Kachi could not remember the last time he had prayed or even gone to church. But right there in the backseat of the cab, he started recalling every psalm verse, every hymn, every song he’d ever been learned. The last hour had been a blur. The staff at the hotel were still mourning Teni but he would not accept that she was dead. People did not lose their soul mates and best friends just like that. He was headed to the hospital with one mission- to speak Teni’s corpse back to life. How dare she die without hearing that he was absolutely madly in love with her?
♪♪ “Jesus. Something special, supernatural, about your name. Jesus. Something happens, when I mention, your name…” ♪♪
His voice broke as he sang to himself and the tears threatened to overwhelm him. He picked up his phone and scrolled through his contacts, thinking of who to call. Ironic that the only person he could think of to call was Teni. She was the only person who could comfort him when he was hurting and calm him when he was really upset. But she was dead. And it was all his fault. If only he had taken Isioma’s advice and opened up to Teni about his feelings for her. If only he had not brought Isioma to the hotel. If only he had tried to engage Teni in a proper conversation…
His phone began ringing and he looked at the caller ID. It was Isioma. He wanted to pick up but he couldn’t. His voice was broken, he did not trust himself to speak to anyone. He knew he would cry. Isioma called twice again but he still did not pick. Almost immediately, she sent a text.
“Kachi, at the hotel now. Just heard about Teni. I’m really sorry dear. Don’t do anything crazy please. I’m worried about you.”
Kachi typed out a reply.
“I’m fine. On my way to the hospital.”
He covered his face with both hands and sighed deeply.
“Jesus, please. I need a miracle.”
Few minutes later, the cab driver parked outside the hospital. Kachi stumbled out of the car and paid him a thousand naira. He did not bother to collect his change. He walked into the hospital and was greeted by the strong smell of disinfectant. He suppressed the urge to vomit. He hated hospitals. He saw a young nurse standing behind a desk and he walked up to her.
“Hi, good afternoon.”
“Hello! How may I help you?”
Kachi wondered how she could smile so brightly and look so at peace like there was nothing wrong in the world.
“I… I’m… I’m looking for my friend. She was in a accident.”
“Okay? When was that?”
“Last night. I think.”
Kachi could not bring himself to say that Teni was dead. He still did not believe it.
“Sorry. I was not on duty last night but let me check the patient list.”
Kachi held his breath as he waited for her to check list. He saw the smile slowly disappear from her face and a frown come up in its place.
“There’s no Teni here.”
“Are you sure?”
She nodded as she checked again.
“No patient here by that name.”
Kachi felt dizzy. If her name was not on the patients’ list then… Was she really gone? His thoughts were in disarray. He could barely hear the nurse speaking.
“Are you really sure it’s this hospital she was brought to?”
Kachi nodded. They had probably already moved her body to the mortuary. He felt the first tear drop from his eye and he did not attempt to wipe it.
“Sir, can you please sit? You look really upset.”
Kachi remained rooted to the spot. The lady walked from behind her desk and took his hand.
“I need you to help me here. Your friend was brought in here at what time? What is her full name?”
Kachi swallowed hard. All his faith was gone.
“Where is your mortuary?”
The nurse looked confused. Kachi wanted to shake her really hard.
“Your mortuary, where you keep dead people. Where is it?!”
“It’s somewhere at the back. But why are you asking for it?”
Kachi felt like he would smack the lady if she asked one more stupid question. What did people do at mortuaries?! He kept his cool and didn’t respond. Rather, he brought out his phone and tried to think of someone to call.
“Sir, you have not given me the full name of the person you’re looking for.”
The nurse went back to the desk and looked through her note again.
“Found it! She’s in the ICU. Registered here as Owoyemi T. Brought in around midnight.”
Kachi looked up sharply and his heart began to race.
“Intensive Care Unit. The doctors have been battling all morning to save her life. At some point, they thought they had lost her but I think she’s stable now. That’s what I heard. Are you a relative?”
Kachi could not express or even fathom the multiple emotions that were coursing through his body.
“So she’s alive?!”
The nurse smiled.
“Yes sir, she is. Are you a relative?”
Kachi nodded vigorously.
“Yes! Husband! Sorry, fiancé, we’re best friends… I love her.”
The nurse smiled.
“Please come with me. Let me see if I can find the doctor handling her case.”
Kachi wanted to dance and yell but he did his best to contain himself. He said a silent prayer of gratitude as he followed the nurse. He hurriedly typed a message to Isioma. “Tell them at the hotel. She’s alive.”
Teni opened her eyes and the first thing she felt was a sharp pain in her head. Her vision was blurred and she felt really drowsy. She could barely open her eyes or move her body. Several tubes were plugged into her body. She tried to wave her hand and someone in scrubs quickly rushed to her side.
“Hey. You’re awake. Alhamdulillah!”
Teni looked confused.
“I’m Dr. Haliru. Can you tell me your name?”
Teni tried to sit up but she couldn’t.
Dr. Haliru helped her sit up and propped the pillow behind her.
“Can you hear me?”
“Can you speak?”
She tried to but her voice came out as a croak.
Dr. Haliru smiled.
“You’ll be alright.”
He picked up a slate and checked the drip and some of the other tubes that were stuck into her.
“Can you remember what happened?”
Teni squinted and shook her head. Dr. Haliru made some notes then touched her forehead.
“You were in a accident. A trailer knocked you off the road. It’s a miracle you’re alive.”
“Phone.” she croaked.
Her voice was a bit clearer.
“No ma’am. You get some rest. We’ll talk about your phone later.”
Teni sighed and shut her eyes. Whatever anesthetics had been used on her, they were pretty strong. She felt really weak.
“I’ll be back to check you up in an hour. Get some rest.”
Teni did not think she had a choice. She was already drifting off to sleep.
The next time she opened her eyes, there was a lanky fellow seated next to her, worry etched on his face. He smiled as she opened her eyes and she stared at him, her expression blank.
“Tee? My love! How are you?!”
Teni didn’t respond. Dr. Haliru walked up and placed an arm around Kachi’s shoulder.
“I told you she might not remember you. Go easy.”
She saw Kachi’s countenance fall and her face remained blank.
“Can you give me a few minutes please? I’d like to be alone with her.”
Dr. Haliru smiled.
“Sure. But whatever you do, don’t stress her. The mind is a beautiful thing. Her amnesia might not be permanent.”
Dr. Haliru walked out and Kachi stood close to Teni’s bed and held her hand.
“I love you babe. I need you to remember.”
Teni could not hold herself anymore. She laughed faintly and rubbed Kachi’s hand slightly.
“I remember you knucklehead. I don’t have any yeye amnesia. Just madly tired.”
Kachi smiled and heaved a sigh of relief.
“Man! You bloody scared me!”
“I scared me too love. Last thing I remember was some trailer running into me and in my mind I’m like that’s it. Heaven’s gon’ get an august visitor.”
Kachi laughed and tried his best to hold his tears.
“Even on a hospital bed you still manage to be funny.”
“I need to leave this place man. I feel like shit.”
Kachi laughed some more.
“You’re just a gangster. What happened to my woman?”
“How bad is it? Am I going to be here a long time?”
Kachi smiled and stroked her forehead that was neatly bandaged.
“A month at least. Lots of bruises, deep cut on your head, a fractured arm…”
Teni looked horrified.
“Kach, stop it. You know I hate hospitals.”
Kachi smiled at her. He thought she had never looked so beautiful her entire life.
“Now, what are you staring at?”
“I’m just thinking how beautiful you are.”
Teni rolled her eyes.
“Mumu. You need Jesus.”
“Babe, I found Him already o.”
They both laughed but Teni’s laughter was weak.
“News had gotten to the hotel that you were dead. I had to find Jesus and ask Him to bring you back to life.”
Teni shook her head.
“Babe, there’s something I must tell you. Something I should have done a long time ago.”
Teni raised her eyebrow.
“Can you see where we are? It’s a hospital o.”
Kachi ignored her.
“I love you. I am madly in love with you. Absolutely crazy and gaga for you and I want you in my life. I don’t want to just be your baby daddy. I want to be your man, your hero, your husband, everything. I want to be everything to you babe.”
Teni’s eyes watered.
“It took me being in an accident for you to realize that? Well done smarty pants. You coulda said this last night and saved me the stress.”
Kachi laughed and bent to kiss her. He did not care that her entire face was almost covered up in stiches. Just as he put his lips to hers, the door opened and the doctor walked back in. Closely behind him was Tejiri and her little boy Austin.
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Tejiri stood nervously and continued wringing her hands. Kachi was the last person she had expected to meet at the hospital. She knew she should not have allowed Austin come along. But how was she to know that his ‘dead’ father would show up there? Last she heard of Kachi from her informants, he was outside the country. Walking into Teni’s hospital room to find Kachi bent over her was the craziest thing to happen to her all week.
“Answer me. What are you doing here?”
Tejiri sighed. Kachi looked angry and she was not sure how to answer.
“Teni is my friend. I came to visit her.” Her tone was defensive.
“I see. Your friend that you told lies to about me abi? Or you thought I’d never find out?”
“Kachi, please stop.”
Kachi eyed her rudely. He was only getting started. It was all he could do to not hit her when she walked in with the doctor. He wished she would just disappear permanently. He stopped fuming for a second and turned to look at Austin who stood quietly behind his mother. The look of fright on the boy’s face erased whatever residues of anger were left.
“Who…who’s the kid?”
Tejiri hesitated briefly before speaking.
“Yes. My son.”
“Am I his father?”
Tejiri’s eyes pleaded with Kachi to not say anything further. Kachi stretched out his hand to the kid instead.
“Hey, how are you?”
Austin looked at his mother uncertainly but Tejiri nodded and then Austin walked up to him.
“I’m fine sir. Good afternoon.”
Kachi felt like his heart would burst. This was his son. This had to be his son. He pulled him into a warm embrace but Austin remained stiff in the hug. Kachi pulled back and smiled at him.
“What’s your name?”
Kachi was shocked. Tejiri had named their child after him? He sighed. He was emotionally spent. That was too much for one day. Just too much. He turned to Tejiri and said.
“We have a lot to talk about but it won’t be here or now.”
He dug out his phone from his back pocket and passed it to Tejiri.
“Type in your number, I’ll call you.”
Tejiri nodded meekly and did as she was told. Kachi smiled at Austin then hugged him again.
“I’ll see you again soon Austin. It was nice meeting you.”
“Please greet aunty Teni for me. Tell her I’m praying for her.”
Kachi felt a lump get stuck in his throat, still he managed to speak
“I will. Go with your mum now.”
Tejiri took Austin’s hand and they walked away. As they waited for a cab, Austin asked ever so innocently
“Mum, you said daddy had gone to heaven. When that man asked if he was my daddy, why didn’t you tell him my daddy is in heaven?”
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To be continued