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“So, what did you say happened exactly, ehn?” Mr. Ebube asked for what seemed like the umpteenth time to an absentminded Ajo.
Ajo turned to look at him with a visible scowl on his face as he took in a deep breath and repeated, also for the umpteenth time, “I don’t know”.
“Hmm” Mr. Ebube returned, shaking his head and folding his arms akimbo as he rested his back gently against the bench in the waiting area of the private clinic called “Beehees” and drifted into a slumber.
Ajo’s thoughts raced frenetically as he wondered and pondered about what would happen to him if the truth was ever to come out. He turned his head to the right and stare down the long hall that was littered with medical personnel. He noticed two nurses on the hallway gossiping; the first, a lady that appeared to have the longest jaw he’d ever seen, struck her colleague playfully on the arm as she whispered something to her and hurried back inside one of the wards. The second broke into a fit of laughter, covering her mouth to block the chuckling sound as she moved briskly towards the waiting area.
Just as she got closer, the smile induced by the supposed joke the other nurse had told wore off in an instance and with a frown she lifted the file in her hands to her eyes and barked out a name. She was a pretty looking lady, short and stout, light-skinned or possibly bleached –Ajo was certain– with two tribal marks at each side of her cheeks but slightly obscured by the fierce make-up on her face.
“Mr. Johnson!” she called out –almost shouting, “Is Mr. Johnson not in this room, hian!”
Ajo reckoned that if there was a Mr. Johnson, he was probably deafened to the sound of her voice, owing to the cacophony of noise –dragged feet, coughs, cursing and fast-paced talking in the native Yoruba dialect– that enveloped the entire waiting room. The atmosphere also reeked of flatulence, bad breath and snorts.
He watched as the nurse hissed and walked back down the hallway. And just as she left, a man had stepped into the room and was signaled by another, then pointed towards the direction of the nurse. He hurriedly moved towards her, stopping her in her tracks and genuflecting in pleas. She hissed, barked some inaudible words and then turned around with the man, who looked to be in his late fifties, trying to keep up as he followed behind her.
Ajo must have spent about an hour buoyed in thoughts as he watched the goings and comings of the nurses and everyone else. He did this in a bid to stop from thinking about what had transpired –at least he tried to. But each time he turned to his left, and away from the scenery, his eyes met with the reddened eyes but gleeful smirk on Felicia’s face.
It disgusted him, as he recalled what had transpired after she had screamed for help in a performance that would otherwise be worthy of an Oscar nod. In a matter of minutes, their two neighbors, Mr. Ebube and Mr. Anthony had found their way into the apartment and right into their kitchen to behold the gory scene of the Missus’s body muddled in blood and the mister’s lifeless.
“Yeh! What happened here?” Mr Anthony had asked as he stepped over the Missus’s body and tilted his head to inspect her face.
“I dunno…I was…we were inside and then we heard noise like they were fighting and suddenly I heard a shout and I ran out and I saw this o…I saw this” She had explained in between tears and jumping and sniffing and passing quick glances at him to confirm he was onboard with her story.
“Na wa o, fighting so early in the morning” Mr. Ebube chipped in as he had then tapped him on the shoulders and asked, “Ajo, wetin happen?”
He turned to look at Mr. Ebube and tried to speak but Felicia’s voice had cut him short with a shout. “I don’t want my sister to die ooo!!”
“She will not die, God forbid.”
“Oh, God why? Why? She continued to lament, one hand on her head, the other holding the folds of her wrapped to her chest as sweat and tears dripped from her eyes.
For a moment, he had been both shocked and amazed at the ease with which the acting came to her in that moment. He was sure the tears where fake but how she was able to elicit sure raw emotions, being that she seemed somewhat glad of her sister’s predicament troubled him.
The neighbors had repeated their enquiry a few more times before Mr. Anthony had rushed out to get extra help from across the street to help lift the bodies and put them into a car to be driven to the hospital.
Tunde had also woken up too. And in the rush of the moment, Felicia had almost forgotten about the little girl, Gloria. But as it turned out, she had fallen asleep while watching cartoons.
“Tunde, please stay and take care of Gloria while we follow them to the hospital” she had ordered as she rushed inside to put on something else. He too had gone to change and as he stepped out of his room, they had bumped into each other. She smiled.
“I hope my acting is good” she had whispered as she moved past him and resumed her sobs.
This girl don crase o, was the only explanation he could find in his thoughts back then; and as he turned to his side and saw her face again, he repeated it to himself, but this time more assertively: this girl don crase!
“Woyewo” the nurse called out. “Where is Woyewo”.
“Here” Felicia indicated, her voice dragging Ajo out of his pained ruminations and also waking Mr. Ebube from his quick slumber.
The three of them followed the nurse as she led them to the Doctor’s office.
“Good morning, please sit down” The Doctor directed as they stepped inside. “Thank you, nurse Goodness” he added as she handed him a file and she turned around and closed the door.
Goodness, Ajo scoffed in his thoughts, the nurse’s name was Goodness, the irony.
“Okay, so I will go straight to the point, you are a relative right?” he asked looking at Mr. Ebube.
“No, I’m their neighbor…we heard the call for help and we rushed them hear.”
“Oh, okay” the Doctor returned, pushing his rimless glasses back up the bridge of his nose. He had sunken eyes, a bald head; grey and black beards, with the grey forming a triangular pattern down his chin.
“Thank you for your kindness” he added with a smile as he turned to look at Ajo and Felicia. Felicia had resumed her sobs. The Doctor noticed this and smiled once again.
“Don’t worry, your Au–”
“–elder sister” Felicia quickly cut in to correct.
“–yes, your Sister will be fine and so will her husband, I presume.”
The words struck Ajo like a cool evening wind in September as he sighed, adjusted in his seat and re-echoed in his thoughts the words that came out of Mr. Ebube’s mouth at that very instance. “Thank you Jesus!”
“Yes, um, your Sister is being stitched up and her husband had a minor heart attack that may have resulted from the shock of seeing his wife’s body after the accident, that is taking into account what you told us happened.”
“Yes, it is a pity. Domestic violence almost always has an adverse effect on both the victim and the perpetrator.”
Mr. Ebube nodded and shook his head. Ajo sighed as he turned again to look at Felicia. She had stopped sobbing and her reddened eyes glistened with a glare as she appeared to be staring the Doctor down; the latter being unaware as he continued.
“As soon as they are both more stable, we will further evaluate the extent of the damage, especially to your sister and you guys will be allowed to go in and see them.”
“Thank you, Doctor.” Mr. Ebube returned. “God bless you” he added as he rose to his feet and stretched to shake the Doctor’s hands firmly.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to attend to other patients and you can get the details regarding payment from the nurse outside.”
With that all three stood to their feet – all three except Felicia. She stood to her feet last and forced a smile before hurriedly stepping out. Ajo smiled.
He stepped out on the hallway and sighed heavily. He looked further down the hall and he saw Felicia, seated on one of the benches, arms folded with a deep scowl on her face. He wondered for a minute what her anger was and was about to move towards her when his phone rang.
“Hello” he answered, “Tunde how far?”
“I dey o. How Aunty and her husband na?”
“Mehn, we thank God o. Doctor say them go dey alright.” He replied.
“Ah, oshey oo”
“Yeah. What of Gloria, she don wake?”
“Ehn she don wake kon dey cry but small ice cream wey remain for fridge I carry give am. She don shut up sha”
“No p” he returned. “I go soon dey come house”.
“Okay, no le le…if you come make we discuss settlement na”
“Ehn” Ajo returned.
“I say ehn, do come make we discuss settlement na?”
“Which one be settlement again?” Ajo asked, his voice beginning to rise.
“Guy chill, no dey form vex o. I don know you secret o”
“Eh-hehehe…” Tunde laughed from the other end of the line, “look guy, I know say na you dey yansh Felicia nah, choi! Bad guy.”
Ajo’s head throbbed, painfully.
“I hear as Aunty dey talk am for inside Kitchen and when she even they pound am with beating, I hear too.”
Ajo remained silent as the color drained from his face.
“But I no kon know as Uncle take enter the matter sha o but las las, you go settle me for wetin I know na or else…”
Ajo stood in the middle of the hallway not able to reconcile his thoughts to what he was hearing from the speaker of his phone as he held to his right ear. For a moment he had dared to think that the whole ordeal was behind him, but apparently, it wasn’t.
Tunde’s voice had trailed off as Ajo was lost in his rummaging thoughts. But a sudden tap on his left shoulder brought him back to the moment. He turned around to see the Nurse, Goodness, staring back at him quizzically.
“Are you Ajo?” she asked.
“Go to Ward 5,” She ordered without sparing him another glance as she skimmed through the files in her hands, “your Uncle is awake now and he asked for you.” She added as she walked away.
The throbbing in Ajo’s head increased tenfold. In the distance, he heard the nurse call out another name. Slowly, he walked towards the mentioned ward and came face to face with the closed door.
The craziness of his day had begun with him opening one door and now there he was staring down another door.
“It’s about to go down, ta-da-daa”, he sung, mimicking the tune from D’banj’s and Naeto C’s popular single ‘Tony Montana’.
by Mifa Adejumo
Feature image source – jonnybutton.com
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