Mr Pascal stared incredulously at his wife. “One would think you already learnt your lesson, but you haven’t”
Teju sighed and sat beside him on the couch of their large sitting room. “It’s not that, darling”
“It is what then?” he turned to face his wife. “You almost got lynched by someone you’ve been helping all your life. Someone you’ve spent so much money on, and barely a week after, you still want to help some… boy in the hospital?” Mr Pascal’s voice rose fractionally. He was clearly displeased with her.
Teju sighed and drew closer to Mr Pascal on the chair, putting her arm slightly around him. A wife always knows the way around her husband’s temper. “Cal” she called gently; he always loved her calling him that with her sonorous voice. “I know I just got out of a really sticky situation, but Cal, that doesn’t mean I should stop helping people because of one bad person” her husband pretended not to listen as he fastened his eyes on the flat screen television ahead but Teju knew he was listening to her every word. “Besides” she continued, “this is a young boy battling with his life… a young boy that truly deserves to live” Teju sighed as Cal fastened his eyes on the television. She put her hands on his cheeks and turned his face to her.
“Cal, listen to me” she said earnestly, looking into his eyes and compelling him to look into hers. “That boy could be our John”
“Don’t bring our son into this” Pascal snapped.
“He could be our son, Pascal” Teju insisted as her husband pulled out of her arms gently. “You need to see his face, he looks so innocent and sweet, all smiles despite his condition. Why should we fold our arms when we have the ability to help that sweet child and his family?” Teju saw the straight face of her husband and caressed his lap gently. “You always supported my charities and even encouraged me, why are you saying something else now?”
Mr Pascal shook his head. “You know how to twist a situation in your favour, right?” he grounded out. “I almost died thinking I had lost you, just last week. I was screaming like a lunatic on the road, I couldn’t get to you fast enough…” he shifted uncomfortably on the chair, “… and all because of an ingrate…”
Teju swallowed. She had known it would be hard to convince her husband. Since she discussed Timothy’s state of health with the doctor, two days back, she had been looking for an opportunity to broach this topic. She understood her husband’s reactions, appreciated it in fact, but she really had to see Tim recover. Maybe it was time to tell her husband what really happened the day she hosted assassins.
“Do you know that I was actually shot that day” she blurted out.
Mr Pascal turned his eyes to her slowly. “What do you mean?”
Teju Pascal’s eyes turned dreamy as she envisioned the incident of the past week. “The assassins actually trained their guns on me and pulled the trigger” she explained, “but nothing happened.” she stared into her husband’s disbelieving eyes. “The first guy had already shot my secretary, but when he shot at me, nothing happened. The other guy shot at me, yet, nothing happened, it was then you came in with the police”
Mr Pascal looked frozen in time as he stared at his wife.
“When I found Timothy’s parents at the general hospital, Timothy was in coma and I had to rush him to Wickins. When he became conscious, Timothy prayed for me that God will pay me back in multiple folds. That prayer kept replaying in my mind until that day; I got a warning in my spirit which made me give the assassins false information”
Teju stood. “It was after the whole episode that Timothy’s prayer became clear to me. In my little way, God used me to save him from death and I was in turn saved from death.”
Mr Pascal took a deep breath as his wife squatted before him. “You see why I am so passionate about this? That boy is special; I can’t not do something” Teju sat on her husband’s lap, playing with his hair with her fingertips. “I need your support…” she paused with a sly smile, weighing her words. “… and your funds”
Mr Pascal’s mouth twitched as he shook his head. “I knew there was more to this than my support”
Teju grinned, adjusting herself provocatively on her husband’s lap. Pascal’s breath caught slightly and his eyes thinned. “You know what you’re doing, right?”
“Damn right, I do” she kissed his ear gently, enjoying the catch in her husband’s voice, glad that she still had so much effect on him despite their years of togetherness. She needed no answer from him, she already knew he’d do her bidding; it was for a just cause, and despite his initial reluctance, Pascal wasn’t one to turn down a good deed.
Doctor Kemi looked up with a smile as Teju Pascal entered her office. “Teju” Kemi dropped the file in her hand. “I’m sure seeing you today means good news”
Teju smiled, pulling out a chair for herself. “I wanted everything to be ready before I come back here, so we can tell Rogers the good news together”
Doctor Kemi smiled wholeheartedly. “You have the money”
Teju nodded. “Most of it”
Kemi leaned forward. “I was also able to rustle up something with a few coworkers. It’s not much though”
Teju smiled. “You always amaze me. There’s something about that boy, right?”
Kemi nodded, looking thoughtful. “There is”
I know the feeling, Teju thought with a smile. “Why don’t we break the good news?”
Kemi stood instantly. “I can only imagine their happiness”
“Loveth didn’t talk to you still?” Bola asked, looking concerned.
Timothy shook his head with a soft pained smile. Bola could see in his eyes just how much he wanted to hear from his sister. It broke her heart to see him like this… it broke her heart that Loveth wouldn’t want to speak with her brother, knowing his condition. “You want me to speak with her?”
Timothy thought for a second, then shook his head. Bola couldn’t understand anything. Loveth was the closest to Timothy, Bola couldn’t get why she wouldn’t speak with him. There was no quarrel between them, so why…
Bola’s eyes widened as comprehension dawned on her. Oh God! That explains the pained look in Timothy’s eyes. God! When would she understand the reasoning of her eldest daughter?
“Mummy” Tim called.
“Uhn?” Bola pulled closer to her son. He had been in pains for two days now, she had told him countless stories, in her bid to ease his pain and divert his attention from it. She had sang to him and with him, and with George. They had tried their best to create a good atmosphere around him to make the pain a bit bearable. But Bola wanted it all over, she didn’t want to see her boy in some much pain.
“Can you tell me about heaven?” Tim muttered suddenly.
Bola’s heart skipped several beats and for a moment, Bola became tongue-tied. Bola stared at her son for a while, biting her inner cheek nervously. “Why… Why do you ask?”
Timothy smiled drily. “I just want to know”
Bola blinked back tears. She wished George was here now. She should have gone to buy the food instead of him. How was she to deal with this?
Bola drew closer to the bed, running her fingers on Tim’s bald head. Softly, she spoke to her son about God and the angels, about the elders, the gold streets of heaven, the mansions, the music… Slowly, she watched a smile seep through Tim’s face. Bola didn’t know what to make of this. Fear ravaged her heart and mind as she watched her son’s face earnestly. Answering his questions the best way she could. “You’ve been thinking about heaven a lot” she commented.
Tim paused slightly, then nodded. As a Christian and the wife of a pastor, heaven should be one of her hot topics, but now, she wanted to talk about anything but heaven. “Are you hungry?” Bola frowned. “Tim?”
Bola jumped to her feet as Timothy started gasping for breath. “Tim… What’s wrong?” Tears of fear sprang to Bola’s eyes as she watched her son struggle to breathe. Tim pointed towards the door, struggling to breathe as he mouthed ‘doctor’.
“Doctor” Bola screamed, scared of leaving her son. “Tim… Tim, please stay with me” Bola didn’t bother wipe the tears in her eyes as she ran to the door. “Doctor… Nurse…” she screamed on top of her lungs. “Anybody…” she ran back to Tim as his chest heaved fervently.
“Tim please… Please breathe honey… Please…” she sobbed as she watched her son struggle with life. It was like a living nightmare. Bola was sure she’d go crazy very soon.
Doctor Kemi dashed into the room with two nurses, moving Bola out of the way immediately. “Get two doctors in here.” he shot at a nurse then looked at Teju, nodding at Bola. “Get her out of here” she snapped as she tried to stabilize Tim.
“No! No, I won’t leave my son” she yelled. “Tim” Bola ran to the other side of the bed, trying to stabilize her son with her hands. Timothy continued gasping, his chest heaving heavily. Goosebumps scaled Bola’s skin as she sobbed, seeing through the film of tears covering her eyes. Teju couldn’t get her to leave as three doctors entered the room.
Bola’s face turned around as George’s arms enveloped her, dragging her forcefully out of the room. “George… no! Tim” Bola cried. Just before the door slammed shut, Bola saw Tim go still on the bed. Bola froze in George’s arms as the door slammed shut as Teju came out. Cold ravaged Bola’s being as she stared hypnotized at the closed door. No! No!
Loveth jerked up from the bed, breathing heavily. “T.boy” she muttered into the empty room. Sweat covered her forehead, slipping down her face as she blinked continuously. She never dreamt during the day, this would be the first. She almost never dreamt to start with. “No, Tim” she muttered as tears sprung to her eyes. No. She wasn’t going to cry because her brother was surely not dying.
Loveth climbed down from the bed, her small feet making contact with the cold floor. She shivered, feeling intense fear in her heart for the first time. Loveth had heard several times in church that God hears the prayers of children. And though she was the daughter of a pastor, she never really prayed a serious prayer on her own. It was time to test that theory.
She bent her knees and knelt by her bed, bracing her hands on the soft mattress and for the first time, Loveth really prayed.