Effe opens her eyes slowly.
She is lying on a big bed in an air-conditioned room.
She knows instantly that she is in the Executive Ward of the Eden Hospital.
Sunlight filters in through the huge tint glass windows because the Venetian blinds are pulled and tied back with golden sashes.
She sees that she is in a hospital gown.
Her parents are sitting on each side of the bed, and Eyram and Rupert are standing at the foot of the bed.
She can hear voices to one side of her, and when she turns her head slightly she sees that Doctors Anaman and Ayeh are in deep conversation.
A nurse is tucking the edge of the bedspread back inside, and she stands back suddenly.
Doctor! She’s up!
They all crowd around Effe, and she sees the concern and love on their faces.
Please, stand back a bit, would you?
When they give him space he bends over Effe and quickly checks her pulse and heart rate.
He checks the heart monitor, and then he stands up and wordlessly unplugs the monitor and the wires attached to Effe.
Effe’s eyes fill up with tears when she remembers the events that has brought her to the ward.
I lost my baby, didn’t I, Doc?
Doctor Anaman sits down on the edge of the bed.
(in a firm voice)
Either you’re a very lucky woman, or that child is one strong warrior. Running up and down and getting stressed out like that, with your first pregnancy, at your age, is not good for you, young lady! The baby’s attachment to the walls of the womb got shook up a bit, and your stress transferred to him. Hence the slight bleeding. Luckily, he’s still in there. Tired, abused, but still hanging in there.
Effe exhales heavily, and her agony turns to unbridled joy.
Oh! Oh, my God! I was so, so scared! Oh, thank God!
You have to take things easy from now, young lady!
They all hug her, and kiss her cheeks, but Effe is still in turmoil as her eyes search Gilbert’s face frantically.
Chris? How’s he, Gil?
Gilbert looks at her strangely, and then leans forward and kisses her forehead.
That injection you gave me, whatever it is, did the trick. He’s gonna be fine. All his vitals are really good now, and he’s stabilized, but still pretty weak.
Please, I have to see him. How long have I been in here?
Since yesterday morning, my love.
I say it best to give you a mild sedate, Effe, to make you rest and bring down the stress. You and the baby needed it.
Can I see Chris now, please?
I don’t see why not. Just take it slow, and gentle.
Oh, Ef! You scared me so much!
All of us. You scared all of us, my love!
Effe tries a brave smile.
Her family hug her again, and then the men step outside whilst she gets out of bed and Eyram helps her back into her own clothes.
They make light conversation as they emerge from the ward and make their way to the elevator.
When they get out on the tenth floor they see that it is crawling with a lot of people in the Visitors’ Lounge.
Effe walks close to Gilbert.
Gil! You kept everything quiet?
He looks at her with furious eyes.
(in a tight voice)
I’m no fool, Effe, dear! I can easily put two and two together. Steve found that Chris was on admission here, and so injected him with a poisonous drug, a drug whose name I’ve never heard before. You spoke of the number of days he had been on admission, meaning if it had gone beyond a certain span of time Chris might have died. Luckily, you had an antidote to that damn drug! What is it anyway?
An experimental drug, Gil, from our labs. Developed by Dr. Sey Wachipa and Dr. Simi Simpson, aimed at curing the virus that causes AIDS. It’s quite lethal, still in its formative stages, and can kill within thirty-six hours if injected without being mixed with a measured dose of its female dose, the one I gave you. Please, it’s a secret. Only a few of us have the first samples.
Damn it! This is murder, Effe! Chris evidently saw Steve, and tried to write down his name! You need to let the police know. Steve should be arrested immediately!!
I couldn’t believe he would go that far, Gil. But what’s important is that we saved Chris’ life. As for calling the cops, I’ll wait for Chris’ decision. But thank you for keeping it under wraps. I appreciate it!
I don’t like it, Effe. This is the most insane thing I’ve ever heard! He’s a Doctor, sworn to protect all lives! He tried to murder the boy, pure and simple. I understand your dilemma. You were married to the guy, and naturally you might not want to put him in the soup, but we can’t sweep this under the carpet either! It is a most wicked thing to do. If you had not shown up, if that three-day bench had elapsed, Chris would’ve died. Have you thought about that?
(in a sad voice)
I’m more outraged than you are, Gil, that I can tell you. What Steve did was absolutely unpardonable. But I love Chris, with all my heart, and I want us to talk about this, and decide on what to do.
Before Gilbert can reply the glass doors swing open, and more people come in.
Effe is shocked, to say the least, when she sees that Mr. Albert Ntim, the President of the Eden Board, Mr. Frank Stiles, First Vice President, and Jonathan Afful, Second Vice President, are all present.
She sees three grey-haired doctors, and some grim-looking nurses following.
Preceding them are about four huge men in impeccable black suits and dark glasses.
Effe recognizes one of the Doctors as one of the most talented in the country in surgery, Doctor Ralph Setorwofia.
She has attended a highly-profiled seminar chaired by the famous surgeon.
She remembers he is the Chief Executive of the Eden Research and Scientific Centre.
Behind them is Steve Hollison, who pauses in the doorway for a moment, and then follows the delegation forward, his face filled with unease, guilt and fear.
What’s happening here?
I don’t know, really. Can someone tell us what’s going on here?
I think I’m gonna find out.
He pushes his way through the throng, but suddenly the door of Ward 5 swings open, and a sophisticated power-operated stretcher is wheeled out, and lying on it is Chris Bawa, his eyes closed.
On either side of the stretcher is a huge man in black suit, whilst some preceded the stretcher.
The doctors and nurses are following, and standing attentively to one side are the three top officials of the Eden Board.
Doctor Ralph Setorwofia comes out last, and he has Chris’ records and diagnosis sheets.
Suddenly scared, Effe pushes forward and blocks the stretcher.
(in an unsteady voice)
Where are you taking him? You can’t do that! Who’re you people anyway?
Two of the black-suited huge men step forward and try to push her back, their faces grim.
We don’t have time for this, Madam. Kindly step aside.
(coming to stand beside Effe)
You can’t talk to her like that, my friend. What’s going on here anyway? That man is my patient, and you can’t just enter and take him away! The proper procedures have to be followed! I have to sign a release form. Somebody, get Security, please! You need to show us some identity, mister!
Please, please, don’t let this turn into an unpleasant situation. Listen, if you want explanations, speak to your superiors, okay? Please kindly step aside and let us through!
No! You’re not taking him out! What’s this anyway? This is beyond comprehension! Where’s Security anyway? Would someone please call the police? Is he in some trouble with the law? Even if that’s the case there must be proper documentation. You can’t just budge in here and start taking patients away. Rupe, please call Security!
Four of the huge men in black approach Effe and Gilbert, and they grab them by the upper arms, and begin to push them away from the path of the stretcher.
That is when the president of the Eden Board suddenly speaks.
Leave them alone, please. I’ll explain things to them! You can’t manhandle the staff here like that! They have every right to know what is going on!
Every eye turns to Mr. Ntim.
(voice puzzled, scared)
Mr. Ntim? You know what is going on? Has he done something wrong? Is Chris in trouble?
She shrugs free from the grasp of the man holding her and walks anxiously towards Mr. Ntim.
Mr. Ntim takes a deep shuddering breath and smiles kindly at Effe.
Please, let them pass. We didn’t want to say anything, but it seems, quite admirably, that you are professionals and wouldn’t let anybody mess with your patients, so I have no option than to give you the explanations you seek. These men, all of them, from the security detail to the nurses right down to the Doctors, work for Mr. Bawa. The doctors and nurses are his personal health attendants. They’re taking him to his personal hospital. Please let them through.
(voice full of contempt)
Personal medical staff? What the hell are you talking about, boss? You must have that guy confused with somebody else! That boy is a damn taxi driver, for Christ’s sake! He is a damn-
Mr. Ntim turns to Steve and his voice is like a whiplash.
You keep your damn mouth shut this minute!
The men in black now push the stretcher towards the entrance.
Effe, face distraught and still filled with fear, reaches out and holds Chris’ hand tightly.
She does not understand one word of what Mr. Ntim had said, and just like Steve she is absolutely floored.
Please, Mr. Ntim! Say something! I can’t let them take him away like this! His personal hospital? I know him, please, and he doesn’t have a personal hospital!
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Please, Effe, let them take him. That man is not who you think he is. Please, let them take him away right now. That’s what he wants, so let it be.
The men push Chris out of the entrance, and the medical staff follow him out.
Mr. Ntim? What do you mean Chris is not who we think he is? What’s going on, please? Let me know! I’m going out of my mind with worry, please!
Effe! Keep the stress down, please! It’s not good for you in your condition! Albert, you better give us something sensible, and fast, excuse my language, but I’m concerned for Effe!
That man’s real name is Chris Eden Bawa.
What? Eden? Chris?
The silence in the room is so complete that if a paper had fallen down it would have sounded like a bomb going off.
The total shock, disbelief and amazement is like an electric shock that runs through all of them, most of all Effe.
(in an awed voice)
Surely you don’t mean Eden as in Eden Investments, Eden Capitals, Eden Hospitals, Eden Technologies, Eden-
(laughing forcefully, his voice scared)
Cut that crap, old man! Are you crazy? Are you saying we work for him? That he pays me? That guy is just a damn taxi driver!
The First Vice President of the Eden Board turns a cold face towards Afful.
Shut up, Jonathan!
Mr. Albert Ntim turns towards Jonathan Afful and gives him a baleful look.
He was driving a taxi because he fell in love with a woman, and didn’t want her to know who he was. He wanted to win her over first. Chris Eden Bawa owns EDEN INC. He’s the richest man in Africa, and one of the richest in the world. Yes, Mr. Afful, you work for him, and yes, he pays you. We ALL work for him. Satisfied now?
Oh, sweet Jesus!
Crikey!! I’ll be damned! Chris? Jeez!!
I’ll be damned! He’s my boss?
(looking absolutely sick)
What the f**king shit is this? Jesus H. Christ! Oh, Lazarus!! No, Mr. Ntim, tell me you’re f**king joking!
Eyram looks at the absolutely shocked Jonathan Afful, and she bursts into laughter.
Steve reaches for a chair and sinks weakly into it. He wishes the ground will open up and swallow him.
Oh, dear Lord! What have I done? What have I done, Lord?
Effe is shaking her head, trying hard to assimilate all that she has heard. Her trembling hands fly to her mouth.
Chris? He owns Eden Inc? But how, I can’t believe it! Please, how can it be possible? The richest man in Africa? He is an orphan who grew up in an orphanage!
Yes, my dear! All that is true, but he is a fighter, and he came out of the harsh life he was given as a child. He left the orphanage and came to the city. He had a little money saved, and he enrolled in a free computer programme sponsored by the United Nations. The facilitators saw his immense skill and talent, and gave him a scholarship to further his IT training. Have you heard of Orphan Logik?
Who hasn’t? A world-famous brand in computer technology.
That’s Chris’ first Company. He developed the programme for Orphan Logik, and it was taken on by the UN. He got a lot of money from that, and went on to develop many more apps and software for computers and phones, creating world-class apps for android and iPhone platforms. Shortly afterwards he created his antivirus software, OrphanLock, and it became a world best. He went on to create the best computer environments that were bought and incorporated into Microsoft and Apple computers, and later even Samsung, and that catapulted him to riches. Later, he sold Orphan Logik and OrphanLock and established EDEN INC, and the rest is history.
(looking absolutely sick)
It all makes sense now! The Jamaican Resort, WaterWorld, his ability to get my father’s loan approved…
(with a little laugh)
He owns the Jamaican Resort. He owns WaterWorld. He owns a lot of things.
But why? Why the deceit? Why the lies? Why did he do this to me?
I don’t know, Effe, dear. I’ve known that boy for almost twenty years. He’s always kept his identity a secret. He bought that taxi for a total stranger, a poor man who found Chris’ mobile phone and wallet and brought it to him. You see, when he bought and registered that taxi, he brought it here that night to pick me up. He wanted to go with me to the young man’s house and give the taxi to the man. I was here that night, and he was coming to pick me up, but when I came out he was gone. Later he told me a mysterious lady who was being chased by a naked man entered the taxi, and the next moment he turned himself into a taxi driver, driving that woman all over town. He bought another taxi for the young man and continued using the first taxi. Chris is like that. Sometimes I don’t understand him myself.
Later he told my sister-in-law to pretend she’s the taxi owner, and a whole lot of other nonsense. He has money, and so he can do anything he wants, I guess.
Effe is nodding, dumbfounded.
He lied to me. He kept his identity a secret! He made me think he was a poor man! Oh, Lord!
Mr. Ntim is looking at her, puzzled, and then slowly a light of understanding came into his eyes.
(in a hoarse voice)
Dearest me! Are you the mysterious lady, the one he only calls Precious? Jolly me!
Mr. Ntim shakes his head and looks absolutely disturbed.
Look, something happened! I don’t know what it is, but Chris thinks you deceived him! He thinks you want him dead! That’s why I sent for his doctors!
What? what are you talking about?
Steve wishes he can just disappear. He looks on miserably and with great fear, his heart thumping with terror.
Mr. Ntim grabs Effe’s shoulders and speaks anxiously.
I don’t know what happened, my dear. Chris let one of the nurses call me. When I came, he was delirious. He was still not completely awake, but he kept repeating that Precious betrayed him, Precious wants him dead, Precious planned to murder him! I don’t know what he’s talking about, maybe it is because he’s still not fully out of the coma. I was concerned. I didn’t know he was referring to you. That’s why I sent for his medical team. And his VISA was ready. He was leaving the country. He was going to Switzerland. He told me he would be there for a long time. His flight was scheduled for the next night after the accident. If he had not been hurt in that accident he would’ve been out of the country by now.
(completely scared now)
No, no, no! It must be some misunderstanding! Please, I must see him! Now! Please, let me speak to him! Please!
Yes, yes, yes! You have to go to him. I didn’t know it was you all along. I believe you. Please, let me go and see him first. As soon as he’s much better and stronger, I’ll give you a call and let you see him, my dear!
He moves quickly towards the entrance and gets into the elevator.
Effe is trembling, and winces when she experiences a sharp pain in her lower abdomen again.
Doctor Anaman rushes to her side and lets her sit down.
Effe! What’s wrong with you? Sit down, sit down! Too much excitement!
When Effe sits down, surrounded by her shocked family, Mr. Frank Stiles faces them and speaks.
Well, I must also leave, but before I go I must tell you people about a couple of changes Mr. Chris Eden Bawa has ordered. First, with immediate effect, Mr. Jonathan Afful is dismissed from the Eden Board. Doctor Steve Hollison is also dismissed as Chief Executive Officer of this hospital. Their entitlements would be computed and paid to them. Doctor Gabriel Anaman is appointed the CEO of Eden Hospital, and Doctor Rupert Henderson will be his assistant, with immediate effect. I’ll bring you all the legal documents tomorrow. Have a good day.
Jonathan Afful collapses immediately and crashes to the floor besides Steve, whose eyes are suddenly filled with unshed tears, jealously, rage, surprise and fear.
He looks so shell-shocked that his posture is absolutely that of a suddenly old pathetic man.
Doctors Gabriel Anaman and Rupert Henderson stare at each other and smile with sudden happiness and perverse glee.
Gilbert leans over the sprawled body of Jonathan Afful and loosens his tie.
He feels for a pulse and, satisfied that Afful is in no danger, he props Afful comfortably and calls some of the orderlies to send him to a ward.
Rupert then walks over and stands in front of Steve.
I’ve never liked you, Steve. Heard what you did with Rupert’s wife, and with Effe’s cousin. You bastard! Serves you right! Better look over your shoulder, because when that Chris man cools down, I’ll talk to him, and make sure he sends you to prison for attempted murder! How could you, man?
Effe can still not understand it.
It is as if she is dreaming, and suddenly she feels very scared! She knows that suddenly she is losing Chris.
Why is Chris feeling she wants him dead?
Why? What happened?
She looks at Steve, and it begins to dawn on her that maybe Steve said things to Chris before injecting him with the dangerous drug.
Her eyes fall on her mother, and she sees guilt in the depths of the older woman’s eyes, and again it dawns on Effe that maybe her own Mom had told lies about her to Chris too!
Tears blaze down Effe’s cheeks slowly. She cannot speak as she slowly convinces herself that her mother and Steve have combined to poison Chris’ heart against her.
Tears slowly come into Madam Ivy’s eyes. She sees just how much she has hurt her own daughter. She speaks silently, her mouth forming the words.
Forgive me, Effe! I’m so sorry!