You know how they would say, that which you judge you shall become, and we’ll say, I judge you Dangote, I judge you Otedola… This time, it’s something else I judged…
“Madam, I dey sick”
Oh lord, let it not be waheed.
“Madam, I dey sick!”
The tempo went a notch higher and I pressed my head deep into the pillow, pretending to be dead.
My roommate laughed and headed for the sliding doors. I heard laughter and chatter in vernacular, where she exclaims,
“But you no dey sick na, see as you dey shout, dey disturb everybody… Eh, waheed?”
“Ah! Aunty Tiwa, Ekasan! You forget your boy o.. You know sey… ”
I roll my eyes.
Where did he learn to pull this kind of stunt, anyway?
Imagine driving all the way to Akoka to tell me…
Wos! They should allow me pass my MBBS first o, before they turn me to emergency doctor.
I was still lost in thought when Tiwa re-entered, a sunken expression on on her face.
“Your Driver says Iya mi is sick”
Then, it hit me that what Waheed meant was that his madam was sick. Madam, I dey sick.
Iya mi is what everybody calls her, my mother, that is. It stemmed from the Saturdays she would come to the hostel bearing bowls of ewedu and everything nice, like man, everywhere stew.
She would bless the girls that would come to my room to hail her, with minted cash – My mother doesn’t know her age, playing with my small small friends, but they loved her and she looked forward to the Saturdays I let her come because really, there was nothing for her to do in our big house.
My ringing phone jolts me out of my reverie and in a flurry of activity, I pack – charger and earpiece, and as an after thought, jam my purse into my armpit and head for the door in a mad rush, that Tiwa screams,
“Shalewa calm down na, before you have an accident. Won’t you answer the phone? It doesn’t want to stop… “
Only then did I look down and see the blinking lights, Dad.
A question, admist sobs.
He understands and asks instead,
“Have you seen Waheed?”
This brought a chuckle to my face.
“Daddy, what happened to Mummy?”
“Waheed will bring you to the hospital, just be calm, okay… Do you hear me, baby?”
That which you judge, you become…
I was never one of those people who resorted to prayers for any and everything. I mean, look at me, Omoshalewa Fakorede Ademipoju, do I look like I have problem in life?
I’ve had everything I can think of, we were never one of those Bible thumping Christians, we were Sunday-Sunday people, even if the Sundays were far apart than they were near.
Well, now, I’ve said more prayers than I can count, as mother goes in and out of the theater.
The smell hit me first, of old cars, heat and cheap air freshener.
Waheed came with an old car.
The Mercedes everyone hated.
The one with the faded stains from the time Iya mi was rushed to the hospital early in the morning because her water broke – I was six and didn’t understand why she couldn’t just take another water from the fridge.
The same Mercedes used to carry Kola to the mortuary the time he just stopped moving in his sleep, he was six months.
I lost my only chance at a brother and a sibling.
I hated that Mercedes.
The doctors said it was fibroid, at first. Then, they said it was cancer.
They couldn’t decide which.
My evenings were spent in awkward silence, listening to the beep of the machines and praying she would open her eyes and ask me, in the way she always asks, anytime I’m in a mood,
“Shalewa, kosi problem yen? Did somebody die? Why are you frowning your face?”
She would use her best impression of Funke Akindele’s voice from the hit TV series, Jenifa.
Like I said, mumsi doesn’t know her age.
That would be the perfect moment to bill her, for the trip to Tarkwa Bay, the shopping spree in Dubai or the meet and greet with Leo Da Silva.
The sad face always works, issi nor my mother again?
Now, she looks old, 60 to her actual 45, and her hair is falling out in places. Clumps and clumps of afro on the bed every morning.
Daddy is too busy to even come see her, the doctors update him directly.
“Shalewa you know I can’t be everywhere at the same time, someone has to keep the empire running…”
Yen yen yen.
If my only empire, my mother, should fall, I will not forgive him.
The ride was uncomfortable. I wanted to sit in front, allow the breeze blow through my hair and pretend to be lost in thoughts, as they do in the movies.
Daddy would not hear of it.
“Omoshalewa, we do not sit in front like poor people squeezing themselves into a cab. Fakorede(s) seat in the owner’s corner because that’s what we are, we own the car, and the city…”
Well, I’m in the owner’s corner, boiling with heat because I can’t open the window for security reasons and arguing with my boyfriend on whatsapp.
Amin is beginning to stress me.
I know he’s only with me because my father can get him that job in LIRS after service. What I don’t get is, why instead of trying to please me and do everything I want, he still chooses to stress me. This kind of beggar that used to have choice sef!
Now, he’s angry because the money I sent him is short 50k.
I don’t blame him Sha, we pluck money from a tree in our backyard. It’s myself I blame.
I know what you’re thinking, why have I not dumped him?
He’s a fine boy, and I’m not a daughter of chimamanda, I’m sure I can manage.
I don’t like the number six.
I was six when the Mercedes got stained. I hated that Mercedes.
I was six when my brother died in his sleep, he was six months old. I hated kids after that.
When the Doctor came into the ward and gave me that look, I checked my phone clock and it was six pm.
I knew something had happened. Something was wrong. The machine was beeping in a different tone now, slow and sorrowful. I could no longer hear the slow drag of mother’s breath as she slept. There was a cold silence everywhere, and all eyes were on me, as if waiting for permission.
I nodded to them and they covered her face with the white sheet.
Her hand was still cold as I clung to it, my last memory of her. My mind flashed back to the times she would beg to come to my school to chill with my friends and I.
I would say no, of course. I was a cool kid, not a mummy’s girl.
Now, I felt guilt, for all the times lost. For the times I didn’t know she was struggling with an illness, because I was too engrossed in trying to pass medical school.
I’m not sure I even want to be a doctor anymore. I hate hospitals and Doctors couldn’t save my Ma.
Father was still in one of his several meetings that seemed to occupy his time these days.
The doctor would break the news to him, as usual.