Click here for all episodes of Torn
It was 9:13pm. Charles sat in the hospital waiting room staring blankly at the TV. Ambrose who had joined him here since about 6pm was limping towards him with two cups of coffee. Charles had known Ambrose for over a decade and there was no weekend he could recall that the dude didn’t play soccer. Despite numerous muscle, tendon and ligament injuries, the dude would not let up. At this stage, a 28 year old bank executive, Charles just found it plain silly. “Thanks, man.” Charles said taking one of the cups. Halimat sat across the room looking disheveled, it had been she who had called him earlier. All this was beginning to look like a bad dream. He had only one plea – that it got no worse.
According to what he was told, the girls had all gone back to Joan’s and while Halimat and Joan were in the kitchen, they’d heard a crash. On rushing towards the sound they found Chioma had collapsed in the living room. They had promptly rushed her to the hospital. It was on their way that Halimat had called him. By the time he arrived, Chioma had been admitted and was receiving treatment. The doctor had told him she had come to briefly while he was setting up a line for her. He’d also said it was a case of exhaustion and dehydration. Charles didn’t ask what the girls told the doctor, he had simply thanked them and taken a seat to wait with them. He had then called Ambrose.
Ambrose left at 11pm, promising to stop by on his way to work in the morning. Halimat and Joan came and went severally during the night but never at the same time. He just stayed put, surviving on water. When Joan had asked him if he needed anything, he’d simply said “No, thank you, Joan”. Halimat had also offered him some snacks, he had simply shook his head and they had both left him alone since then, which was fine by him. Very fine. He’d not had any calls from the office either, infact, it was as if the whole world knew to leave him be, his phone was quiet all night. His thoughts, however, were not.
He jerked awake at 4:35am, saw the girls were asleep, looked in on a sleeping Chioma then walked out to his car and drove home. At home, he sent an SMS to Halimat saying he’d be back, took a shower, pulled on a T-shirt and Jeans, had some coffee then drove to the office. Stacy arrived at 7:21am surprised to see Charles at his desk dressed casually. “Good Morning, Sir.” she said, he only nodded. After tiding up his desk and sending out emials delegating work to his team, he left with the same instruction to Stacy – Urgent and Important calls only. He got back to the hospital at about 8am. A few minutes later, the doctors came for the ward-rounds. Patiently, he waited, finding none of the girls in sight.
When he was sure the doctors were done and he still had not seen any of the girls, he ventured into Chioma’s room. She was awake, looking better than the last time. She was sitting up, Joan was feeding her while Halimat was on the phone. He shut the door behind him, all three girls looked at him, “Good morning.” he said. Not knowing whether a smile would be appropriate, he decided against it. Approaching the bed, he was about to ask how she was doing when he noticed the look on her face – surprise, then disgust. “Who told him?” Chioma asked Joan who was already shaking her head, Halimat quickly got off the phone with a “Lemme call you back!” then to Chioma a “Shhh! Darling, save your strength. I called him yesterday.” Chioma was having none of it, “Get out!” she screamed. Charles simply did as he was told.
Outside the room, he met Ambrose coming in. Charles related what just happened to him. Ambrose told him to wait while he went in. In a few minutes Ambrose was back. From the look on his face, it didn’t go well in there. “What happened?” Charles asked, “Its over, bro. Go back to work.” Ambrose replied with a pat on his shoulder as he limped past. Charles followed him to his car. “Thanks for coming, bruv.” Charles said as Ambrose got in, “Its Ok, Charles. You just gatta listen to me more.” he replied, “How’s the ankle?” Charles asked, “Better, Thanks. How is Tinuola?” he asked, “Fine, I guess.” Charles said, Ambrose gave him a look that said ‘Dude, get your life in order’ then drove off.
Charles went home feeling beat up. The lack of sleep and all the strain was tearing him apart. He was about to switch off his phone and get some sleep when it rang. “Hey! Baby,” Tinuola’s voice came over the line. “Hey!” he replied. “I’m at your office, brought you brunch – home cooked!” she said “Oh! Errrm, I’m not at the office, I’m home….” he was saying, “Ok. May I come over?” She asked, cutting him short, “Sure. Why not?” he replied, “Alright” she said and hung up. Her driving was way better now and he was confident she’d be with him in a few minutes, she had the tendency to drive pretty fast for a fresh hand.
‘Gosh! She’s so pretty’ Charles though as he let Tinuola in. She kissed him, rushed past and got to putting the food out on the table. “So, why is my bobo at home?” she asked genially beckoning him to the table, “Was at the office earlier. Not much to do, thought I’d just chill at home.” he lied as he sat at the table. She’d brought him yam porridge and suddenly he realized how hungry he was. “Hmmm, nice” he said after his first taste. “Thought you were mad at me” she said sitting across from him. He nodded. “Because I would not tell you the details of my break up with Kenny?” she added, “No. Because it looks like there was no break up in the first place. You have not let each other go. If he was not out in PH and you here, I wonder what it would have been like.” he poured.
“Charles, would you just let us put this issue behind us?” Tinuola pleaded, “Look who’s talking! You are the one with a difficulty putting your past behind you here, remember?” he shot back pushing the plate of food away. “What’s with the attitude?” she asked, “What attitude?” he replied, “You will reject my food?” she asked, “I’m done” he replied. She looked at the food, it was more than three-quaters left uneaten “Charles you will not waste this food!” she insisted, “Woman, would you just let me be?” he said, got up and left the table. “Charles, you are acting imature. Making a big deal out of this is not what we should be doing.” she said following him, “We? What ‘we’? Oh! of course the three of us – You, Kenny and your third wheel – Charles!” he said laughing mirthlessly.
She now stood before him. “Charles, that food must not waste o!” she pressed. “What? Did you put something in it?” he asked. She laughed spilling her glass of juice. “Very funny” she countered. Charles was not amused. “Nope, lemme tell you what’s funny, Tinuola. Your affair with that Kenny dude!” he said, voice raised. “There is no affair, Charles!” she screamed back. “Oh? Then prove it! Why the f**k are you always on the bloody phone with him?” he roared. “You don’t have to use swear words.” she said. “I’m sorry. I’m just… I don’t know sef!” he said sitting. He was exhausted. Yewande. Chioma. Tinuola. It was draining him.
“Genotype.” she said sitting next to him. “Huh? My Genotype? You’ve asked me that before.” he replied. “I know your genotype, silly!” she laughed a little then continued “We broke up because of our genotypes”. “You are both AS?” he asked, “Nope. He’s SS.” she replied with a smile. “And he is very sensitive about it.” she added resting her head on his shoulder. With those words, it clicked in Charles’ mind, it now made plenty of sense to him. He now understood why they could be so into each other yet decide to call it off but stay so close it was uncomfortable to their ‘nexts’. Tinuola went on to tell Charles all she knew of Kenny’s life.
Suddenly, Charles felt bad realizing he’d been hating on a dude who had lost so much due to no fault of his. “Its Ok, dear.” he said, holding her in a hug. “Will you eat your food now?” she asked, “There is definitely something in that food!” he said laughing. They both rose and walked hand-in-hand back to the table. “I’ll just microwave this for you, dear.” she said picking up the dish. “Hey!” he called as she was heading for the kitchen. She turned around. “Just let him know Charles is the lord of this kingdom” he added, Tinuola could not help laughing, “Yes! My lord, Charles, is the lord of this kingdom” She said making a hand gesture from her head to feet. Charles found that quite funny.
Written by Greg Emuze
Click HERE to subscribe to this blog via email for immediate notification.