May 19th, 2013
I ended up not being able to see Ebika today, as we woke up to the worst possible news…
You know how it is when you shout about something…yell about something…bluff about something…threaten someone about something…but you don’t really expect that something is going to happen…
Well…that’s what happened today.
At 10.30pm last night, Akunna had gone into full-on labour. The steroids she was on had not been able to stop it. As we were told, even in her labour, she’d had the presence of mind to want to call Phillip, but her Mom had confiscated her phone. A little after midnight, my nephew was born…at just over 34 weeks. But the clinic had been running it’s small generator, which hadn’t able to power their (only, and malfunctioning) incubator. Akunna’s uncle, the Clinic Director, had been called, but he had told them, over the phone, not to worry, and that he was sure they could manage the baby overnight. But the poor boy was clearly in distress. The on-call doctor tried to explain to his boss the severity of the situation, but the senior doctor had shut him down, telling him they had successfully managed babies born even earlier. Getting off the phone, the young doctor had adviced Akunna’s family to get the baby to another hospital…and fast. That was when Mama Akunna had finally released Akunna’s phone. It was at 2.32am that Phillip got Akunna’s call. He had immediately called the hospital she’d recently been admitted in, and the ambulance had arrived the Isolo hospital at 3.50am, a few minutes after Phillip got there. But they were about 30 minutes too late. My nephew, Matthew Mfon, died at 3.19am.
Phillip said Akunna’s screams were reverberating on the street when they arrived, and even before entering the clinic, he already feared what had happened, but still held on to hope. He said he has never experienced the kind of heart break he felt, when he finally got the confirmation…that his son…his first child…was dead. He insisted on seeing the baby, and he said he broke down, crying, at the sight of his lifeless son. He had named him then and there…and might have stayed there for hours, if it wasn’t for the raucous coming from the hall. Rushing outside, he was shocked to see Akunna being restrained by literally all the nurses on the duty, as she tried to attack her Mom. She was like a woman possessed…a wild animal…as she screamed insults at her mother, blaming her for what had happened. Phillip said he almost joined in the assault when he’d heard that Akunna had wanted to call him as early as 10.30pm. If her mother hadn’t seized her phone, his son might not have died.
It wasn’t until Phillip held her, that Akunna’s rage cooled, and in its place came a heart wrenching sorrow, as she wailed in his arms. Without asking for permission, Phillip had carried her out of the hospital, and into the ambulance that was still waiting outside. He had taken her back to the other hospital, and she had been admitted immediately.
At 6.30am, when Phillip’s call woke me up, even before answering the call, I already knew. I think I had subconsciously had that premonition, and seeing his call so early in the morning, I just knew. And when he confirmed it to me, I dissolved into tears. I cried so hard, that I surprised even myself. I hadn’t thought I was as emotionally invested in the boy…but I apparently was. Patrick was also moved by what had happened, and he held me, as I cried, long after the call had ended.
We got to the hospital shortly after 8am. Seeing my brother, and how broken he looked, my heart broke all over again! We sat with him in the waiting area, because Akunna apparently didn’t want to see anyone. The only person allowed into her room was Phillip. Across the room were her parents, looking equally broken. My heart went out to her mother, as she too wept inconsolably. Her father looked like he’d aged 10 years since the last time I saw him. I couldn’t imagine the kind of guilt they’d be dealing with now. Because, surely, there had to be guilt! If they hadn’t allowed their pride consume them, and chosen to willfully deprive their daughter, and grandchild, of better medical care, we definitely wouldn’t be grieving this morning.
About an hour after I got there, Aunty Josephine, my ED, stormed into the room. If it wasn’t for the situation at hand, I would have probably gasped over how different she looked. Who knew that under that expensive human hair wig lay the most scanty and chopped hair ever! There were about 4 tiny corn rows there…tops! I couldn’t believe how different she looked. But that was far from the issue.
The minute she entered the waiting room, she was screaming insults at her sister. Apparently, she hadn’t been aware of Akunna’s hospital switch. And it made sense to me…because I had also wondered how Aunty Josephine would have agreed to such foolery! But alas, she hadn’t, and here we were.
She soon caught sight of me, and her eyes narrowed in rage. “You!” she screamed, “Did you know?! Were you aware she’d gone back to that…that…that quack clinic?!”
I looked around, almost hoping she was talking to someone else. “Y…yes Ma…” I answered, when it was clear she was talking to me. “B..but I thought your sister would have told you…”
She shifted her anger to Phillip. “I’m sure you’re happy now, abi?! You are finally free!”
“Madam, please!” came my husband, Patrick’s voice. “The man has just lost his son. This is not the time, I beg you!”
It was like Patrick’s voice had been the salve she needed, the splash of water needed to douse her irrational anger, the eye opener she needed to see that the young man seated, hunched, across from her, was not a beast, but someone indeed mourning a child. And as suddenly as she had erupted, she had walked across the room, and put her arms around Phillip.
It was at that moment that my Mom arrived, with my brothers. I had half worried over what my Mom’s reaction would be…whether she would even be glad over the turn of events. But it was obvious that I hadn’t given my Mom much credit. The minute she entered the room, she had headed straight for her arch-enemy, Akunna’s mom, and the two had embraced, as they cried.
Both families were finally united. It was unfortunate that we were united, not in joy, but in grief.
Rest in peace, little Matthew!