He had gotten a call from her; she wanted to see him. After 14years of silence, it had been an obligation to meet with her.
Age had treated her well but her eyes told a different story. They were twin pools, filled with sadness that threatened to draw him in. Her eyes were the first thing he had ever noticed about her; ‘laughing eyes’ he had called them, as they twinkled with mirth.
“Welcome Jude.” she said, as she got off the bed and offered him a glass of wine.
“Good evening dear, you sent for me. What’s the reason?” he answered in a gruff voice. He hated the nostalgia that had crept up on him.
“I would never have contacted you, but I have a strong feeling that you are my last hope.” she said as she wrung her hands in nervousness.
“You broke fourteen years of silence for a reason, it’s best you let me know why.” he said, irritation creeping into his voice but he masked it by taking a sip from his glass.”
“My child – our child, is dying!” she blurted out, as if the words were hot coals in her mouth.
“Oh!” For a brief moment he wondered if she wanted to hear his apologies and continued, “But how do I come into the equation? You were supposed to stay out of my life.” He was sure that this wasn’t going to end well. The child in question had been the result of a weekend spent in Accra, away from home.
Fourteen years ago, he had strayed from his marriage.
They had both been sent as representatives of their respective companies. Being partners had fostered a closer relationship, and on their third day in the hotel, it evolved. He never felt guilty, and she made it easy because she laid no claims and held no strings. When the week-long trip ended, they parted ways.
Two months later, he got her call; she was pregnant. He had taken a trip to Abuja, and offered her money to terminate it. The reaction he got was unexpected. She had laughed long and hard, and told him that she didn’t want anything from him that she didn’t already have. She promised not to contact him, as she deleted his number from her phone.
How did she get his phone number again? He wondered. Now she was here; and his bastard was the reason.
“Kidney transplant… Raphael needs a kidney to survive. The doctors in St Augustine say both of his kidneys have been affected and if a transplant is not done within the next 3 months, that dialysis wouldn’t keep him. Frankly speaking, dialysis has drained my accounts. The waiting list is long. Can’t wait and watch my boy die. Mine is incompatible. Had to come and ask. You, closest kin.” The words tumbled out of her mouth, as unshed tears glistened in her eyes.
“This is sad but If you are thinking what I think you are… There’s no need to beat about the bush. I won’t do it.” he said, and turned to leave.
“Jude, it took me a lot of courage to ask this of you.” she said as the tears flowed unimpeded down her cheeks. “I did it, because I assumed that somehow you would realize he is your blood, and consider it. I see I was wrong, and I am sorry that I disrupted your day.” She stood up, held her head high and walked to the door. As she showed him the way out, like a hostess, she was courteous; “Thanks for coming Jude.” she said and closed the door quietly in his face.
Ethel sat in the ward where her son slept, and held his hand in hers. As the machine drew, cleansed and pumped fluids into him, she couldn’t help the tears. She had gone to Jude Amanze as her last resort, and he had kicked her request out of the door like a wet dog. She had hoped that he would consider the request, but he hadn’t given any thought to it. She could only pray for a miracle, maybe the waiting list wouldn’t be so long afterall. She thought as she wiped her tears with the back of her hand, and fingered her chaplet.
He had been driving the family to amusement park like his last daughter had requested. They had been singing happily, when he saw something on the road, as he swerved to avoid it, the car spun out of control. The singing had been replaced by the screams of his wife and three kids, as the car bashed into the electrical pole. Miraculously, he had found himself in a puddle of water-unharmed.
A tap on the shoulder, and he turned back and saw a boy; there was something familiar about him.
“Daddy, help me…” the boy said. His face contorted with
pain as he clutched his stomach and fell to the ground. The boy had called him Daddy, and now the reason for the familiarity smacked him in the face. The boy looked like a minature version of him.
“You can’t save them, but you can save me.” the boy said and stretched out his hand.
He had turned back to see his car go up in flames. He had run screaming to it, but the passers-by had held him down, while he watched his family burn.
Jude woke with the screams in his head, racking sobs of relief tore through him when he realized it was a dream. When his wife asked, he told her he couldn’t recall the details of the dream.
He drove to work as usual, and to clear the demons in his head, he had switched on the car’s radio.
The voice of the female presenter filled the car’s interior:
“It’s imperative to help people in need when you can. A kind word, a kind deed…All these go a long way to lifting a soul. And nothing is more fufilling than holding out your hand and helping someone up… ”
He sighed and tuned it off. The silence didn’t do much to calm the raging thoughts in his head.
Four weeks passed, and her request remained the proverbial thorn in his side. Amaka, his wife had noticed the subtle change in him. She asked and he explained it away as work-related stress. Well, it was work-related; work had brought them together.
Guilt assuaged his soul, his conscience held him in it’s prison. He knew he could sacrifice all he had for his children. What made the ‘other’ child any different? The question was a refrain that silently echoed in his mind.
He had imagined the dream was a single occurence, but the next three days proved him wrong. On the fourth day, he made a decision.
He strode into the airport’s terminal with a spring in his step. He could feel the burden of the weeks past, lift.
“You really did this Jude?” He asked himself under his breath as he took a seat next to a couple. Newlyweds, he thought; they had a ‘lovey’ air about them. He could tell from the way the lady flashed her ring, the way their eyes and hands couldn’t stay off each other. He chuckled, he knew the feeling; twenty years ago, and he could easily have been the man with Amaka by his side.
Ah! Amaka…He had wronged her and desecrated the sanctity of their marriage. Today was the beginning of new things and he was going to make amends.
He had a lot to tell her, and he intended to start with a confession once he got home.
“Doctor you sent for me.” Ethel said as she closed the door behind her. She could hear the thud in her chest. What was the reason for this summon? Did her son’s condition worsen? All the questions raged in her head, as she sat down gingerly. The doctor looked up from his writing pad, and finally focused on her.
“Good day Miss Oluigbo. I believe I have some good news for you.” he smiled and consulted a folder. Ethel couldn’t help the smile that spread over her face. It could only mean one thing, she reasoned, as she waited expectantly.
“We have an organ ready for your son.” he said, and smiled at her.
“Jesus! Thank you Jesus. She jumped off her seat and knelt down in thanksgiving. She ran round the table and hugged the Doctor. As she reached the door, she turned to ask him; “How did we get to the top of the waiting list this fast?”
“Ummm…” The doctor looked like one with a secret. It wasn’t the waiting list Ma. Someone wanted your son to have a transplant done in no time. A Mr Jude Amanze. He asked that we keep his identity hidden, unless you asked. He was discharged this morning.”
Ethel’s eyes widened at the sound of the name, Jude! Jude had done it for them? She needed to call him immediately. She thanked the doctor, walked out of the office and placed the call.
He pulled the phone from his pocket, pressed the answer key and listened to the person on the other end.
“Amen…But I have to thank you too, it’s given me a new perspective to life. I mean, I am walking about with a smile on my face and in my heart.” he replied and listened some more.
“I didn’t have the courage to face you, I knew I acted so callously the last time we met. Was still ashamed of myself.” he smiled at what he heard.
“Yes, I am on way to Lagos. I’m at the airport – Dana, will be leaving very soon…” He laughed out loud at the reply and continued, “Let it not be like the airport scenes in hollywood movies oh.” He laughed at her reply and disconnected the call.
He inhaled deeply, and smiled; Today he felt purged of his sins, like he had just left the confessional.
He looked around; on the opposite row sat a family. He could see the excitement written on the children’s faces, probably going on a vacation, he imagined. He chuckled at the thought of someone else trying to make out his reason. The person would have no idea that he had just given up a part of him.
The sing-song voice came through the speakers;
“All passengers for flight 9J-992, please proceed to the checkpoints.”
He slung his bag over his shoulder and smiled at the lovebirds as he headed to the line.
He got in behind the family, and smiled at the mother. He could see that she was pregnant. Yet another life to be brought into the world, he thought and smiled.
He handed his ticket to the official, who looked at it and stamped it. As she returned it to him, she gave him an official smile and said; Thanks for using Dana Airlines, Enjoy your flight, Sir.
He knew he was going to: “I sure will.”
His mind went to Ethel and the boy. He hadn’t really seen the boy. Wouldn’t it help to go and say hi or perhaps bye? He stood on the spot, wondering…