“Mama… please tell me this is just a story.” Seun said.
She wiped her face. She hadn’t realised that she was crying. It couldn’t be real, it just couldn’t.
“It is not a story.” The old lady smiled at her sadly.
“Till this day Toyin has never walked again.”
“Oh my God…” The last years of her terror marriage flashed in front her.
Every kick, slap, blow… it was miracle she was still alive… still intact… or was she? Did she already have injuries , damages to her body that were going to rear their ugly heads later in life?
“Hey.” The old woman reached out and took her now trembling hands in her heavily veiled gnarled ones.
“I am sorry dear it was not my intention to scare you. I don’t know what is happening in your marriage but obviously things are not as they should be. I am not asking you abandon it and run. But something has to be done or you might get to point where all you have are regrets and irreversible situations.”
Seun nodded slowly.
“I understand ma. Thank you so much for your advice.” She stood up.
“I have to go I need to go and pick my baby from the crèche. Can I come and see you again?”
“That wouldn’t be necessary, I am sure I won’t be here by the time you come back.” The woman said with smile.
“Oh… That is very good. Thank you very much again ma.”
“You are welcome dear.”
Seun had gotten all the way to the hospital entrance when she realised she had forgotten both her bag and the food flask. She was still quite shaken. She immediately turned around. She got to the door and opened it.
“Mama sorry I forgot my bag and cooler…” She froze.
The aged woman was almost falling of the bed hunched forward in an awkward position. She rushed to her side.
“Mama!…” She pulled her back unto the bed and the old lady’s head simply rolled back, her neck no longer working as a support her eyes where wide and unmoving.
“Mama! Mama! Mama no…!” Seun shook her with everything in her.
“Mama please…” Heart racing Seun stopped for a second.
“What do I do? What do I do?” She said.
A voice in head screamed you’re in a hospital call for help!
She quickly looked around and found the emergency call button and nearly broke it with the force she applied on it. Precious seconds later two women dressed in blue burst through the door.
“Please help her…” Seun sobbed.
The nurses pushed her out of the way and quickly checked the woman.
“She not breathing…”
“No pulse… I am starting CPR.. you go get doctor Sam!”
The nurse had barely taken a step back towards the door when a man in a white overcoat and another nurse came in through the door. Instantly he took over the resuscitation efforts while barking instruction at the nurses. One of them quickly dashed out and return with an injection which she immediately administered. Seun simply clasped her hands over her mouth and watched them battle to bring the woman back. Seconds, minutes ticked by and after while the doctor hands stilled over the non responding body.
He sighed. “Time of death?”
“Noooo!!! Doctor please don’t say that. Please keep trying….” Seun screamed.
“Time of death!” He repeated sharply.
“ 1.55pm” One of the nurses replied.
“I am sorry but she gone.” He told her more gently.Then he turned and left the room.
One of the nurses led her to a chair and Seun collapsed into it and buried her face into her hands. The order nurses pulled the curtain around the bed cutting of the sight of the lifeless body from view.
“Are you a family member?” She asked softly.
“No… I was just visiting…”
“ Ok , will have to call them… Anna what is mama name again? Toyin… something, something I can remember the last name. ”
Seun looked up in surprise. “Toyin… did you say Toyin?”
“Yes… Oluwatoyin Adeshina.” One the nurses said has she came out from behind the curtain holding the flipchart of the deceased woman.
Seun swallowed hard. It couldn’t be…
It took everything in her to utter the next question. “Was..was she pa-pa-paralyzed?”
“Yes from the waist down…” The nurse with the flip chart confirmed.
Seun stood up abruptly. How could she not have realized? The woman had spoken with such passion… and quite suddenly everything around her started to fade away.
“Bimbo!Bimbo! Catch her she is falling!”
Tunde, held his drink in a grip far stronger than was necessary while he tried to project an air of detachment. But he suspected he was failing miserably at his fronting. After all it was hard to remain unmoved in the face of such a tale.
“Sir, did she ever regain the use of legs?” Lanre asked.His food had gone practically untouched.
“No she didn’t.” Mr Kunle said quietly.
He had stop drinking and had very contemplative look in his eyes.
“Na woo! That is some story. Tell me sir what happened to her husband? I hope the bastard is rotting behind bars somewhere!” Lanre said.
Tunde felt himself tense. Prison? Anyone who did something that hideous will definitely end up behind bars. Exactly how hard had he hit Seun yesterday? It hadn’t been that bad had it? Images of Seun’s bruised and bloodly face filtered through his mind and he shook his head to clear it. Nervously he checked his watch. He suddenly felt the urge to call her… just to be sure she was fine.
“No he isn’t behind bars.” Mr. Kunle said.
“What?” Tunde said startled out of his thoughts.
“How come?” Lanre asked.
“Well she never pressed charges.” Mr. Kunle replied.
“Why not?” Lanre demanded.
“ I… no one really knows why… but I think that would have been better .The way things are he is in hell right now.”
“In hell? What do you mean?” Tunde asked.
A cold smile spread across his face. “The hell called regret. Never been there before? Believe me it is a place out of this world. Worse than any prison that could ever exist on the surface of this planet.”
Tunde couldn’t keep himself from shuddering.The dark mood that had settled around their booth was suddenly interrupted by the sound of a phone ringing. It brought some much needed diversion. This outing had turn into a hellish encounter he wanted to quickly put behind him. Their host however did not pick his phone immediately. The man looked lost in thought.
“Eh”… sir? Your phone is ringing?” Lanre said.
“Oh? Thanks. Yes ? What…? When… But I was there this morning… ok… thank you… no I’ll make the calls myself. Thank you.” Their host put down his phone abruptly.
“Boys it’s been nice talking with you, but something come up and I need to be on my way. If you need anything extra help yourself. I’ll take care of the bill later.” He then stood up and left.
“Na wa o!Tunde I hope you were listening-”
“Hey I don’t need a secondary lecture from you alright? ” Tunde shot back.
Lanre smiled. “ Interesting… I don’t think I have ever seen you this rattled before…”
“I am not…” He began.
Then he noticed that Lanre was staring at his hand. He looked down and saw that he had completely compress the first empty can of drink he had downed when they had first come in. He pushed it aside.
“Well I am not surprised, you would have to be brain dead not to react anyway. It is unfortunate the guy had to live suddenly it would have been nice to know what happen next-”
Tunde bolted upright. He had been feeling bad all the while, but his anxiety level at simply magnified after the phone call and now he knew why… or at least he thought he did.
“Men, are you alright? You look like death.” Lanre queried.
“I am fine… just wait here for me I’ll be back in a second.” He ran out.
A part of him prayed that Mr. Kunle had already left so he wouldn’t have to confirm this awful suspicion he was having. But by the time he got out into the car park the man was still there. H e was hunched over his car, standing quite still. He slowed down his pace. He took a while for him to summon the courage to speak.
“That was the hospital wasn’t it Mr Kunle… or is it Remi?”
Mr Kunle turned to face him. “Yes I am also known by that name. You are a very sharp young man Tunde.” He said.
“I… yes sir…” Tunde said.
“Well listen to me Tunde. “ Mr Kunle voice had become thick with emotion.
“ Listen to me well. Don’t walk in my footsteps. You hear me?”
“I..I hear you sir.” Tunde replied.
“You see… she gone now… and I am still here… how..how can I… I ..ah Toyin!”
He moved quickly just in time to prevent the elder man from collapsing on the floor.
At this time the man began weeping like a child in his arms his strong composure completely gone.
“I took her everywhere… U.K., India, Switzerland… but they couldn’t fix it… couldn’t undo what I had done… ”
Tunde queeze the man shoulders in comfort and couldn’t think of anything to say. What was there to say ?
As he cradled the man his own mind and heart were now heavily weighed down by his own deeds, his own sins… My God… Seun, what have I been doing to you?
Stay tune for Tunde and Seun..Remi and Toyin the conclusion.