John, Imabong and Eureka sat in the doctor’s office. They had found the remains of John’s car at the roadside, several miles away from the Adams’ mansion. They were informed by people around that the driver of the car ran into an electric pole while trying to avoid hitting a child that escaped from his mother’s grip and crossed the road all by himself. They were directed to a nearby clinic, but they were not allowed to see Sheila.
The doctor stopped writing and looked up at them, “The patient hit her head on the steering wheel when she ran into the electric poll.”
Eureka tightened her grip on her husband’s hand. She hoped her daughter’s injuries were mild.
“The cut on her forehead is a little deep, but it has been stitched. We ran several tests. I can assure you that she is okay.”
“Thank God,” she whispered. She hoped Sheila can be discharged that evening.
“That’s good news,” Imabong patted John on the shoulder.
The doctor cleared his throat. They all stared at him, wondering what else he wanted to say.
“The patient… ”
“Yes… ” John leaned forward.
“She doesn’t know who she is.”
“What!” Imabong exclaimed.
“What does that mean?” John addressed the doctor.
“What happened to my baby girl?” She cried out.
“Please… Please… Please, you need to remain calm.”
“Calm? Seriously?” Imabong frowned at the doctor, “Your father is a retired medical doctor John. I think we should transfer Sheila to one of his hospitals,” he got up.
Eureka nodded in agreement. John met the doctor’s relaxed gaze.
“What is it doctor?”
“We think she is suffering from amnesia.”
“No!” Eureka locked gazes with the doctor.
Imabong walked out of the office, he was tired of listening to the doctor’s diagnosis.
“Thank you doctor. Please prepare my daughter for a transfer. We would like to seek a second opinion,” John shook hands with the doctor and walked out with his wife.
Charles spoke to his children and their spouses in the waiting room.
“Sheila has been seen by one of the best doctors in the whole of Africa. I have also checked herself. I might be retired, but I know my onions.”
Boma chuckled, but no one noticed. He had boasted about his grand-father’s medical achievements when he was in school. Charles Adams was the main reason why the Adams’ social status had risen over the years.
“She is okay. She will be discharged today.”
Eureka sighed in relief. John squeezed her hand. It had been a long weekend.
“But, she has been diagnosed with amnesia.”
Martha felt no remorse. She couldn’t be bothered whether her niece lived or died. These emotions made her shudder, when did she become so bitter?
“She doesn’t know who she is, she doesn’t remember anything about her past. I want her to see everybody today. Hopefully, she will recognize someone. But if she doesn’t… ” He coughed, “It can take days, weeks, months or worse, years, before her complete memory returns.”
Eureka dabbed her wet eyes with an handkerchief. How would it feel like if their daughter did not recognize them? She wasn’t sure if she could go through with it. God! Help!
“We will see her in batches, let’s start with Dorcas, Imabong and their children,” Charles led them all to Sheila’s room.
The doctors and nurses said her name was Sheila Adams. It sounded strange. Why couldn’t she remember? She had been scared since she gained consciousness. Not knowing who she was and trying to retrieve nineteen years of memories had scared the life out of her. The retired doctor told her that he was her grand-father. But, she didn’t know him. He had promised to bring her parents and the rest of the family. She hoped she would remember someone. Even if it was just one person, that would comfort her fried and blank mind.
The retired doctor told her that her memories would return gradually. It could take days, weeks, months or fearfully, years. She hoped it wouldn’t take that long. She would definitely go crazy if it took that long.
The door opened and the retired doctor walked in with four people.
“Good morning Sheila,” he sat on the bed beside her.
“Good morning Doctor Adams.”
“How is my girl doing?”
“So, so… ”
“It is going to be all right,” he patted her on the shoulder, “This is my youngest daughter, Dorcas,” she stepped forward, “Her husband, Imabong and their children… Boma and Edidiong, your cousins.”
Sheila looked at them. Dorcas was a very beautiful woman. Her husband was also easy on the eyes. It was a good match. Their children were the exact carbon copies of their parents. Nobody said a word, they were all staring at her, hoping that she would recognize them.
“Beautiful family… ” She stared at the bedsheet.
Charles dismissed them. Dorcas and her family left.
“It is okay, don’t give up yet.”
Dorcas and her family returned to the waiting room.
“How is my grand-daughter?” Nnese looked up at them.
Dorcas shook her head and sat down.
“She didn’t recognize us,” Imabong sat beside his wife.
“She called us ‘beautiful family’,” Boma folded his arms across his chest.
“Sheila… The Sheila I know isn’t that nice,” Edidiong tried not to laugh.
Charles returned, “Martha, Daniel, Nnese, you are next.”
Martha wished she didn’t have to see her niece. She doubted if the brat would recognize her. She wished she could convince Daniel to take her home. She shook the thoughts away and concentrated on the task ahead. They followed her father into a private room and found Sheila sitting on the bed watching the television.
“Sheila, I want you to meet your grandma.”
Nnese stepped forward and sat on the bed, “How are you baby girl?”
Sheila looked at her. She felt comfortable with her, just the same way she felt relaxed with the retired doctor.
“I am… okay I guess.”
“Hang in there darling. It will all come back to you.”
She turned and saw a couple staring at her.
“This is my eldest daughter, Martha and her husband, Daniel.”
Martha and Daniel exchanged glances. She didn’t recognize them.
“Hi… ” Daniel smiled at her and kicked his wife on the knee. She cleared her throat and tried to smile.
Sheila returned her attention to the television. She could sense that her aunt did not like her. She wondered why.
“I will go and get your parents.”
She nodded without looking at him. Charles led them all out. Nnese broke down crying while Martha and Daniel returned to the waiting room.
“How did it go?” Dorcas asked her sister.
Martha shrugged, “She is like a different person… We are like strangers to her.”
Eureka wished she could close her ears. Their comments and assumptions were accelerating her fears.
“Come on, let’s go and see our daughter.”
She held her husband’s arm and followed him to the room Sheila’s was kept.
They knocked and walked in. Sheila looked at them and they stared back at her. She noticed that she looked a little bit like them. She made a sigh of relief. They must be her parents. Why couldn’t she remember her own parents? She noticed that the woman’s eyes were red. She must have been crying. The man looked tired and sad. They must have been worried about her. She could feel their hurt. It made her want to start to cry.
“Are you my mum and dad?”
They both nodded.
“Can you hug me?”
“Yes pumpkin… ” Eureka began to sob. They sat on the bed beside her and pulled her close.
“I am so scared,” Sheila began to cry.
“Oh baby… ” John could hardly hold back his tears.
“I don’t remember anybody… I feel so lost.”
“It is okay sugar plum. Your memories will return. We are here for you,” John assured her.
“Jesus is also here with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you,” Eureka dabbed Sheila’s face with her handkerchief.
“Never ever,” she smiled and Sheila returned it with a grin.
Sheila laid on her bed lost in thoughts. It was a few minutes past eight. She had woken up thirty minutes ago. The night had seemed short, although she slept well. Her parents told her that they were in the longer days, shorter nights time frame.
She had been discharged from the hospital a few days ago. She did not recognize the house or her own bedroom. Her parents had been supportive. They were lovely people, she was glad that she was their daughter.
The retired doctor, her grand-father, had scheduled weekly check up for her at the hospital. She wished she didn’t have to go. She had also been informed that she would be spending quality time with members of the Adams family, hopefully, it will help her to retrieve her memory.
She wondered what kind of relationship she had, had with each of her family members. Whenever she remembered her aunt, Martha, it made her shudder. What did she do to deserve such coldness? The woman simply didn’t like her. If her relationship with Martha was less cordial, what about other members of the family?
Someone knocked at her door. She blinked and sat up. The door opened and her parents walked in, one after the other.
“Hope you had a goodnight.”
“Morning dad, mum.”
Her mother sat on the bed, while her father leaned on the wall.
“How are you feeling?”
“I bet you are hungry. I made club sandwich,” she smiled at her.
She smiled back, eating sandwich alongside a cup of hot milky beverage, that would be a fantastic meal.
“You are going to visit your grandparents today.”
She looked up at her dad, “Really?”
“Will you take your bath or will you eat first?”
Sheila bit her lower lip, “Hmmm… I think I will eat first.”
“That’s the Sheila I know,” her dad headed for the door. Her mother helped her up.
“Do I like eating before taking my bath?”
“Yes,” her parents chorused.
She giggled and followed them out of the room.