BLINKERED – GRACE OCHIGBO
He turned back after hearing his name coming from a voice he could tell was quite familiar afar, around the parking lot. The surgery performed two days ago on Tonia took quite a number of hours but the most important thing is that it was successful. What bothers him till now is that Tonia kept crying since she came back to consciousness last night before sleeping off again the early hours of this morning and that leaves him wondering whether the tears were of joy or of sorrow. There was one thing he knew for sure, that’s the fact that he had prayed that the surgery should be successful and it came out so, that’s enough reason to be grateful at least. He just finally decided to go take a shower at home after the doctors practically begged him to yesterday night because he hasn’t gone home since the surgery. Well, maybe staying there or not for twenty-four hours has nothing to do with her recovery.
“Thank God we met you in time.” Grace said immediately they came over to his car from theirs and hugged him lightly.
“Ndo my man.” Simon greeted him by patting his shoulders in a soft manner.
“Hey guys, when you called I didn’t know you were already in the state yeah? Thanks for coming around guys; it means a lot to me.” Jerry responded politely. He had become rather too formal with words these days. That’s what usually happens when you are not totally at peace within yourself. Especially bearing in mind the fact that when a man has a lot going on in his mind, words becomes too heavy for his mouth.
“Where is she?” Grace asked, waving off Jerry’s appreciation. She knew her long before him so she wondered why he was thanking her in a special way for coming to see her sick sweet friend.
Jerry pressed on the ‘lock door’ button on his car’s remote and started leading them back into the hospital.
“Wow, this hospital is large!” Simon exclaimed in admiration just when they walked past the patients’ waiting room into the wide long corridor that led to some of the wards.
“It should. It’s a Federal Medical Centre” Grace answered.
“Well I didn’t know it would be this large. Pardon me, maybe because I haven’t been sick to a point that would require hospitalisation before so I only see buildings from outside while driving past but I’m quite familiar with the private clinics…”
“When it’s not Mathematics they solve here?” Jerry interrupted and they both started laughing. No one would think Jerry was listening to them with the way he walked so swiftly and so well concentrated till they got to the room where Grace saw inscribed on a plain plastic plate above the door they walked through ‘Nephrology ward’.
Jerry opened the door quietly into the ward room and they all walked in the direction of the bed. Tonia was alone in the intensive care unit because the doctors came in last when she was back to consciousness overnight and said before leaving that she would be needing a lot of rest. Her mum who had also been around all along just left to go do some chores at home and get back. Jerry had yesterday thought about how strong Tonia’s mother is, imagining what would have become of him if he had a daughter struggling with consistent painful episodes until a point of surgery like this.
“I guess she is asleep…” Jerry turned to face Grace and Simon who held each other’s hand very tight. Simon had to hold her because Grace was at the brink of tears seeing what was left of her friend. Grace could not help but imagine what was going on in Tonia’s mind as she lay peacefully and gently on the bed.
“Maybe we should go see Joe my brother in his room. She should be awake by the time we get back here.” Jerry suggested.
Grace looked stunned aside the voluminous pints of sweat that was involuntarily gushing down from her head through her back…
“Your brother donated his kidney?”
Jerry nodded in the affirmative and ‘wow, wow’ was the only word that kept proceeding out of Simon’s mouth. In his mind he was absorbing the weight, or is it the depth now, of that sacrifice and considering if he could ever do it or not. But then at any point, one person just has to be the knight in shining armour.
Jerry’s mother Juliet was sitting on the bed beside her recuperating son when the three got to the room. The doctors said he should be perfectly strong and discharged in at most two days time. Joseph himself already looked very strong from the fact that he could sit up for long and had been engaged in football gist with his father over the last forty five minutes. Juliet kept wondering what kind of creature he was to say the only thing he missed all his days here on admission bed was the last Arsenal match. He kept insisting, more like arguing with his dad, that his football club lost the match because he wasn’t available to watch.
That sounded unrealistic to Juliet but what can she do. She was grateful the donation was successful and God saved her from ‘getting hypertension from these children’, as she would usual lament.
“Hey Bro…” Joseph screamed excitedly as though it wasn’t the same Jerry that left the room just a while ago.
“Boy! You really should conserve your energy at this point…” Jacob his father started cautioning him, “At least don’t show to strangers how much you are graced in the affairs of talking forever.”
Everyone including Joseph laughed at that ‘grace’ part of the statement.
“Mum, Dad, Joe, meet Tonia’s best friend Grace and her fiancé Simon, they came all the way from Enugu…” Jerry introduced.
Juliet and Jacob Onuh smiled exclaiming… “Ah! eeyaa! Is that so?” simultaneously as Juliet hugged Grace and Jacob shook hands with Simon.
“We are actually coming from Ankpa sir, we’ve been there for two days now” Grace corrected Jerry’s statement as she shook hands with Jerry’s father.
“Oops, I didn’t know that!” Jerry responded.
“Joe, thank you so much for this big sacrifices you made for my friend, we may never be able to adequately reward you but the good Lord would do so for us…” Grace said as she walked closer to the side of the bed where Joseph’s head lay on a pillow.
Joseph smiled shyly. Though he had not met her in real life, he knew her from his brother’s tales especially the night she shocked Jerry by coming unannounced into his room. He remembered Jerry calling him and panting heavily immediately she left his room. It was really a narrow escape then.
“Our elders say, when you sacrifice anything to save the life of your brother’s wife, you save your family the cost of burial…” He replied with that kind of adage that didn’t exist at all and that got everyone laughing again.
“Joseph, please just seal your mouth now.” His father begged him while still unable to stop himself from laughing, “Simon and Grace you are welcome dear ones, thanks for coming around as well…” he said courteously, all smiles, before turning to his wife, “…I think I should go get the cornflakes now and leave mother and children to have a swell time.”
“No sir, we are leaving as well.” Simon spoke out finally, giving a demanding look as he turned in Jerry’s direction.
“Yes Dad, they need to check Tonia before leaving too.” Jerry said and led the way out after everyone exchanged pleasantries with each other once again. He was at the door already when he overheard his mother asking Grace not to forget inviting her for the wedding. ‘This woman and celebrations though, I don’t know who is older. Since when did she know Grace that much?’ he murmured underneath his breath as they waited for Grace to come join them.
The walk back to Tonia’s room was quiet as if they were all praying in their hearts that Tonia would be awake by the time they got back there. Even who to push the door knob down at the door was also a cause of delay as each one waited for another to attempt because everyone was anxious and nervous at the same time but unfortunately, they met her the same way she was when they left here about forty two minutes ago.
“No problem, let’s sit over here, I’m sure she would soon come around. She spoke with me about four hours ago…” Jerry said, motioning them to a seat that was far away from where the bed was, quite far that the person on the bed will not hear conversations that are barely audible.
“What did she speak to you about?” Simon asked with that type of curiosity that could put fear in everyone else, written over his face.
“What is your own?” Grace retorted but Simon couldn’t reply before Jerry began answering.
“Well, she just kept telling me to be serious about her sickle cell disease awareness dream and that I should make sure a law is enacted globally against the intermarriage between two sickle cell disease carriers and/or two sicklers. She said she dreams that one day the disease that she had had her life time share of will permanently go into extinction and we must start materialising that dream by first preventing the repetitions of bringing more people like her back into this world.” Jerry narrated. He didn’t narrate all as continuous as that, at some points he needed to rethink and joggle his brain back to remembrance.
Simon and Grace took a very deep breath.
“When we were roommates she always told me that same thing, more often than not. Whether it was coincidentally or not, thank God you will soon be called to the bar. Please, start working towards it as soon as you can. I believe it is possible if you believe.” Grace responded and Jerry slowly nodded in the affirmative.
“So you both were coming from Ankpa? Jerry asked rhetorically and continued without waiting for response, “No one mentioned it and I was busy greeting you like some serious people…”
“Yes o my guy, I had to go introduce myself to her people and get engagement date ASAP before some other smart guys out run me. I can’t shout.” Simon responded jokingly.
Jerry laughed, “Simo, you serious about this thing o, so soon?”
“Ha! Before? At this age and stage I should still be messing around a lady? No na!” Simon affirmed, demonstrating as he spoke.
“Why is everyone comfortable with Joe calling her your wife?” Grace interrupted. She couldn’t wait till everywhere was quiet as she thought earlier anymore; the question has been on her mind since it entered through her auditory canal.
Jerry looked on at her for a moment,
“I’m sure it has been long you had the usual gossip with your friend…” he teased, looking in Tonia’s direction, “Well, I finally proposed and she accepted before the surgery…”
“That’s my main man mehn!” Simon jolted from his seat as he was almost screaming before he remembered that they were still in the hospital ward and ideally no disturbance is allowed. Just when the door opened, a nurse walked in carrying a tray as usual.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Jerry!”
“Hey Nurse Esther, how are you today?”
“Very well thank you. Good afternoon all.” she greeted courteously before heading to the bed.
Grace and Simon responded to her greetings before they continued with their teases leaving the young woman to do her professional job. The nurse checked the drip and tried to detach it from its stand when she noticed it was not totally used up yet. She continued raising up some bottles from her tray concurrently and stared at the lady on the bed for a while before turning to the others engrossed in gist,
“How long have you been here?”
Jerry sprang up immediately and walked over to the bed with the two following behind.
“Not so long ago…” He responded, looking vacant. It was then he noticed what the nurse was referring to by pointing, “Is anything the matter?” Jerry asked with his heart racing like a man almost late for a multi-billion naira contract in this era of economic recession.
The pretty nurse gave something that look like a light smile that displayed the dimples on her cheeks to Jerry. She left her tray on the side cupboard and ran off the room screaming…
“Doctor! Doctor! Doctor!” As her plain white, slim-fit uniform restricted her legs from moving faster than she wanted so much so that her body hit Tonia’s mum who was just about entering the room at the door but she didn’t stop. Tonia’s mum quickly left the big leather bag she was carrying on the floor and ran over to where Jerry and the others stood.
“What happened?” the elderly woman gasped her few words.
To be continued.