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WRITTEN BY: LIZZY OYEBOLA YAKUBU
“Your taxi has arrived” My husband announced and I looked up at him, smiling slightly.
“You will be fine with the kids, right?” I asked and he nodded.
“Sure. You wouldn’t bring me all the way to California for me to mess up na” He said and I laughed dryly.
I placed my babies in their portable cribs, placed my hands on their foreheads and prayed for a minute. I walked to my husband and hugged him.
“Thank you so much for agreeing to come with me. Thank you!” I said again and he planted a kiss on my forehead.
“C’mon, what are friends for?” He teased and we laughed again, trying to keep it silent so our babies wouldn’t wake.
As the elevator vomited me, I walked briskly outside the low gate and greeted the taxi driver.
“Zoe?” He confirmed.
“Havana Medics?” He asked again and I nodded. “Come in” He said. I opened the taxi door and entered the back seat.
I whispered a word of prayer as we started our journey to the Californian hospital of the Olagunsoye’s.
It had been so many days that I hadn’t been able to set my eyes on Grace.
I went over to their house for a whole week without getting to see her. It was not until my seventh time there that the chief security officer, David met with me and was so sorry.
“Dr. and Dr. Mrs. had to travel to California with Grace. She suddenly fell ill” He said and I was so disheartened. The last time I saw Grace, she was so healthy and beautiful. I never would have imagined that she could suddenly go ill and David couldn’t tell me what exactly was wrong.
One day, while at work, an international number called my line and when I picked up, it was her mum.
“Wow, I can’t believe I am on to you now, momma”
“I am so sorry Dr. Zee. We suddenly disappeared without any word. Forgive us please” She said.
“I am so happy to hear from you. How is Grace doing? Better, right?” I asked and she sighed.
“Dr. Zee, would it be too much if I asked you to come over to California?” She asked and I was aghast.
“Well, it might be…” I was saying when she cut in.
“Dr. Zee, things are not going well at all.” She said and sniffed wetly. “You cannot believe what she was diagnosed with again. Necrotizing fasciitis! Dr. Zee…” She said and broke down.
My eyes widened and I covered my mouth.
“It is a lie! Oh my goodness” I exclaimed when I found my voice.
“We do all our best to make sure Grace is fine. We give her the best. We make sure good medical practitioners attend to her daily and give her baths. What else should we do? What haven’t we done?” She wailed. I swallowed as tears rushed to my eyes.
“So, how is she? Any surgery yet?” I asked.
“Yes. The surgery has been done. She is in the ICU. She was in a coma for five days. She came back three days ago and since then, she said she doesn’t want to see us. She has been so upset and mad. And whenever she sees us and she screams, she faints immediately!”
“Her heart? Is her heart healthy?” I asked and she sighed.
“The side effect of the amputation, you know, well, the heart is sick as well now. And the cardiologists have told us we have to prepare for the worst! Even for her baby! Her baby is at risk!” She cried the more.
“Oh Jesus!” I exclaimed as I paced to and fro the room, tapping my forehead to see what could be done.
“We seriously need you here, Dr. Zee. If she wouldn’t love to see us. She would definitely love to see you” She said. “She had a surgery on her amputated leg again today to remove the necrotizing fasciitis. She’s been cringey since then.”
“Oh my! Ma, let me talk to my husband and get back to you. It is well. Please, keep hope alive and don’t stop praying. God is in control”
And of course, after discussing with my hubby, he got a two-weeks leave at work, deciding selflessly to follow me. I was so excited.
It was a private jet that came to pick us up from Nigeria and we were lodged at the best hotel ever! It was a very comfortable en-suite specially designed for nursing mothers.
I sighed as I looked out of the car and realized we had arrived at the hospital.
As I alighted, clutching my small bag to my side, I walked into the reception where the old couple who had suddenly grown so lean met with me. They both hugged me immediately they sighted me.
Dr. Olagunsoye even burst out crying. We had to quickly get into the elevator so he wouldn’t be seen crying that way. After about thirty minutes of counselling them at their office, I was ready to go to the ICU ward where Grace was.
The parents waved at me as I opened the door to enter.
There on the bed, staring into space was my Grace. She was so lost in thought she didn’t know I was in the room with her.
She was clad in a hospital garb and a fine bonnet covered her huge hair. She had some dark circles on her eyes and I knew she must have been crying. My heart bled for her.
As I sat down on a chair beside her, she startled into reality, breathing heavily.
“You scared me” She said, holding her chest. I smiled and her eyes widened.
“Doctor Zee?” She asked, quite surprised.
“Yes, Gracey darling, it is me. I was…” I was saying when she cut in.
“You came all the way from Nigeria?” She asked, her face full of mixed emotions, I couldn’t fathom if she was excited or not.
“Yes, dear” I said and she shook her head, holding her chest.
“Why did you come?” She asked and I was so alarmed. She looked so angry. “Are you such a dummy that my mum and dad can pay off just to babysit their grown daughter?” She asked and my heart skipped two beats.
I was never expecting that kind of reaction from her.
“Gracey, it is me Dr. Zee” I said and she chuckled weirdly.
“Dr. Zee. Of course, Dr. Zee, I know you! Dr. Zee with the dumbass Blossom’s story! I know you of course” She said, looking squarely into my face.
I swallowed hard, my head suddenly very hot.
“You left your work, your family and came all the way to Los Angeles to tell me a story? Why are you like this? Why is the world so tainted and worthless? Why?” She lamented on. I couldn’t say a word! I had never been so humiliated.
“If you have come here to share a story with me, please leave!” She said after a while. She adjusted her pillow and rested her back, squinting in pain as she did.
“Gracey, I thought we were friends. I thought I had become a family with you. I thought you now see me as a friend. I guess I was so wrong” I said and she chuckled.
“I am so sorry you thought and overthought. Overthinking does no one any good” She said and I was aghast.
I just couldn’t believe my ears. I was so shocked to my bones! I felt so hot from inside despite the beautiful weather.
“How do you feel today?” I eventually brought myself to ask after I found my voice.
“Oh my, as you can see, I am fine with all the diseases of the world all over me.” She said sarcastically. I stood up and made to examine her leg.
“Yes, check the leg and insult me too. Tell me it is my lack of physiotherapy that caused the necrotizing fasciitis. Tell me that I could have lost the whole limb if not for the quick intervention of my rich parents. Tell me that I am the cause of everything” She talked on, tears gathering in her eyes.
“Gracey, what is the problem with you? Why are you being so cranky? Did I offend you before? What is your problem?” I asked firmly, almost getting angry.
“Get angry at me. Everyone should get angry at me.” She said and allowed the tears to flow. “I said I do not want to be healed! Is it by force? Why are they making me go through what I do not want to go through?” She lamented. I went back to my seat, lacking the desire to raise her cover cloth to check her surgery site. I was vexed.
“Grace, what exactly is the matter? Why are you angry with mum and dad and even me?” I asked and she sighed.
“I do not want to be at the mercy of anyone! I do not want anyone to tell me that I should be thankful that I have rich parents to help me recover fast. I do not want to be reminded of the bastard I am carrying inside of me…” She was saying, my heart swelling up within me.
“Gracey stop that!” I said calmly, my eyes shut.
“I do not want people to tell me to stop talking!” She shouted at me. I sighed, losing my patience.
“Gracey, what do you want, then?” I asked, still trying to maintain my cool. I was so sad at the fact that we were back to zero point. I was so mad!
“I need to die. I need euthanasia! I want to die” She said and I nodded.
“That is a little thing, dear. If you want to die, then, die! Tell the doctors to give you an overdose of sedatives or muscle relaxant. You will be off!” I said and smiled. She looked into my face with so much shock.
“Ma, you are so wicked!” She said, tears rolling down her face. I smiled that that got to her.
“What exactly do you want then? Mum and dad would give you health care, you get angry at them for trying to make you live! I am advising you to seek an assisted suicide and you are still getting angry at me for agreeing with you, so that you can die! What do you want?”
“I don’t blame you! You know nothing of life to be speaking like this. Don’t you know how much pain can make one speak like this?” She asked.
“Well, I might not have gone through half of what you went through but I know a person who has gone through a lot more than you!” I said and she chuckled.
“The Blossom in your story?”
“Sure! She has gone through so many things in this life and she went through it a lot better than you are going through your own little challenge” I said and she frowned angrily.
“Little challenge? A bastard pregnancy, a heart issue, an amputation, an infected amputation, a post-op operation, a broken heart, you call that little?”
“Of course, they are much, they are not easy, they are sad but your outlook of things is making things a bit more complicated. I wish you were a little more grateful! I wish you were a little more thankful! I wish you could thank God for everything and not affect other people who have their own issue with yours!” I said and she shook her head angrily.
“I regret meeting someone like you ma. You lack so much wisdom! You are so dumb. Please get out of this place and I do not want to ever see you in this place again!” She said. I was shocked.
“Gracey, I should get out of…”
“Don’t call me Gracey out of fondness, please. I am Grace! And I meant it when I asked you to get out. If you do not get out honorably now, I will call the cops on you!” She said and I stood up.
“I am highly disappointed in you! I came all the way from Nigeria to see you and all you can say to me is….”
“You came from Nigeria for my parents’ money! Let us put it that way. Never you say it that way. I owe you nothing!” She said and I stood up to back her immediately so that I could hide the tears that had started forming in my eyes.
“Goodbye, Grace!” I said and started moving to the door.
“Ma, look here” She said. I mopped my eyes and turned to look at her. “I do not ever want to set my eyes on you ever again!” She said.
“Okay!” I replied.
“Until you probably get an amputation too! And a bastard in your womb!” She added and I shook my head, unbelievably.
“Bye!” She said and threw her pillow at the door. It would have hit me if I had not moved to the other side. I looked at her once again and sighed deeply.
I was almost reaching the reception when that familiar voice reached my ears.
“Dr. Zee, you are already leaving?” Mrs. Olagunsoye asked. I feigned a smile and turned to look at her, nodding. “Did you cry? Your eyes are…oh my God! Did she…?” She asked again, looking so emotionally overwhelmed.
“Mum, it is well. Thank you so much for choosing me. As I said the first day we met, I am not a counselor or a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I know next to nothing about personalities.” I was saying and she kept nodding. “The only method I have been using for the past few weeks has failed ma. I cannot press forward.” I said and she held her chest suddenly as tears rolled down her face.
“Dr. Zee, ah, Dr. Zee! Did she shout at you? Did she throw something at you?”
“Mummy, please I will look around Nigeria for a very good psychologist that can help. I wouldn’t be able to…”
“You are leaving for Nigeria immediately” She asked and I nodded.
“Yes ma. My husband and I left everything to be here but there is no use. God bless you ma.” I said and patted her slightly. As I turned to leave, she grabbed my hand and went immediately on her knees.
“Oh my goodness, please stop this ma!”
“I can increase your fee to…”
“Oh yes, I forgot to remind you, madam! I have not decided to come meet with your daughter because of money! I do not want any of your money ma. I have never collected any dime from you and I was not going to. Except all the flights and accommodate which you have given us, I actually need nothing from your family ma. Let us make this clear” I said and she looked astonished.
“This is your job. Why wouldn’t we pay you for…” She was asking when I cut in.
“Money is not everything ma” I said and she looked so dismayed.
“Grace must have said so many mean things to you, Dr. Zee. You look so offended. I am so sorry” She said and I smiled. I reached into my bag and brought out a flash drive.
“I copied the full Blossom’s story in this flash drive already. When she is in a better mood, ma, let her finish listening to the story if she is interested. This is the only last way I can help” I said and handed over the flash drive to her.
“I feel so sad to see you go, Dr. Zee. I am grateful for this disk though. Does this signify the end of our relationship?” She asked and I smiled.
“If she later wants to see me when you people get back to Nigeria, oh wow, that would be great! Then, I might even make her visit Blossom. She has asked to meet with her too” I said and she smiled.
“Wow, that would be so nice! She told me a bit of the story and I am sure she would love to meet Blossom very soon as well. Please join us in prayers so that she would come back to her senses soon and again!” She said and I smiled shortly. I gave her a hug.
“It is well, momma” I said.
“Wait, let me get one of the hospital’s vans to take you back to…”
“Never mind ma. I can always get a taxi”
“Ah, Dr. Zee, I am not loving this o.”
“No, momma. I am so sorry but never mind” I said hastily, wanting to quickly disappear from the vicinity.
“When would you like to travel back to Nigeria? So that I can inform one of our pilots to…”
“That wouldn’t be necessary ma. We would love to travel via the commercial flights. Thank you ma”
“Really ma. Thank you so much ma. Bye!” I said and started walking away, feeling so bad that I left the poor woman transfixed to a spot.
That was the most embarrassing day of my life!
I wept throughout the drive from the hospital to the hotel!
Even as we started our journey back to Nigeria, I was grief-stricken, not even my husband could console me!
Each word Grace threw at me hit right at my heart every second.
“Are you such a dummy that my mum and dad can pay off just to babysit their grown daughter?”
“Dr. Zee. Of course, Dr. Zee, I know you! Dr. Zee with the dumbass Blossom’s story! I know you of course”
“I am so sorry you thought and overthought. Overthinking does no one any good”
I couldn’t even eat anything the waitresses served me. When my babies whimpered, I would feed them and return them to their seats. Afterwards, I would either stare into space, rest on my husband’s shoulder or try to read something to distract myself.
The flight was the most boring one in my entire life. The almost sixteen hours journey seemed like a whole year!
I had loved Gracey so much!
And I was so devastated to know that she wasn’t feeling the same way as me!
My husband said it was a mental disorder called extreme irritability but well, I just couldn’t fathom that she would treat me that way.
I probably thought more highly of her than she did of me!