“Aunty, how did it happen?”
The annoyance was obvious on Rose’s face as she looked at the receptionist. It wasn’t only that she had a piece of gum which she chewed relentlessly with her mouth open as she sat behind her table, this was her umpteenth time of asking the same question and Rose was simply tired of pretending not to hear the incessant query. She wasn’t about to allow the situation become a trending topic on social media, seeing that the only other thing the girl did apart from chewing cud was type like a maniac on her blackberry, probably twitter.
“Why don’t we wait and ask her when she wakes up”, she fired back.
“Ah, you don vex now now. Sorry o, I was only trying to be sympathetic. No be me kukuma do your sister.”
Rose bit down on the expletive she had coming at the last moment and gave her the eye instead. Exchanging words with the nosy thing wasn’t going to help Morenike in any way, so she brought out her rosary and started a silent prayer for her friend.
“Who get phone wey dey ring?”
The question somehow penetrated the haze around Rose. She had totally tuned out the surrounding sounds as she prayed, only to come to and find that the whole reception room was looking in her direction.
“What?” she asked no one in particular.
“Your phone is ringing” answered the old gentleman on the bench immediately behind hers, nodding in the direction of her laps.
She snatched up Morenike’s purse resting on her own bag and brought out the ringing phone. It was Morenike’s dad calling.
“…..verybody is looking for you? Where are you? You better have a good explanation for disappearing like that from….”
“Hello. Sorry sir, it’s me Rose.”
“Rose? The anger in his voice slowed down a bit. Rose? Where is Morenike? What happened? Where are you guys?”
“I…we’re at the hospital sir. There was an emer…”
“Hospital? Emergency? Where? How? Where’s Morenike? What happened to her? What happened to my daughter?”
“It’s a long story sir. Maybe you should come over immediately. I would have called you earlier if I had your number.”
“I was looking for you two all over. Never mind that, which hospital are you in?”
Rose didn’t know the name of the hospital or where it was. All she had done was scream at the taxi driver to take them to the nearest clinic he knew. She covered the mouthpiece and leaned close to the old gentleman who was still looking at her talking on the phone and quietly asked him.
“Excuse me sir, what’s the name of this hospital? I’m a visitor in Lagos and not at all familiar with these parts.”
There was compassionate understanding in his eyes as he replied.
“This is the Regency Specialist Hospital my daughter. It’s in Gbagada, and very popular too. They can ask okada people.”
“Thank you sir.”
She returned to the call.
“We’re at Regency Specialist Hospital in Gbagada sir.”
“Regency in Gbagada right? Okay, it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Now hold on to that phone, I’ll be there with you in a minute.”
The line went dead.
The lights went out, as if her scream had somehow triggered the switch. NEPA had struck again. She jumped up from the bed, ran to the door and yanked on its handle. It was locked.
Of course it was. She had locked it earlier.
Her hands fumbled with the key in her haste to open it. The darkness didn’t help, but she finally managed to do so. She threw the door wide open and rushed into the sitting room.
Power came back.
She blinked rapidly as her eyes readjusted to the light. A quick glance around told her the sitting room was like she expected it to be, in total disarray. But her father wasn’t sitting in a corner crying, and her mother had not stormed out of the door. He was standing in the middle of the room with a torn shirt while she was on the floor and bleeding seriously from a very deep looking cut at the back of her head.
Someone knocked on his door in a hurry.
“Come in”, he answered and took another bite of his cold sandwich. He hated cold food, but had no options as he had missed lunch and wasn’t sure whether he would be going home that night.
One of the new auxiliary nurses rushed in.
“Good evening sir. We have an emergency and Dr Bruno hasn’t resumed duty. His phone is switched off too.”
He dropped the food immediately and grabbed his stethoscope off the table.
“Where is the patient? What’s the nature of the emergency?”
“I don’t know sir, but the patient is unconscious and Nurse Taiwo is trying to administer first aid.”
“Where are they?”
“Private Ward 3 sir.”
He stopped running towards the stairs and turned at the sound of his name, his eyes scanning the people in the reception area. Then he saw her. She was already getting up from her seat
“Rose! Imagine that, what are you doing here?”
“Femi, so it is you! I almost thought I was mistaken.…”
The nurse who was already on the stairs interrupted before she could go any further.
“Doctor, there’s no time. The patient needs you now sir!”
He would have delivered a tongue lashing there and then about why a junior nurse should not interrupt the Chief Medical Director when he is talking to someone else, but there were many other people in the reception. It wouldn’t do the reputation of the hospital any good, and to be honest, there was an emergency to take care of.
“Err…pardon me Rose. I have an urgent situation to attend to, but stay right there, I’ll be back in no time. Don’t go anywhere, please.”
Then he turned around and ran up the stairs, coat flailing.
“Daddy what happened?”
Her voice shook as her eyes darted between her two parents, before resting on her mum who hadn’t moved since she entered the room. She looked back at her father.
“Daddy, why is mummy on the floor? What happened, she has blood on her head…”
“Your mother stabbed me.”
‘She stabbed you?”
“Yes, he said, pulling the remains of his shirt up and showing her a cut by his rib cage. She was coming to hurt you inside, because she believes that you’re the only thing keeping her here and it would make it easier for her to leave if you were gone. She wanted to break down the door but I couldn’t let her hurt my baby, I couldn’t. I was trying to take the knife from her, and she fell, hitting her head on the door jamb.”
Morenike looked at her mother again.
“Is she going to be okay? Are you okay?”
“She will be okay, it’s only a minor injury, but I’m not. Shit! It hurts.”
And then he slumped to the floor.
“Daddy!, she screamed. Daddy!!”