April 8th, 2013
We woke up this morning to news of Akunna’s hospitalisation.
At 4.30am, I got a text from a strange number, informing me that she had been hospitalised for premature labour. Unsure of the authenticity of the message, I waited another 30 minutes and dialled Akunna’s number. It was switched off.
As I was getting ready for work, I got a call from Phillip. He had also gotten the message, but his had come directly from Akunna’s mother.
“I don’t trust those people!” he muttered, but I could sense the nerves in his voice. “I don’t want to go there myself, so do you think you could check it out for me?”
I raised my brow. “You want me to go there??! In my condition?!”
“Look, Faith, there is a limit to the things they can do…or say…to a pregnant woman. Please. I just need you to check it out, so that I can know what to do next.”
I sighed. The things this my brother has roped me into!
So, after work, my dear husband (who deserves a prize for all the wahala I put him through) drove me to the address we were given for the hospital, somewhere in Isolo. Getting there, in the rush hour traffic, was a feat in itself. I hadn’t expected it to take so long…but it had. From when we left the island at 5pm, we didn’t get there till well past 8pm! From my husband’s stone face, I could tell he wasn’t amused at all!
And then the hospital! As we walked to the room, I couldn’t help but wonder why Akunna’s family had come all the way to Isolo, only to use a hospital as dingy as this. Lingering in the air was the harsh smell of Izal disinfectant, trying, unsuccessfully, to mask the smell of urine and feaces. In addition, the walls were dark and dirty, and the rooms were overcrowded.
When we eventually found the ‘executive’ room Akunna was in, my heart sank at the sight of her on the tiny bed. She looked sad, distressed, and harassed. No, this was no prank.
Her mother looked up, and the frown on her face was proof of her recognition.
“Oh, you are representing your brother! Where is he?! Why couldn’t he be brave enough to come here himself?!” she screamed, startling the other patient in the room.
“Mama, please!” Akunna’s voice was weak. “Let’s not go into this now!”
Her mother glared at me, before letting out a long hiss, and launching into a diatribe in Ibo, which seemed to aggravate Akunna all the more.
“In short, Mama, I want to talk to her alone!” she snapped.
The woman looked at her daughter in disbelief. “So, what are you saying?! I should go?!”
“Just give us 30 minutes…please.” Akunna pleaded.
Ehn?! Thirty minutes alone with her?! I stared at Patrick with pleading eyes, which begged him not to leave me alone in this dingy room, with the erratic Akunna. Yes, she didn’t seem in the right physical frame for any mischief, but you could never really tell with her.
But alas, my husband simply said, “I’ll be outside, if you need me,” and left the room.
Akunna’s mother hissed again, and stormed out of the room, leaving Akunna and I…and her room mate, who was propped on her bed, and leaning in to listen to our conversation.
“So…” I started nervously “What happened exactly?”
“I started having some serious contractions, and when I got to my clinic, they found out I was already dilating. So, my doctor recommended I go on full bed rest, until the baby comes. I only just hit the 29 week mark.”
I nodded, looking around at the hospital room once again, to see if I could understand why she she had chosen this place.
“It’s my Uncle’s clinic!” she answered, as if reading my mind. “It’s the only place I could stay for such an extended period, that wouldn’t bankrupt my parents.”
“Oh, Akunna!” I said, with a deep sigh. “Why are you so stubborn?! But Phillip offered to pay for your medical expenses in the hospital of your choice!”
“And what about the other things we asked for?” Akunna snapped, with a hint of the fire I was more familiar with.
“So, you’d rather put yourself through this?! Suffering, just to prove a point?!!” I exclaimed. This girl and her family are just unbelievable. Talk about penny wise, and pound foolish.
We sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Well, anyway…I’ve decided to accept that offer.” Akunna finally said, her gruff tone indicating it was not a decision she had made lightly. “But on one condition.”
“What is it?” I asked, tempted to dance a jig that the end of this whole nightmare was probably nigh.
“He has to be by my side! I want him to visit me…to show me some form of affection…maybe not as a lover, but at least as the mother of his son!” she said, and her neighbor nodded vigorously.
The first thing I caught from that statement was the fact that I was going to have a nephew…and that made me smile.
“I’ll tell him.” I promised, “But we have to move you from this…this place as soon as possible! Tomorrow, if we can manage it!”
She nodded weakly, and I could tell that the fight had evaporated from her.
“And, of course, you might need to sign the agreement.” I reluctantly added. But after what we had learnt from all this drama, I have realized only too well the importance of legal cover.
“I will sign, but only when he gets here,” she answered defiantly.
Fair enough, I guess.
So, we sat in some more silence for a few more minutes, with me contemplating when would be the best time to slip out of there.
“If anyone had told me to guess where I would be…this time last year…I never would have guessed this.” Akunna said suddenly.
I nodded. Yep, a lot sure has happened in a year. I never would have guessed it either.
“You know, I always thought it was Idara he would leave me for.” Akunna continued.
I frowned. “Which Idara? My friend in London Idara?”
“Why are you acting like you didn’t know they were an item?” Akunna asked, looking at me, annoyed.
“Yeah, but that was over 10 years ago…long before Idara even left LASU for the UK!”
I was taken aback when Akunna burst out laughing. She laughed hysterically for at least a full minute.
“Wait oh! You mean you really don’t know!” she exclaimed!
“Idara and your brother carried on, long long after she left LASU!”
“But she was in London…”
“Oh, don’t be naïve, Faith! As if that ever stopped anyone!” she retorted, with another sarcastic laugh. “Even as of your wedding, they were still at it!”
My eyes bulged. “My wedding three years ago?!”
“In fact, what am I saying? New Years day 2012, I still saw some funny text messages from her!”
“That was last year!!!” I exclaimed. No, Akunna just had to be lying.
“I’m truly surprised you didn’t know oh…because they didn’t hide it at all! That girl was a real thorn in my flesh for years! And because she’s from your place, I truly thought he would leave me for her. So, when this Hausa girl came along, I didn’t think she was any real threat to me,” she shrugged “Sure, I got pregnant on purpose, just to lock things down, but to be honest, I thought the worst was over when that Idara affair ended,” she laughed bitterly. “If only I knew!”
Luckily, her mother barged back into the room at that point, and I happily excused myself. I walked to the car in something of a trance. Idara and Phillip? For years? And neither of them had told me?!
It was in the car, on the ride home, that I suddenly yelped. I had sent some ankara dresses to her, through Diana, who had left for the UK this past weekend. Thinking about it now, Idara’s tone, when I had told her it was Diana bringing her stuff, had been less than enthusiastic.
“Diana. Isn’t that Phillip’s girlfriend?” she had asked, her voice flat.
“Fiancé actually.” I had answered.
“Whatever,” she had mumbled.
But I hadn’t given it any extra thought, and proceeded to give her Diana’s address.
Phillip’s longtime side chick meeting his fiancé.
What on earth have I done?