Now Audu sits with his daughter in the hospital waiting room; just beyond the red line marking where family members, especially the husbands of expectant mothers are allowed to sit and wait for news from the delivery room. Kadijat sits next to her father on a low backed 3-sitter couch facing the delivery room. There were three other men in the room; all waiting for news about their wives and their new babies. Between them, the men try to make little conversations but it was obvious they could not find anything of interest to dwell upon.
Two of these men are Hausas; one waiting for the birth of his 4th child whiles the other was expecting his 6th child. The other man was an Indian. From their short conversation earlier, Audu knew the foreigner works with PHCN and is married to a woman from the Niger Delta. Audu could not help wondering all over again why these expatriates can’t seem to resist the women from that creek region.
The room they sit in is small, neat and has all the things that make hospitals what they are; white walls, bright fluorescent light on the ceiling, and potted flowers in strategic corners and of course, the unmistakable smell of disinfectant clinging to the very atmosphere within the walls. A door opens to the right leading to the general waiting room. There is a red line on the floor just in front of the door marking where every non-medical staff and non-relations of surgical patients are to stop. The door to the delivery room is on the west wing of the room and Audu’s chair is positioned directly in front of that door.
Since Zainab was the first among the women to go into labour, Audu had expected that he would be the first one to hear any news about the delivery of a baby. Therefore, when the door to the delivery room opened 20 minutes after the last woman had gone into the delivery room, he was the first on his feet. The young doctor that came out smiled at him but address himself to the four men.
“I am glad to inform you that all your wives are doing quite well and we expect the first baby to arrive very soon”
All the men seem to have questions but he simply smiled at them again and told them that the obstetrician would come see them soon to explain and give further details about their wives.
“Now if you would excuse me just a minute” he finished, smiled again and headed out through the door leading to the general waiting area.
The men returned to their seats and tried once more to act like they were interested in the muted news showing on the TV screen.
Meanwhile, Kadijat had become so quiet that even her father had not bother to pay too close attention to her. It when she put her little hand on her father’s arm and held very tightly that he noticed the girl looked rather distressed; like she’d seen something that gave her a big scare. Audu silently prayed that Kadijat won’t choose this moment to go into one of her “frightmares” about invisible men and children. Before, he could ask her if she was alright, Kadijat spoke in a very low shaky voice;
“Papa, is that man still in that room?
Unaware of what his daughter was seeing, Audu simply answered her; “yes darling and he is going to look after your mama and your little brother”
Just about that same time, the young doctor returned into the small waiting room he smiled at the expectant father and actually gave a little wave to the small girl clinging to her father’s arm. As he made to push through the delivery room door, Kadijat suddenly cried out;
“Don’t let him enter there papa, he’s going to hurt my mommy”.
This outburst from the girl created a sense of alarm among the men.
“Please get mama out of that place. He’s going to kill her, please get her out” she cried now quite beside herself. Audu could see she was really afraid but he was at a loss as to the cause of her fear. The young doctor stopped in his track obviously taken aback by the little cute girl’s unexpected outbursts. Audu too was surprised by the sudden change in Kadijat’s behavior but he quickly chided her;
“Kadijat, stop that” he said to his daughter while trying to keep his voice down. “That’s your mama’s doctor and he is not going to hurt her”.
He then apologized to the doctor who at that point had serious concerns written all over his face and wondering if the kid needed help. He tried to reassure the kid that he was harmless and actually offered to take her to the cafeteria for snacks if she stops giving her father trouble.
Kadijat didn’t even seem to hear him at all. After a while the young doctor had to excuse himself and went on back into the delivery room. Kadijat’s eyes remained fixed on the door to the delivery room after it closed and she just kept repeating that the person that entered the room was going to hurt her mother.
By now, the other men in the room were also worried. The foreigner; who though married to a Nigerian but never stops wondering if he would ever get to understand these people – was more flustered than the rest. He wished the father would just shut the damn kid up or take her somewhere to throw tantrum.
Audu for a moment wondered if what Kadijat was saying had anything to do with why she had often relapsed into protracted spell of silence only to burst into tear suddenly while clinging to her mother’s arms. What Audu and of cause Zainab couldn’t see was the tall dark man in a business suit and the little kid with vacant sunken holes for eyes always standing beside him; as they both look at Zainab – always concentrating on her swollen belly. Once, while she watched and her parents, totally oblivious of what was happening, the eyeless kid had stretched forth his or her right hand towards Zainab’s pregnancy. The fingers of the hand had busted into flame. When the finger had touched Zainab’s belly, she had gone into a sudden spasms of contraction. This had made Kadijat scream that day like never before. The baffled parents later thought it must have been the sight of her mother’s painful contraction that had scared her.
Now again, screaming at the top of her voice, Kadijat keep saying over and over; No! Leave her alone. Please don’t touch her” as hot tears spilled down her beautiful young face.
Audu then decided to take her out of the waiting room. But as they made for the door, the door to the delivery room opened and a more mature looking doctor came out. His surgical mask hung just below his clean shaven chin and he was drying his hands with a white paper towel. There were sweat stains on his blue scrub. Audu hesitated at the door thinking ‘surely the doctor would have words about his wife’s condition now’.
Mr. Bashir, Mr. Mohammed and Alhaji Konga”, he began to say, then stopped, and looked at Audu who was still standing at the door with the crying child. “Mr. Audu, I think you should take your daughter upstairs and get her something to eat. Your wife is doing quite okay but we might need to operate later to get the baby out.
This brought Audu closer to the group of men gathered around the doctor. He asked “what is wrong, why can’t she just have the baby normally”?
The doctor smiled and explained further “we are still looking at other options Mr. Audu. It seems the baby may be on the big side, making normal delivery difficult. But like I said, we are still looking at other options. For now she’s doing great. Why don’t you go take care of that little angel first and by the time you get back, we’ll definitely have words on the final decision’ he finished smiling at the little girl.
Audu was both relieved and apprehensive at the same time. However, he nodded his appreciations to the doctor and smiled at the other 3 three men still waiting for words about their wives before taking his daughter out of the waiting room to the hospital’s cafeteria.
He had no way of knowing what was about to happen. Yet, the truth is that, even if he had known, he probably wouldn’t have been able to change it. But Kadijat saw it all although she was on a floor above the theater of horror where everything started, before snowballing into a medical and psychological catastrophe for everyone involved – those in the hospital premises and everyone else with 40meter radius of the hospital building.
The police report later stated that something had gone wrong in the delivery room while the senior obstetrician and his team were trying to deliver 3 women of their babies – the fourth woman was slated for a caesarean section later that day.
When the first two babies were delivered, the senior member of the team had stepped outside momentarily to update the waiting fathers. While the doctor was with the husbands in the waiting room, a young intern on the team had suddenly gone crazy and picked up a surgical scalpel and had stabbed the two babies. One of the doctors reacted quickly by pinning him down and wrestling the scalpel from his bloody hands while ordering another intern to press the emergency button on the wall.
But just as soon as he succeeded in getting the murder weapon from the intern, the doctor simply turned on the third woman who had gone into forced labour induced by the sight of the infanticides. The doctor cut her open in a split second, brought out the baby and sliced it in two.
Meanwhile, the whole hospital had reacted to the braying alarm set off from the delivery room. The senior obstetrician ran back into the delivery room only to behold the next phase of the bizarre scene that commenced in his brief absence before entering his own role in the final parts – the climax of a horror show.
One of the fathers had gone into the delivery room with the doctor. On seeing the child being sliced in half by the crazy doctor, he had pushed the doctors out of his way, grabbed his wife who had just been gutted and ran with her from room all the while screaming unintelligible phrases in his language.
The door burst open, Mr. Bashir, the expatriate ran out while hospital security personnel ran in the opposite direction with fire extinguishers and other rescue equipment. The remaining expectant father, who had been busy saying silent prayers since the alarm went off, saw the man carrying a woman emerged from the delivery room screaming, with blood dripping from the woman’s open stomach. He followed the man with his wife towards the exit door of the waiting room. There were people everywhere; running, screaming, falling and getting back up. Doctors with their coats flying after them were running in every direction. Nurses’ caps were missing from their nicely done hairs as they scrambled about, getting patients out of the hospital wards, especially the children wards. The two men were standing in the midst of this chaos when the first gunshot went off.
Mr. Bashir cut a neat hole through the mass of human bodies rushing towards the hospital’s main exit doors with well aimed shots to the heads of the running people. The mass parted revealing two men standing in the middle of the lobby. One of them had his wife in his filthy hands as blood ran down her long beautiful legs. A moan like that only an animal in pain could make escaped from his trembling lips. “Oh! God! Please don’t let her be dead” he thought as he moved closer still holding the gun. The legs have always been what he loved the most about his Helen. “Now… now, look at those legs” his warped mind seemed to be screaming at him. He could see the legs were limp, hanging at an odd angle on the dirty black man’s filthy hands and he knew she was dead.
Bashir let out a bitter scream as he opened fire once more – emptying a whole clip in the two men; first the one who had stolen his wife then the other one saying those crazy things he couldn’t understand.
Back in the delivery room, when the gun fire had began, all the doctor ran out abandoning their patients, only the senior obstetrician remained. Just then the security guys rushed into the delivery room only to see that there was no fire anywhere. All they saw was lots of blood and all the doctors running out of the room leaving their patients and their superior who seemed unaware of what was happening around him. Presently, he bends down and picked up the scalpel dropped by the doctor who had earlier performed the morbid C-section on one of the women. He handed the scalpel to the fourth woman originally slatted for an operation later in the day. She took the bloody knife calmly from the doctor. The metal caught the light of the operating light hanging above her and reflected a wicked gleam as she moved and sat on the edge of the bed.
… TO BE CONTINUED