Photo Credits – Google

“Hello…who is this?”

The line was clear and the caller sounded like a female, but her words were terribly slurred as if she was dead drunk or super stoned. The number was not one I recognized, and at almost 11 p.m. in the night a probable crank caller wasn’t a cup of tea I was prepared to deal with.
The day had been particularly hectic in the office and I just wanted to close my eyes and sleep. Preparations for the next day visit of The Honorable Minister of State for Environment had been rigorous and I still had quite a few things to cover in the morning before the meeting between his team and ours.

Yawning like a hippo I disconnected the call, dropped the phone on the bed and rolled over.

Sweet sleep was just wrapping her fluffy arms around my head when the blasted phone rang again.

Snatching it from where I’d dropped it earlier I checked for the caller ID. It looked suspiciously like the same number.

“Hello!” I yelled into the mouthpiece.

The answer still wasn’t coherent, and it riled me up further.

“Whoever this is, I hope you realize that it’s not funny pranking people who have things to do at this time of the night. Please get a life and stop bothering me!”

This time I not only disconnected the call, I switched off the phone and flung it onto the bedside table before I grabbed two pillows and smothered my ears.

****

The glass door opened with a sharp crack, drawing our attention and causing the Honorable Minister to pause mid-sentence. Nonye my secretary poked her head inside, the bright overhead light accentuating her strikingly beautiful features.

“Yes young lady, the Minister purred in his college acquired British accent, are you one of us?”
“No sir” she replied with a demure smile, looked my way and silently mouthed ‘emergency’. Then she smiled again at everybody and disappeared.

Einar stepped in smoothly and apologized to the statesman.

“So sorry for the intrusion sir.” Turning in my direction he snapped. “Go and see what the problem is Nee.”

I made my way outside as quickly and as quietly as possible.
“I’m sorry for the interruption sir; I know how important the meeting is but the caller insisted that it was an emergency and she had to talk to you personally. I had no choice but to come sir.”
“That’s okay Nonye” I replied. I know you would never interrupt if it wasn’t extremely necessary. Pass me my phone will you?”

I’d left my phone with her to attend to any calls before going in for the meeting as was my normal practice. She would usually take a message for me to get back to the caller later. The caller on the line must have gone off during the interlude when she came to get me, so I redialed, wondering what could have happened to baba aladiye.

A woman picked up on the second ring.

“Hello. Good morning, my name is Inioluwaleyi and I learnt you called me earlier. Who am I speaking with and how may I help you?”
“Hello sir.”

The voice had a noticeable Igbo accent which made me curious. I didn’t know any Igbo person in Akure.

“My name is Nurse Magdalene from St Philips Hospital.”
“St Philips Hospital? Please where is that, and how may I be of help?”
“Yaba sir. Yaba, Lagos?”
“Yaba?”

 

It wasn’t even from Akure like I thought.

“Sir, are you there sir?” she pressed on.
“Yes I’m here madam. I’m trying but I can’t remember knowing any Nurse Magdalene from St. Philips in Yaba.”
“You don’t know me sir. Your sister asked me to call you.”

This was getting weirder, I had no sister. With a quick glance at my watch, I decided it was time to cut the crap and return to the meeting.

“I’m sorry madam, you seem to have me mixed up with someone else. I don’t have a sister any…”

 

She cut in.

 

“Sir your sister Mrs Agu is here. She was brought in yesterday seriously injured and she told me to call you to come immediately. She said I should tell you ‘always and forever’, that you would understand.”

My heart stopped beating.

Only one person in the world knew that phrase.

Thirty minutes after Nonye’s intervention, I was rushing to the airport like a madman

None found.