April 22, 2031
The hospital was a usually busy one but at this time of the day, there was very little going on. The opposite will be the case in ten hours time. It would be evening then and the nurses on duty would be so busy that they would have no time to even glance at the television.
It was EKME HOSPITAL, one of the biggest private hospitals in town and the biggest in the estate. Founded twelve years ago, the hospital was known for it’s good services and inexpensive charges. Even with the large facility and high cost of maintenance, it still posed a relatively low burden on patients and their families.
The hospital was owned by Dr Martin Ekwueme who founded it after his legal retirement. He had claimed to establish the hospital with the money paid him at retirement but everyone knew establishing the hospital cost more than that. And even with the low charges made, a lot of profit was still being made.
‘Dad, I think you should just go and rest at the house in Nnewi. You shouldn’t have come here at all.’
That was Martin Ekwueme jnr, the first son of Dr Martin Ekwueme who graduated as a Mechanical Engineer. He worked in the city of Port Harcourt in an oil company and had come to Anambra to visit his mother who was on a short visit to Nigeria. She had moved to the United Kingdom to live with their last born some years ago and both of them had come to Nigeria for a short stay.
Their parents had separated a year before Dr Ekwueme’s retirement based on ‘irreconcilable differences’. It had come as a shock to everyone. After over thirty years of marriage with no notable or significant disagreements, the couple had decided to part ways without giving any reasons apart from irreconcilable differences’ and incompatibility.
Their children had been surprised the most and all efforts made by them to identify the problem and fix the marriage proved futile. The woman kept telling the kids that their father was wicked but gave them no reasons for saying so with the excuse that she did not want them to hate their own father, while the Doctor himself remained quiet and gave no reason no matter how pressured he was.
‘Son, I will take a rest. I just had to come today. I only come to the hospital on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and a lot of people would be expecting me, it won’t be nice if I don’t show up.’
‘But you shouldn’t do it to the detriment of your own health, you should have rested at home today, you’re not looking healthy at all. I thank God Tracy hinted me that you weren’t feeling fine.’
‘Have you seen Tracy after she left here?’
‘No, she called me on phone and told me she is with you since last night.’
‘I had a nice time talking with her after so many years,’ the man said with a deep breath. Tracy was the name of the family’s last born.
‘Don’t shift the focus Dad, we’re talking about your health here.’
The argument in Dr Martin Ekwueme’s office continued. The man who had a tall and moderately sized body was seated on the swivel behind the table, he had some medical files in his hand and his eyeglasses on. His son, Junior was standing close to the door, his hand on the knob but facing back towards his father. He had been like that for several minutes. He wanted to leave the office but the talk with his father had not let him proceed.
‘I’m not staying for long today, just two hours more and I’ll be going back home.’ the man explained to his son.
‘You should just go to Nnewi when you leave here, don’t stay in the house here.’ Martin jnr said in a calm voice.
‘I really don’t want to go to Nnewi except your mother would come there to see me, it reminds me of her so much.’ Dr Martin said in a soft tensed tone.
Martin was about to turn the knob but his father’s word stopped him. He took his fingers off the knob and turned back to look at his father. He then exhaled and inhaled deeply before proceeding back to the table.
‘Mother doesn’t want to see you,’ he said in a sad tone as he sat in one of the visitor’s seat behind his father’s table. ‘I don’t know but…’ he stopped and look at his father’s face.
‘Go on son, spill it, don’t be scared to hurt me. I’m already an injured man.’ the man said with so much pain in his eyes and voice.
‘I don’t know why you would never tell us the reason for your separation but mum seems to grow her hatred for you everyday.’ he stopped and paused to see if his words had not hit the man badly. He continued on seeing that the man took it calmly, ‘She doesn’t want you to know her movements and doesn’t want to come around here just because of you, she’ll be going to Lagos in two days time, after finishing what she came to do in the village and from there she’ll travel back to the UK.’
‘Son, please can you do something for me?’ the man with a pitiful look. The boy’s attention was on him. ‘Can you talk your mother into seeing me, even if it’s for thirty minutes?’
‘Daddy, that would be difficult.’ Martin sighed bitterly. Then he looked his father in the eyes, ‘If only you would tell me the problem, we, your kids can resolve it if you open up to us.’
The man gave a gasp of exasperation and fell back in the chair. ‘She would hate me more if I tell you,’ he said with his eyes closed. ‘She would hate me.’
Martin had a confused look on his face. He tried to speak but no words came out.
‘Look at me son, I didn’t develop any fever. The fever excuse is a lie. What’s making me look sick is because of the worries I’ve had since I heard of her presence in Nigeria. I’m in a tight condition now and I have some challenges that only her can help me with.’ Dr Ekwueme confessed.
Martin jnr stared at his father’s face for a while. ‘You said she would hate you more if you open up to us?’
‘Argh!’ Dr Ekwueme suddenly grabbed his head and his face squeezed in pain, almost falling from the chair.
Martin got on his feet immediately and rushed to help his father.
‘Don’t come!’ Dr Ekwueme raised his hand in the air to stop his son who had already turned to the other side of the table. He struggled to sit up.
‘Dad, I need to call one of the Doctors to see you.’ Martin said with a worried look on his face as he helped his father back on the swivel properly.
‘No,’ Dr Ekwueme held his hand to stop him from going. ‘There’s no need for that, no Doctor can help me, only your mother can,’ he said, looking deeply into his son’s eyes.
Martin stared at his face for a while. The man was sitting up and his face was relaxed again.
‘I’m going to bring mum to you today, but on the condition that you’ll follow what I say. I will take you to Dr Dorcas and we will go to the house from there.’
‘Dr Dorcas says you need a lot of rest, I think we have to go to Nnewi from here.’ Martin Jnr said as he walked with his father along the corridor in the hospital.
‘I still have some of my things in the house here, I think I should just rest for some hours. When you come back from seeing your mother, you can take me to Nnewi. I’m sure your mother must be waiting for you now.’
‘Okay then, I have to tell them to keep an eye on you there.’
‘I don’t need anyone to look after me son, I know well how to manage myself.’ the man said. He stopped and squinted as they got to the entrance of the corridor. ‘What’s that?’ he said. He could hear a sound of people arguing. ‘The nurses at the reception are at it again,’ he frowned his face bitterly. He always hated it when the nurses were idle.
They walked out of the corridor into the reception and met the nurses arguing with a young woman.
‘You cannot just see him, you have to see another Doctor.’ the Matron said in a loud voice to the young lady, oblivious of Dr Martin Ekwueme’s presence.
‘Well, then I’ll wait for him or come back tomorrow when you can fix an appointment with him.’ the young lady replied in a calm voice, not like one who was arguing.
‘We won’t fix an appointment with him for you, there are other doctors who can see you and if you’re not ready, you leave or I’ll get the security for you.’ the Matron threatened.
‘I still think you should tell him someone wants to see him, he might make out time to see me.’ the young lady argued.
‘What’s happening here?’ Dr Ekwueme spoke, bringing everyone’s attention to him.
‘Oh! Good morning sir,’ the Matron curtsied. ‘This lady I heard came here first last week Friday and requested to see you. She was told you were not available and advised to see other doctors. She refused. And when she insisted she wanted to see you, she was told that you only cpme on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but that you were already booked for the two days this week and even next week. But today she’s here again, asking us to tell you to make out time for her from your already booked day.’
‘It’s okay,’ Dr Ekwueme said to the Matron and turned to the young lady with an inquisitive look on his face. ‘So young lady, what’s the matter?’
‘Good afternoon Doctor,’ she greeted, bending her knees slightly. ‘I have an health issue and I. requested to see you.’
‘Okay, but we have other doctors here who can attend to you, even Doctors more efficient than I am.’
‘Yes sir, I’m aware of other doctors but I only wanted to make sure it’s you that attends to me, if only for a few minutes.’ she replied.
Dr Ekwueme paused to take a look at her. She dressed in a modest apparel, on low cut and kept a light smile on while talking to him. He seemed to be considering giving her audience.
‘You should allow other doctors see you,’ Martin jnr stepped forward to his father’s aid. ‘As you can see, he was about leaving and can’t see you this week or even next week like you’ve been told. See the other doctors if you love yourself.’
He led his father away, leaving the young lady with the nurses at the reception.
The Matron had a victorious look on her face when Tarasha looked at her. Tarasha was tempted to talk but she didn’t. She looked at the Doctor again as he walked away, he didn’t look healthy or fit to her. She had to use her plan B if she wouldn’t be able to see him until after two weeks like they said. But she loved plan A the most, she would have been able to hold him to ransom with his hospital.
‘I’m free if you want to talk to me,’ a young handsome Doctor who had been watching them offered.
She hissed and eyed him before turning away. She could hear tongues wagging and the nurses laughing at her as she walked out of the hospital.
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Dr Martin Ekwueme’s Residence, Ngozika Estate
Dr Ekwueme had just finished having his lunch and was still at the dining room when a maid came to announce the arrival of his ex-wife. The news had taken him so much by surprise that he couldn’t take the drugs he was supposed to use for afternoon.
He sat there on the shiny metal and leather chair, with his plates on the table unpacked. He had been wishing to see Adaeze but now he wondered how he was going to face her.
She had said to him the last time they met that she would never forgive him for all his atrocious deeds. He had never done anything against her, he loved and protected her all his life and for their thirty two years in marriage never lifted a hand against her. But her love for him disappeared when she found out his cruel deeds against humanity and the country which he claimed to love. She had said to him that she could not continue to live with such a man like him and requested for a divorce immediately paying deaf ears to his pleas and claim to have turned a new leave.
He wondered how his son had been able to convince her to see him finally after many years of pleading. And what surprised him most was that she came to him in less than five hours. His son must have said something really serious to her.
Fear gripped his heart as he heard the voice he hadn’t heard in years. She had entered into the house and was looking for him, he could tell she was already in the living room. He sat still, knowing that she was going to locate him soon.
Here she was, standing directly opposite him with an angry look on her face.
Martin closed his eyes. She was still as mad at him like she was over ten years ago when they divorced even though he still loved her like no other woman in his life. He had loved her like that and never cheated on her while they were married.
‘Martin, what is this I hear that you’ve invited all the kids to come over during the weekend so that you can tell them what transpired between us.’
He opened his eyes to look at her. She had aged just like him in the past few years but she still looked very beautiful to him even though she was in her late sixties.
He now knew what made her come so quickly to him, just hours after his son had gone to her. His son had told her that he (Martin snr) was about to tell them why she divorced him. That was it. She was still protecting him, trying to make the children not hate their father. Was that because she still had some love left for him? He asked himself.
‘I have to do it,’ he played along. ‘I have to tell them.’
‘Have you gone nuts?’ she gave him a cold look, climbing unto the dining.
‘Yes, I have. I’ve gone mad without you. I’m dying of guilt and I don’t have anyone to listen to me. I have to let it out before I die.’ he said, looking down as he couldn’t look into her eyes.
‘You’re really crazy. How can you tell your children? They would detest you.’ she said, now closer. She placed her handbag on the dining table.
‘I deserve it. Let them hate me. I brought it upon myself.’ he replied, now considering on making it real – considering telling his children if she wasn’t going to listen to him.
‘I won’t allow you do that.’ she gave him a furious look.
‘I have to tell them, I need someone to listen to me. You’ve been the one who listens to me and nobody has occupied that spot since you left twelve years ago.’
‘What exactly do you need someone to listen to?’ she queried.
‘I’m dying Ada, I know. These drugs here cannot save me.’ he raised up the nylon of drugs on the table and dropped it back. ‘I’ve been having nightmares of my death for some weeks now and it got more intense few days ago. I know I’m about to pay for my sins but I need someone to talk to before I finally die.’
‘You deserve something more than death, you did so much evil; you stained your noble profession and betrayed the trust of many in you.’
Tears began to drop from the man’s eyes. He picked up a napkin to stop the tears.
‘Mum,’ a voice called from behind. It was that of Martin Ekwueme jnr.
‘Give me and your father some time,’ she said, turning back to Martin who was already approaching the dining.
Martin stopped and stared for a moment at his father, he could see their discussion was heated. He stared at his mum’s face for a while before walking away hesitatingly.
‘These kids must not know anything, I won’t let you pass your guilt to them.’ she continued after the boy left.
Martin Ekwueme remained silent.
‘I’ve lived with the guilt of the things you did for the past few years and it’s tormenting enough for me just knowing we used the monies you got from evil together. I don’t want you to pass the guilt to the kids, I’m protecting them from your torment.’
More tears flowed from the Doctor’s eyes. It was confirmed. She didn’t love him anymore and wasn’t protecting him, her protection was for their kids.
His life had been a disaster. The feeling of unfulfillment never left him from the day she divorced him. Even after he established the hospital and tried to get fulfillment by helping people with it, his past will not let him be. And the thoughts of what he had lost, Adaeze, the woman he had worked so hard to be able to spend the rest of his life with finally leaving him and hating him took away every room of happiness from his heart.
He knew his days were numbered. The recent nightmares had confirmed it. He was always seeing a person whose face was always covered with a mask, shooting a bullet into his head.
‘If you love your children, and I hope you do. Do not let them know about it, do not trouble their lives with your problem, allow them continue their lives and don’t put the seed of evil into them.’ Adaeze said in a concluding tone and picked her bag from the table. ‘Goodday,’ she said before storming out of the place.
‘How did it go mum?’ Martin jnr who was waiting outside walked to his mum as she came out of the house.
‘Take me back to Nibo’ she said , walking to the car. ‘I’ll call to confirm if Tracy has gotten home so she can make plans for us to leave.’
Martin froze where he was. He had expected something positive from his parent’s meeting, after over ten years that his mum agreed to meet with their father. But he was wrong, he could see from the look on her face that nothing pleasant happened between the couple. He heaved a sigh of frustration, after several years his mother was still bitter at his father and didn’t look like she was going to ever forgive him.
He finally moved from where he was but he entered into the house again. He met his father still at the dining with his eyes closed and tears around the eyelids. He decided not to say anything and he quietly turned back and walked out to meet his mum in the car. They drove out of the compound few minutes later.
Dr Martin Ekwueme still remained on his seat at the dining. The maids had come to clear the used plates from the table and served some fruits. The Doctor stayed still with his eyes closed. He knew he would never see his wife again. It was the end of their love.
He remained there for several minutes, imagining how his life would be. Then suddenly, he felt a presence in the room with him. He opened his eyes and he saw his visitor. Dressed on black from head to toe, the face was also covered with a mask, there was a gun in the left hand.
He heaved a sigh. His nightmare was coming to pass.
He saw the gun raised. He was sure his death had come. He had nothing more to live for and couldn’t wait for the bullet to enter into his head.
Who is Dr Martin Ekwueme and of what relevance is his story?
You’ll find out in the coming episodes. The story becomes more interesting.
Answers for the previous weeks
Q1 – What is the full name of the woman Stephanie visited?
Ans – Tinuke George
Remember, her daughter is Stephanie George. (In course of my writing, I’ve made mistakes several times using Williams instead of George, so you’ll be taken as correct if you answered ” Tinuke Williams” )
Q2 – List out the items dropped on the floor by Henry.
Ans – Henry dropped two guns and two knives. He only took out his car keys and showed his belt
Question of the week
– What is the occupation of the first child of Dr Martin Ekwueme?