The next hours of my life were the longest.Lana slumped before me. I was hysterical as I shouted for help. The ambulance came, and the whole wedding party was in disarray as the groom and bride left their reception and followed the ambulance to the hospital.
We sat for hours at the St Nicholas hospital waiting for the Doctors to come out. While we were out, her parents and famous uncle Sege was around. I mustered a smile when I saw him. I was yet to see an uncle who was so fond of his niece like him. His devotion was beyond my imagination leaving me secretly wishing he was mine, considering that I had lost my father at a young age of six, It had been just my mother and me and since then
He seemed more agitated than even her parents. Her father was reassuring him that she would be okay.
“Lana is a fighter, she would pull through,” he said confidently. And I prayed with all my might that he was right.
Another guy rushed in. You could see he was agitated. I found out he was her boss at work.
He walked over to Peju, shook the groom and Peju fell into his embrace. All she had been doing since she came in was cry and how it was her fault. Although, we all failed to see how it could be her fault.
From the conversation he had with them, I deduced he was her boss at work. He spoke some words to her and handed her over to her husband as he took his seat beside them with a grim look on his face.
I watched the whole family and felt like an outcast, although I was the most important person to her, yet no one had this knowledge except the both of us. We were meant to be celebrating, but here I was sitting in the cold hospital with her hanging between death and life.
I walked up to her parents, and her mum and managed a smile as I said my hello.
“I did not know you were back together,” she said with pain that mirrored mine.
“Lana and I met today at Peju’s wedding. I was there when she slumped,” I explained.
“What happened?” she asked looking at me, hoping to get a clue from whatever I had to say
“We were talking, she opted to sit down saying she was tired and before I knew it. She slumped,” I narrated.
I winced, my ring was on her finger, and she was not even able to let me know if we were back together again.
Why did I have to lose, gain and lose her again,
I chided myself, to remain optimistic. She would wake up and get better.
The waiting party grew in number as another lady with her husband and a boy of five years old rushed in. She was a younger version of Lana’s mother, and I presume, it was Nekan, her older sister.
“What happened?” she asked worry etched all over her face as she joined her parents.
Her mother mumbled something I could not hear from where I was, but she nodded towards me.
The lady turned to look at me. Although, we had never met, but she seemed to recognise me. She had a surprised look on her face as she left her parents and came over to me.
I swallowed hard as I prayed the Doctor would appear with good news. The wait was getting rather too long, and heart-wrenching. I gazed over to Peju feeling sorry for how her wedding had turned out.
“Hi, my name is Nekan,” she introduced herself to me stretching her hand for a handshake.
“Hi, I am Bode Coker,” I said with as much smile I could muster.
“My mother told me you were with her when it happened,” she said looking at me with questions in her eyes.
“Yes, we were just talking, and she complained of being tired as took her seat, and the next thing she slumped,” I said. I had lost count of the number of times I had to retell the story.
“Did Lana hit hear head when she slumped, was it a hard surface, did she look pale?” she questioned.
“If you are asking if there was a sign for what was coming? There was none. We were having a regular conversation, and she complained she felt tired, I just thought it was the fatigue of the day, you know the wedding and all the running around. I raked my hands through my almost non-existent hair in frustration.
“Thank you, Bode, she will be okay. I have not spoken to her in a week, just chats over the phone. I had no idea you were back together,” she commented
“We just met today, and she was calm about it,” I offered an explanation. There was no correlation with our meeting and what happened, but it seemed like people were inferring the shock might have caused it. There was no shock, no surprise to cause a heart to fail.
“I will go and see the Medical Director. He is an old friend from medical school. We should hear something soon,” she said as she walked back to where here parents sat not without stopping to have some few words with Peju, her husband and Lana’s boss.
True to her word she came back about twenty minutes later with a Doctor who addressed us that she is calm but need a lot of rest. Her parents alone were allowed to go in while the rest of us could come back when she was sufficiently recovered to see visitors.
We all stood up to leave as her parents thanked us for coming, promising to keep us abreast with any new development and when we could come back for a visit.
Peju’s flight was for the next morning, and although she said she was thinking of cancelling the honeymoon, Lana’s mother convinced her to go ahead that Lana will be up like her usual self in no time and would be furious if she failed to travel on her account.
You could see fatigue around Peju’s eyes as her husband joked how he needed to take her to the hotel or she might be spending a night her in a room next to her friend.
Then the boss greeted us all and left not without a word of encouragement of how we all needed to be strong for her.
I was the last to leave as I stood up dejectedly, not knowing how to keep in touch. Peju who would have been my link would be away on honeymoon, asking for a family’s phone number at this time did not seem appropriate. I thought of coming back every day if I could pass the security but that option was one of uncertainty.
Fortunately, her sister was quick to catch up with me to collect my number and promised to give me an update of which I was grateful.
The coming days, I merely existed living life just going through the motions, praying and hoping for good news. All I wanted was for Lana to get better.
I hear voices in the background. I recognise that of my Dad’s, and could tell he was speaking to me.
“Lana we love you and want you back to us healthy and active like your usual self. I know you can hear me.”
Then my mum’s came so soft and filled with emotion.
“My baby, I love you, please pull through for us for yourself, we cannot afford to lose you,” and she broke down in quiet sobs.
I could sense my Dad holding her, and I wanted to go and give her a hug to reassure her that I would be okay.
I was surprised to hear Nekan’s voice, and I wanted to jump out of where I was to give her a hug, but all I could do was just lie there. How did she get here? I must have missed her mentioning she was coming over. It had been a while we saw. It has been phone calls and chats and lately I had been busy.
At the sound of my Uncle Sege’s raspy voice, my heart broke. I heard my father say in the background
“Segun, you need to pull yourself together .”
I felt his touch and heard his cry as he begged me to come back. He mentioned that we both had unfinished business. He promised not to bother me anymore on marriage and to desist from sending the strings of young men to my office on the excuse of account opening.
I wanted to laugh. My uncle could still crack a joke in his desperation. I wanted to tell him I was right there with him and was not going anywhere, but the words did not come out.
My eyelids were closing, and I wanted to sleep again. I felt this constant tiredness like a dark cloak wrapped around me as I battled with sleep that was stronger than my will to stay awake. The voices faded into the background replaced with muddled, incoherent sounds as it lulled me into a state of rest that had become my new companion.
I had no idea, how long I had been asleep but when I opened my eyes this time around, I could see around me. There was my favourite uncle with his big frame dozing off in the only chair in the room. He must have sensed I was awake because not too long he opened his eyes and was beside himself with joy.
“Oluwalana, he called my full name. I can’t recollect ever hearing him call my name in full. I tried to talk, but it was just a raspy noise with no words forming. I looked at him with fear and alarm in my eyes. I tried to stand up, but my body felt like lead.
“Please stay calm,” he urged as he pressed the bell for the nurse to come.
Taking my hands in his, he kept saying thank you as tears ran down his cheeks. My sleek too handsome uncle with a body built like Richard Mofe Damijo was crying brokenly like a woman who had lost her child.
Something must be terribly wrong with me. I concluded, intense terror engulfing me as I tried to recollect how I got there.
It was in this state of panic, a man, in his late fifties with grey hairs around his temple, clad in a white coat, with an air of authority and confidence strolled in. I presumed he was the doctor and could trust him, and my addled brain knew it was in my best interest to do so.
“We are glad to have you back,” he boomed in a voice that sent me ten years back to my Biology Laboratory in secondary school. Having being suspended from Biology class for refusing to dissect a dried frog with whatever instrument, we had were given. It took the intervention of Mrs Akan, the guidance and counselling teacher to convince my Biology teacher that I was not stubborn or rude, but displaying symptoms of ranidaphobia and should overlook the assignment.
It was that same voice that boomed the day I came back to class “we are glad to have you back” and the only difference was while today was genuine the later was sarcastic.
“We have run all the necessary tests, and they have all come out good. You were acutely fatigued and dehydrated but a few more days of rest and drips should get you out of here in no time. The body has a way of adjusting to itself and yours had to shut down. You were lucky it was not a heart attack or stroke,” he said reviewing the case note.
“In the future, it would be important to take time off activities for scheduled rest, vacation and spend time on things you love to do so this does not happen again,” he said kindly.
I laid down there taking all he had to say in still wondering why I could not just get out of bed and be back at home. Lying here was killing. This mode of inertia was driving me crazy, but all I did was to nod my head as my tired eyes betrayed me giving into sleep again.
I must have been in and out of sleep for days. Moreso, by the time I was able to make small talk, it was shocking to find out that I had been in the hospital for two weeks!
Fast forward to another five more days and the doctor was convinced, I could go back home but not back to work until another two weeks.
What was I supposed to be doing at home? Sitting and staring. I thrived in the fast pace and stress of work where your adrenalin was driven to all-time high so that the slow pace I was forced to embrace was more excruciating than If I was allowed to return to work.
The saying that there is always a silver lining to every cloud could not have been truer. I got time to think of my life and make some adjustments to my values and goals. One good outcome was my second chance at love and unashamedly enjoying the attention I received from Bode.
He was at the hospital every day after work as soon as I was allowed to receive visitors and at my parent’s place upon my discharge.
He had not changed one bit as he was more doting on me, probably because of my health which had made me closer to an invalid. The icing on the cake was it helped to take my mind off my present state.
I must have forgotten what it meant to be bitten by the love bug. This time, around I threw caution to the wind. I did not want to second guess every move or word I just wanted to flow to the rhythm of love being played by Bode and enjoy the second chance being handed over to me.
The clouds were bluer, the rainbow, colourful and the sun brighter than it had ever been and my life could not have been any better. I vowed not to waste any time wallowing in self-pity at the time I had lost but to savour every moment I had.
Bode’s love was one substantial factor that saw to my fast recovery and six weeks after my compulsory leave of work I was fit to return.
My first day at the work was an emotional one as my colleagues had balloons around my table with a “welcome back” banner. There were kind words and hugs. These are people who had taken time out to check on me, send text messages and calls.
Andrew had been understanding. He had a word of encouragement every day as soon as I was able to pick my phone. Although he rarely came by to the hospital, I learnt he was there, the first day I was brought in.
Peju who had been shuttling between office, my house and hers was warned by my mother not to come by anymore and focus her attention on her new home. The morose look on her face the day she received the riot act would have won her an Oscar and put Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, to shame.
However, we made up the time with loads of chats going back and front on our cell phones since my house was a no go area for her.
We were both filled with ecstasy to be back together. I could not wait to be filled up with all the loads of “kongosa” our secret code for first class gossip, I had missed.
My love for juicy titbits in any form; pas,t present and future, was one of my few weaknesses. The moment we were off work we made out time to catch up on each other’s lives that missed the chat room on our cell phones.
Peju kept apologising as to how she was so sorry to have invited Bode over. I had already gotten tired of telling her over and over again that she was not responsible for what happened. I was neither overly excited nor furious at seeing Bode that day, to have caused the fiasco that followed, rather, it was just two friends catching up on what they have lost due to one’s foolishness and a little meddling from some unhelpful quarters. I am glad for where I am right now and if I had the power to recreate the scene I could not have done a better job.
I drew her into a warm hug.
“Thanks for bringing us together and not paying attention to me. It would not have happened without you,” I said.
And there Peju was smiling from ear to ear with so much self-righteousness as she smugly said,“I told you, you would eat humble pie.”
“Your boast almost cost me my life,” I teased her loving the look of remorse stealing over her face.
“I thought you said it had nothing to do with it,” she complained.
“Yes it did not, but I hate the look of triumph on your face and the fact that I have to agree you were right.You have tortured yourself too long, and someone had to deliver you from this guilt. Not to add the miserable honeymoon you had,” I pointed out.
Peju did cut short her honey moon when Phil was tired of her moaning about how she had no clue as to if I was getting better or worse. It must have worked for him too, because as soon as they were back in the country, he was off to Dubai, back to his project.
My house became Peju’s second home until my mum banished her to her matrimonial home with no knowledge that Phil had abandoned his bride for work who had equally abandoned her honeymoon for her near dying friend.
Luckily they had planned another honeymoon in a couple of weeks, and Peju had warned me up front not to pull any stunts as this time around she would feel no guilt if they had to bury me while she was away.
We would have been there in our usual fashion chatting away at everything and nothing if Bode had not come to whisk me away.
He said a friendly hello to Peju, who was smiling rather stupidly like one suffering from dementia as he planted a kiss on my cheek. I rolled my eyes at her.
“I got to go, you both are making me regret cutting my honeymoon short,” she teased winking at me.
“Do you have something in your eyes Peju? I asked her holding back my laughter
” Yeah, must be an insect,” she answered sweetly with her eyes shooting daggers my way.
” Bye, see you tomorrow, I replied as went off with Bode
I could not be more grateful to be still alive. Nonetheless, I still shudder with horror when I remember the catastrophe I caused by disrupting Peju’s wedding reception and honeymoon.