The doctor dropped his silver colored stethoscope and sat down, an indication that he was finally through with his very thorough and lengthy examination. Next he gave me a clean bill of health and said we were free to go home.
“Are you sure Bode? Are you sure nothing is wrong with her?”
Doctor Bode smiled reassuringly, his well-manicured fingers splayed out on the table separating him from myself and Dad.
“One hundred percent positive sir, nothing is wrong with your daughter, you can take her home.”
“What about the hallucinations then? Why is she seeing things where there are none?”
“Sir, I’ve checked and rechecked her body for signs and I’ve also tested all her reflexes. Your daughter is fine. Smart young lady too if I may say….”
Dad cut in impatiently before he finished, just as he always does when he thinks someone is digressing from the issue at hand.
“Iyen ko la n so jare ogbeni, that’s not why we’re here. Leave smartness alone and focus on why I brought her to you in the first place. A l’omo n so kati kati o n s’oro smart. I need to be sure nothing is wrong with my daughter before anything else. Can you assure me of that?”
Doctor Bode had been our family doctor for as long as I could remember, so Dad’s somewhat rude antics didn’t faze him one little bit. His benevolent smile just grew wider, and his eyes more reassuring.
“Chief, I can categorically tell you that nothing is wrong with Tunmishe. It’s probably the stress of her upcoming bar exams that’s getting to her. I’m willing to bet she has not been getting enough rest lately due to her reading schedule, so I’ve instructed the nurse to give her some tablets to help her sleep. Once she takes those and gets some rest, she’ll be as right as rain. Trust me on this Chief.’’
“Okay o Doctor, I will if you say so but if you saw what I saw last night you would be worried too. I couldn’t wait for the day to break before rushing her here. However, since you say it’s rest she needs, then I will make sure she gets enough of it. Exam kan o le wa s’omo l’ese fun mi, ti o ba see se l’odun yi a de se l’odun to n bo. It’s not like she hasn’t done enough to dust the exam sef.”
Turning aside to face me, he continued speaking.
“Sebi you heard him with your own ears Tunmishe. Please, take it easy o. Exams will come and go and I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors. Mo fori iya e be e, jo o ma ko ba mi o.”
I didn’t say anything, although I wanted to. Wisdom made me just sit there like a zombie, looking contrite and nodding gently repeatedly, waiting for him to finish so that we could go home.
Eventually we left the office, Dad walking in front looking regal in his expansive white agbada with the doctor and his flapping white coat in tow. I followed, a few paces behind both of them.
Doctor Bode accompanied us to the garage where both of them leaned against the smoothly tiled wall and spent some additional minutes animatedly discussing their teams’ exploits in the English Premier League. Dad loved his football and never missed any opportunity to discuss it with whoever was remotely willing, sometimes even with people who were not. Finally he looked at his watch and realized that time was far spent.
“Oshe gan ni Bode, maa tu ma a ri e. I will definitely give you call you in a week or two at most. I think I want to come for my regular checkup a few weeks ahead of schedule sef. The way people are just succumbing to strokes and heart attacks left and right these days is a big cause for concern. Ko ju ma ri bi, gbogbo ara loogun e.”
“No problem Chief. Anytime you’re ready just call me. You know our doors are always open to you and yours, any day of the week.”
“Oshee mister open door, hospital wa je bi t’eeyan a maa sere lo ni gbogbo igba abi, bi eatery or amusement park? Oloun ma je a r’aisan la n gba l’adura l’ojoojumo, and as if your fees are not exorbitant enough. Gbese re o!”
Dad burst into loud laughter and Doctor Bode joined in. I watched disinterestedly from where I stood a few feet away.
At last we said goodbye and got into the car, Dad as usual spread out at his preferred ‘owner’s corner’ while I deliberately chose to sit beside Nnamdi the driver, to avoid being lectured by Dad about the need for adequate rest all the way home. The ploy didn’t deter him that much.
He was waiting for me.
Dressed in all-black attire and invisible to all but me, he sprawled just beside Tolulope on the living room sofa, his long legs stretched out in front of him as if he belonged there. His shoes peeking out from beneath the coffee table were black too.
Tolu jumped up and ran to hug me immediately we entered, totally oblivious of his presence as usual, just like Dad and Nnamdi, who had followed us inside carrying Dad’s black leather bag. The black bag, very similar to those preferred by Jehovah’s witnesses on their evangelism forays accompanies Dad everywhere he goes, except maybe the shower and the toilet. It is always on the bed beside him while he sleeps. Maybe I should even start to call it mommy.
He watched me greet Tolu. He watched me flop down on the single seat beside the water dispenser and fling my shoes carelessly in the direction of the rack near the visitor’s toilet. That habit used to annoy mom when she was still alive but now nobody cared. Tolu resumed her seat on the sofa and picked up the novel she had dropped earlier.
He watched me pretend as if I didn’t know he was there, knowing I did. How could I not? Even if I wasn’t looking at him directly, his presence hummed silently through the air and touched my skin with its energy, making the fine brown hair stand on end. Who could ignore that?
Just as I settled back into the welcoming seat to focus my attention on the ice skating event showing on television, he opened his mouth and started singing.
It was that song again.
I am okay, totally healthy and not hallucinating according to Doctor Bode. What then would explain Jude, sitting there as handsome as ever, dressed just like he was that night two years ago, when he died an untimely death on that dark and twisted campus road, a victim of my drunk and reckless driving.
That song again, loud and hollow, it haunts me alone, just like the accusing look on his mangled face.
“Hello from the other side…”