The cloud grew thicker and darker, looming over the horizons were signs of a heavy downpour. The wind had gathered its gust and threatening to pull down everything in its wake, trees, roofs and all. Feet shuffled hurriedly as everyone scampered to get to their homes or a place of temporary abode till the first heavy downpour subsides or ends.
Papa Dele ran inside and shut the two windows in his dingy one room apartment, he finished on time and ran outside to help his wife clear the remaining local frying pots and spoons before the threatening downpour. He had just kept the last item in the steel box made by the local welder on their street for her to keep her pots and pans after the day’s sale of bean cakes, called “akara”.
They both dashed into the room just as the first huge drop of rain fell on the worn out roofing sheet on their house. Mama Dele checked on her children, Dele, Bode and Yemisi, huddled at the corner of the room, surrounded by bags of sack used in keeping their clothes and other belongings. The children hated rainfall, especially when it was not yet night time as it always disrupted the little time they spent playing games or hide and seek before bed time.
Mama Dele, thankfully had made dinner of concoction rice and boiled eggs and had brought it into the room earlier as the small kitchen she shared with nine other co-tenants would be too crowded most evenings thereby leaving no room for her to conveniently prepare her meals.
They lit a lantern as the rain brought about early darkness, ate their food in silence and hoped the rain would subside early, at least to enjoy the moonlight tales by their neighbour, mama Tobe. Mama Tobe grew up living with her grandmother hence had loads of children stories to tell, she always gathered the children in the evenings and engaged them with moonlight tales.
Thankfully at about half past six in the evening, the rain gradually came to an end and though the weather was a bit cold, the children were not deterred. They excitedly knocked on mama Tobe’s door to come out and share the story of the day. As soon as mama Dele’s children stepped out, her husband pulled her close and started caressing her. As he placed his hands gently on the bulge on her tummy, she wriggled away from his grasp.
“My husband, the children will be back soon. Would you want them to come in and meet us doing it?” she asked.
“But Mama Tobe’s stories takes about an hour, I will be done by then. Don’t deny me oo, you know it is my right”. He replied
“I am tired, look at us, three children and another on the way and we are holed up in this one room apartment”
“Children are blessings from the Lord my dear wife, He gave them to us and He will surely help us take care of them all.”
Pulling her close to himself again “Oya, come jor, don’t use style and escape me this evening oh, I want it now” he said as he pulled her back into his embrace.
Few minutes later, panting and sweaty all over, he rolled off his wife and they both hurriedly got dressed before the children came in. Mama Dele took a towel and carried a bucket and went out of the room, got water from the borehole tap just outside the house and went to the roofing sheet covered bathroom which all the tenants shared, she would not be able to sleep without a bath, not after her husband’s escapade that night. She returned few minutes later just as mama Tobe was rounding up the stories, she bid her goodnight and went into the house with her children.
Her husband locked up the door to their room and the children brought out their sleeping mats from underneath the only bed in the room. There was no pillow to cushion their heads, so they rolled up worn out wrappers and placed under their heads as pillows.
Mama Dele stared into the ceiling that night after her husband bid her goodnight, rolled over and started snoring almost immediately. She had wanted a better life for herself and children but somehow, she had not been able to achieve it. The meagre amount she made daily from the sale of her bean cakes would be finished almost as soon as she collected it. She made sure she had her initial capital set aside to enable her continue to fry her bean cakes every day.
Her husband on the other hand, a local carpenter does not make enough to support, his business was not regular and sometimes people owe him for months after he would have completed their jobs, most especially the people they regarded as rich in the society. She often wondered why they would not pay up what they owe on time, and most times they looked like they just stepped out of a magazine, looking like a million dollars.
She gently rubbed her palm on the new life growing inside her. She hated herself for allowing it happen. She had not known that the after morning contraceptive had finished and she forgot to buy the next morning. She remembered three days later and prayed she would escape it but she was late. The seed had already taken root and was germinating beautifully. She knew she would have to register for her antenatal care but they barely managed to feed. She was still thinking about how to cope with all the challenges before her as she drifted off to sleep.
Stella and Tyler Obi had been married for ten years and their love waxed stronger by the day. They were blessed with two children, the eldest Sam and his younger sister Betty. Theirs was an example of a blessed family. Tyler worked with one of the most sought after prestigious telecommunication company on Victoria Island and had risen to a managerial position. He was loved by his superiors for his doggedness and shrewdness which had won him lots of contracts for his company, he hoped one day to be a partner. His company also had a subsidiary created mainly for acquiring small startup companies, taking them apart and turning them into thriving masterpieces. Some of the acquisitions have been brutal and Tyler was always the man at the helm.
Stella on the other hand was the opposite. She got a job immediately after her NYSC at a non-governmental organization at Lekki and she had worked there ever since. She loved to help and stayed on in the organization despite her small take home package. Her husband had given up three years after their wedding when he realized his wife would rather give all she owned to a charity and church, hence his decision not to meddle in her affairs when it was work related. As far as he was concerned, she was doing charity work with her salary and the beneficiary was her employer.
Lately she resigned from the NGO she worked and decided to set up her own charity organization to cater to children on the streets who had no one to take care of them. She hoped to put them in homes or foster care and support them till they finished the university. She believed that the community would be a much better place if more children were taken off the streets instead of allowing them stay there and be lured into criminal activities that would endanger their lives and much more, the society at large.
She had enough funding as her husband gave her a huge startup capital. She rented an office near their home at Lekki and hired two support staff. She was happy because she was doing what she loved to do most. She partnered with orphanage homes and the state government on effective foster care for displaced children. She knew she would have accomplished her goal if she saw a reduced number of homeless children beggars on the street and that was the motivation for her to do much more.
Her children also had the best of education and enjoyed a vacation at least once every year. They had never seen a blackout before due to the huge inverter and battery their father had installed in their home. They both had their separate rooms and Sarah had engaged the services of a maid to help around the house, to allow her children focus on their education. Life was generally sweet for the Obi’s and they couldn’t have asked for more.
Stella spends her evenings doting on her children, Tyler comes home late and the weekend had been reserved solely for him. She loved family time and was always seeking new ways to help hers bond more. She had been a product of a broken home and knew how sad her growing up years were. Her father left when she was five years old and she had never set eyes on him since then. There were not even sure he was still alive but her mother had used every opportunity to lash out at her, blaming her existence to the reason she was tied to a loveless marriage.
Her mother’s words echoed in her mind “if not that I had you Stella, I would have left your father long ago. I wish you had never been conceived, I would not be burdened by the responsibility of taking care of you and I would have been a free woman”
Her mother never remarried and lived like a woman scorned. She was a bitter woman and sometimes acted a little wicked, thereby not having many friends until she passed on few years earlier.
Stella was determined to let her children experience the love of a mother she was starved of and she was grateful she also had a husband who loved her to bits. Life could never be better. She had a great job and a beautiful family, she had great friends and living purposefully, she was indeed blessed!
The aroma of mama Dele’s hot bean cakes filled the air and a group of people had gathered to buy for themselves. Amongst them was Oga Paul her faithful customer. He had travelled out of Lagos for a few weeks and had missed her bean cakes. He waited for the last man to leave and with a worried look on his face spoke to mama Dele.
“Madam, I know it is none of my business oh but I don’t think you should be having another baby at this time”
“Oga Paul, I know say you thought hard about it before you could voice out your reservations like this and I know it is because you care. I know but this one is mistake oh, I didn’t plan it”
“Okay then, maybe you should go for family planning after the child is born, they will help you with protection so that you won’t make such mistakes again”
“Thank you sir, I will do as you have said. I promise not to have any more after this one”
With that said, he collected his own bean cake and left, leaving his change with her, he told her to buy something for her children with it. She gladly offered her thanks and squeezed the money in her waist pouch. Exactly one hour later, she had finished selling all the bean cakes for that day and cleared her utensils. The time was 1pm and she knew her children would be back from school and hurriedly went to prepare their lunch of beans porridge.
While cooking, her mind drifted to what Oga Paul said earlier and she knew he was right. She ought to have listened to the nurse who dressed her up when she had her third baby. The nurse told her to get it done before leaving the hospital but the thought of inserting something into herself was not comforting and she also knew she would not be able to keep up with the occasional injections or pills. She told the nurse she would go home and discuss with her husband on the best alternative but she never went back. She made up her mind right there and then to get it done once she had the baby.
She suddenly remembered that she had not bought all the requirements for the hospital and she made a mental note to stop by at the market the next day to make some purchases.
The shouts and screams from her children as they arrived from school brought her out from her thoughts. She was always happy whenever they were around her, they light up her world and made her proud to be a mother. She was glad they came back just as their lunch got ready. She served them while they chatted about their day at school. She was amused at Dele’s story about his seat mate, Fred, who farted in class and the whole students ran out of the classroom. She made sure they did their homework before going out to play. Her husband came home later and as usual, the evening ended without any drama, mama Tobe also was tired and had no strength to tell stories that night.
Mama Dele woke up in the middle of the night due to sharp pains she was experiencing in her abdomen. She was still three months before her due date and assumed it must be a false labor alarm but felt it was too soon for her to start experiencing it. She nudged her husband but he was deeply asleep and didn’t even stir. She lay down on her tummy and hoped the pain would subside. She managed to get some sleep later on.
By morning, the pain had become unbearable and she knew she would need to visit the hospital. She managed to prepare her children for school and decided against frying bean cakes that morning. Her husband walked the children to school rushed back home to assist his wife to the hospital. They emptied her cash box and brought out all the proceeds from sale the previous day as they were not sure how much the drugs the doctors would prescribe would cost.
They arrived at the hospital and the pain had grown worse. The doctor on duty advised that she be admitted straight away especially seeing that she was pregnant. Series of test were conducted and during the ultrasound, the doctor found something near the ovaries but he had no name for it yet. A sonogram was later carried out and it surely was a tumor the size of an egg that was discovered. The doctor gently broke the news to them and said there would be a way out.
He was shocked she had not had serious cramps before then and he concluded that the growth of the fetus reduced the space the tumor occupied hence the severe pain she felt. Mama Dele could not believe her ears and she burst into tears. Her husband also followed suit as the magnitude of the situation there were in dawned on him. He later calmed down and calmed his wife and promised her they would find a way out of it.
The doctor referred them to a teaching hospital where he claimed they had better equipment and personnel to deal with the situation. She was discharged the following day armed with a reference letter to the state specialist hospital. The pain subsided a little, she was given strong pain killers to help her manage it.
The trip to the teaching hospital seemed like the longest journey they had ever embarked upon as the rickety cab they boarded dragged on in snail’s pace. They finally arrived and because she was referred, she was able to see the specialist on time. More tests, scan and pap smear were carried out and it was confirmed, she had abnormally distended abdomen due to huge ovarian tumor and that it was cancerous. She would need to undergo surgery as soon as the baby was born.
It was an earth shattering moment and they both wept again. Her husband couldn’t hold himself together, he was broken. The hospital gave them different options on managing the situation till she put to bed as surgery was not an option since she was already heavy. But that they could arrange to have a specialist flown in who had carried out a surgery on a pregnant woman before that was successful. The cost of course would have to be borne by them and nowhere in the world would they find such amount of money to pay. The doctor gave her more pain killers strong enough but not strong enough to harm the fetus.
They got home and sat in moody silence until the children returned from school. They knew they couldn’t break such news to their children if they returned from school and hoped the situation would be sorted out on time before the children got wind of it. She prepared lunch for the family as usual, ignoring the pain she was going through.
At night too, neither she nor her husband could sleep, the thought of the aliment heavy on their minds. Her husband eventually gave in to the beautiful arms of sleep, he had endured the most nerve wrecking day of his life and his body couldn’t take the wake anymore, though his mind was in turmoil. He tossed and turned on the bed all night, a sign that his mind and brain wasn’t getting the rest it needed.
The following morning was a Saturday, hence the children slept for much longer to make up for the weekday rush hour. Mama Dele woke up as early as 6am and smiled a little when she realized her pain had subsided a little. She attributed it to the drugs she was given and hoped it would somehow work a miracle and she would never experience the excruciating pain again.
Two hours later, after the children had their breakfast and her husband was in the bathroom, she felt the pain again. She screamed and slumped on the floor just as her husband walked in, he rushed to her side and lifted her off the ground on the bed and sprinkled some water on her face. She stirred and opened her eyes, she could see that he was scared and helpless. He picked up his phone and called his elder brother, crying on the phone that he isn’t sure he could handle the situation anymore.
His elder bro, Bade promised to be with him in the next few minutes as he lived about 20km away. An hour later he arrived and mama Dele was sitting on the bed at that time. He looked from his brother to his wife to explain what the matter was and his brother told him all that had transpired.
“So you would have kept all these from your family? And when did you intend to tell us?” he queried them
“Broda mi, you know I don’t always like to harass others with my own problems. I believed my wife and I would be able to handle it. But when I came in this morning and met her slumped on the floor, my heart broke and I had to call you”
Mama Dele sat through the discussion between both men, hoping that uncle Bade would be able to offer some form of solution, maybe a cooperative where they could borrow money for the surgery.
“See, I know someone who handles cases like this. He had been in the business for years and has had lots of successes. I believe he can take care of this matter too, all these doctors only want to syphon money from gullible people like you.”
“Broda mi, are you sure? I don’t want to worsen the matter oh?” he looked at his wife to see if she would nod in consent or refusal but her face was expressionless. His brother eventually took his leave promising to get back to them the next day with more information on the way forward.
Mama Dele and her husband discussed more after he left and she told him she would have nothing to do with her in-law’s suggestion. She told him she had a bad feeling about it and would prefer to manage the pain till she put to bed so that she would be able to have the surgery.
The next day she went back to the hospital and complained of the excruciating pain and the doctor gave her some analgesic to reduce it and told her he can’t give her stronger pain killers because of her condition. On the way back home, her mind dwelled on the alternative solution uncle Bade suggested. She had not been able to sell her bean cakes for a few days and it was already telling on their finance as they took all they had to the hospital during the first visit. She decided she might just have to go with the plan as she wanted relief from the pain.
As soon as she entered their one room apartment, her children ran to her and retrieved her bag, for anytime she went out, she always made sure she had some goodies in her bag for her children. She noticed uncle Bade seated on a wooden stool and she greeted him.
“Our wife, how are you feeling today? Your husband said you went back to the hospital, any better news today?”
“They gave me more pain killers and said I have to manage it till I deliver sir”
“Hmmm!! I was just telling your husband that I have seen the medicine man he gave me the one touch drink, it is fast action and he has used it to cure lots of people from different growths in their bodies and ailments too”
“But my in-law, is it not proper for him to see me first before prescribing any drug?”
“I understand your fears, but this drink is a miracle one, one dosage is enough to melt any abnormal growth you might have, that’s why it is called one touch. Trust me my wife, I will not bring any harm to you”
Her husband also joined in persuading her to try the drink and not throw the idea away because of her skepticism. She promised to take the drink so as not to appear ungrateful seeing that uncle Bade went to much trouble to get it. She managed to prepare some food for him before leaving and he also gave her the dosage on how to use the one touch drink.
She drank it that night before going to bed and few minutes later, she felt empty, it was as if something cleared up everything in her tummy. She nudged her husband excitedly “It seems this thing is working oh”. He sat up and asked her how she knew and she was able to explain that she felt absolutely no pain and felt brand new. They slept off minutes later and there was not a sound till morning as they all slept peacefully.
He was running so fast he knew he had to slow down, there was so much noise in his ears he tried to shut it to no avail. The noise kept getting louder and louder and suddenly he started falling down into what seemed like bottomless pit, he tried to scream but nothing came out and the noise still kept on getting louder and there was pitch darkness…
With a jump, baba Dele woke up from his nightmare only to be jolted back to reality by the sound of the alarm, then he realized the alarm sound was the noise he heard in the dream. His, eyes got accustomed to the darkness in the room due to the curtain and he touched his wife, gently nudging her awake. It was very unlike her to sleep through the alarm, the drink must have really helped her sleep better.
He decided to let her sleep a little so he got up and switched on the light and proceeded to wake up the children to prepare for school. Then he turned to look at his wife again and saw her sleeping peacefully and he could swear there was a glow about her. But something made him try to wake her up again as he knew next to nothing about preparing the children for school, he had not really been the domestic one. He tapped and shook her gently, no answer. He gently patted her again and then he knew something was wrong, he shook her vigorously and still she lay there not responding. He called her name to no avail and he feared the worst. He carried her into his arms, shouting her name, screaming and crying all at once.
This cannot be happening, he laid her back and ran out of the room and screamed for help so that his neighbours could come to his aid. In minutes, his room was filled with neighbours and one of them took Dele and his siblings to their room to prevent them from the commotion going on.
They got a cab and took her straight to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Watch out for Part II
Kindly drop your comments and twists you might be expecting to this story.
God bless you for stopping by.
Copyright © 2018 Oluwakemi Odusanya
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.