flush out the lump, and that was when she knew what was on her breast was a lump. After years of living with it and being deceived by so called road side health persons, Cynthia was told about her.
Cynthia arrived at the bus stop on time and saw a slim shy looking girl standing with her arms folded on her belly.
Aminat? You are Aminat right?
Am sorry I kept you waiting. How are you?
Fine ma. Laughing and kneeling down to greet.
Its okay. It's good to have finally met you. I am happy you didn't turn down my offer to take you to the hospital this time. You turned down my offer twice! Your friend just told me some days ago that you are now back from the village and had done an operation to remove the lump but it grew back and bigger this time.
Yes o ma. She smiled again as they boarded a bus on their way to see the doctor.
I like the way you keep on smiling. It's good not to worry too much. But it can be risky not to worry at all. I am taking you to a Cancer foundation. I told the doctor that I will be bringing you first for screening and he can tell us what to do next. He is very well qualified. Let's start with him first before we can talk about the next step to take.
The foundation was not hard to locate. And there were many women there already for the free breast and cervical cancer screenings done every Friday.
Doctor Akin walked in some minutes later to give us a seminar on cancer and on cancer survivors. He was a gentleman! Taller and more brown skinned than what she saw on his Instagram photos. He smiled a lot and was kind and welcoming to everyone. Everyone felt at ease.
When the time for the free test came, Aminat was tenth on the roll.
Excuse me doctor Akin, please we will like to see you personally concerning this: waving Aminat's test result in her hand at doctor Akin.
Please come with me to my office. Please come I am here to listen to everyone personally. He beckoned them into his office, alongside a nurse and offered a seat.
After Cynthia related Aminat's ordeal before she finally met her to Dr Akin, he looked at the test result and explained it to them.
It is now third stage cancer, he said. And Aminat was referred to the state's teaching hospital. What he could do in his foundation was limited due to his facilities.
If only there were a few other selfless doctors like Dr Akin, Aminat's case wouldn't have been so complicated due to no fund at all. Where are we going to raise such money from for the treatment Aminat critically needed to receive. Cynthia wondered. Aminat’s parents were alive but very poor. They lived in the village and couldn't offer any financial help.
After a long discussion with the friend who recommended Aminat to Cynthia; they decided to convince Aminat to return back to her village, to the same teaching hospital in her state which the private hospital who operated on her recommended. After all, her parents will be there to at least nurse her and care for her as she undergoes treatment. While she and others solicit for funds for Aminat through various means they can derive, and keep calling in to know of her recovery.
It wouldn't be easy Cynthia, Ada said over the phone. But with faith and trust in God, we can make it work.
As the line went off, Cynthia walked down the street to her home after dropping off Aminat. Thinking deeply about how it went in the foundation; then a voice from behind called her and drew her out of her thoughts.
© 2020 Jade George Anibor