By Famous Ogbewe
Sikura made a quick left causing the tires of the car to screech in protest. She barrelled down the highway with beads of perspiration falling off her face even though her car was air conditioned. She trailed convoys to get out of traffic jams. She overtook cars, buses, trucks and not always in the conventional fashion. Her radical methods led to derogatory and vulgar slurs from her victims.
“Madam, you dey craze!”
“Na your lane be dis?!”
“Who give this animal car drive…chai!”
Sikura was deaf to their insults, she had to get to the hospital as quick as inhumanely possible. This was her desperate race against time. She couldn’t just drive, she had to fly! She hadn’t prayed for months but now Sikura prayed, even though in her crazed state she was probably not aware of what she was saying “please God….please please please ,please let him not die….please let them not die…oh God oh God ….please please please” she muttered incoherently. She couldn’t think straight. One objective kept her going. Get to the hospital, get to the hospital, get to the hospital . It went through her head over and over again while she continued her mantra-like orison.
“Please please pl-” she stopped when her phone rang.
She picked up the phone to hear a deranged Sarah squeaking more than actually speaking.
“Sister, they said h- h- he- he’s about to rea- that the- the- , if- if- if- ” she stuttered.
“Sarah! Calm down, you’re not making any sense. Take a deep breath and tell me what’s going on” she said taking a deep breath to help her younger sister calm down. Of course she also did it to calm down herself cause she dreaded what she was about to hear. “They- they are saying it will be too late in about 20 minutes for both of them” Sarah managed to say. Sikura felt a mixture of relief and guilt but pushed away the guilt. She couldn’t deal with that now, she’d done her best.
“Don’t worry, I’m only 5 minutes away. I’ll be there soon” she replied
As she hung up the phone, she came up to another red traffic light and she did as she had been doing all day- she drove right on ignoring the red light. She didn’t see the car coming at top speed, heading straight at her from her right side.
3 hours ago Sikura had been at her salon doing business as usual. She was working on one of her regular customers when she got a call. A smile split her face when she saw the caller ID was “Penguin”. That was what she called her husband. He always called her at work, just to hear her voice he would say. They were newlyweds. He had gotten the name when they had courted back in the university. As Sikura smiled she briefly reminisced to when he had given her a rock…a beautiful rock but a rock nonetheless. As a well-known eloquent speaker that he was, she had been curious to know how he would put a good spin on a frigging stone.
“Do you know guys are offering me iPhones and gold necklaces just to go on a date with me and you are giving me stone? explain.” she had said.
“Well. It’s just that I can’t afford iPhones or gold necklaces right now” he had said with his best puppy eyed expression.
“Did you know penguins mate for life? When a male penguin sees a female penguin that sets his heart a flutter, he’ll find the best rocks he can to persuade her to ‘marry’ him so to speak. I guess it is meant to show her that he could provide for her or protect her or something like that. Anyway I got this rock from my friend at the national museum who owes me a favour. It’s from the same stone as Cleopatra’s throne. I know you’re fascinated with her, so I thought you might like it. Also, I meant it as a promise. I might not be able to give you an iPhone now but I can promise you a future – a bright one.” Henry had said.
Sikura had been stunned but she recovered quickly. “How can you promise me a bright future when you can’t afford it right now?” She had said to throw him off his game.
“At the risk of sounding arrogant. I’m relentless and I can get anything as long as I really want to but I have priorities…some things must come first. If I am not so rich, it’s because there things more important than money right now that I need to have ” he had said confidently
“Really…like what?” She had teased
“You” he said simply.
Sikura was one everyone knew as a mature girl, a woman. One whose head didn’t swoon when some boy said some nice things to her but no one knew that she was secretly a romantic at heart but she had a reputation to protect. So even though his words had touched her, she had hissed and walked away. It wasn’t after further such attempts that she finally agreed to date him but she would always remember that day as the day she started to fall in love with her would be husband…her penguin.
“Heyyyy penguin” Sikura intoned happily into the phone.
“Hello? Is this Mrs. Ogoh? Your husband has been in an accident. We brought him and his brother to the hospital but they’re refusing to treat them unless a family member of theirs is present” said a voice she had never heard before
“What? God forbid, it’s not my husband!” Sikura denied.
“Madam, you realize I’m calling with his phone. He has a goatee with a bald head and some sort of scar on his left ear and the other guy must be his twin, we couldn’t recover his phone. See, they are in critical condition so I advise that you get here as fast as you can so they can start treating them” the man said seriously.
“OK OK I’m on my way” she said. Sikura with her sister had left for the hospital leaving her salon under her senior assistant’s care.
As Sikura drove she cursed herself for not being more outspoken. She was sure that the accident was her brother-in-law’s fault. He was a wayward man who was a constant drain in his brother’s pocket but Henry would never cut him off because he had such a big heart. It was the same with his sister even though she was married. Sikura, felt as his wife it should have been her duty to show Henry what he couldn’t see. His whole family were parasites. Now her husband was in critical condition because she didn’t speak out, for fear of offending anyone.
When Sikura got the hospital the treatment began but she was promptly informed that they both needed surgery immediately.
“We cannot operate without payment. I am terribly sorry. The required amount is Eight hundred and sixty thousand naira each.” The hospital administrator had told her solemnly.
This had led to Sikura leaving hurriedly with Sarah staying behind. She thought about all the money she had invested with her husband in a lucrative deal that would yield millions in a few years. They barely had half a million in their bank account now after investing most of their money. How was she going to get the rest of the money?
Sikura called everyone she knew, begging desperately for any help she could get. She got varying replies but by the end of her contact list she had gotten a total of one point two million naira. She was still about half a million shy of the required amount. Finally, she decided to go to her husband’s sister. She was very stingy but Sikura thought she would reconsider based on her current predicament. She couldn’t call because she didn’t have her number.
“So you are saying it’s just five hundred thousand naira you don’t have?” Henry’s sister-Jacinta said without the slightest bit of unease that her brothers were in critical condition.
“Henry and I invested practically all our money…otherwise it wouldn’t have been a problem. Please hurry up and transfer the money, time is wasting! “Sikura said.”You think I don’t know your plan? You want my brother to die so you can live life like a queen. It will not work. You better go and bring out all the money you have hidden because I’m not giving you one kobo!” Jacinta roared.
Sikura could feel her anger about to erupt. She had always known Jacinta was the scum of the earth but she’d thought the unexpected misfortune might soften her heart.
“Didn’t you hear me the first time, it’s not just Henry, John is also in need of surgery! Truth be told I already have enough for Henry’s surgery, I only came for John but as always your greed combined with your small mind and hard heart won’t let you do anything for anyone else. Don’t hide behind sisterly love. If you going to let your brother die, have the guts to do it without excuses. Admit that the reason you’re doing this is just cause you’re a sad, pathetic little bitch!” Sikura almost screamed.
Jacinta was stunned. She had expected to bully her normally placid sister-in-law but the woman before her was anything but placid.
“How dare you come to my house and insult me?! Get out now! ” Jacinta managed to say after recovering.
“My husband is dying, I don’t have time for this. I was never John’s biggest fan but I really would have liked him to live but I have done all I can. I’m going to save my husband… goodbye! ” Sikura said.
“And just so you know I am already a queen to my husband” Sikura said slamming the door with as much power as her petite frame could muster.
She had to get to the hospital immediately and she was going to drive like a maniac to achieve that. After withdrawing the money, she had only one objective – get to the hospital.
Sikura managed to swerve on time missing the other car by inches. She didn’t even have time to be shocked at how close she had come to being in critical condition herself. Could you experience shock if you were already in shock she thought? She got to the hospital with the money in time to start the surgery.
“Only for one?” the doctor questioned
“That’s all I could get, please start the surgery for my husband” Sikura pleaded.
“Alright we will start right away but you can’t see him until we are done. Non patients are not allowed in the ICU. Don’t worry, your husband will be fine.” He said
About 2 hours later, the doctor informed Sikura that the surgery was successful, though her husband’s brother had died. Sikura was so happy that her husband was going to be fine she couldn’t spare a thought for John.
“Oh! My penguin’s fine! Thank you! Oh thank you!” She exclaimed hugging the doctor.
“You’re welcome. You can see him now” he said.
A joyful Sikura practically ran down the corridor into the room. She pulled aside the curtain. In the solitary bed sleeping soundly was her brother-in-law, John.
Sikura screamed until her lungs were sore.