She Must Live! (2)

She Must Live! (2)

A gust of cold wind lapped onto his face. He inserted his determined hands into his jean trouser pockets. Then, he gazed at the panoply of panoramic lights crossing themselves out into a huge ambience of hues, even as the traffic lights on amber suggested to him the green light to act. Malta’s was just two blocks behind. Across the busy street he dashed. The blast of horns from a racing car and the bombastic curses from the driver who had a lady to impress inside his vehicle all zoomed past him. He must watch it. Alacrity is a word to put to practice.

In the cover of the shadows of clients describing their ailments, attendants concocting and dispensing drugs and the soft mutter of the accountant discussing the day’s sales with the pharmacist, Nosa sneaked into Malta’s. He walked briskly through the rows of long, long shelves to the pantry door at the back of the large hall. The door seemed to be locked. He slid his hand over the door handle. At first, there was no sign that it will give in. With a gentle yet firm persistent push, the door creaked. Nosa stopped and looked back. Rows of drug-laden shelves greeted him. There was no attendant in sight. In a twinkle, he slid in and closed the door.

The smell of disinfectants and some sort of deodorants was very evident in the room. A welter of empty cartons filled the room. Nosa was still contemplating where best to hide and wait for the dead of the night when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. They seem to be slowing down as they came nearer to the pantry door. His heart skipped a beat. He held his breath. The footfalls came dangerously close to the door, stopped and then moved on. Nosa heaved a heavy sigh of relief. He pushed his way gently into the space consumed by the empty cartons with as little noise as possible. There was a cranny open enough for him to hide himself away from the view of any approaching intruder. Then, with the low light available in his cranny, he gazed at uncountable permutations of nooks and crannies of different angles and sizes caused by the welter of empty cartons. Then he sighed. Silence.

Infinity passed. The soft mutter in Malta street was forcing its way into a diminuendo. The pharmacist was the last to go. He left at exactly eleven o’clock. Nosa was sweating profusely by this time. The air conditioner in the expansive pharmacy had not done him much good. Outside the pantry, there was absolute quietness. Nosa slid himself out of the pantry and into the expansive hall. Rows of drug-laden shelves greeted him. He walked to the place in which the drug he had seen earlier in the day was still shelved. He picked two packs of Interferon, kissed them, beamed a nervous smile and shoved them into his jacket pocket.

As he turned to go, it dawned on him that there was no easy exit. The windows were all located high up the walls where his hands could not reach. There was a stepladder in the pharmacy, but it could not reach that high. He traced his way back to the pantry, hoping to stay until the next morning so that he could sneak away. As he was about to close the door behind him, he heard the sound of a car come to a halt in front of Malta’s. He rushed back to his cranny. Soon, there was a rattling sound outside the pharmacy. The entrance door was being opened! Two men were talking. He recognized the pharmacist’s voice. Did the man forget something? The other voice was strange. It had in it similar exasperation as Nosa’s. The men walked to a shelf in a corner of the hall. Nosa saw a slight but dangerous chance. If only he could make a quick dash to the now open entrance, he would find his way out of the pharmacy in a jiffy. Outside the pharmacy, there was absolute quietness. He opened the pantry door and stepped into the hall. Then he walked stealthily to the entrance, all the time expecting to come to a disgraceful ending. He sneaked through to the outside. Nothing happened. In a moment of instant fear, he dashed with long strides across the shady road into the other side of dreamy shadows cast by lonely neon lights and display signals. Catching his breath, he began a nervous swagger down the road. Somewhere in his jacket, the packs of Interferon nudged gently against him.

A big clock on the outside walls of a complex chimed one. Nosa walked down to the hospital, still feeling very unsafe. The nurses he had seen that afternoon were not there anymore. He only saw a drowsy male nurse sitting down beside a paraplegic whose eyes were open but who Nosa was not sure was awake. Nosa greeted them curtly and made to move into the hospital hallway. The slight smell of an alcoholic gasp, possibly from the male nurse, wafted across his nostrils. Mosquitoes were everywhere.

“Excuse me sir,” The male nurse called, “you’re here for someone?”

“Yes,” Nosa replied, “I’m here for my sister, Maria. She was admitted this afternoon.”

“You mean oyibo?”

“Yes.” Nosa replied, not sure whether he was doing the right thing.

“Go in, she will be there.”

Is his lack of resistance another miracle?

The smell of Formaldehyde hit his nostrils again. He walked into his sister’s ward room. She was asleep. After a while, nature took over and Nosa slumped onto a chair and fell heavily asleep….

It was morning. The doctor woke him. Maria was awake. She was humming a song to herself in low tones. Nosa was happy to see her in a light mood.

“Nosa.” she called.

“Maria,” Nosa was beside her, “how are you this morning?”

“I’m great.” Maria replied.

Nosa was touched. He could not help admiring his sister’s courage in a situation in which she may not have yet known the cause. She must need something to eat.

“Maria, I’m sure you’re hungry,” he said, “what do I get for you?”

“Not really,” she said, “but if you insist, then get me my favourite.”

“Yam pottage?”

“Yes, you know.”

Nosa kissed her hand, and then he turned to the doctor, “I got the drug, Interferon.”

“That is wonderful.” The doctor said with a critical stare. “Let me see it”

Nosa fished out the packs of Interferon from his jacket and gave them to the doctor. The man examined them and nodded his head, and then he excused himself and left. Nosa heaved a furtive sigh of relief. Then he crossed his fingers, looked at Maria and then left to get her puree.

Nosa was out in the open air. Suddenly, a guilt feeling overwhelmed him. That drug was eighty thousand Naira. The pharmacist had lost eighty thousand Naira. I cannot believe myself. Oh Maria!

With loud “Afro-beat” blasts coming from its speakers, a tractor-trailer pounded its way down the very road along which Nosa trudged. The stereo was blaring Fela Kuti’s Zombie. The driver was drunk. Before his wide windscreen, people were scurrying out of the road like rats before an advancing cat. He flew heavily along, unconcerned and a bit bemused. And before him now was Nosa. Curiously, this was one person that was not scurrying out of the road. The driver decided to have a little more fun. He swerved to the right towards him as he trudged along the non-barricaded sidewalk.

Nosa was sure that something heavy was coming towards him. He gazed back and instantly dived into a stall which frontage was made of glass, crashing through to the reception. The trailer hit a pole just outside the stall, overhauling into it its contents. See, canned drinks catapulted out of flying cartons and torpedoed the glass stall. In a matter of minutes, the stall was a study in smithereens. Nosa lay motionless. Blood glided down one leg of his jean trousers, trickling over his canvass shoes to the floor tiles and forming a small pool. Nosa lay motionless.

**********************************************

He awoke. He was in the hospital. The familiar smell of Formaldehyde hit his nostrils. What happened? How long have I been here? He tried to move and only then realized that his right leg was heavily bandaged and suspended. Instinctively, he touched his jacket. The drug was not there. He was alarmed. Only then did he remember some of the sequence of things. Oh God! Where is Maria’s yam pottage! I must get out of here! He tried to move again. Some nurses came running to him.

“Will somebody tell me what happened?” He asked.

“Don’t worry, you will soon be alright.’ One of the nurses replied.

A face came up. It was the doctor. Had he realized the truth of the matter?

“Old buddy, you’re awake now?” His voice was friendly still.

“Doctor, what about my sister? What happened to me? What is happening to her?” Nosa asked.

“She is alright. She’s been responding to treatment. The Interferon was strong. It has destroyed the tumor.”

Nosa felt fulfilled inside of him.

“But there is bad news. You’ve had an accident that affected your right leg. For the past two weeks, you’ve been in a coma. I‘m afraid you’ll be confined to a wheelchair for sometime, but you’ll get better with time if you follow closely a kind of meal prescription and exercise sessions to be given to you.”

Maria came up to his brother. She was as beautiful as ever. Her golden weaves were as resplendent as ever. She fell into his arms.

“You’re well again, baby girl.” Said Nosa.

“Yes,” Maria responded, “Thank God you’re alive. I’ve cried myself silly these two weeks, staying here gazing at you. The doctor has written off all our hospital bills.”

The doctor was beaming with smiles. Maria looked at him and turned to Nosa.

“Nosa,” Maria cannot help what she has inside of her anymore, “Wale, the doctor, has proposed to marry me.”



31 thoughts on “She Must Live! (2)” by jeff unaegbu (@jeffunaegbu)

  1. um, I’m sure you meant ‘Maria came up to “her” brother.

    I see how you tried to balance the story up a bit with Nosa’s accident, as some kind of punishment for stealing the drugs; but Maria getting engaged to the doctor after only two weeks, while her brother who saved her life was in coma? You might want to think about that. Brilliant piece altogether.

    1. Oh Scopeman, thank you very much for that correction. I am human after all.

      Well, for proposals? I guess its different strokes for different folks. It can even happen in an hour, depending on the psychology of people involved. In the case of some biblical folks, say, Jacob and Rachel, it took fourteen years. Can you beat that? His father, Isaac, just loved the first girl he saw after he decided to marry and proposed to her immediately. Different strokes, you see.

      Thanks for reading. Very acute eyes too. Keep it up.

  2. Language was toned down a little here, but i can still see big big ‘oyinbo’…..lol. I want to agree with Scopeman, but knowing you, there must be a reason for this turn in events.

    Is there more? cos I dont want to believe that it was just providence that made the pharmacist come back that night.

    Well done!!!

    1. Hahahaha, Isaac. I am trying to help the flow. But, of course, I see that most of our audience here would want it even more simple. I promise, my next story will be so simple that you will think its coming from a child. Hahahahaha.

      Not providence alone? I can feel you. Well, you never know how far providence can go, especially because providence do not want that girl dead. Yet, it is okay that a thief suffers for his crimes. And again, the sixth sense of the pharmacist was not quite comfortable with the state of the pharmacy that night. He just had to come back to make sure nothing was wrong, even if the excuse of an emergency brought him back. And thus, Nosa had his easy escape.

      Good report from you.

  3. Was thinking it was the doctor that came back with the pharmacist. Good story. Unexpected turn of events. Proposing in two weeks is possible but you have to write another part to convince me. Good story in all.

    1. Thanks. And impressed and a bit surprised that you find it good.

  4. Nice fast read, though a bit burdened with verbosity.

    I liked the action where Nosa had the accident, and was actually scared he was dead. Glad he lived but I agree with scopeman that the ending with the doctor falling in love with the sister in two weeks is two contrived. You can just show us subtly that there’s some romance blossoming and allow the reader to conclude it themselves.

    1. Thanks, Myne. I am pleased that you read this story and saw it as nice.

      On verbosity, or I would rather say, in the case of this story, the use of words that are not regularly employed, I would say as I have said in other words in a statement above that the phraseology of a story is like beauty: It is in the eye of the beholder. Just take a look at the comments from readers to this story and you may deduce two camps of opinion. A style that may lead to a Nobel award, say in the case of the master, Soyinka, may yet generate repulsion in another audience. I am bemused on the prospect and eventual two-edged reactions that follow very formal stories. I would bring up more simpler stories, especially those written when I was a teenager, for the audience here. (This story was written in my mid twenties precisely 2005).

      On loving and the indication of blossoming romance, I thought that this sentence in part one handled that: “The doctor took one look at Maria and something throbbed inside of him.” A story has many themes and just a few of the many themes might have to be emphasized or spotlighted, leaving the others to the conjecture of the readers. I might as well have highlighted the details of the operation performed on Maria to wet the curiosity of would-be medical students. I did not set out to dwell on love and thus I inevitably had to hold on to just two sentences on it. The one I just noted and the last sentence in the story that created a pleasant surprise as any other experienced writer, like you, might do. The actions of the doctor behind the background indicated a growing love, not spoken but felt. Nosa’s love for his sister was more visible, anyway.

      Wow! Thank you dear Myne for your observations.

  5. Nice wordplay. Interesting.

    1. Thank you Shope for the comment. You rock.

  6. ditto@scopeman, habba! marriage proposal after two weeks while a brother is lying comatose. same doctor that did not help to get the drugs he had to steal? no way…it doesnt add to the story at all…but @jeff altogether, the story is worth the read and a second read

    1. Brainy Poet, habawa! See my comment to Scopeman and Jaywriter’s comment. And, friend, of course, you know that such a proposal is not beyond the scope of humans, don’t you? In fact, my friend, the situation of comatose would heighten love in Maria for the doctor when she sees how the same man who removed her tumor is battling to save her brother. I left that to conjecture anyway. Again, if I were to focus more on love, like I have said above, the story would have been largely on the actions of Maria and the doctor, and not on Nosa.

      Thanks, man.

  7. So I was here..
    I read this..

    1. Very cute and curtly observed. Thanks for reading.

  8. you are very good at describing. Your flow with ‘ambiguous’ words is also off the hook (you must like Soyinka. Well, i think you should work more on the plot especially the seemingly implausible part of the proposal. I do agree with Myne on the issue of blossoming. You should have revealed subtly to us that there was an underlying activity. But welldone!

    1. Well-presented point, colotrends. See my comment to dear Myne. Most of the desired conjecture would be grabbed if part one of this story comes to view too.

      Thank you for reading and God bless you!

  9. Looks like the “big words” critique rubbed you the wrong way. But it helped; your writing flows better. Gotta learn to roll with the punches, bro. Trust me your readers are not “simple.” An editor at a publishing house would not be as diplomatic.

    1. I can see you are very funny, Howyoudey. If it had rubbed off on me the wrong way, then the use of big words would have been intensified, don’t you think so? Meanwhile, rubbing on and off does not even arise here. For my friend, I wrote this story six years ago in my mid twenties. It is only just coming into Naija stories now. I promise to post one that I did as a teenager. I guess I gradually assumed a Soyinka posture as I grew. I write very formal stories as well as very simple stories depending on my audience. There are still a part of the audience here that would still need some of those big words. Meanwhile, the use of syntax in stories need to be carefully observed as we proceed.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  10. I think the story needs to be expanded to help us understand how doctor and sister discovered their undying love, abi? That part kinda blindsided me.

    1. Dear Lade, thanks for your observation.
      I will soon post a total love story in here and really, dear Lade, I look forward to satisfying you, you know.

      See my comments above along this line of thought.

      You’re a darling!

  11. Ditto @lade, in part 1 i noted that the same line you quoted was abrupt. fine the story is cool and tight but i stand my ground. GOOD JOB!

    1. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Brainy poet.

      I can feel you because the ground is shaking as you atand it. You laugh.

      Thanks for the comment, man.

  12. this story tickles my fancy with each read but i still resent the ending, y and y love should just fizzle in now i dont know…it add nothing to the story.

    1. I shall award you with points for having made the most comments so far to this story. You rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am impressed too that it tickles your fancy. Like I told my dear Lade, I shall post a total love story to tickle your fancy to high heavens. You laugh.

  13. The story flowed very smoothly, keeping me reading all the way to the end. The comments about the story’s wording and the two-week romance have already been made, so no need for me to make them again.

    I’m not sure that two weeks is enough to recover from treatment for lung cancer, though, especially if the patient was near to death. You may want to research that bit…

    1. Sir Tola. I just discovered you are the genuis behind postings in Naijastories. Wow! And please apologies for thinking you are female when you are a full-grown male!!!!!!!!!!!!! I must be whipped! And I am blushing. Guess how it looks when a blackman blushes? You laugh.

      Yes, I thought about the two-week recovery thing too and even tried a bit of research. I discovered that it depends on the stage of growth of cancer and the person’s genetic tendency to recovery. I may be wrong or the person who wrote that piece from the Internet may have been a fake or real, who knows. I just had to risk a little tumor in Maria. I am still not sure whether I am right or wrong. But dont you think anything can happen in the world of fiction? Even going to Mount Olympus and sitting there as Zeus?

  14. There is nothing wrong in the use of ‘big words’ as long as they are fit for the purpose. To me the expression ‘big words’ is subjective and depends how often a particular reader is familiar with certain words or expression. What is perceived ‘big’ by one person might be regarded as ‘small’ or simple by others; the most important thing is that the words must be appropriately used. Writers sometimes spice up their sentences to give the readers some meat to chew and their work a bit of flavour. Good story, despite the love twist towards the end; could have been the start of a relationship rather than a marriage proposal. Kudos!

    1. @Johnson, thanks man for the big big ups!!! You must love Soyinka like I do. I also refer you to Fred (See his story, ‘Loving You to Death’ here in NS). I think our group is growing. But like I suspect, you must also have anticipated that we are also set to continue to contribute even simpler stories and/or harder stories according to the whims of our muse, and not based upon the angry glare of a conditioned auditorium.

  15. @jeff that would be a very good thing. you write very well so i guess that astory totally pinned on love from you would be a masterpiece.

  16. @Xijay, thanks for the big ups. I would have to go away from the loud chatter of my students on campus into a luxury hotel to summon Snowwhite, my love muse. Enjoy.

  17. will sure join your fans club…I am a late reader but thank God i read this, nice piece. Keep the ball rolling.

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