THE WIFE I NEVER MARRIED-GRACE OCHIGBO
“Matron, horrible things are happening in this town these days” a nurse said immediately she entered through the door of the matron’s office.
The office look quite too downgraded for a whole local government general hospital building; wooden chairs lay facing another wooden table that looked like it would soon collapse. The table bore some large files, a tray to left side and other little accessories that the matron would prefer she left them just where they are, for her easy reach. Dark and extremely robust she is and so, standing up happens to be the biggest task anyone could give to her once she is sited on her padded office chair.
“NTA Ankpa just announced a case of some missing children and they said they would get the details across shortly…” Matron Udale replied while fixing her gaze on the Apple iPad Air 2 on her hand as if she read her last statement from it. The younger nurse continued talking till she somehow offered herself a seat and right then the matron knew that the next bulky minutes of her time would be wasted. Ever since Jane joined the hospital, she has been notorious for highly elevated level of gossip such that most people in the hospital disliked having a conversation with her let alone on a topic making news headline such as this.
‘Uhmm! God will help us’, was what Matron Udale could say to her, after heaving a deep breath.
“Matron…” The younger nurse started, “Most times I wonder what they do with those little children they kidnap, especially the girls. In fact, they now ‘kidnap’ adults only to demand ransom. That’s the height of it” she gesticulated all the way through her statements. She sat halfway into the chair in the gossip fashion and much louder than her voice, the movement of her hands did bulk of the talking. Unlike the other staff, only the matron is tolerant enough to give listening ears to all her tales.
The matron, on her own side, feels the younger nurse was just being exuberant because of the young blood still flowing in her veins.
‘She would grow up soon’, the matron always consoled all the staff that comes to report Nurse Jane to her.
Of course she should.
When children now finish secondary school at mid teen and already bag a first degree as early as nineteen, some of these childishness in character is bound to happen. That is surely the case with Jane and coupled with the fact that her father is the immediate past chief nursing officer of this general hospital, securing job here was as light as a bunch of dry cotton wool for her.
“Matron, don’t you think all these emanating vices amongst our youths are as a result of lack of employment? I mean, how can I have all the requirements for a job and still need a ‘leg’ to get it?” Jane questioned as though she was lamenting: more like letting loose some overdue grievances off her mind. Her voice was not as sharp as it usually sounded. She spoke with utter disdain and bitterness streaming up from her inside, biting her lips at every break in-between consecutive words.
Matron Udale took in another much needed calming yet deep breath. She didn’t know the best answer to give to the slim, fair with neatly tied long hair, young lady sitting in front of her right now. She can’t even tell whether Jane’s last statement was actually a question. It is true that things are falling apart. She remembered during her youthful days, a primary school graduate can get a middle class job that could cater for basic needs. She got a job immediately she was done with School of Nursing, Makurdi – one of the two nursing schools in the entire state then; it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than students securing admissions there. Her major disadvantage was also that she had schooled all her life at Emodu Community Secondary school Ofabo, so her exposure to the world was very low. However, she was such a bright girl, have always been. That is why Baba decided to send her to school while her elder brother help out with the work at home and on the farm. Although, this gesture came handy in the mouth of critics as they devoured Baba for being so stupid as to send a girl child to school.
‘She would amount to nobody’, ‘She is only a girl and should be kept at home to help’, ‘Her brother should be sent to school instead’, ‘In the end, she would be married off to another family, and all your efforts would be in vain’, ‘women education ends up in the kitchen’, these and many more were some of the sayings from the villagers and extended family members. Instead of the circumstances behind her education deterring her, she took it as a big challenge to prove each and every one of them wrong in whatever way she could. And as a wise man said ‘ the best revenge is to be extremely successful’, she pushed through her secondary school with very excellent grades and got admission into the school of Nursing that very year. In the higher institution, she was tops as well and everyone on campus knew Udale – the bright and reserved girl. On the day of their graduation, a lot of private hospitals as well as representatives from government hospitals came in to give them- the best among them- job offers. She finished as the best graduating student of the year and a lot of offers were made to her. It was after lots of consideration and persuasion that she opted for this hospital. Maybe because Dr Matthew who was then a ‘Bro Matthew’ in church, lived in Ankpa. Bro. Matthew tickled her fancy from the very day she joined the prayer unit of Kingdom Destiny Ministries, Ankpa. He was the head of the prayer subgroup then and his charm, charisma and ultimately, depth in God made almost every lady in the church fall over themselves in line to have him for keeps. Udale felt going back to the village, for the few months of compulsory waiting before resuming her work at the general hospital, was not sensible in any way, even though her father and elder brother were strongly ingratiating she came back home at least for few weeks. She stubbornly remained in Ankpa, living in her pastor’s house and wholeheartedly dedicating her time to the service of God in church. Though some part of her felt like getting back to Ofabo, meeting with those sets of people that criticized her educational pursuits and waving her certificate as well as her award of excellence at their faces. That way, less people would oppose female child education and as well reduce the cases of gender bias. She kept this plans stuck up in her head until Bro Matthew came into her life, became an integral part of it and a lot has become history since then. Yeah, things changed. For better and for worse!
“Eh! Uhnm!…” Matron Udale murmured immediately Jane’s voice brought her back from her thoughts. She had tried to preoccupy her mind at every given opportunity, so as to avoid all these thoughts and memories, that result in mixed feelings, from popping up strongly in her head over and over again. It’s been getting more impossible these few days especially with the recent arguments and misunderstandings that arose in her home.
“What is the problem, mummy? Your mind seem to be very far away” Jane asked, searching the older woman’s eyes with hers.
Matron Udale smiled. Was she just called one of the best names she had been wishing to be addressed with over the years? Did the little nurse really mean it when she said ‘mummy’ or was it just a slip of the tongue? These questions flew through her mind in rapid succession and she knew better than to get drown in her thoughts all over again.
“No problem darling. I was only going back memory lane. You know, things have really fallen apart in Nigeria…?” She stammered her responses.
Jane gave her the ‘I don’t believe you’ look and that made the matron more uncomfortable. There was no way she was going to tell her all that ran up and are still running mercilessly in her mind and head. There are personal and private. More so, the little girl would need to live for a minimum of another twenty two years to understand the situation she was in right now.
“Well…” The matron wanted to continue but was placed on hold by the flip opening of her office door.
“Madam!” the tall male nurse, that just barged in on them, called her with a voice that sounded like someone just escaping from a venomous pursuit of a wounded hyena.
“What’s the matter, Ephraim?” Matron asked as soon as the ‘madam’ barely came off his mouth. She couldn’t understand why the nurse sounded like he was being pursued and the more she tries not to imagine whatever could have gone wrong, the more her heart threatens to jump out of its cage.
“Someone is waiting at the reception, he said he needed to see you very urgently” Ephraim responded swiftly.
Matron Udale sat up, she couldn’t mask the sore fear in her eyes any longer,
“Someone? What happened? I hope nothing has happened?” she questioned loudly but to no one in particular before looking up at Ephraim.
“Let the person in here”
Ephraim vanished out through the door immediately the order was given. Jane sat still, looking at the matron’s eyes and couldn’t understand why the elderly woman should get this agitated over having someone, whoever, come over to see her urgently in the office. To the best of Jane’s knowledge, this is not the first, neither is it the second time madam is having an emergency visit or better still, that someone would come look for her during working hours. Why is everywhere tensed today?
“What is so different about today?” she voiced out before she could stop herself.
The matron, who is now standing and walking towards the window as though she suddenly started feeling hot in the well air-conditioned room looked down at Jane with confusion in her eyes.
Udale didn’t know why she was this nervous and afraid. Maybe because she had it well planned out earlier this morning and anything going wrong right now meant more of danger than goodwill. The NTA were yet to get back to them in details.
The door opened again and Ephraim lead the fellow into the office before taking his leave as briskly as he had left earlier. The fellow looked dirty and sweaty all over with eyes bearing what was borderline between anxiety and fear. The thick hands and feet resembled that of someone that was just dug from underneath the earth few hours earlier. Udale kept on looking vacantly, showing almost no expression on her face. Jane had turned her chair in such a way that she would get a perfect view of the possible actions that could ensue between her madam and the fellow. She knew the hospital was the best place for whatever mishap that could result from issues of this nature, because prompt care will come for whoever becomes victim at the end of the day.
“I’m so sorry, forgive me” the fellow started.
With the way the matron looked, she must be very familiar with the face standing before them. The two women waited patiently for who would begin the talk since the fellow came in and starting a talk with apologies straight ahead was more threatening.
“What happened?” Matron Udale screamed in fear when she couldn’t bottle it in any longer.
To be continued…
The Wife I Never Married – Episode Four
THE WIFE I NEVER MARRIED-GRACE OCHIGBO