Brukeme and Lisa sat in the food court; the section where different restaurants sold their assorted dishes in the mall. Lisa had ordered for fried rice and chicken while Brukeme had declined being hungry, even though his saliva gathered in his mouth with every movement of the fork from Lisa’s plate to her lips. After a minute of observing Brukeme from under her eyelashes, she got up and ordered for a plate of food for him. He declined loudly, claiming to be full and all, but she was having none of that. Brukeme surrendered meekly then he dived into the food with a vengeance. He had eaten only two slices of bread that morning.
Lisa: “so are you a student or you are through with studies?” she asked. She was done with her food. She sat back, sipping from her glass of juice, and watching Brukeme intently.
Brukeme: “I was not able to complete my education. I got a diploma though.” He said, shrugging before he bit into the sauced chicken that covered half of his plate.
Lisa: “what happened? Not enough money or what?” she asked.
Brukeme: “I was a foster child. I ran away from home when the suffering became too much. I have been living on the streets ever since. I funded my education from ss1 until I ran out of funds then i stopped.” He replied, before cleaning his lips with the paper napkin on his tray.
Lisa: “So what are you doing now?” she asked.
Brukeme: “well, I am hoping to get a job here in the mall. In fact I came for an interview today. It just ended when I met you.” He replied, stretching his legs and sighing in satisfaction.
Lisa: “which shop? My mom owns a shop here in the mall and I know most of the managers of the various shops as well as the mall management. I could help.” She replied.
Brukeme stared beyond her, not hearing anything she had said. Walking towards them, her sisters tagging along, was Fidelia, and she was looking at him like he was a dirty rag that had been used to clean vomit. Wetin I do this girl sef? She just suddenly hate me like say I be dirty. I no understand.” He thought as Fidelia walked passed with her head raised high like a queen. He turned and saw that she had picked a table just by his side. He suddenly felt uncomfortable. He turned to Lisa and smiled. The girl looked at him suspiciously and repeated her last statement.
Voke stared at the man crying on the ground in embarrassment. “Maybe I for lock up o. This my big mouth sef. But AIDS na wetin dem dey hide? He need to know now. Friday sef, which agenda you get for mind sef? You just wan punish this man. Why you no hear him side of the story first?” all these ran through his head as he stared at Dr Fejiro.
Dr Fejiro got up from the ground and wiped his eyes. He brought out his phone to make a call and saw that the phone was off. The battery was flat. He dropped the phone back into his pocket, picked the pack of cigarette, lit one and called for the bill. He paid quietly, when the waiter came, then he turned to look at Voke, who was still seating on the ground.
Dr Fejiro: “let me drop you off.” He said, slowly.
Voke looked at him then he stood up from the ground. They both entered the car and drove away from the bar. Dr Fejiro continued smoking as they drove on. The rain was still pouring and the road was now a small river. At Jakpa junction, Dr Fejiro pressed his foot on the accelerator, trying to beat the traffic light there and suddenly a broken down Toyota Corolla appeared out of the blue and ran into the driver side of the car. The car bounced to the side of the road then a Hilux brushed the back of the car, managing to avoid running into it head on. The car screeched in the rain slicked road then stopped by a traffic light.
People rushed to get them out of the car and they were quickly rushed to a hospital, close by.
Fidelia watched Brukeme and the girl, talking and laughing like old friends. She had nearly staggered into a table when she saw them seated together. It took a lot of strength for her to walk passed the two of them the way she did. If anyone had seen how her stomach wobbled with fear and embarrassment, they would have felt sorry for her. Kate came back to seat down after ordering snacks and soft drinks for them.
Kate: “Fidelia look at that your friend from that night.” She whispered, watching Ese fearfully. Since the suicide attempt, everybody was careful around Ese. Nobody wanted a repeat of that scene.
Fidelia: “He is not my friend. I don’t even know his name.” she replied, angrily.
Kate: “then why have you two been darting quick looks at each other, when no one is watching?” she asked, smiling.
Fidelia: “I don’t know what you are talking about.” She replied, turning to watch Brukeme.
Ese: “I want to see a movie.” She suddenly said.
Kate looked at the cinema which was directly opposite them, then she looked at Fidelia and shrugged. They took their order as takeout and walked into the cinema. As they passed Brukeme, Kate grinned and winked at him. His faced grew hot and he fidgeted in his seat.
As they paid for their tickets, Fidelia’s phone rang. It was her mother.
Fidelia: “hello mummy.” She said after accepting the call.
Mrs Anigboro: “where are you people? i just received a call that your father had an accident. Come and meet me at Victory Hospital along Warri-Sapele road now.” She said and ended the call.
Fidelia stood with the phone in her hand and stared at the beautiful cartoon face of Moana. “Her questions are quite straightforward, I guess. Mine are not.” She thought to herself, as she adjusted her glasses on her nose, gathered up her sisters and rushed them out of the mall; Brukeme forgotten.
Lisa watched Brukeme as he watched the three girls walk away. She sighed inwardly. “Getting a man is really difficult. It is either they want money or pussy or they don’t want you. What do I have to do to get a man of my own?” she thought to herself.
Lisa: “why did you come to me?” she asked; her eyes on the drawing she was making with her nails on the table.
Brukeme: “i…you…you are beautiful.” He stuttered in reply.
Lisa: “who is that girl? You and her barely talked but both your eyes would not let each other’s bodies go.” She asked, staring at him intently.
Brukeme: “it is complicated. I have to go. Thank you for lunch. I am sorry I don’t have the money to pay for it.” He said and stood up.
Lisa looked at him for sometime then she sighed.
Lisa: “next time, you will pay.” She said, then she smiled. ”who knows when a good looking man will come along again. One that is not scared of me, or not plotting to scam me? A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” She thought to herself, putting the thoughts of Fidelia’s hungry look out of her mind.
Brukeme smiled and nodded. They exchanged numbers and Lisa walked him out to the gate. She asked to drop him off in her car but he declined. After a quick hug, he jumped into a keke and waved as the keke zoomed off.
The hospital was a crowded mess when Mrs Anigboro got there. There were babies crying and mothers trying to calm them down; there were mothers crying and sons trying to be men and there were families quarreling over hospital bills, the price of drugs and there was the crying and moaning of those in pain; the bitterest of all the noise. Then there was the smell of antiseptics, spirits and disinfectants, drugs; the fragrance of a place that was too clean to be human, too brutally efficient, and too white. It sapped one’s strength and Mrs. Anigboro didn’t like it.
She managed to get to the front desk and identify herself as the wife of an accident victim. She was informed that Dr Fejiro was presently in the emergency ward undergoing treatment. The nurse further informed her that her son was uninjured physically but he had lapsed into a coma. She had wanted to inform the nurse that she had no son when Fidelia and her sisters rushed in. The girls were crying and she had to console them and give them the news. Fidelia’s eyes were dry but shadowed with pain. She stopped short when she heard that there was a young man labeled as their brother. She immediately demanded to see the boy.
The nurse led all of them to the room where, Voke laid, in a sleep that seemed like death; monitors, pipes and needles, struggling to keep his spirit from fleeing his body. Fidelia walked close to the bed and stared at his face. She could see the resemblance. It was not much but it was there. They had the same eyes and the same lips. She stared at the boy, then his face became hazy as she fell to the floor in a faint. The room exploded in pandemonium. Her mother and sisters raised alarm, crying and screaming for a doctor.
Within a few minutes, Fidelia had her own bed and drip in her arm. Her sister Kate sat beside her, while her mother and Ese had gone to wait for news of their father. A doctor entered the room quietly and smiled on seeing that Fidelia was awake. Kate was asleep on a chair by the bed. Rain could be seen streaming down the window pane and blurring the view out of the room.
Doctor: “how are you feeling?” she asked, checking her heart rate and temperature.
Fidelia: “I feel weak and lethargic.” She replied, slowly, licking her lips.
Doctor: “yes, it’s the baby. Have you started ante natal?” she asked.
Fidelia: “what! What baby?” she asked, her voice raised in shock.
Kate opened her eyes at the noise. The doctor looked from her to Fidelia in surprise then understanding dawned.
Doctor: “you don’t know? Oh… my. My dear, you are three weeks pregnant. Congratulations.” She said, smiling widely.
Kate: “Jesus!” she whispered in shock.
Fidelia looked at Kate then at the surprised doctor, and then she placed her hands on her head and burst into helpless tears.
Question: what do you think Fidelia should do about the pregnancy? Do you think Voke and Dr Fejiro will leave the hospital alive? Is there any chance of Brukeme and Lisa starting a relationship?
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