THE ANGEL AND THE FUGITIVE CHAPTER 2 PART B
© Reginald Obetta
“Excuse me nurse, I would like to see a patient that was brought in some minutes ago”, the ebony looking nurse was busy with sorting the names of other people who had come to identify the casualties that were victims of the accident. It took a moment before they got the attention of the nurse who had dismissed some of them.
“What is the patient’s name? ”
“Oh, the patient that came in unconscious. She was in ward twenty – four. But you should wait to see the doctor on duty, he has requested to see you.
“But we were told to come here immediately “.
“Yes, the patient was taken to ICU, she needed rapt attention and was moved from the ward. You can sit in the hallway or wait in the ward.
“Ok, we will.”
The building was painted white and blue inside, giving it a cool feeling, the same colour on the outside, embellished with some wonderful arts, pictures of past Medical Directors hung in frames on the wall. Gradel hospital was a renowned hospital, the oldest and best in the state. Critical operations and procedures were carried out by doctors with robust knowledge in respective fields, whose expertise could be relied upon. Tafa sat silently and prayed fervently, a contrast to Mr Joshua’s pacing about and mumbles, a normal characteristic of a man whose spouse was absolutely in comatose and had no option but voice his frustrations and anger and impatience in mumbling words and pacing to and fro.
“Papa, everything will be fine. Don’t you think mama will survive this? You are taking it quite unlikely like it is out of reach. ”
“How do you expect me to react? Sit down and imagine a perfect picture of a world without pain and suffering or reach for a candy bar in my pocket like a child, sit in front of a television and watch an animation. Doesn’t it look like it’s getting serious? We have seen nothing, no doctor, or nurse to give us an update and we have spent almost an hour here. Nothing is alright at all. ”
“I understand papa, she has you and me fighting for her here. She will be fine.”
“I don’t think you understand my son. she is in a transition of life and death and I am extremely worried”.
A young doctor finally was spotted coming out of the ICU. His manner suggested something wasn’t right. His look gave a compunction. Tafa and his father raced down the hallway to inquire.
“Doctor, please, how is she. Am her husband, Joshua Waziri ”
“Is my mom alive”
“Am so sorry we couldn’t……… ”
“No, impossible. I can’t lose my wife to the clutches of death. How would my life turn into?
“No, she can’t just die like that”.
“Am sorry, she lost so much blood that we couldn’t replace. She is brain dead and is helped with the aid of a machine to breathe. That’s the painful, obvious truth. Am sorry for your loss”, the doctor said and left.
Tafa was left devastated, resulted in slamming his forehead with his palms. His belief and faith had been dashed away by the unfortunate circumstance, completely dazed at how his mother death had occurred. In the middle of his conscious thinking, Mr Joshua breathed heavily, his heart rate beat abnormally and surreptitiously, he collapsed in the hallway, placing his hand on his chest. Tafa raised an alarm immediately, some nurses came to his aid and carried him on the stretcher. Tafa only prayed it wouldn’t be a negative coincidence, on the same day, losing both parents.
Tafa learnt from the doctor his father suffered from Ischemic apoplexy and had a weak heart the morning of next day. He stayed in the hospital all day, all night. The doctor had done well to contain it so far but a huge bill was slammed on Tafa, who had to take his mother away from the morgue and take care of his dying father, who needed a heart transplant. He sprang to his feet, left the hospital with a ball point pen and a notepad in his left and right pocket of his black trouser, wandered through the street like a vagabond, murmuring to himself as he went by, lost in desperation to find the initial deposit and what to do next. Passers-by fixed their gazes at him and wondered if he was sane or otherwise by walking like that in the morning when everybody was on their way to their respective work places, noticing the eyes of the onlookers following home up, an idea struck his head, he would opt to go and see his employer Mr. P whom he had been working for recently, he still owed him money which he thought, was the right time to collect. Mr. P resided half a mile away from where he was and considered it unnecessary to take a taxi to a place where he could walk. Moreover, he had nothing on him to board one. The sun rays was blazingly hot, as if to burn down the earth. Tafa walked under this hot temperature on a street that people were actually, slowly dispersing as a result of the harsh rays, though on a normal day was one of the busiest street. “Clean street” it was nicknamed even though, it was just quite ironical. Heaps of wastes littered on the side lane. Many had the notion that Mr P only lived here and did business here even when he had the option of doing it elsewhere because he was dirty and stingy. He lived there for ages and wasn’t the nicest of people to deal with when it comes to money. He was a stout man in nature with protruded belly, dark in complexion, a bald hair that could reflect ones image when exposed to the sun. Majority of the kiosks and shops were owned by him and he drafted specific rules even though he does the opposite. Like wearing new clothes everyday and never repeat the next time even when he himself could wear the same clothe for a month. Tafa finally got there after two hours of walking, exhausted and dehydrated. Only a sachet of water was his companion through out the journey which, he bought with his last note. A boy about half his age was present in one of the kiosks, dozing. Tafa hit him softly on his back but was unmoved, instead gave a loud snoring. Tafa knew he was a heavy sleeper and decided to hit him with a stick which, made him Jerk to his feet.
“Oga Tafa, welcome “, recognizing who he was.
“How are you Mujeeb?”
“I dey fine Oga Tafa”, he replied in pidgin English
“Where is Mr.P?”
“Oga Mr. P no dey, him talk say he wan go market. He go come back soon “, he answered.
“Ok, let me wait for him then.”
“Oga Tafa, you go fit wait so, he fit delay small. Go, come back later ”
“I will wait here still. Am coming from a far place, I don’t have the luxury to go and come back”
“Oga Tafa, any problem as hour face come strong like this? You lose person? ”
Tafa didn’t want to respond by telling him his plight. It will only spur him to ask more questions which he wanted to avoid. He was in no mood to play the criminal and Mujeeb, the detective. The latter returned to his seat, not sleeping but now taking a swipe at his phone. Tafa got more infuriated by the delay, his expression, marked by the fact he had no time to while away, the exigency demanded him to be quick. Thirty minutes had gone by, still like a beggar, he had no choice but to wait. A blue truck halted in front of the kiosk, a stout man in nature with protruded belly, dark in complexion, a bald hair that could reflect ones image when exposed to the sun stepped out from the front seat, Mujeeb hurriedly gave a hand, Tafa had been depleted by the long walk and he began to have muscle cramps on his legs. He helped, pack the goods into the kiosk. Mr.P’s vivacious face turned into a fury when his gaze met with Tafa on getting to the entrance, he hadn’t noticed Tafa’s, presence until that time.
“Good afternoon Sir”,
“Tafa, how are you? What are you doing here? It’s not your shift yet. ”
“Sir, I know it isn’t my shift yet, I came to collect my outstanding balance. My father is ill and demands urgent treatment”.
“See Tafa, am sorry for your father’s I’ll health but I have got no money to give you now. You just saw where I came from. The economy is unfavorable, maybe you should come back in the morning tomorrow after working tonight’s shift. ”
“But Mr. P, I…….”,
“Listen, I hate to repeat myself. I will pay you, not just now”. Mr. P, on loaded the last set of cartons, Tafa looked befuddled by the outcome of his long walk under the sun which he summarized as a futile journey, that was his last hope of saving his father. Now he was to bow out without uttering a word when another truck was sighted, thought it was Mr.P’s goods that wanted to be delivered but it stopped abruptly halfway, men fully masked with guns descended and opened fire sporadically, people ran helter skelter, it was the same unknown group people were already guessing as terrorists that had been wrecking havoc in the geopolitical zone. Tafa took to his heels but by then, several bombs had exploded and bullets riddled the bodies on the ground, Mujeeb and Mr. P on the facade, Tafa was hit and fell on his back.
Tafa woke up from his slumber, initially thought he was dead for a while, surprised by his own astonishment that he was alive and well and not in the land of the spirits. He was surrounded by military men who safeguarded the street now and the Emergency Disaster Agency team who carried off the lying bodies. Tafa was fully conscious of where he was, he found himself lying in the refuse after the explosion occurred. His arms and legs were soaked in his blood, dead bodies flanked him as he rose to his feet with groaned pain, several cars and houses had collapsed, he glanced at a distance and his eyes met with the shattered bodies of Mujeeb and his employer, and the burnt truck that transported his goods, his kiosk were all gone. The message was clear, Tafa would never be able to get his pay from Mr.P. He stood transfixed, bereft of what to do next, more Emergency Disaster Unit service personnel pervaded and ambulances drove away, swiftly, an idea struck him which prompted him to reach for his pocket, only to discover that his mobile phone had been smashed as a result of the explosion, after much scrutiny, he found his SIM card too broken. No taxi was available, he wandered a little and found an undamaged motorcycle, the owner was probably a victim of the explosion, the key was lost, he found an astray compass on the floor fortunately, he inserted the pair inside the key hole and it made a zoom sound, he hopped inside and drove off to Rita’s apartment.
Tafa knocked twice on the door, it appeared to him no one was inside, the curtain was not raised and it seemed dark, but then, he guessed Rita was never away by evening on Mondays, she hated it as a result of the security situation going on, any church meeting probably must have ended by then. Rita lived in a bungalow, having opted not to live inside the school’s premises. The fear of cultism in school convinced her into living outside, she considered it irrationally stupid to live among them when she knew the dangers involved. Tafa convinced himself that she wasn’t away, he knocked again, this time fiercely, calling out Rita’s name. He paused for a second, quick footsteps was heard inside, door knob cracked open and Rita, starred him on his bruised face, astonished ;
“Tafa, what the hell happened to you? I have been trying to reach you on the phone,” ushering him inside.
“The bomb blast, I was there when it happened. I lost my phone in the process. ”
“So I heard in the news. I was so scared, that’s why I didn’t respond to your knocks. Am sorry”,
“No, you were protecting yourself. Am also sorry for not helping out with church activities. Things got a little bit nasty”
“It’s ok, am happy that you are alive, that’s what is important. You were badly injured, let me take you to the hospital. ”
“No, don’t bother, I will be fine here. Don’t want to slam any bill on you.”
“Don’t say that, your life is important, you are bleeding”
“The bleeding will stop okay. It’s just that am in a complicated situation right now. ”
“If you insist. I have some medication for you here that will ease your pain but first, you have to eat.”
Tafa said nothing. He had been hungry for days without food. The thoughts of his dead mother, his dying father and the fact that he survived miraculously in a bomb blast, all overwhelmed him, so much that he couldn’t think straight anymore and his appetite, long gone. Rita’s apartment had been his own home of refuge whenever he was in crisis, a comfort zone he cherished. He believes his problems go away whenever he was there, solutions he had never thought of pops up. Rita served him, a plate of fried eggs and plantain. Tafa gobbled it, Rita watched in awe as he left the plate empty.
“I presume you haven’t eaten, by your manner”,
“No, I won’t lie, I haven’t since yesterday, before visiting the hospital “.
“Not to the point of not eating. Why did you go to the hospital by the way?”
There was a sudden change of mood in his face, the call of a hospital once again brought back bad memory of his late mother’s death. He couldn’t help stomaching the thought of being an orphan. In as much as he restrained the formation of tears in his eyes from being released, the downpour finally came.
“What is the problem? Are your parents sick or what? Tell me what happened. “Rita asked inquisitively. Tafa burst out crying heavily.
“Tafa, please, talk to me. We can solve any problem together remember”,
“My mother died yesterday in an accident and my father suffered a cardiac arrest. If I don’t act quickly, my father may die also”,
“Oh my God, your mother died and you didn’t call me, you didn’t inform me of what is going on?”
“It happened so fast that I was befuddled of what to do. Am sorry. ”
“It’s ok. It is well. How much is the bill?”
“five hundred thousand “,
“That is much”
“It is. I don’t know what to do. How do I get the money? Why are all these happening to me? ”
“Don’t complain Tafa. Do you think God isn’t watching what is happening? He will surely see us through. When there is a way, there is a will.
“I have had that same faith all the time. My family is inflicted with one thing or the other. My father lost his job and got duped and now in the hospital, my mother is now late, younger brother has dementia. What can faith possibly solve? ”
“Everything, it can solve all things. Don’t talk like an unbeliever. That is not who you are.”
“Ok, what am I to do now? ”
“We can go to the church for some assistance, then add to it with whatever I have to complete it. ”
“Thank you Rita a million times, I never could have done anything without you. You have always been my backbone. ”
“That is because I love you as a brother. Get some rest, we would be there by tomorrow morning. I will go and prepare where you will lie for the night”. Tafa washed himself of in the bathroom, returned to where his bed was so nicely made, he bid her goodnight and invited her to lie beside him which she reluctantly but gladly accepted.
This story would be posted on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays