I am a writer, a customer care rep, a business administrator, a lover of life and a successful single lady who sees every child as hers.
Ali! Ali! Open this gate. I banged on the gate with a stone.
Who be that! You wan break the house fall down? He asked.
Open this gate now! You this mumu man! You no know say something dey for fire dey burn?
Who you be?
Na me Ufoma jor!
Haa small madam? Na you?
Please open this gate!
Small madam I no go open am because this your shout too much. You no dey do like you dey do, I dey fear you go chop my head when you enter.
Ali. I called him.
Small madam. He answered.
Are you mad? I asked him.
Small madam doctor never tell me say I mad o, so I no mad.
Ali if you don’t open the gate now, I will get you dismissed!
Wetin be dismissed?
I mean fired, sacked, removed from here! Which ever you understand.
Madam abeg no vex, I go open am.
As he unlocked the gate and pulled it open, I rushed in without giving him a gaze or minding his insolence earlier. I ran in through the front down, took the stairs leading to the kitchen in two’s without minding I might fall.
As I finally got upstairs, I saw a cloud of smoke coming out of the kitchen already filling the entire hallway and the children’s parlor. It was really thick and dark. I couldn’t breath well and I was really choking.
I found my way with all my might to the kitchen itself and tried opening the door. The door knob burned my hand and I screamed.
Ali, Ali help help. I am upstairs in the kitchen, please come with water! Help! Help!
I stopped screaming when I noticed my lungs were getting full with smoke, so I hit the door with my side and got it opened. What beheld me was a cloud of smoke and at that moment I could see the gas cooker itself on fire, and the pot on it was in flames. Everything in the kitchen was gone, all grandma’s kitchen utensils and foodstuffs were all gone.
My mind was racing and warning me to use the little strength I had to go downstairs to safety. I kept on thinking about it, but my brain was finding it hard to process and move. All I saw in front of me was disaster and I kept remembering my own home being sold to strangers and now grandma’s house getting burnt, and she being in the hospital with grandpa losing it, and father missing in all if this.
Thomas is dead. I kept on saying. Thomas is dead, I killed him in a car accident and he must have burnt to ashes. If only I can get burnt too I would feel better. I am so sorry Thomas, please forgive me. But I need to save grandma’s house. I said to myself again. What if I can just reach for the stove and put it off, all this will be over.
At that point I heard someone call my name from downstairs. And it wasn’t Ali's voice, neither was it father’s or grandpa. It was a new voice my brain just registered and it sounded so familiar. I was trying to place it when I heard.
Ufoma its I Dr David Adekose. Please come down before you get burnt. The whole house is covered in smoke. If you don’t come down, I will come up to meet you and both of us will get burnt. Is that what you want dear?
Dear? Did he just call me dear again? David! David! Is that you?
Yes Ufoma where are you? Grandpa Ogaga sent me to come pick you. He could have come but his blood pressure immediately went so high and he isn’t in a stable mood right now, so he asked me to come get you after I explained to him how you left. Please come down!
Grandpa! Grandpa! What’s wrong with grandpa? I am coming down, I’m coming I need to go find my father and tell him. Something is really wrong with my family, God please help us.
I turned around with all my strength, as if begging my brain to respond. With all my might I moved heading for the stairs leading down. The next thing I knew happened was that I slipped and rolled down uncontrollably, falling down the stairs like a helpless baby trying to walk. I lost consciousness.
Ufoma Ufoma dear can you hear me?
Father? Father is that you?
Yes my African queen. Oh thank God you are awake. Ufoma why did you go back to grandma’s house alone! You almost killed me.
Father where am I? I asked faintly.
You are in the hospital dear. You almost got yourself killed. Thank God you’ve gained consciousness.
How long have I been like this?
Three days dear, three solid days! I almost died out of fear. What’s wrong with you honey.
Father I am so sorry. I cried. I thought grandma’s house was going to burn down and I just couldn’t let it happen.
It’s okay, please don’t cry. I am so happy you are back to me.
Dad what of grandma?
Grandma is fine. You just woke up dear, you should not start worrying yourself over that.
Dad its grandma I am talking about. I stubbornly reminded him. I want to go see her.
Honey please lie down. I will ask grandma to come see you.
No. I want to go see her and why are you stopping me dad?
Ufoma please listen to me and do not try to get up.
Why? I asked.
Because you can’t.
What? I exclaimed. What do you mean I can’t get up?
Ufoma how do I say this to you. Father bent his head.
Dad why are you crying? What’s wrong?
As I tried to move my legs, I got the answer to the question I just asked. My legs were numb! I couldn’t move it. Infact it felt as if it wasn’t there. I couldn’t walk.
Dad what’s wrong with me? I turned to my Father. Why can’t move my legs?
Ufoma please calm down. You fell from the stairs remember? And Dr David was there thankfully to bring you to the hospital.
Dad I can’t walk? I cried. What do you mean I can’t walk? I didn’t fall off a mountain or building. I fell from the stairs.
Ufoma please listen to your father and do not try to move. David said by announcing his presence, as he walked into the room.
David? David what’s wrong with me? I cried more.
Ufoma please don’t cry. You will be fine. It’s a minor accident, its just that a part of your nervous system got affected and that lead to a partial stroke which affected your legs when you fell down the stairs.
Dad what’s he saying? I turned to father. Is he saying I won’t walk again?
No honey that’s not what the Dr meant. He just explained what happened to you okay. But be rest assured you will be fine. You are my queen and I will do anything, Infact go to any length to make sure you walk again.
Mr Efe Ogaga, you don’t even have to do all that. Ufoma will walk again in this hospital. That I can assure you.
Where is grandma? I asked.
She has been discharged dear. Don’t worry grandma is fine and recuperating.
And granpa? I asked again.
He is fine too. He just needs rest for now. You know how he travels a lot and the state you met your grandmother really affected him. They are both fine, no worries. You just need to heal and join them. Father assured.
Osen what about our house? I asked with tears swelling up again in my eyes.
The house has been sold dear. I don’t know what its been used for, but someone else bought it. The buyer came from America.
America? When did you sell it? And so quick?
Ufoma, can we discuss this later?
What happened that day? I called you so many times but you didn’t respond. And you did not reply my messages either.
Sorry honey, my phone wasn’t with me. I told one of my staff to call you.
Patrick right? He did.
Then why didn’t you come to where I asked you too?
I was scared. I thought it was a set up. I don’t even know what you are into these days, so I just felt someone was messing with us. Besides I know your PA and you never mentioned you sacked him.
Forget about that stupid guy. He is the reason why we are in this mess. But let’s talk about that later okay. You just came out of a mild coma, you need rest. Omote oyoyovwi, I love you so much. Thank God you are out of danger now.
Vwo rie emu re?
No dear. How could I have been able to eat? But now that you are awake, let’s eat together. What will you eat?
Something that has a lot of pepper will be fine. I replied slowly.
Doctor what do you say? Is pepper okay for her now?
Yes Sir its fine. Pepper soup will be okay.
Alright then, please doctor can you keep my queen company while I get us pepper soup?
Its okay sir. I will.
Okay then excuse me. I hope you both enjoy each others company.
Dad please hurry.
The one after my heart.
You can have your seat. I said to Dr David Adekose, as father left the room.
I got you something. He said as he sat.
What’s that? I asked looking at his hands.
Here. He handed me a little box.
Open it. He smiled.
His smile was so charming, that for a moment I thought he was another Jesus. Damn! This guy fine like Jesus. I said to myself.
Open the box don’t be afraid. He smiled broadly.
I opened it and saw a tiny neck chain lying in it. I brought it out and immediately noticed it had a heart shaped pendant.
Wow! Its beautiful. For me?
Yes. Please let me put it on for you.
As he got up from the bed, I remembered how useful my legs had been. Ordinarily I would have stood up and moved aside. Him putting on a necklace for me on my sick bed when I hadn’t bathed for days was so not it. I wasn’t smelling good and my breath stinks too.
He leaned closer than usual and wore the chain on my neck as he stared into my eyes. It took forever for him to hook it. When he was done, he cupped my face with his hands and pecked my forehead, eyes, nose and cheeks.
Ufoma I want you to know that you are never alone. You just need to trust people enough to let them into your life. If you had listened to me when I called you a million times, you won’t be on this bed now. I need you to promise me from henceforth you will always listen to me when I call you.
I nodded my head. I did not dare open my mouth for I feared my breath sink.
And don’t worry, I am a doctor. I am use to been around patients that hasn’t bathed or brushed for weeks. He smiled.
You are crazy. I smiled.
I know. But you are craziest.
We both laughed and than I asked him a very honest question.
Will I walk again?
Under my watch, you will.
Thank you. I simply said.
You welcome. I forgot to mention, you have been having two regular visitors lately.
Apart from your aunty Ejiro who I know has been here since the incident happened, Ini and her friend has been coming.
Ini has been here? I asked happily.
And aunty Ejiro too?
Yeap. She has been blaming your dad for what befell you. She even told me that this was your second coma. And that got me very worried, that I didn’t go home all through. I have been waiting for you to wake up.
I am very concerned about you.
Was that all? I said to myself. Where did aunty Ejiro go?
She went home just this morning to freshen up. Her husband practically went on his kneels to beg her to come home to their daughter. And I promised to keep an eye on you on her behalf.
What of Ini?
She has been coming here everyday with one talkative girl who didn’t fail to dance for you anytime she came.
That’s Edirn! I laughed.
As I and Dr David were still discussing, a nurse entered to call his attention. He left and promised to return. I was left alone to reminiscence on what happened and how I escaped death. I had some fire burns here and there but it wasn’t in any of my worries. I was concerned about me walking again. I just couldn’t believe I had become lame over night!
I saw my phone on the table next to my bed. I picked it up and decided to call Edirin. I didn’t want to bother aunty Ejiro who had been here all through according to David. And calling Ini at this time was wrong timing. She would be battling with her four children by now since it was just past 10am, according to the clock on the wall. Edirin picked the call at the first ring, and her voice sound extremely concerned.
Ufoma is that you?
Yes dear it is. I answered slowly.
Praise Jehovah God! You are finally awake?
Yes o! I thank God. Tears rolled down my eyes.
Damn babe you sabi sleep o! My heart don weak finish. Jesus is lord! My brother Stanley has been so worried!
Does he know? I asked surprised.
Of course he does. Why would he not? He has been calling every minute to find out how you are doing.
How is his course going? The last time we spoke you told me his company sent him for a course abroad.
Oh yes! That guy is just so busy. The time he actually had time, you were depressed so he just laid low.
Yes I understand.
Ufoma can he start calling you now? He is really anxious to hear your voice.
Yes he can. Its alright.
Okay dear, nice one. But how are you feeling now?
I am fine dear. God be praised.
Okay I will come over in the evening okay.
With that we ended our call. I didn’t want to tell her over the phone that the lady she wished for her brother, couldn’t even walk again. But that wasn’t my concern then. How could I tell her, I am now in love with someone else? My sweet Dr David Adekose. He had gotten my attention, and he is here taking all my pains and insecurities away.
I thought hard about what I felt he wants from me. But something deep down told me it wasn’t marriage. Maybe he is just concerned like he said. Or just taking advantage of my situation. But how did he get me a neck chain if he had been in the hospital throughout as he said? Besides who gifts a woman on a hospital bed a neck chain? He is just flirting with me. I concluded.
David Adekose. I said his name aloud. Whatever it is he is up to, I am falling for it already. He is here at the right time and Stanley isn’t. But I can’t believe I almost died, and I can’t believe I am alive, and I also can’t believe I can’t walk.
© 2020 Jade George Anibor