“I’m sorry but, I’m not sure she is going to make it..” She heard the doctor coo to her husband.
They thought she was asleep – she had been, until moments before that declaration. Her head was facing the wall, cannula connected to her veins, carrying the umpteenth drip – the nurseskept changing them, she lost count..
“Doctor please don’t say that” rejected her husband, “Isn’t there anything that you can do?”
“I would if there was. She has been here for five months and at this point, her body is no longer responding to the treatm…”
“Doctor don’t say that” anxiety crowded his voice, “Do something. Research, ask, I will pay, any amount, just don’t let my Gloria die” He was desperate and she imagined him almost holding the doctor by his jacket, and the doctor taking a stride backward, holding out his hands to persuade him from stepping any closer.
“We’ve done our best,” the doctor said, “It’s in God’s hands now. I am really sorry”
Gloria heard footsteps, those of someone beginning to walk away. She heard the door of her private ward open, and then,almost immediately, shut close.
What she didn’t expect to hear however, was the sound of Tunde’s voice, sobbing softly. He had kept it together all these while, full of smiles, full of encouraging words – a macho man who rarely dissolved into emotions such as crying.
Now, here he was, weeping for her. It brought tears to her eyes. And she thought, that if her husband could break down like that, then it must mean that her life is surely coming to an end – that all hope was now lost.
She wanted to turn to him, to call his name, but her body was paralyzed, from the neck down to her toes, so she remained in her position, shedding tears unto her pillow.
She felt his strong arms take hold of her body, those arms that had given her comfort in the past seven years – two of courtship and four of marriage. The arms turned her away from the wall and her eyes met with his, teary as hers. They stared at each other, shedding warm tears..
“Ododo mi” he sniffed, lifting his thumb to wipe her streaks of flowing tears, while letting his flow freely, “You will not die, my love, we will go home soon” he promised.
Her brows flinched in doubt and even though talking had become exceedingly difficult for her, he understood that look to be one of disbelief.
“I promise, don’t you worry..”
She frowned, desiring to shake her head.
Fresh tears ran down her eyes, simultaneously.
Unable to control himself, Tunde pulled her into his embrace, held her tightly and wept over her shoulders.
“Daddy, see!” Three year Old Shola tugged at Tunde’s trousers, “Daddy wake up!”
He groaned, sleepily turning his head.
“Daddy look, I wrote A, b, c and D..” the little girl punched her index finger at the notebook held high in her left hand.
He groggily opened his eyes, strained to stare at the notebook. It was blurry to his sight, “That’s good baby” he ruffled her hair, sitting up in the sofa.
The little girl bobbed her head satisfyingly and hopped back to lie at the feet of her grandmother, she continued to scribble at her exercise book.
Tunde caught the pitiful look on his mother’s face, staring at him from the couch, arms crossed in her thighs.
“E ku ikale ma..” he drag both hands down his face
“E ku ikale o” she replied. “How is she?”
He hissed, observing his daughter who was resting on her elbows on the tiled floor with her legs up, “The same”
“Pele, you have tried”
“The doctor said it’s in God’s hands now, “He shot his gaze up at her mother, “Gloria cannot die mama, I will not allow it”
The woman heaved, “If God says it is time, then who are we to say..”
“Mama, Gloria will not die. That’s my wife! I can’t let that happen”
The mother kept silent, she knew how much her son loved his wife and she had long ago learnt to save her opinions concerningher to herself, as doing contrary would ignite her son’s rage.
They sat in silence, with Tunde watching his daughter and his mother watching him.
“What’s the time?” he suddenly inquired, looking to the left of the sofa and to the right, searchingly.
He sighted his phone, picked it up and held the screen up to his face, “11.am” he muttered, and then rose to his feet.
“Where are you going?” his mother inquired.
“To the hospital. It’s time for her massage”
“Don’t you think you should eat something first? And sleep some more? You were there all through the night, you returned only this morning and now you want to go back again” she gesticulated with her hands, “At least, take care of yourself too, relax a bit..”
“Mama thank you, honestly, but my wife needs me, I don’t have time to relax, how can I even think of relaxing when she is lying there in pains”
“Hmmn” the mother heaved.
“There’s no time to relax mama” With that, he took long strides to his daughter, bent over and placed a kiss in her hair.
“Daddy, are you going to see mummy?” the little girl asked, looking over her shoulders at her father.
“Can I come?” she wiggled her crossed legs.
“Not today baby, mummy will see you soon okay?”
“But that was what you said the last time” she complained
“I know baby, I know..” As Gloria’s illness deteriorated, he struggled with letting their daughter see her like that, but he knew he couldn’t continue to keep her away, if anything, her presence would be good for Gloria, “We’ll go see mummy soon, this time around it’s a promise. Trust me?”
The little girl bobbed her head and turned back to her notebook
“Please take care of yourself,” his mother pleaded, “It is only people that care for themselves that can care for others”
He nodded, “I have heard mama” he bent forward and placed a kiss on her forehead, “I’ll see you guys later” When he straightened to his feet, he added, “and mama thank you so much for looking after Shola, we really appreciate”
The woman nodded, “She is my daughter too, it is no problem”
With that, Tunde turned around and made for the door.
He had one hand on the steering wheel, his eyes on the road, and his ears listening to the gospel track that played on his stereo.
His ringtone interrupted the music and he answered the call via the Bluetooth of his car
It was a Jane, a Lawyer at his firm, “Hello sir, good day Sir”
“Good day Jane, how are you?”
“I’m fine sir. Sir, you haven’t come in for two days now, I was wondering, are things still bad with your wife?”
“Things are not bad, the God of hosts is watching over us”
“Okay, amen. Sir..” she paused.
“I just, I just want to tell you that, in case you need anything, I’ll be glad to help”
“That’s very thoughtful of you, thank you..”
“No sir, I mean anything, no matter the time, anything at all”
He frowned, “Anything?”
“Jane, are you making a pass at…”
A second call coming through interrupted his statement, he took a look at the caller and quickly said, “I have to take this, it’s the hospital”
“Okay, take care sir, don’t forget”
He picked up the call, sending the former into hold to which Jane ended.
“Hello Mr. Tunde”
“Yes?” he was suspicious, “How is my wife?”
“She is okay, but we’ll need you to come to the hospital, preferably right away”
His voice tensed, eyes darting at the side mirror and back to the road “What happened, how is my wife!”
“Just come to the hospital sir, thank you” and the line went dead.
Apprehensive, he glanced at his speed gauge, eyes shifted to the clock on his dashboard, he matched the gas pedal, the speed spiked and he raced through the tiled roads of the Island.
He got to the hospital, hastily climbed down from his car and bolted into the hospital building.
“Sir” the nurse at the receptionist started to say.
“Where is my wife?” he questioned on the move. He took long strides to his wife’s ward, jogging at some point, with the nurse at his heels.
He flung the door open and the sight of his wife sleeping peacefully met him at the door. His eyes regarded the drip still on her hand and he sighed in relief. He strolled to her side, ran his eyes up and down her full length, she looked peaceful..“What happened” he risked asking, jaw tightening, his back to the nurse.
“She went into a comma” he whirled around to face the nurse, “An hour ago” she completed.
“I’m sorry. Just come and see the doctor, he would explain better”
He stared at the nurse like she had just spoken a foreignlanguage he didn’t understand. Tears gathered in the corners of his eyes, face enraged.
The nurse took three long strides backwards, “I’ll get the doctor” she muttered, a bit terrified by the look on his face.
She walked out of the ward and Tunde remained planted in his position.
The doctor came in soon after and stood face to face with Tunde, “I’m sorry, the body shut down”
Tunde stared at the doctor.
With a patched voice he asked, “Will she come out of it?”
The doctor regarded him pitifully, “She might, but..” he shook his head hesitantly, “her state would be that of a…”
“Vegetable?” Tunde risked the completion.
The doctor slowly nodded.
He patted Tunde’s shoulders, “I’m sorry” and, walked away and out of the ward.
In slow motion, Tunde turned around . He took Gloria’s palm, rubbed the flesh on its back, lifted it to his lips and kissed it. A tear from his eye escaped unto her hand.
Stepping out of his pam slippers, he climbed into the bed. Hewrapped his arm around her waist and snuggled tightly next to her.
—-25 DAYS LATER—-
The sound of Tunde’s voice singing filled the small ward. He sang lovingly as if she could hear him. But, her body was still on the bed – motionless while his hands cleaned it with water and a small towel.
“You and I will live as one,” he sang, “our love will last forever..You and I, you and I, you and I will live as one…You and I will live as one, our love will last forever, you and I, Ohh, you and I, Ohh you and I, You and I will live as one..”
A knock at the door interrupted his warble.
“Come in” he called out.
The door pushed open..
“Jane!” She was carrying a basket full of food and fruits. She must have gone home from work to change into the little white dress she was now wearing.
“Good evening sir” she smiled sheepishly, “I brought you some food and fruits” she said, regarding the basket in her hands.
“You didn’t have to do that”
“I do sir, I’m sorry but you look unkempt” she regarded his over grown beard and tired looking eyes, “You need care”
“You’ve been bringing food here for the past two weeks, you’ve done enough Jane, I really don’t want to bother anyone”
“You’re not bothering me” she took strides further into the room, placed the basket down on an empty chair. Then moved to stand next to Tunde, close enough for him to take in her feminine perfume. She hovered over him and Gloria, “How is she?”
Tunde sighed, shifting his gaze back to his wife, “It’s in God’s hands” he said, exhausted.
Jane placed a consoling hand on his left shoulder and squeezed his tensed muscles, “She’ll be fine, hmm?”
She moved her hand to his right shoulder and replaced the left side with her left hand. Simultaneously, she began to massagehis shoulders. Tunde shut his eyes, enjoying the relief her hands sent down his tensed body..
Jane leaned downwards, collected the towel from his hand and dropped it into the bucket on the floor. She straightened back up, and continued to work on his shoulders
Tunde kept his eyes shut, his head down dropped backward, “That’s really relaxing” he admitted.
“Mmm-hmm” she cooed rather seductively. With his head still dropped backwards, she leaned down and joined her lips withhis…
Tunde jerked upwards, startling her. He stepped away from the bed, “What are you doing?!” he demanded.
She shrugged, reeled by his reaction, “Massaging you”
“With a kiss? Jane my wife is right here” he pointed at Gloria’s still body.
She heaved, regained her composure then she shrugged dismissively “But she can’t see us, or hear us..”
“What?” Tunde was beginning to fume.
“O-Or” she took one stride towards him, stopped right in front of him and seductively lifted her finger to stroke the tip of his nose, “We could go somewhere else”
“No!” Tunde waved her hand away from his face, and took a step backwards to the disappointment of Jane, “No!” he insisted “You have to leave” he nodded certainly
Jane stared at him with a sneer on her face, “It was just a kiss..”
“Leave!” he repeated.
“Hellooo?” Tunde’s mother called, pushing open the door to the ward.
Shola ran in ahead of her and into the body of a still upset Tunde, glaring at Jane, “Daddy, daddy!”
Jane broke her gaze from his face, turned around and walked towards the door. Tunde’s mother stepped to the side as she approached her, “E kaasan ma”
“E kaasan my dear” she smiled at the young girl stepping out of the ward.
Tunde heaved to calm his nerves and picked Shola up into his arms.
As soon as she was out, his mother closed the door and moved further into the room, beaming from meeting Jane
“Tunde who is that beautiful young girl?”
He hissed, “She’s my employee at the office”
“Ah! Such a beautiful young girl, and she brought that basket?” the mother observed the basket on the chair.
“Eiya, She must be a good girl o, so thoughtful. Do you like her?”
“Mama!” he shot her a warning glare
“I’m just saying o,” she raised her hands defensively, then lowered them. “Tunde,” she continued sternly, “it won’t be bad if you start considering other options in fact, it is time!”
“What is wrong with everyone? My wife is right here mama,”The mother sneered with her nose and lip to the side. “I don’t need another woman, my wife is not dead”
“Ehn, ei don do. It’s okay. How is she”
“Fine mama,” he responded grudgingly, “In Jesus name, she is fine!”
Some days he went to work, other days he stayed at the hospital with Gloria, caring for her and doing the most he could do on his laptop.
The hospital staff ‘aww’ed’ and ‘eiya’d’ at his unwavering dedication and love for his wife, many of the single ladies tapping into the blessing of meeting a man like him.
On the 30th day of her coma, it rained.
It was 1.am in the morning and he had fallen asleep with his laptop in his thighs.
The rain was heavy, pouring cats and dogs outside the hospital building.
Inside, it was cold.
After hours of gluing his eyes to the screen, Tunde dozed off in the chair, forgetting to cover Gloria, and himself.
Most of the staff at the hospital were asleep too, it was hard to tell if anyone was awake as no one came to check up on them since the rain begun.
Thunder rumbled above the building, lightning flashed and Tunde began to dream…
It was a restaurant – their favorite restaurant, and he was there with Gloria.
She was eating her favorite food – pounded yam with Efo riro and he was having the same. They had a pack of Chivita juice sitting between them on the table.
Soft, jazz music played in the background of the warmrestaurant.
They had just finished their meal when it began to pour outside, heavily. Not wanting to drive in the rain, they relaxed their backs in their chairs and engaged in humorous chit chats.
She wasn’t sick in this dream, she wasn’t immobile either, she was hale, hearty and he was saying things to her that were making her cackle.
He beamed, amused by the uncontrollable laughter that brought happy tears down her eyes, and intrigued by how beautiful he thought she looked..
“Why are you smiling?” she asked.
“Because your laugh is making my laugh, laugh”
She beamed, “No, I’m only smiling because you’ve been smiling”
“Noooo,” he stressed, “you started to laugh that hard because ofmy gist”
She chuckled softly, “Tunde I think you are dreaming”
His brows pulled together in slight confusion, “No, you’re here, we are having this talk, this juice and it’s raining outside..”
“I know, the rain it’s cold, you didn’t cover me… wake up. Tunde…” she leaned forward and tapped him by the hand, “Wake up”
He jolted awake, caught her figure sitting up on the bed, weakly but with an endearing smile, arms wrapped across herself. He almost staggered off his chair
He shook his head in disbelief , swept a hand down his face.. blinked repeatedly , glanced up at the drip, looked behind him at the ward and back at her pillow were she was lying helpless barely an ago “Is this a dream? He pinched himself
She smiled, shaking her head, “God gave me another chance.”
He shook his head with his mouth agape, too shocked to believe his eyes
“I’m hungry” she said, “Where is Shola?”
Completely coming awake and becoming aware, Tunde sprungto his feet, engulfed her in a hug and broke down into tears of joy.
WRITTEN BY KYLIE JOY TERUNDU.