Saturday, 5 March 2016


The woman lay on her back, eyes closed. Her breath fell up and down lazily like one who walked several kilometers and was exhausted and waiting to catch her breath.

She had on the hospital flowery blue and green short gown which barely covered her knees. In a normal situation she would have protested and covered herself with a wrapper or at worst a bed sheet. Instead she lay like one in a trance who was several kilometers away on a terrestrial trip.

What was remarkable was the peaceful and contented look on her face. Oblivious of the presence of two people standing side by side in front of her bed, she continued to sleep her breath still falling gently up and down.

The two people, a man carrying a day old baby, who was wrapped in a white fluffy shawl and the woman, watched her as she slept. The baby lay peacefully in the man’s hands her eyes shut. For a few second the man concentrated on looking at the baby. He smiled with a sense of satisfaction.

He drew his eyes away from the baby and looked at the woman lying on the bed. He saw the similarities or imagined he saw the similarities in the shape of their noses but then he considered that too early.

He looked round the room which could not have been more than 80 inches by 80 inches. It was a special room for their private patients who were rich enough to pay N50,000 a night for the hospital bed space. The bed, the small fridge, and the television on top of the fridge in addition to the bunch of brightly coloured flowers gave the room a homely look. It was the effect the hospital wanted to achieve. People must be made to feel that they were in their homes not in one hospital smelling of drugs and harsh disinfectant.

The woman went round and opened the windows, drawing the blinds in the process.  Soon cool fresh air streamed into the room. Done, she came back to the spot where she was standing. The man nodded, put out his right hand to gently pat her. Throughout, they did not utter a word to each other like there was an unspoken agreement between them.

The man moved an inch closer to the woman who lay on the bed, and patted her gently, ‘Madam, good morning! See your baby.’

        The woman turned towards the side of the man’s voice and tried to open her eyes but try as hard as she could, the eyes wouldn’t open. They appeared glued.

The man called out to her again, ‘Madam, he called out to her again this time his voice louder than before, I am sure you can hear me, do have a look at your baby.’
Something seemed to register in her mind because her hands involuntarily touched her stomach at first before she proceeded to rub them. She gave up after two movements.

The man glanced at the woman and the nodded.
‘Madam we are waiting. The doctor said again to her. She opened her eyes but she couldn’t focus properly on the people before her because the man appeared to be floating together with whatever he was holding. The more she tried to focus, the more the man’s face assumed many dimensions sometimes big and without warning tiny.

This man must be a doctor. If not why was he wearing a white overall with the stethescope hanging on his neck,’ she reasoned.

‘Thank God, she is coming around,’ the woman spoke for the first time like she was afraid they were on the verge of losing the patient.

The doctor gave her a look that spoke volumes. The woman quickly clamped up remembering the warning, he gave her before they entered the room; ‘you must never say anything because we don’t want her remembering anything, do we?’

To which she had answered without hesitation, ‘no we don’t.’

‘Good.’ The doctor had said conspiratorially before they marched into the room. Now she was ruining the moment by unnecessary twaddle.

The doctor turned to the woman again, madam we have come to show you your baby.

A smile escaped from her lips like she has just been presented with some present for which she would have liked to run round the city and invite people to see.
‘She does look like me doesn’t she? She said in a voice so low that you needed to strain your ears and read her lips before you can decipher what she was saying.

‘Can you see her?’ The doctor asked her softly not believing for a second that she knew what she was talking about.

‘I can’t but I always said if she was a girl she would look like me. Doctor, I am weak and my vision is blurred.’ She answered in response to his question.

The doctor gave a sigh of relief.

She coughed slightly making efforts to lift herself from the hospital bed. However she couldn’t seem to have a grip on the sides of the bed. Without the support of the rails she couldn’t sit up. Her efforts were laughable like that of her a blind man who was trying to walk without his cane or worse still a child fiddling with an opener over a bottle of coke.
The doctor patted her gently discouraging her with a sharp rebuke, ‘Madam don’t move. You don’t need all of that excitement now. You are tired and your body needs all the rest. Your baby too, is weak with a heart disorder.

‘Really! What can be wrong with my baby? Not after all these troubles.’ She said still having difficulty in focusing. She shut her eyes tightly hoping that as soon as she opened them there would be an improvement but alas it was not to be. For despite mustering all her inner strength her vision was still blurred.

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