The Regents Centre,
“Gbenga!” Yemi cried.
A look of dread spread over her face like an Ibibio masquerade mask as she watched Gbenga Philips struggle for breath like a fish out of water. She got out of bed, put on a some clothes and ran into the room where her mom and dad were sleeping. “Gbenga is struggling to breathe. I don’t know what is going on!” she said in panic.
Kola Esho got out of bed and followed his daughter. He entered the room, took one look at Gbenga and grabbed his car keys. “Let’s get him to a hospital.”
“Dad, someone tried to kill us tonight and I am sure he is out there waiting for us to come out into the open. We can’t expose ourselves again.”
Kola moved over to the bed and regarded Gbenga for a moment.
“I don’t know who tried to kill you both but we must take this man to a hospital before he dies in this house. I cannot afford to let him die in my home.”
“Dad, where can we take him? There are no good hospitals in this area.”
Kola thought for a moment. “We will take him to a hospital on the island,” he said and wore Gbenga a shirt.
Yemi looked at her dad as if he had lost his mind. “Where are we going to get the money to pay for his treatment? You know that they won’t even touch him until we pay a deposit,” Yemi said while helping lift Gbenga off the bed.
Kola regarded Gbenga. “Someone like him would have health insurance and even if he doesn’t, you can call his wife.”
Yemi stopped by the door. “Dad, I can’t let anyone know where he is right now. I don’t know who to trust. It was his wife who got him into this situation in the first place…”
Kola raised his hand. “Stop talking. Please don’t say anymore. The less I know about what is going on, the better for me. I know absolutely nothing about this man, who he is or what he does. I don’t want to be involved in whatever is going on in your life. As it is I already know too much. There must be someone you can call, someone who can get some money across to us to help save his life.”
Yemi thought for a moment. “I will call his mother. She will tell us what to do.”
Suddenly Gbenga started jerking like someone having convulsions.
“Let’s get him to the hospital as quickly as possible,” Kola said and they carried him to the car.
His wife came out of the apartment and saw her husband and Yemi taking Gbenga to the car parked on the street in front of the house. “What can I do to help?” she asked her husband.
Kola turned around to look at his wife but said nothing. They put Gbenga in the back seat of the car. Yemi sat beside him cradling him in her hands. Kola got into the driver’s seat, started the engine and turned to his wife. “Pray for us,” he said and they drove away.
Omolara Bello sipped some tea as she flipped through a fashion magazine. One picture caught her attention and she stopped at the page. It was a man and a woman sitting on a chair in the park, looking into each other’s eyes and having a conversation. Apparently they were lovers. Her heart ached with pain as she looked at the picture. She pushed the magazine aside and sighed deeply.
Life had been quite unfair to her. At the age of thirty four she was single and wasn’t dating. Six years ago she thought she would get married, but she was mistaken. The man had broken her heart and gone after a woman whom she knew was not good for him. But how could she tell who was good or bad for him? She wasn’t in anyone’s heart so couldn’t be sure about her assessment of the women around him at that time. Her heart ached as she reminisced about her brief relationship with Gbenga Philips.
How could she still be thinking about a man five years after he got married? As hard as she tried she had never been able to get over the strong feelings she had for him. She reached for the magazine and looked at the two lovers again. Maybe it wasn’t love she felt for him but infatuation. Yes, it had to be infatuation; a senseless, foolish and hopeless emotion. What else could explain such day dreaming about a married man?
It was such behaviour that her pastor referred to as lustful and predatory in one of his sermons. “A single woman should find her own husband and leave the married man alone,” her pastor had preached.
How could she honestly tell anyone that she was in love with Gbenga Philips without attracting their derision and scorn? She would be regarded as a woman who was incapable of getting her own man and at the very worst, a home wrecker. She looked up and sighed.
“Lord, why do you allow this pain to continue in my life?” the doctor muttered in contemplative prayer. “Why do these emotions torture me after so many years? He rejected me, said I was too religious, too moral, too perfect for him because I refused to have sex with him before marriage. Please remove these feelings from my heart. I want my own husband. I don’t want to destroy another woman’s happiness with my own selfish desires. Lord, bring my husband and I together in your own time and in your own way.”
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Before she could say anything the door opened and a nurse entered the room. “Doctor, there is an emergency downstairs,” the nurse was breathless. “A man brought in by a woman from the makoko area. They seem to be married. The woman is crying for us to save his life.”
Omolara didn’t move from her seat. “Get one of the other doctors to attend to it. I am busy right now.”
The nurse moved closer to her table. “It was doctor Furo who asked me to get you to attend to the case.”
“Okay. Give me five minutes. I will be with you.”
The nurse didn’t move from the spot where she stood. “We may not have that time,” she said. “Patient has suffered gun shot and some other wounds.”
Omolara wanted to say something, saw the resolve on the nurse’s face, got up from her seat and followed the nurse who walked ahead at a fast pace.
Yemi stood outside the door to Gbenga’s room with tears flowing down her face. Nurses went in and out of the room looking very busy, but no one told her anything. She had to know what was going on. She stopped a nurse who hurried out of the room.
“How is he doing?” she asked.
The nurse seemed impatient. “We are trying to save his life. He is in a very bad condition.” The nurse paused before she continued. “You should have brought him to the hospital the moment he suffered that gun injury,” the nurse rebuked her in an angry tone.
“Will he be okay?”
“We are doing the best we can.” The nurse left Yemi weeping by the door.
Mama woke up suddenly. Her phone was ringing. She reached for it. When she saw the caller, sleep vanished from her eyes. She sat up in bed and put on the bedside lamp.
“Mama,” Yemi cried on the other end of the line.
“Yemi, thank God you are alive!” mama said with some relief in her voice. “The police have been searching for you. Is my son with you?”
Yemi kept on crying.
“Is my son with you?” Mama repeated the question.
Yemi answered her question. “Shade sent an assassin to murder us but she wasn’t successful.” She kept on crying.
“Where is Gbenga?”
“He is not feeling very well. We are at The Regents centre in Ikoyi. They asked me for money but I don’t have any money with me.”
“That’s no problem,” mama said. “Don’t worry about it. I will send some money to you in a few minutes. Send me your account details immediately.”
“Thank you ma.”
“Yemi, it is me who should be thanking you for all you’ve done for my son tonight. I will make sure you are well rewarded,” mama promised.
“Thank you ma,” Yemi said and a bright smile broke out through her tears.
Omolara entered the room. A nurse handed her a case file with some notes. She perused the notes quickly. “Who set up the drip?she asked the nurse.
“Doctor Furo did before she requested that we ask you to attend to the patient,” the nurse said.
She finished reading the notes and stood over the bed. At that moment the patient moved on the bed and turned his face toward her. Omolara gasped loudly, dropping the file she held in her hands on the floor.
“Doctor is everything okay?” the nurse asked.
Omolara looked like someone who had just seen a ghost. Lying on the bed was the man she just prayed about.
The nurse picked up the file from the floor. “Doctor, if we don’t do something soon this man will die,” the nurse said but Omolara wasn’t listening to her.
Omolara didn’t see anyone else in the room except Gbenga. She reached for his hand and touched it. Was this real or was she dreaming? Was this Gbenga Philips lying down on a bed in her hospital? Was this an answer to her prayers? This was definitely a sign from God, a sign that her loneliness was over and she was going to get married. Tears came to her eyes as she remembered the pain she had endured through the years as she prayed for a husband.
“Thank you Lord,” she muttered to herself. “Thank you for bringing Gbenga back to me,” Omolara said.
The nurse stood perplexed as she observed the doctor’s strange behaviour. Was the doctor having a nervous breakdown? Her eyes were glazed over and her movements were slow like someone in a voodoo trance. If the doctor didn’t break out of it and do something quickly, Gbenga Philips could die.
End of Part 2.