Hello friends, welcome to the third week in April. If you have not read last week’s episode of Without a Home, I suggest you start from there before reading this episode. Again, my apologies to all you folks who have waited through the weekend for this episode. Now that you have it, I hope you learn, and share, as you have always done. Enjoy.
The traffic through Ilupeju and towards Yaba was at its peak. Despite all his skillful maneuvers through the madness Lagos traffic, it took Charles thirty minutes to get to Yaba. Rather than cursing, he kept his mouth open in prayers and supplication for his dying son. It was crazy, not one of the domestic staff picked up their calls since he started driving. He decided to place a last call. The phone had barely rung when a strange voice responded from the other end.
“Hello sir!”. Charles knew Monday’s voice was not soft.
“Who is this? Can I speak with Monday?”. He shouted, giving the LASTMA official trying to flag down his car the side eye.
“I am Dr Udo, from Chevron Hospital,Lekki”. Charles listened keenly to Dr Udo who informed him that his son was in the emergency resuscitation room, and was being intubated after several attempts to resuscitate him via nebulization failed. He knew there was trouble; Tade usually recovered from bouts of asthma after being nebulized.
“What are the chances Doc? Give me the figures. My son must live”.
“In some cases, some children have been found to survive just by having their mother in the room with them”.
The word mother struck a cord in Charles and all of a sudden, he realized he had not spoken to his wife since he received the distress call . He had no idea where she will be, and he wondered if she was aware Tade was in distress. Arriving at the intersection to the Third Mainland Bridge gave him a lot of hope, as it was obvious he was now getting closer to the hospital. He gassed down, and drove up the bridge at an alarming speed. He lost count at the number of times he had dialed his wife’s phone without a response. He was not surprised one bit, it was her custom to talk about not picking her phone calls the whole day because she was in a high powered management meeting. A text came in to his phone from his wife as he joined Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue fifteen minutes after. While waiting at the traffic lights, he read the message.
“In a meeting, I hope to be done soon. Is Tade fine? Talk to you soon baby”.
Charles smiled with a smirk on his face as he replied her message.
“Tade is in the hospital. Please attend to your babies at work. Give them my love, and tell them today is your last day in the office.”
He pedaled hard when he realized he was holding up cars behind him, and several cars had driven past him; some drivers honked while some cursed at him for adding to the troubles of Lekki traffic. He couldn’t care less; thinking about his seven year old boy on the sick bed was more than a man could take especially when his wife was buried in work, helping some capitalists improve their investments.
Tade wondered what was happening around him. He sat in one corner of the emergency room staring at the lifeless body on the bed. A tube was hanging from the mouth of the poor boy, and nurses ran up and down the room exchanging all kinds of medical equipment he considered dangerous, especially when they injected the boy with needles that seemed bigger than the regular ones. Some pads connected to the body were connected by cords to a monitor that the doctor stared at continuously. Tade noticed that the doctor had become unusually quiet since he left the bed five minutes back.
“Hey..Stop it! The boy’s gone. His lungs collapsed five minutes ago”. The Doctor looked sternly at the two nurses attending to the patient.
“Doctor, his lungs may have collapsed but he’s still alive. He’s in a coma. There’s still a slight chance that he will survive”. An old nurse responded apologetically.
Tade realized the boy on the table had no life in him, and He was the real Tade staring down at his body. Was he dead? Yes he was.
“Why would I die?” He wondered and tried to walk back to his body. He could not relate the mangled face and dry skin of the boy on the bed with the resplendence that radiated from the body he now found himself. The surreal life of bliss was obviously better than a life of pain.
“Maybe I should just go”. He thought to himself. “It’s been four hours now, and mummy is still not here. She never really cared about me.” A force from above lifted him off the ground, and supported by a gust of wind underneath his feet He floated upwards very slowly around the room. There was one last thing he wished for before the wind finally took him away; he wished he could see his father. After all, it was his father that told him stories of death, and heaven. It was his father that told him that if he was obedient to Jesus, he will go to heaven. For the sake of his father, he wished his body could be fixed, he wished he could return home with, and listen to stories of village life again.
After listening in futility for her patient’s heartbeat, Nurse Moni put her chest against his right lungs for several seconds. She wished the boy would live, but after checking for his pulse at different points, it was obvious the boy was dead. She stared blankly at the doctor, who looked at his wristwatch.
“It’s 4.30pm. Could you please confirm that, and prepare the notes.”
Charles stormed through the reception of the hospital like a mad man without knowledge of his surroundings. He looked down the hallway, and ran in the direction of the door with the insignia ‘Emergency Room’, hanging over it. Running past the first three doors, he stopped in his tracks when he saw the fourth door to his left open of its own accord without a soul at the door way. He stared blankly at the open door for a while, and watched keenly as it shut very slowly without anyone touching it. “Bye Dad. See you in heaven”. Tade managed a few words hoping his father would hear the gentle whistle of the wind beneath his feet. He hit the door to point his father in the right direction, as he ascended out of the hospital. The bang on the door before Charles was so loud that he felt a tremble in his chest. Suddenly, his heart started beating very fast and hard. He opened the door, and tears rolled down his eyes. He did not wonder why the tears flowed freely, when he saw a nurse coming out of an inner room, with Monday and Tope, holding their hands on their head. Tade could not be dead. No!
“I am his father”. He said to the nurse with tears in his eyes.
“I’m so sorry sir. Please follow me.” Charles patted Monday on the back as he walked into the emergency resuscitation room wondering what to do when he saw the body of his son, Tade. The Doctor , who stood at the window, looked back to find a man broken in tears as he touched the cold feet of his son.
“Why? Why Lord….I loved Tade so much. Why?”. He reconciled the figure on the bed with the boy who smiled at him in the morning promising that he’ll be strong enough to go to school the next day. He realized he must have gone through much excruciating pain. Charles had promised to raise his two boys to be great men, he never bargained with death, so it was an incident he found too hard to stomach. Maybe he should have delayed leaving the house a little; maybe he should have insisted that Lara stayed home with him. Lara? Lara was married to her job, and obedient only to her Managing Director. It was unimaginable that two and a half hours after he received the distress call she was nowhere to be found. She cared only for her job and the millions of naira that came with it.
The management presentation at Bovista ended at 5.15pm. Sisi Lara brimmed with smiles, as she shook hands with The President of International Finance Corporation.
“Beautiful presentation”, the man bellowed in heavy French accent.
“Merci beaucoup”. She managed to respond in the little French she could gather.
Her Managing Director showered her with compliments, and told everyone in the room jokingly that he was proposing double promotion for Sisi Lara, when the deal with IFC sailed through. Everyone laughed and teased about his comments, but Sisi lara knew her Managing Director hardly ever joked about such matters; he was known for rewarding hardwork and excellence with fat bonuses and promotions. She managed to hide her excitement with modest smiles and ‘Thank yous’.
Sisi lara walked out of the Management Meeting room a fulfilled woman. She had researched and gathered data for the past six weeks, and it was obvious all the hardwork had paid off. She was sure her husband will be glad to hear she will soon be joining core management at Bovista, especially as a General Manager. Charles had always supported her. She picked up her phone and dialed his number. The number rang severally without a response. Suddenly, she remembered that Tope had called earlier complaining about Tade’s health. She packed her bags quickly when she got to the office, and geared up for the drive home. She was positive Tade was fine; he had suffered from asthma attacks since he was two years old, and the doctor had said he would grow out of the ailment.
As she took the back seat of her official Honda Pilot, her phone rang, and it was Charles.
“Hey dear. Just finished from my meeting all day. It was a huge success. How have you been? How’s Tade?”
“Lara, Tade died at about 4.30pm this afternoon at Chevron Hospital, Lekki.” Her husband’s voice had never been so cold.
Sisi Lara held on to the phone wondering if she was in a trance. Tade was dead?