WRITTEN BY: LIZZY OYEBOLA YAKUBU
(Click here for Episode 17)
As soon as I alighted from the plane, I dialled my mum’s line but she wouldn’t pick up.
My dad wouldn’t pick his calls too.
“Oga, where are you going?” A man in a taxi driver uniform approached me and asked. I looked lost for a minute because I was just confused. I didn’t know where to turn to in Abuja.
I knew very well that Mummy Makinde’s house was in Apo but where exactly, I couldn’t even remember.
“Lord, what do I do? Why won’t mum and dad pick up?” I asked myself.
“You don’t know where you are going, abi?” The taxi driver asked again and I shook my head. I really didn’t know that he was still patiently waiting beside me.
“You can go sir. I have to wait for direction from my family to know where to turn to” I said and he nodded with a smile.
“I will wait for you, sir. No problem at all. Why not send them a text message?” He asked and I hesitated. If they wouldn’t pick the calls, they probably wouldn’t read my text messages too.
“They might not be able to talk where they are” He said again and I smirked. I wondered why the man was so persistent. To fulfil all righteousness, I sent them a text each.
Mum, where should I come to? I just arrived.
Dad, where are you? I just arrived.
Almost immediately, their responses came in at the same time.
I was lost for a while.
Why should I go to the National Hospital?
Why wouldn’t they pick my persistent calls but immediately replied to my text messages?
And why is the text message so curt?
I called mum over and over again- she wouldn’t pick still.
I switched to dad too. He didn’t respond to my calls.
My heart started to race. I knew it was not normal anymore. How could my parents know I would be on a journey to Abuja from Ibadan and wouldn’t be concerned to know my whereabouts and how I was faring?
I picked up the pieces of my broken heart together and started typing a text message to mum.
What is happening at the National Hospital? Is all well with you both? Is all well with Blossom?
I waited for about three minutes and when I didn’t get a response, I looked at the taxi driver still standing patiently beside me.
“Erm, sir. I am so sorry for the delay but why do you want to be the one to drive me? You have lost so many passengers in the past fifteen minutes.” I said as courteously as I could be. He smiled.
“Well, I was drawn to you immediately I saw you. I am not in a very good mood today and I feel you will lift me out of the mood, since you look like a child of God” He said with so much assurance. I smirked again as I grabbed my bag to my side.
“I am a child of God, by His Grace, so you are very correct sir. But about that mood, ugh, I am not sure, sir. Even I am off mood, right now” I said and he smiled.
“Yes, I noticed that. Still, I want to be the one to drive you down sir. Please, oblige. I am not a kidnapper” He said and I smiled.
“Of course” I said and laughed dryly. “Even if you are a kidnapper, sir, I cannot be kidnapped.” I said and we both laughed.
I entered the car and he shut the door against me. He entered the driver’s seat, shut his door, muttered some prayers and drove off.
“You have a sick person at the National Hospital?” He asked after a long period of silence.
“Erm…well” I stuttered. “I really hope not. I seriously hope not. You know, I am in the dark, right now” I said and exhaled deeply. He sighed too.
There was a grave silence again.
“This life is vanity” He muttered and I looked up at him for a while and looked back at my phone.
He sighed again.
I wasn’t ready to ask the man any question.
I wasn’t ready to bring him out of his bad mood!
I wasn’t ready to ask him what the matter was!
My head was full of so many fears and uncertainties as well and I just didn’t know what to think.
God, have mercy!
I couldn’t utter anything but that. I needed God’s mercies more than anything. I really hoped that Blossom was fine. I hoped that nothing bad had happened to her.
“You have prayed, so, how can anything bad happen to her?” Something asked me and I nodded and sighed.
“Yeah! I believe” I muttered to myself.
“Oga, kai, God should just have mercy on us o, hmmmm” He said again. I knew he was trying so hard to get my attention and engage me in a discussion.
When my spirit convicted me of selfishness, I had to oblige and give him the attention he so desired.
“Is all well, sir?” I asked and he sighed again, looking at me via the rear mirror.
“I started work very early today o. I drove someone from the airport to Garki. On my way back, kai, I witnessed a terrible incident! That incident happened right before my eyes and in fact, since that early morning till now, it feels as though I am losing it. Kai, this life!” He explained. I nodded.
“Wow, God should just have mercy o” I said, not knowing exactly what to say. Despite the long sentences, I just couldn’t grab a thing. What incident?
“Oga, you don’t understand sir. Kai!” He started again. “A lady o, fine lady was said to be on Apo bridge, trying to end her life.”
“Exactly!” He exclaimed. “People that saw her said they were suspecting that she wanted to hurt herself but no one could stop her”
“Oh my!” I exclaimed, trying to make the man feel good that he got my attention finally.
“As the lady was walking on the bridge o, probably trying to find a proper place to jump down from and kill herself, a vehicle coming from behind her ran into her from behind!” He said and I covered my mouth suddenly.
“What! Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed.
“I was under the bridge, waiting for the traffic light to turn green when suddenly, I saw a human being, live, falling down the bridge! Ah, Olodumare o” He exclaimed, gnashing his teeth together.
“The Lord of mercy!” I cried out, feeling the effects of the story in the depth of my heart.
“The sad thing was, as she fell, there were no legs on her” He said and the hair on my body stood on the edge.
“What fell was the head to her hip. Her two legs were chopped off in the accident.”
“Some people at the scene of the accident were the ones that brought the broken legs to us under the bridge. Suddenly, there was traffic. Suddenly, there was a large crowd.”
“Oh my, this is terrible!” I said, my heart in my mouth. I just couldn’t fathom the whole thing. It was too grotesque to be imagined.
“You said she fell from the bridge?” I asked to be sure.
“Yes. In fact, her face was covered in blood.” He said and paused. I couldn’t stop shaking my head at the sad scene the man had just painted.
“Oh my, her spine and brain might be in danger if she fell from that bridge. It is seriously fatal!” I said and he looked into the rear mirror.
“Are you a medical doctor?”
“Yes, I am. I am an orthopedic doctor. The scene you just created now is so terrible”
“Kai, they said the woman too is a medical doctor o. Kai!” He said.
“Really! Who said that?” I asked.
“As the crowd was forming under that bridge, an elderly couple ran into the crowd and fell on the victim when they recognized her. They wept and lamented. They said she is a medical doctor and that she had come on a visit to Abuja. They said they are her parents” He said and suddenly, my heart jumped into my mouth.
“What!” I exclaimed, suddenly as the reality started to dawn on me.
“Oga, it is terrible o. The traffic was so terrible o, even the ambulance that came to convey her couldn’t easily come through”
“Which hospital was she driven to?”
“The ambulance was from the National Hospital” He said and my jaws dropped.
“Do you know what her name is?”
“Ah, erm…I think Flourish, or something like that”
“Oh my!” I exclaimed. My eyes were going moist immediately.
The man meant to say Blossom not Flourish!
Oh no, never!
“The accident took place where?” I asked to be sure.
“Apo o. On the Apo Bridge” He said and I shrunk.
“She wanted to commit suicide?” I asked, quite confused.
“Erm, that was what people said o”
“Jesus!” I muttered as silently as I could, my hand shaking violently. “She is a medical doctor, on a visit?”
“Yes o, my brother”
“A couple said she was their daughter. Can you describe the couple?”
“Why? You think you know them?” He asked.
“Sir, please describe the couple” I said, losing my patience.
“The wife is fair and moderately heighted. She has two tribal marks on her face” He explained and my head started making noise.
“One on each side on the face, right? The marks are not dark, right?”
“Exactly” He said. “You must have seen the news on the internet, right?” He asked but I shunned it.
“The man is dark, tall and bald, right?” I asked and he nodded, looking confused. “And they were wearing the same type of cloth?” I asked and when he nodded again, tears rolled down my face.
My parents would always wear the same attire, everywhere!
“And what is the colour of their car?” I asked, tearfully. The driver looked so confused at once. He pulled the call to a stop and looked back.
“Oga, are you okay?” He asked and I smiled ruefully.
“Please keep driving, sir. Don’t stop. What colour is their car?”
“It was a white Ford jeep.” He said and I broke down into tears. He looked confused as he resumed driving again.
“She fell from the bridge, right?”
“Yes” The man responded calmly, looking shocked.
“Her two legs were chopped off, right?”
“Her face was covered in blood, right?”
“Correct” He said and my heart sank finally. I covered my face with my palms and wailed.
“Oga” The man called out severally but I just couldn’t answer.
As much as I wanted to believe that it wasn’t Blossom, all the facts pointed at her. I just couldn’t fathom it.
I looked up at the man with my face full of tears. I swallowed as I prepared to ask my final question. I sincerely hoped the man would be wrong. I wished it wouldn’t be my Blossom!
“Oga, can I ask you one final question?” I asked and he nodded.
“Yes” The man replied, uneasily, sweat covering his face, despite the AC.
“Her name is Blossom, not Flourish, right?” I asked and the look on his face when I asked showed how bereaved I would be for the rest of my life!
“You seem to know this person intimately” He said. “Blossom Cook, or something like that was the name mentioned in the news”
“The matter is on the news already?” I asked and he nodded.
“Wow! Blossom Fries, right?” I tried to confirm and as he nodded, I lost all my senses. I couldn’t hear anymore- my ears felt as though some bees were busy in them, singing sorrowfully and loudly.
My tongue suddenly felt so bitter like the river of bitterness flowed in it.
My eyes were clouded with some hot tears, I could barely see the driver anymore.
“Lord, noooooooo!” I screamed all at once. “Noooooooo!” I screamed again, feeling like waking up from a bad dream. “It cannot be my Blossom! It can never be….oh noooooooooo!” I wailed again.
“Oga, sorry. Oga, you know her?” The driver kept asking but my tongue couldn’t be coordinated enough to utter a word.
I reached into my bag and brought out some thousand naira notes. I dropped them on the front seat.
“Sir, that is your money. I need to cry now, you know, I need to wail and ask God some questions. Just tell me when we get to the hospital and I will get down peacefully. Sir, please, don’t worry when I cry, okay? Today is such a bad day. Today, my life just ended. My joy and peace is gone. Today, all the hopes of the future that I have just….”
“Oga…please, be careful of….”
“Oga driver” I retorted sharply. “I have paid you for driving me and giving me this information, so, please just drive on. That is all you need to do, right now, okay?” I asked and he nodded, looking so sad.
“The fare is 2500 naira only but sir, this is 12000 naira here” He said.
“Oga, just keep it. Please, leave me” I shouted suddenly and broke down into another round of wails.
It cannot be my Blossom!
I prayed to God, so He definitely must have averted it!
God definitely is merciful and He answers prayers.
Why did He show me the dream if He would not be able to avert it?
“It cannot be! Never!” I muttered to myself.
“Sir, we just arrived” The driver said. I feigned a smile, mopped my face with a handkerchief and patted him on the shoulder.
“Thank you, sir” I said and alighted from the car. It was when I tried to take the first step I realized that I had temporarily become paralyzed. I kept staggering, no matter how high I tried to raise my shoulders.
The man rushed towards me and supported my side. I looked at him and smirked. He nodded, looking so concerned.
“Sir, let me just help you inside” He said and I just didn’t even have the strength to refuse. As he helped me to a seat in the reception area, he collected my phone.
“I should call ‘Dear mom’?” He asked after scrolling through my phone and I nodded.
Soon, mum and dad rushed into the reception area, looking so worried.
Mum ran to my side and held me while dad attended to the taxi driver.
Looking into mum’s eyes, I saw the answer in there.
Because of her fairness, her emotions and cries couldn’t be hidden. Her eyes were swollen and her eyes were red. Her nose was equally red and when she spoke, she talked like she had catarrh- like she had been crying.
“My baby, what is the matter? Why do you look so withered?” She asked. I raised my hand to her neck and she was as hot as hell!
Tears rolled down my face just then.
“Mum, is it true?” I asked when I finally found my voice. She took her hand off me and tried to look away, blinking so hard as she did. I knew she was trying to shut in her tears but I couldn’t be fooled.
“Dad, are Blossom’s legs really chopped off? Did Blossom really fall from the bridge?” I asked and he sighed. He sat into a seat beside me and patted my shoulders. That was the answer!
“Son, she is in surgery right now. God is in control” He said and I stood up.
“Control? If the legs are chopped off, are you hoping for some surgical adhesives to gum the leg back together, dad?” I asked, feeling so frustrated.
“Mum, talk to me. Why? Why?” I asked. I didn’t know particularly what to ask. I knew I wanted to ask several questions but I just couldn’t put them in words.
Just then, a doctor walked directly to our side. I knew I had to be strong if I would get anything useful from him.
“Mum, dad, can I see you for…” He said. I realized that my parents were trying to push me aside from meeting with the doctor, so I tried to act fast. I extended my hand to him like a gentleman.
“I am Dr. Dola. A senior resident at the Department of Orthopedics, University College Hospital, Ibadan” I blew my trumpet and his face lit up.
“Great! I am a junior resident here. I am Dr. Joe. It’s so nice meeting you, doc” He said and I smiled.
“Blossom is my fiancee. I had to travel down from Ibadan to Abuja this morning, you know. I am so flabbergasted right now” I said.
“Wow, I am sorry about it all, doc. Wow, it all shall be well. Since you are a medic, I think you will understand better what I am about to say” He said and I nodded.
“Come with me to my office so that we can have a chat” He said and we started to follow him.
“I will be here, waiting for you, oga” The driver said. I turned to look back at him.
“Sir, you can go, really! I celebrate you. God bless you” I said and he smiled, nodding.
We settled in seats before the doctor as he began to deliver his news.
“Dr. Blossom had a traumatic double transfemoral amputation today. It is indeed very traumatic! Her legs were brought into the hospital, already amputated.” He said.
“Wow!” I exclaimed, realizing my fears had come to reality.
“If the amputated parts of her body were the hands or fingers, there could have been chances for a reattachment but with the way the legs were amputated, there is no hope for a reattachment” He explained and put a huge plastic bag on the table.
“Here are the medical wastes. What would you have us do with them? We have three options. We can send them to a biohazard crematoria for destruction. We can donate them to a medical college for use in dissection and anatomy classes. Or well, on rare occasions when it is requested by the patient for religious or personal reasons, we can provide them to you” He said.
“How is Blossom?” I asked, suddenly. I knew we could always deal with the medical wastes later on.
“Yes, she is in the ICU now. When she was brought in, CT scans and MRI were taken and they all came out nice. You know, for such a fall from the bridge, this is a big testimony. She is indeed lucky” He said and I smirked.
“Lucky indeed, Dr. Joe. Blossom is a senior resident at UCH, Ibadan. Do you know that? She is a neurosurgeon whose dreams are just beginning to blossom. Her legs are gone! Her legs are now called medical wastes and you say she’s lucky? Her dreams, hopes and futures just died!” I asked, losing my cool yet trying to be good so the doctor wouldn’t throw me out.
“I am so sorry, Dr. Dola. This is indeed a trauma but we have to be strong for her.”
“Yeah” I muttered.
“So, she just came out of surgery. Debridement was carried out to excise all necrotic and foreign materials. The wound is presently not closed.”
“Hmmmm” I muttered and buried my face in my palms. My mum wouldn’t stop sobbing and my dad wouldn’t stop sighing, his eyes bloodshot.
“We tried as much as possible to reconstruct the limb to the best of our ability, taking into account soft tissue viability, bone length and other anatomical considerations. She has to be under our watch to receive some necessary post-operative management.”
“So, what happens to her mobility after now?” Dad asked.
“For now, we need to focus on her healing and coming around. By next week, if she is doing better, she will commence physiotherapy. Early mobility is important as it can improve healing through the increased blood flow to the stump through exercise and muscular compression / relaxation within the socket. Dr. Dola will understand better sir”
Dad sighed and nodded.
“She will start in parallel bars and then progress to frame or crutches outside of the parallel bars. In short, the physiotherapy department will take care of that. But if she would return to her normal day to day living, she would need to get new legs. I mean, prosthetic devices. If she is very determined, she can walk perfectly with the devices.” He said and I sighed.
“Okay, so, how much will all of these cost?” Dad asked again. I sighed again because I knew how much debt would be incurred if Blossom would walk again.
“A leg can cost between 5000 to 50000 dollars, depending on the quality. And now that she needs two, it is definitely going to cost a whole lot. Each leg can last for three to five years depending on the management” He said again and my head wouldn’t stop pounding.
I knew all of it!
But I never imagined that delivering this kind of news could be so traumatic to the patient’s family. I felt so much burdens and pains as I calculated how much it would take to get Blossom back on her feet.
And that would even happen if she was psychologically alert and stable. If she is depressed, I knew things would never work!
“So, when can we see her?” Mum asked in a shaky voice.
“You can actually see her now even though she is yet to come around. I will call a nurse to take you to her unit. You need to take your turns to see her, spend five minutes at most with her and leave her. When she wakes up however, she would need you all around her, to give her some love” He explained.
“Alright. About the medical wastes, keep them for now. She might want to see her legs before they are destroyed or donated. Kindly let her decide what she would love to do with the wastes when she wakes up” I said and he nodded.
He dialled a number on his landline and a nurse came in.
“Thank you so much, doc!” I said and shook his hand.
We were almost reaching the door when he called us.
“Can I be sincere with you, sirs and ma?” Dr. Joe asked. He continued when we gave him our rapt attention.
“It is better you fly her out for treatment. The legs would be constructed abroad and the shipping costs alone is humongous. If you can afford it, please, fly her abroad and give her utmost care. It is a blow to our profession but seriously, Nigeria is still learning. Please” He said.
We thanked him and left. I knew how much my parents would be so disheartened hearing that. If the incident had happened four years before, they might have been able to afford it all but I knew how much they were struggling financially.
My parents were both retired and the economic recession had affected their business so greatly. Three of my siblings were abroad studying engineering, nursing and medicine respectively. They had to start working abroad to be able to fend for themselves and get their tuition fees. Their efforts to secure scholarships had been futile.
And as a senior resident, my monthly salary based on the CONMESS salary structure would never even do anything! It was roughly 350, 000 naira a month. How many months would I have to save to make two million naira for just a single leg?
And what of the cost of the medical treatment?
What of the travel cost?
What about physiotherapy?
“Oh Lord!” I exclaimed as I rested against the window of the ICU where she was staying.
“Lord, this is a great hurdle!”
“Why would you even allow this?”
“My own Blossom?”
As the inside of my head made some weird and long ooze, I let out a shriek and slapped the wall of the pavement three times before I fell to the floor.
“Noooooooooo! Lord, nooooooooooooo! You cannot do this to me! You definitely cannot leave me alone like this! Nooooooooooooo!” I screamed on, wishing my shouts would be so loud, they would wake me up from my weird dream to a beautiful reality!
I had never in my life wept like I did! I rolled on the floor and tore at my hair. It felt like I going crazy. I wished I could go crazy, maybe that would help me handle the pain in a much better way. But no! I was alive and aware of my surroundings- my surroundings that had suddenly become a hell!
I stood up, red-eyed, with a stuffed nose, weak bones and sick mind as I heard my mum’s sobs. She had suddenly rushed out of the ICU where she and dad had entered to see Blossom. She broke down into a louder cry as soon as she came outside the ICU, looking so bereaved.
“Jessssssuuuuu! Jessssssuuuuuuu!” She continued to call out as she shivered vigorously, leaning against the wall.
As I walked close to her, tears rolled down my face. The sight of the new Blossom must have been too great for my mum’s poor heart! My weak legs wouldn’t stop shaking and wobbling as if they would fall me.
I walked past her and was approaching the door of the ICU when she quickly rushed at me and pulled my hand.
“Don’t go and see her” She said, her voice trembling and her grip on my hand, shaking with so much pressure.
“Ma?” Was all my bitter tongue could utter. I just couldn’t imagine such a suggestion.
“You will be broken, son! Blossom is…Blos….” She was saying again when her voice trailed off. I made to remove my hand from her grip but she was much determined not to allow me go inside.
Almost immediately, daddy opened the door and came out. He had tears in his eyes and he was blowing his nose in a handkerchief. I knew he must have had an emotional fit in unit. He looked at me and gave a rueful smile.
“Could you wait and not see her now, son?” He asked, when he saw mum’s grip on me. I shook my pounding head as my eyeballs grew so heavy in their sockets.
“So, why am I here? Why would you see her and stop me from seeing her? Why?” I kept asking.
“Honey, allow him” Dad said and my mum looked bewildered.
“Sweetie, ah, don’t let…”
“Let him see her” Dad insisted and mum’s grip on me loosened. I adjusted my shirt, disregarded the small crowd that was forming in front of the unit and started walking to the door.
I swallowed severally, trying hard not to imagine the picture that would greet my eyes.
I turned back to look at my parents but I could see daddy focused on mum. She had broken down into further and louder cries and he was making to pull her into his arms to no avail.
I closed my eyes firmly, placed my hand on the door knob, turned it and quickly jumped inside before I could change my mind!
With my eyes still closed, I put my back again the door and took a deep breath. I took another one and another one.
I felt I was confident to see my Blossom, alas….
When I opened my eyes….
And I saw the figure on the bed…
I was tranfixed to that spot that moment…
My weak legs gave way and I slipped, slamming my buttocks to the floor…
With my mouth quivering and agape…
And a desert suddenly growing inside my throat….
I found my voice and dryly screamed….
I screamed again and again.
Banging my suddenly growing and heavy head against the door, the two hands I used to cover my eyes wouldn’t stop the tears from flowing.
The hot tears poured down in quick succession from my eyes as I cried from my heart!
I wished the floor could quake by the reason of my loud cries, open up and swallow me but the more I kicked the floor with my legs, the harder it seemed.
My poor Blossom!
And I prayed! I prayed o….
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