This hospital. So many memories. So much sadness. So much pain. I hated it here. But I needed it to make Boma better.
When Ebube started screaming from the backseat I’d hit the car in front of me. And the driver; a short muscular man with tattoos covering his arms got out of his car ready to accost me. Instead, when he saw Boma, he drove ahead of me, honking his horn repeatedly and waving his arms wildly to clear the way. Now he paced the hallway, glancing furtively at his watch and sneaking looks at me and Ebube who was shaking on the chair beside me.
I stood up and shook his hand, thanking him for everything. He gave me his card and told me to call him if anything else developed. I thanked him and pocketed his card.
Ebube was still shaking. I laid a hand on her shoulder and went to ask about my daughter.
By the time I could see her, it was late. I had already called Amara who was spending time with her father and sister to apprise her of recent events.
When Sarah came to call me to see my daughter, Ebube ran into someone’s arms and Sarah turned pale. It was Bunmi. I gave Sarah a reassuring pat on the back and went to see about my daughter. She was sleeping peacefully, her mouth turned up in a smile. I smiled as well and held her hand. I had been so scared. The thought of losing my daughter sent shivers down my spine.
There was a furtive knock at the door. I turned around.
“Hello. Or if you would prefer, good evening sir”
“Hello is fine”
“How is Iris doing?”
“You mean Boma? I don’t really know yet. But I’m sure she’ll be fine”
She looked down, clutching her sister’s hand. I suppose she was recalling the harsh words her father had flung against me.
“Actually, I would like a hug”, I said.
She released Ebube’s hand and flung herself into my arms. I smiled.
Arguments with Boma had taught me that sometimes people just need you to take the first step so they can forgive you, whether or not they had a valid reason for being angry with you in the first place.
I pat her on the back continuously. And the memories came flooding in. I really hated this hospital.
Ebube had carried a chair from the hallway and was talking to Boma. She had taken one of Boma’s hands and was murmuring to her. I listened hard, she was murmuring. I couldn’t hear anything she was saying. She picked the hand again and kissed it. Then she kissed her forehead and walked out of the room like the world was on her shoulders. It had never seemed awfully important to me, but now I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen her laugh.
When she used to come over, she and Boma used to laugh so loudly. And it constantly irritated me. One day when I complained at the breakfast table, Boma asked me which I would prefer; her laughter or her silence. I looked at her, she had always been a serious child.
“I prefer your laughter”, I said.
And she went on eating cereal with merely a nod to acknowledge that she had heard my proclamation.
I shook myself out of my daydream to see Sarah step in. Bunmi moved a distance away but I could tell they were mending fences already. She smiled at her mom and I caught Sarah blinking back tears. Then Amara walked in with their dad.
I braced myself for trouble. The last time we had met, he had punched me in the face and accused me of being a pedophile too. As I had just carried the man known to the girls as Mr. Oyeyemi off her two hours ago, I could understand his confusion, his pain. The thought that anyone might do the same to my Boma made me want to punch through walls. So I could understand. What I refused to understand was when he slapped Sarah who had come to release me from his chokehold. I punched him so hard he fell groaning on the floor. It was Bunmi that saved us from further violence when she quietly but firmly announced that she was going to live with her dad.
I looked into his eyes, unsure what to expect. Amara prodded him. He extended his hand.
“Thank you for saving my daughter from getting raped. And I’m sorry I accused you of being a paedophile. I’m sorry your daughter is sick. I’m sorry for a lot of things”
“Okay. I’ll accept your apology after you apologise to your wife”
“My ex-wife. And why?”
“For slapping her”
He stared at me for some interminable seconds before he turned to Sarah and apologised to her.
“Apology accepted”, we said in unison.
Six months later
Boma is awake. This was the third time we had been in this hospital this month. It became clear 2 months ago that I wouldn’t have time to focus on work so I called Bunmi and asked if she had any concrete plans for University. I was surprised and very pleased when she told me she wanted to take a year off school.
I then asked that she work at my office as an intern officially. Unofficially, she was to report any unseemly actions to me. Truth be told, I did not care very much about the company these days but prudence dictated that I took care of it. I had appointed a new principal to take care of the school the year before so I was covered on that front as well.
I looked at my daughter. She was meant to graduate from secondary school in six months but the combined effect of multiple convulsions and prolonged spells of dizziness had caused her to miss huge chunks of schoolwork.
Ebube used to bring her homework and attempt to teach her what she had missed but after I saw Boma crying after one such lesson I told her not to bother. She cottoned on fast. These days she said nothing to Boma or as she determinedly called her, Iris, about school. Whenever Boma brought up the subject of school, she would change it. When Boma was well enough to go back to school, she was informed that since she had missed a term of school she would have to repeat SS2. From what I heard, a former classmate of theirs had laughed at her and Ebube had set upon him like a tigress, beating him to a pulp. For which she earned a suspension. And my gratitude. Since that day, no one else dared laugh at my girl. No one dared say anything mean. I knew it was selfish of me, this protectiveness but with so much else happening to Boma I really did not want her to be bullied in school too.
Boma was laughing. The tattooed man I had hit so long ago had brought her a stuffed puppy and was making animal noises. They had become so close. I watched him carefully, the threat of sexual abuse foremost in my mind. It was Boma who had told me that he had two daughters, one of whom had died in a car accident the previous year. Apparently she looked like his little girl because he became attached to her so quickly. His wife and his other daughter had come to visit a couple of times too.
Ebube sat in a corner watching. I wasn’t sure if she was jealous. I never was. But these days, she watched Iris like a hawk. From the school’s brightest student, her position had dropped to somewhere in the middle. I knew this worried Sarah but there was nothing to be done. The only thing that could possibly be done was to sever all ties between both girls, which of course would mean cutting the two families apart. And we were interwoven now.
I had pretended not to hear my daughter praying that Sarah and I would get married. Pretended not to see how she bloomed whenever Sarah was near. Although her dreams did not come true, friendships had developed and Sarah and her daughters had come to mean a lot to me. I could not undertake the task of separating our families for good.
And truth be told, I did not want to.
Conclusion next week!
By the way, I just concluded reading Wife Material Season 2 on http://adaezewrites.com and it is fantabulous, cokeastic, amazing, splendiferous!
It is all shades of wonderful. If you have time, please check it out.