No sooner had they arrived at the hospital than the nurses raced out of the hospital, pushing a stretcher hurriedly towards them. The private hospital was the biggest Bola had ever had the misfortune of entering, the good thing though was that the hospital was also the most equipped she had ever entered.
As Bola and George raced after the stretcher carrying Tim into the hospital with Mrs Pascal and Nurse Abigail though, the structure of the hospital was the last thing on their minds. All they could think of was Tim; Tim and only Tim. Bola and George couldn’t erase the memory of the pained lifeless look of their first son as the jeep sped down to Wickins Hospital. It was a picture stamped in place in their memories.
In no time at all, the stretcher was wheeled into the hospital and unlike the general hospital they just left, everyone was up and doing, their concerns and compassion was clearly written on their faces. Bola and George raced at either sides of the stretcher, eyes completely fixed on Tim.
“Don’t leave me my son…” Bola cried with tears on her cheeks. “Don’t leave your mummy… Please Tim” her throat was squeezed tight as she swallowed heavily.
A nurse pulled Bola back gently, sending George a subtle warning with her eyes. “Please stay back, you can’t go in with us. Your son would be fine” she smiled affectionately as the other nurses pushed the bed further into the ICU.
“No! I want to be with my son” Bola snapped. “I am his mother”
George moved around and pulled Bola into his arms forcefully. “Come on, honey”
The nurse smiled gratefully at George and rushed after her fellow nurses. A rushed movement made them turn to see a female doctor as she hung her stethoscope hurriedly around her neck. As she neared, Bola knew without a doubt that she was going to attend to Timothy. Bola left George’s arms and intercepted the doctor immediately. “Please save my son. Do all you can, please doctor” she pleaded.
The doctor hurried past her without as much as a word. Bola buried her head in George’s chest as she wept. She needed the burden on her shoulders to be lightened. It was weighing her down. She couldn’t be crushed now, she had to be strong; she had to be strong for everyone.
George felt Bola’s heartbeat beating in fast succession against his chest and his heart tightened painfully. He closed his eyes briefly. “Tim would be fine, Bola” he whispered.
Bola couldn’t count the number of times she had heard this but weirdly, she believed him. Bola looked up at him, her eyes teary and fearful. George ran his thumb down the line of tear on her cheek. His face was a conflict of emotions; it was then that Bola realised that she was being selfish. George was probably going through more than she was, currently. What she couldn’t understand was where God was in their lives. Why was God allowing them to experience something much misfortunes?
She hadn’t heard from Loveth and her siblings for several days and she had no idea what’s was happening to them. They were stuck with Tim’s health but now they had to face something different; they had to pay up three hundred thousand Naira within a week. Where on earth were they supposed to get that?
Something occurred to her and she pulled slightly away from George, wiping her eyes. “George” she frowned up at her husband. “What was Doctor Felix talking about earlier?” George seemed to freeze. Bola glared at him. “You can’t be keeping things from me, George”
George swallowed. “It is not important, Bola”
Bola squared her shoulders. “It was important enough if it stopped the doctor from attending to Tim” George hesitated. “George”
George took a deep breath. “He said we should… forget about Tim”
Bola froze. “What… what does that mean?” her eyes widened fearfully. “He can’t mean……” she shook her head. “Surely not” her voice came out clipped.
George grabbed Bola by the shoulder. “Forget it, Bola. We only accept God’s report” he said forcefully. “All would be well, Bola”
Bola looked unconvinced. Her eyes had a vacant effect as she blinked away the tears blurring her vision. “George” she mouthed, long fearful. “Is God still with us?”
“Stop it, Bola. We are here, remember? In an hospital that we definitely cannot afford because God brought a help just in time. God hasn’t left us”
“But why are we facing all these? Problems seem to increase instead of decrease. I am tired George… I am so… I’m so tired” she wiped the lone tear that trekked down her cheek.
George pulled her into his arms, holding her so tightly. He kissed the top of her head continuously and held her closely to himself. The scent of her made things seem a little better. He blinked, looking down at Bola’s chest on his head. He took a deep breath. “Maybe we should let him go”
Bola bolted out of George’s hands like he had suddenly caught fire. “Let what go, George?” she looked at her husband incredulously.
George swallowed. “Tim’s suffering is too much, Bola. I know he is holding on for us, he is still alive because we refused to let him go; maybe it is better to release him… maybe-”
“What are you talking about?” Bola’s voice rose with each word. “I am not releasing him! My son is not going anywhere, you hear me?” she yelled at George. She looked around, not seeing anything as George’s words echoed in her head. “Timothy is my son and I would not bury my own son, do you hear me? We’ve come a long way, don’t lose hope on me now, George” her voice shook. “Please don’t”
George took a deep breath. “I’m sorry” the most painful thing ever was watching someone you love suffer and being unable to do anything about it. Watching Tim suffer, watching his family go through the turmoil of saving Timothy was killing him faster than the disease was killing Timothy. He couldn’t bear to see Tim go through anymore pain.
Bola walked back to George and put her hands against his cheek. She could see his struggle, his pain and his fears clearly displayed on his face. He was good at hiding it sometimes but other times – times like this one – it was as clear as day.
“We’ll get through this, darling. We’ll get through this, but we have to stay strong. We are not giving up just yet, okay?”
George nodded and pulled Bola into his arms.
They waited. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned into hours. They sat, they paced, they talked with Mrs Pascal, thanking her profusely for her help and explaining Timothy’s situation to her in details, all in the bid to stay sane as they waited for the doctor.
Immediately George sighted the female doctor, he rushed towards her, followed closely by Bola, Mrs Pascal and Nurse Abigail.
George caught sight of the tag on the doctor’s chest almost absently. “Doctor Kemi, how is he? How is Tim?”
“Please tell me my son is okay, doctor” Bola pleaded.
Doctor Kemi smiled gently. “You don’t have to worry, your boy is out of the woods now.” she paused as everyone heaved sighs of relief. “But he would remain in the intensive care unit for some time, I guess you already have his diagnosis”
George and Bola nodded grimly. “With Chemotherapy, I’m positive that he would scale through this, all I want is that you don’t create any negative energy around him. Make sure he is constantly happy, remind him of happy times; this would help him alot and of course, pray. This would help him more than you can imagine.”
Bola sagged against George. “Can we see him?”
“Yes, I want to see Tim, please” she wouldn’t rest until she saw that her son breathing right before her eyes.
“You would see Tim, but in a few minutes” Bola noticed that the doctor had caught Tim’s name. She liked the woman already. There’s light after all. “He needs a few minutes to rest” Doctor Kemi said with a soft smile. She turned her eyes to Mrs Pascal and smiled. “Good to see you again, Teju”
“And you too, Kemi. Let’s talk in your office.” The doctor nodded then glanced at the couple before her. She squeezed Bola’s hand and smiled at George.
“Your son would be fine” she whispered with a smile then walked away with Mrs Pascal.
George left Bola for a while to fill some paperwork. Nurse Abigail stepped forward. “I should be leaving now”
Bola blinked back tears. She had almost forgotten that Nurse Abigail was with them. How could she forget such a sweet person. Completely stunning Abigail, Bola hugged her. It was the only thing Bola could think of. She had no money, nothing to reward Abigail with, Bola only hoped her thanks and prayers were enough. “I can’t thank you enough, Abigail. God knows I can’t thank you enough for all you did for my son”
Abigail blinked. For a second, she almost seemed tongue-tied. “I know what you’re going through” she blinked, looking down briefly. “my daughter, she…” Abigail shook her head. “It was the least I could do”
Bola blinked. She had been so blinded by her own pain, she had forgotten that some people must have experienced exactly what she was experiencing. “I’m so sorry”
Abigail smiled softly. “It’s been two years”
“May God reward you, wipe your tears and make you smile again, Abigail. I don’t have money to give you, but God who sees my heart would repay all your good deeds.”
“Amen” Abigail muttered. “Take care of him”
Bola watched Abigail leave with a heavy heart, full of gratitude. The general hospital wasn’t all bad after all.
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Bola and George sat on either sides of the bed, watching Timothy as his eyes slowly opened up. Bola’s mouth shook as she summoned her brightest smile. Damn, she shouldn’t be crying at a time like this.
“Tim, sweetie” she managed as she bent and kissed Tim’s forehead.
“How are you, son?” George asked with a soothing smile on his face.
Tim looked around briefly. “The room is different”
Bola smiled. “Yes, honey, we are in another hospital, a very big hospital”
Instead of Tim looking happy, he looked really sad as he stared from George to Bola with tears in his eyes. “Thank you daddy, thank you mummy… thank you for taking care of me” his voice was weak as he smiled shakily. “I never wanted you to go through this”
Bola smiled tightly. “C’mon, don’t say that, Tim. You didn’t do anything, I’ve told you to stop saying that” she warned subtly.
George cut in and he stood. “I want you to meet someone, Tim”
George rushed out of the room and came back in with Mrs Pascal. “Tim, this is Mrs Pascal” George introduced with a smile. “She bought these for you” George raised a big bag of provisions for Tim to see. “She also brought us to this hospital and paid the bills”
“Say thank you to her, Tim” Bola urged.
“Oh c’mon” Mrs Pascal muttered as she rolled her eyes before smiling down at Tim. “You are such a strong lad, Tim, your mummy has told me so much about you. How do you feel now?”
Tim smiled. “Much better, ma’am” he said. “Thank you so much, ma” his eyes grew slightly intense. “May God reward you in multiple folds”
Mrs Pascal looked taken aback. She hadn’t expected such words from a thirteen years old boy. Simple as the prayer sounded, something about those words seemed surreal. Tim didn’t say much after that before he fell asleep but even as Mrs Pascal left the hospital, Tim’s words echoed after her.
Teju Pascal sat in her office two days after her encounter with Tim. She owned one of the largest malls in the state, thanks to her entrepreneural skills and the influence of her husband who was a politician. Thoughts of Tim remained constant in her mind just as his words replayed in her mind. Teju sighed and stood. Maybe it would be better to visit the family again. Something about Tim drew her in ways she couldn’t explain.
As she stood to leave, she felt a strange unease. ‘Beware… Beware’ a gentle voice repeated. Something wasn’t right. The warning came again and her unease increased. She stood and moved towards the window. Just then, a knock startled her and she stared at the door with fright. The warning came the third time and she swallowed. Why didn’t her secretary tell her she had guests. Something was wrong. Taking a deep breath, she moved back to her seat and sat pensively. She put her small phone inside her dress and put her hands on the table.
“Come in” she muttered.
The door opened and two men walked in, dressed in black. Their appearance wasn’t half as unnerving as their unsmiling faces. They closed the door firmly behind them. Teju took a deep breath and tried to smile. “Yes? Please have your seat, gentlemen” she said.
The two men sat, unsmiling.
“How may I help you?”
The two men exchanged looks, then one of them spoke up. “We’re looking for Mrs Teju Pascal”
Teju smiled shakily. “She’s not in”
The taller of the two men frowned. “But you look like her”
Teju chuckled freely. “I get that a lot. Actually, we are sisters, so, we look alike”
“I see, so where is she?”
Teju blinked, thinking fast. “She had to attend a business meeting with a client so she asked me to fill in for her” she lied. “She should be here in an hour. If you want, I can attend to you or you can wait for her”
The two men shared a look then the first guy put a small scary smile on his face. “We’ll wait”
Teju smiled shakily. “Good. Refreshments?” Before they could answer, Teju stood up, walked to the small office fridge and pulled out a pack of juice with two glasses. Her heart raced as she moved closer to the guys, serving them. As she filled the second cup, her eyes caught sight of the hilt of a gun poking out of the taller guy’s trouser. Her heart nearly stopped right there. Her legs shook as she walked back to the fridge. I don’t want to die, God, not today!
To be continued