Author’s note: For some reason, oniovo, I couldn’t get this character out of my head. He kept running around in my mind like a real person, and l looked out for him in Lagos traffic!
So I gave him a few more paragraphs, hoping to write him out of my consciousness. It worked. Not completely though. He’s still there. Lurking in a corner, smirking at me. However, this is a start.
If, unlike me, you’re done with these two and their story please let me know. I’ll spare you this epilogue until I post new material . If not, I hope you enjoy reading (as much as I did writing) for the next 12 days.
She calls me Edosa, mum. The name you gave me. Sometimes negligently. Often intentionally. And it makes me mushy in her arms. I can catch the stars out of the sky for her. Stop the rain from falling once she mentions my name that way.
Do you recall meeting her? We visited you last month. For a whole week. The week of my birthday.
She spent each day of it by your side, talking to you, taking selfies and reporting my antics to you. How I distracted her at the meeting where we met at first instance. Rushed her into the relationship which we both can’t seem to do without now.
As I observed her with you, it produced the idea for these mails, and Adesuwa has graciously committed to reading them out to you for the next one year only. Thank you, Ade!
They like Esohe – Ade & Ivie. I don’t know how I’d have reacted if they didn’t. Ade has always been protective of me; so her initial reservation, hesitation towards Esohe did not come as a surprise. Ivie, on the other hand, became friends with her immediately.
Happy 60th birthday, mum!
I understand it was a quiet celebration since you were mostly unaware of much of the goings-on. Nevertheless, I speak for all of us when I say we are all grateful you saw your diamond year. Wishing you many many happy, peaceful returns of the day.
Merry Christmas, mum!
I talked to you on Christmas Day. Do you remember? It didn’t matter that you made no sense whatsoever; it was great hearing you say something, anything at all.
Esohe and I spread ourselves during the holidays.
We spent Christmas Eve with friends of hers – Jennifer & Harry & Alero.
Christmas Day, I met her mum for the first time and saw where my love gets her incredible looks from. Iye, I ate one correct homemade Owo soup and boiled plantains. Ah, Esohe’s mum’s cooking’s spot on! Almost licked my fingers in appreciation. The dish took me straight back to my secondary school days in Benin. I still remember the taste in my mouth.
Boxing Day, we were on our own, creating our holiday traditions, according to Esohe. I liked the sound of that.
The three images included here are pictorials of the holidays:
Photo 1: left to right: Esohe, Jennifer, Alero, Harry & I.
Photo 2: Esohe’s mum, Mrs. Eweka, at the door behind me and Esohe’s son, Osayu. Esohe took this picture.
Photo 3: One big, happy family – Esohe, Osayu and I.
Iye – bini language term for mum
Happy New Year, Iye
May this year bring better tidings than the previous one, and quite a number of us hope, pray that Buhari doesn’t return for a second term. The country is retrogressing under his leadership, ~not~ fighting corruption and all.
We entered the new year together, Esohe & I. Counted down the seconds to 2019. We called you afterwards. You never said a word. We heard you chuckle once though.
I woke up to her warm body beside mine on the first day of the year. In my bed. In my house. It was surreal, and a fantastic way to start the year.
I know I promised to wait until she’s ready to talk about our future together but sometimes, I’m not sure how long I can keep my end of the bargain. If I don’t take into consideration the agonizing weeks we were apart, we’ve been seeing each other since September. Officially. That’s three months. Or four?
She thinks it’s early days. Baby steps, it’s how she puts it. I’m wondering: why wait? And for how much longer?
I want more than her weekends and holidays sleepovers. Or depending on our work schedules to determine when and for how long we see each other.
I want to kiss her goodbye as we part ways in the morning and do the same when we meet again at night. Banter about our respective days at the dining table and exchange jokes and anecdotes as our heads hit the pillows on our shared bed.
I want her leaving the house in the mornings and returning at nights as my wife, my lover, my friend, the mother of my child…Is that too much to ask? Too soon?
But I gave my word, and a man is only as good as his word. Me & my big mouth.
She’ll be 34 this month too. I’m thinking of making my first birthday gift to her something grand, something memorable, lasting. 10 years from now she’d remember it, refer to it. Do you have any ideas, Iye?
Photo: This is an old one (She has told me to delete it several times!) from last year. The first time she unconsciously spent the night at my place. Dozing off on the ottoman in the sitting room. See how peaceful she sleeps.
She gave me a resounding, “No!” Then in the same breath reminded me of being in breach of my contract, claiming I was also putting her under duress.
Yeah, yeah. I know, mum, but I couldn’t help myself. I thought when she saw the ring, it would stir her mind in the direction I wanted it to go.
It stung a bit to hear her refusal; more so because it was our first Valentine’s together. I think I ruined the day for both of us.
I figured proposing on the universally accepted day of love was a splendid idea. Or what do you think, Iye?
Photo: That’s the ring. Still in its box. Beautiful, isn’t it? This image doesn’t do it justice. Even Esohe acknowledged my taste. Not enough to sway her apparently.
Why spoil the good thing we have with marriage? She wants to know.
That’s elevating us to a noble level., babe. I tell her.
Sadly, I understand where she’s coming from. Memories of her first marriage play an important role here. But like the vulture, I’m a patient bird. Though I haven’t quite displayed that attribute lately now, have I?
I’ll ask again. Sometime soon. Wish me luck, mum!
The bad news continues, Iye. Buhari returns for a second term, and according to the polls, with resounding victory. Almost as resounding as Esohe’s No! We are in for it for the next four years!
Ade says you’re moving into a hospice at the end of the month. She’s finding it difficult to cope.
Iye, this was definitely not what I envisioned for you at 60. You were supposed to continue as the dotting grandma you were, reaping the rewards of raising three successful children, at peace and happy with the world.
But I have stopped asking why now? Why you? Why us?
Ade, thanks for the sacrifice. Let me know how I can help.
Three months down, nine to go, and I’m already feeling the effect of sending these mails off to you, mum.
Apparently, putting them together monthly isn’t as easy as I thought. I have 30/31 days to compile the activities I want to share, yet I often find myself scrambling towards the end of the month. Grabbing five minutes at work once I arrive. Spending some of my lunch time to catch up. Scribbling during meetings or tapping whole paragraphs into my ‘phone at the dining table back at home. All in an effort to put down everything I want to say. My little contribution to keeping your brain alive.
I could easily delegate it to Seyi, my assistant; dictate my thoughts to him, in the order I’d want them to appear and peruse the finished document once he’s done but…this is too personal to involve him in. Esohe has pitched in a couple of times but I sincerely can’t send out what she wrote; she’s basically reporting ALL my antics to you and to the amusement of Ade!
Dipo’s urging us to leave B&I, set up our own practice. He already has a name for it – S &W.
Mum, do you remember my friend, Oladipo? You met him more times than I can count when we just started at B & I.
This is not the first time. He has been dropping subtle hints since the middle of last year. And each time, I brushed it aside. I told him I’ll think about it. With the onset of the new year, he’s practically breathing down my neck for a decision; he has resorted to hounding me about it!
Truth is, B & I has been wonderful to me. If we branch out on our own now, no doubt, some of its clients would come along with us because we earned their trust while being leads in several of their cases.
I don’t think I want to do that to bosses who have had my back, especially when I needed them most. Case in point was your diagnosis last year. I didn’t even have to complete the request, for some time off, before it was granted.
I will think about his proposition. Not specifically about leaving but about zeroing in on my future plans for my career. Esohe’s thoughts on it is this: Did I plan to work all my life in B & I? Brilliant lawyer that I am? Hmm.
How are you settling in the hospice? Ade says you keep to yourself mostly but do not object to being among other patients in the communal lounge. I suppose you’re still adjusting to your new environment. I’d like to hear that you’ve made a friend or two the next time Ade & I talk.
Photo: Dipo & I at the office. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember him. This is what he looks like now – after fatherhood and several drinks.
Did you have a pleasant Easter celebration, mum?
I understand the entire family spent Easter Sunday with you – Ade & her family and Ivie too, even in the middle of her wedding preparations. I wish I were present to complete the number. It’s good to know you’re always surrounded by loved ones. And never forget how much I love you, mum. Everything I am and ever hope to be, I owe to you.
Back here, the Easter holidays were amazing! Esohe & I & Osayu, spent four days of a long weekend together. Like a family should.
It has been barely two months since my disastrous proposal and I’ve practically given myself a stay of execution though it’s proving difficult to follow through. However, I do not plan to indict myself.
Her son, Osayu, is six years old. On the outside, he’s a typical reserved child – well behaved and quiet-looking. Until he broke out his game console and challenged me to a game.
Mum, your son didn’t do you proud! A six-year-old took me to the cleaners. Holding his remote with one hand. I think he used me to practice for his real opponent, whoever that is!
Did I say he was quiet? I take it back! He can talk for Africa, Europe and the US! He’s going to be a lawyer one day.
Apparently, once he got comfortable with me, it opened Pandora’s box and the questions and comments came in rapid-fire, furious succession.
Esohe was little or no help, either. Leaving me to fend for myself with a circling shark in the form of her son. Treat him like one of your impossible clients, she suggested, trying unsuccessfully to keep a neutral expression as she said so.
Be careful what you wish for, I had to remind myself. Because Osayu is certainly all I wanted and …oh so much more. In other words, he’s the typical, precocious, inquisitive, garrulous child.
Easter Monday couldn’t come quickly enough when we returned him to Esohe’s mum and spent some time with her. Even while there, there was no peace for the wicked. Osayu commandeered my complete attention! What…what have I gotten myself into?! I realised then that I could handle him in small doses at a time.
Iye, was I this trouble at his age? Never letting you take a breath? Talking you into oblivion?
Esohe says I’m like that now! That woman!
Photo: At Esohe’s mum’s apartment – Me, Osayu, Esohe & her mum
Any good memories we shored up during the holidays were almost wiped out soon after because things took an unexpected turn, and Esohe & I had our first altercation.
I was away in Port Harcourt for a three-day conference. When I touched base with her, she complained about feeling unwell. Go to the doctor? No. Self-medicate? Uh uh. Rest? No, can do. Work calls.
I was a bit upset with her and told her quietly that only a healthy person could work. She thanked me for my advice and broke the connection, claiming she had work to attend to.
At night, she claimed she was feeling better. Shame to bad people! i.e me. Told her it won’t hurt to still go to the doctor’s just to be certain all was well. Same response: no way!
Halfway through our routine morning call the next day, she dropped her ‘phone without warning. I became alarmed when the next thing I heard was violent retching followed by rapid vomiting. I cut the connection and called Tony, my driver, and gave him specific instructions.
I was on the line with my GP before they arrived at his clinic and talked only to him afterwards. He kept her for observation overnight; at least she’d rest.
Finally, I called her mum, then her boss, Mrs. Osula. I think we all suspected the same thing, but no one wanted to be the first to mention it.
And if your mind, Ade, is drifting in the same ‘good sickness’ direction, keep your thoughts to yourself and allow me to confirm or deny it in next month’s mail or if we talk before then!
It is official.
Personally, I’m exhilarated. I can’t keep calm. I’m over the moon, doing joyful dance steps to externalize my emotions.
With Esohe, I’m so cool you can skate on me. Because she’s at her wits’ end. What an upset this is! She thought she was safe! Why didn’t I use protection? Because she didn’t think it was necessary. Why on earth didn’t her morning-after pill work?! What was she going to do now?!
I can answer that for free. It’s a no-brainer. Keep it! I want the baby.
Of course, I don’t say that out aloud. Not immediately though. Instead in my calmest tone ever, I inform her I’d support whatever decision she makes. Afterwards I take her in my arms, smiling widely, foolishly, thankfully over her confused head.
Then she adjourns any discussion on it for a whole week! Life goes on. We go to work. We go out on dates. We spend time together and talk about everything else under the Sun except the elephant in the room!
And my patience, on the other hand, is wearing thin, hanging tenuously from the edge of a cliff.
We’ll have the baby, she blurts out from nowhere at breakfast on Sunday morning.
Between the time of discovering the pregnancy and now, something has come to light. We found out she dropped the ball; she forgot to take her pill a while back as and when due. She’s more than 10 weeks gone already, and the telling signs are manifesting already – fuller boobs, unusual fatigue, ever so subtle weight gain.
In response, I let out my first genuine smile in days and take hold of her hand, already thinking of breaking out that black velvet box with the sparkling jewel in it. Why did it take her seven days to come to this logical conclusion?
And I’m still not going to marry you, she continues, sending my rising euphoria spiraling, head first, down a ferocious waterfall.
Ade, you’d better not be laughing as you read this!
We skyped with you, Iye. Did you recognize us? It was good, really good seeing you again. You looked happy, healthy, relaxed.
Photo: Esohe & I just before we made the skype call to you.
Iye, I’m worried.
Really, really worried.
Esohe’s practically living with me now because I was uncomfortable with her being all alone at her place. In her condition, she needs people around her.
She chose my house over her mum’s since it is closer to her office. How can she think of work when the miracle of God is unfurling every minute inside her?! I can think of nothing else! Will it be a boy or a girl? Whose face will I stare into once the baby comes out? How big or small will s/he be? Quiet or loud? Dark or light–skinned? Chubby or…?
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Esohe’s nausea is cause for concern. It is not only confined to the mornings. In the evenings too. Sometimes in the afternoons. It’s anytime sickness. When she eats, it regurgitates everything and some digested meals, I think. She can’t keep anything down, and I’m apprehensive about it. The mere smell of cooking oil threatens a mad dash to the bathroom. She’s this close to bringing out her internal organs.
She looks pale. She’s not eating well. She’s not sleeping well either. The only thing she has going for her is work. But how can she do that effectively if she’s practically running on empty – nutritionally and physically?
In the last few weeks, she has lost so much weight; she’s a poor imitation of her former, lovely self.
She spent three days in the hospital. I watched her sleep peacefully for the first time in a while as she was fed intravenously. Some of the hospital food agreed with her stomach as well. By the time she was discharged, a healthy pallor had replaced the sickly one she’d been admitted with.
Vincent and I have put together a non-greasy diet as suggested by the doctor; something I believed Vincent took more pleasure in doing than I did. Esohe’s condition has tested to the limit his repertoire of culinary combinations but he has relished every moment. The only interpretation I can think of is that she has presented a much-needed challenge which he is only too eager to rise to. Seemed to have thrown excitement into his routine duties.
Photo: A spread of Esohe’s bespoke cuisine these days. I know, I know, the okro on white rice is gross.
We survived the first trimester. All of us – Vincent, Tony, I, the doctor and, of course, the woman of the house, Esohe.
Her food intake is a whole lot better and, I have to add, her relationship with Vincent whom she has wrapped around her little finger. Sometimes she works from home, so they spend a lot of time together. Consequently, Tony prefers chauffeuring her around than me, his boss. My staff have taken to her like fish to water. That’s a good thing, isn’t it, Iye?
She’s like a new wife. Men are boring. No one goes to a wedding ceremony to see the groom; all eyes are always on the bride. I also think it has to do with the way she deals with them. In a warm, friendly and firm manner. Now they hardly come to me for anything. When I ask, the response I get is: Oh, I told madam about it!
She has taken over my life and my house and my staff, and yes, I’m complaining…in a good way.
She’s also gained back the lost weight and some more. There’s a bit of dizziness and lower back pain to contend with but we are good. She’s still not sleeping as much as required. Instead, she has turned it around to her benefit, working into the night when the insomnia hits and going to bed an hour or two after I’m up. I can’t count how many times I have slept off in the sitting room while keeping her company or woken up in the middle of the night looking for her only to discover her in the sitting room, clacking away on her laptop, smacking loudly on the gum roving in her mouth. She has resorted to chewing to stem the tide of saliva constantly flooding the insides of her mouth. I thought I was a workaholic. Living with Esohe has made me doubt that claim.
Living with her also means we are getting to know each other better, faster as we share spaces together.
I wake up before she does, but she somehow manages to leave before I do when she’s going into the office.
She works long and hard and is focussed when she’s at it. That’s to be expected when one loves what one does.
She’s so organized, I almost want to run mad. Does this have anything to do with her being a single mother?! I don’t know. My things are not where they used to be! I might be a bit scattered but there’s method to my madness. And it has worked for me all this time. Living with her is taking some getting used to despite all my talk about us getting married. Perhaps I’m too set in my ways. Any kind of change – good or bad – won’t be easy to adapt to.
Speaking of which, this woman is also fiercely independent financially. Admirable quality. I like it but not to the extent where she won’t take money from me where the pregnancy is concerned. She’s not the absolute owner of it; we both have jurisdiction over the bulge. Ha! We will fight over that if it’s the only way to resolve it. I’m used to my girlfriends asking for money; but with Esohe, I will whistle for that request! My ego took a hit when the realisation came.
Her warmth and influence have permeated the house as well. Vincent has a timetable now and I get packed breakfast to work. She’s never really seen me eat on weekday mornings and probably doesn’t want me to starve to death before noon with all the work at B & I. At first, I wasn’t keen on the packed sandwiches because a cup or two of coffee holds me until lunch. So I give it to a grateful Seyi. One day, I was ravenous, for reasons I will not be writing about, at 9am and that was the end of Seyi’s daily breakfast! Now it goes with my coffee!
In the light of all these good vibes, I broke out the little velvet box once more, thinking the stars were aligning nicely for both of us.
Why? She wanted to know. Because your seed’s growing inside of me?
Did I mention that this pregnancy has turned my love into a somewhat rapier-tongued woman as well? Anything, and I mean anything, can sprout out of her mouth at any time. I constantly must remind myself to tread softly sometimes. It’s the hormones talking not her.
Because I love you, Esohe Eweka. Was my simple and truthful response, hoping to change her mind. And that was reason enough. I wanted to marry her from the first time I saw her and still do. She is enough – with or without carrying my child.
I love you too, Edosa. She responded. Life with you is beautiful, and I love the way you love me.
My hopes soared as she fingered the ring for the first time. She was this close to slipping it on when the foetus had other plans.
The kind that involved projectile vomiting.
She was able to make it to the bathroom. Just barely.
And I thought we were past this stage. It was bad, really bad. Every retching sound she made before bringing out her insides, I felt on the other side of the door.
We had the first ultrasound this month too. I went along for support, to hold her hand.
Afterwards, Esohe didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day. Just gave me an evil eye every now and then.
Just when things were beginning to get back to normal.
Nothing I said exonerated me. In pleas. Or matter of fact.
I have a hostile witness in my house.
She locked me out of our bedroom. Like any pissed-off girlfriend would, opening the door only for Vincent bringing food. Ah…here we are, already behaving like a married couple. To compound issues, Vincent wanted to know if he should prepare the guestroom bed (I think he was secretly having a good laugh!). I thanked him for his sensitivity and banished him to the kitchen! What was he feeling like? A mediator?!
Her attitude won’t change anything but I’m not going to repeat that aloud…anymore. It just made her furious when I pointed it out. I have no need to aggravate her any further or add a high blood pressure to our present home situation.
Blaming me won’t help either; it is what it is.
Mum, few times have I been proud to be my father’s son. This…this is one of those times. Just like when we found out about the pregnancy, I cheered silently and secretly at the thought. I am my mother’s and my father’s – my biological father – son.
So what is it, Iye?
Let’s just say the ultrasound detected two distinct heart beats and displayed two little, floating forms.
Photo: The twin scan which has caused the katakata.
And Esohe glowing like polished furniture, protruding polished furniture.
Welcome to my life, Iye!
Believe me, I’m not complaining. I want it…warts and all. My wishes are coming true. One after the other. Except, of course, an important one which I’m still working hard on. Very, very hard. However, I intend not to refer to that issue even in the slightest; at least not until I have done my due diligence on the situation.
Barring all the above, there’s peace in the house and I do not look forward to rocking the boat any time soon.
Osayu’s with us often. Esohe has rescheduled the times she goes into the office for his sake. He’s on his long holidays and she decided against Summer School this year. Something about spending as much time with him as she could before his siblings arrive.
And a dry, sunny month August was. For some reason, the August break this year was exemplary. Good for Osayu to play in the compound under the watchful gazes of the gateman and Tony. Not so good for Esohe who felt the brunt of the heat and was constantly baking in the house even with the air conditioners on full blast. She resorted to stripping down to her underwear and working in the room.
Ever since I’ve known Esohe, her sense of style has always targetted my libido, whether intentionally or unconsciously; she always left a lot to my imagination, and, I must admit, it has run wild on occasion. A cold shoulder blouse here. A wicked slit in front of a full-length skirt. The scant beginning of a cleavage. Bondage clothing which covered everything yet revealed everything. But nothing beat coming home, walking into the room and seeing her at the table in matching wine-coloured underwear, talking into her cell phone. She has no idea how sexy she looks, even with that ever-increasing bulge right beneath her engorged, luscious boobs. And the smile she released upon seeing me was about the best accessory to go with that outfit.
Emmm…I can’t believe I just wrote all of that; needed to blow off some steam.
Mum, I hear you’ve made a few friends in the hospice and you can be found anywhere music is playing. Good for you. Good for your health too.
Photo: Here’s a sneak peek of Esohe’s bump. Cute, isn’t it?
She waddles now, Iye. Like a baby elephant. But she’ll never hear that expression out of my mouth!
Whoever said women are the weaker sex never carried a baby. Or babies in Esohe’s case.
She’s about 30 weeks gone, and I can’t even begin to imagine tottering around with something growing daily inside of me, bulging in front of me, impeding my movements and activities for a month or three. Let’s not even go to the required nine!
She complains about hip and pelvic pains now. Thankfully, no numbness in her legs or feet. It’s a miracle she’d not experiencing more with the weight she’s logging around. Despite these, she still works at night and sleeps during the day. Reads reports from her minions, responds to her mails and, by the time her team arrives at the office the next day, a comprehensive to-do list is awaiting each of them in their inboxes, courtesy of this workaholic woman of mine.
Women are heroes!
And as it turns out, my woman is also high-risk and just one year shy of advanced maternal age, according to her OB/GYN whom we saw this month for one of her numerous ante-natal visits.
Another news: the twins may not reach full term.
I won’t lie, mum; the bigger Esohe gets, the more vivid the thoughts and memories of Isi in recent times. Hearing the doctor say what he did helped me come to a decision I didn’t immediately share with Esohe.
Tony and I went over to her apartment, on her request, to retrieve some specific loose clothing and I did some covert digging in the inner recesses of her bedroom. It took a while, but I eventually found what I was searching for.
Only then did I inform her of the recurring thoughts of Isi, my decision, and brought out her passport booklet which I took from her house earlier on. Then I steeled myself for the showdown I was certain to come.
Afterall, she is carrying two human beings, eating for three and her hormones are in complete control of her conscious and subconscious parts. Anything was possible. I just had to be prepared.
Whatever I expected never came, mum. No shouting. No teary, emotional riposte or the fact that I hadn’t discussed it with her. Just a quiet “Okay “and she went back to watching the soap opera on TV which she had paused for my speech.
Iye, Ade, and Ivie, of course, keep your fingers crossed, we’ll be seeing you all soon.
Photo: Esohe’s back view as she waddles to the room; she wouldn’t let me take her front.
Several times this month, I popped into the house just to see her.
I could have called. But I didn’t want to. A ‘phone call is yet to trump a face-to-face meeting. And any excuse to see her is a good one. It doesn’t matter that I was with her only a couple of hours ago.
My impromptu visits, more often than not, have met her napping. In the room. On the ottoman. Or sitting upright on one of the chairs in the sitting room, a pillow propped up behind her, her slightly swollen legs stretched in front of her on a stool. Times like these, I rely on Vincent & Tony for updates on her food intake, moods, wellbeing, etc since I left the house in the morning. Thankfully, October has been an unusual month. We have experienced some thunderstorms that have kept the atmosphere relatively cool.
I watch her. I don’t dare wake her up. Sleeping is a rare commodity in her world right now. Anytime she can get some is treasured like the valuable pearl it has become.
She’s one fatigued female these days! This pregnancy is weighing her down. Literally.
I fear she might doze off during the interview or might unable to alight from the car when we arrive the embassy’s premises.
In any case, there’s no way we won’t be issued those visas; I have my arguments all marshalled out:
- We’ve waited a decade for these babies
- Both the pregnancy and Esohe are high risk
- Our OB/GYN has asked we have them in an environment which would guarantee the safety and survival of both mother and babies
- And yes, we have the funds to foot every bill we will incur.
Once, Dipo accompanied me to the house and for a couple of minutes, we whispered together. Esohe was napping in a chair in the sitting room. Hands resting on her bulge, serene expression on her face, a pillow for support behind her.
And he brought up the matter of setting up our own practice again, thus desecrating this sacred experience of mine with his shop talk. In his excitement to lay out his plans, Dipo got carried away and raised his voice.
I didn’t stop him quickly enough.
Esohe’s eyes fluttered open.
When her vision eventually focussed on the two of us sitting opposite, now silently observing her (I think Dipo gave her a small wave!), she smiled slowly, tiredly, happily. Then went right back to sleep.
Though he’s slightly bigger than I am, I hustled Dipo out of the house right after that, unconsciously reaching a decision. I would consult part-time. Given that I’d soon have four additional mouths to feed in this stringent, no-money-anywhere, bootstrapping Buhari economy, I’ll cleave onto what I have already and moonlight in my free time. I’d advise my friend to do the same – he has preteen children.
Let’s watch the moves and policies of this so-called change government for a while before deciding on any big, life-altering move. In the meantime, we’ll float this said practice quietly with strictly regulated hours. One hour every other week day and two/three during the weekends. Something akin to how medical doctors juggle their PP and day jobs.
Photo: Dipo & I, outside the house on that fateful day. I’m yet to tell him my decision at this point. He was more concerned about me taking a picture; he wanted to know why. I told him it was for a mini project which involved you, mum. He said he was only too happy to participate, hence his wide, toothy smile.
Yes, I know; this is odd.
A mail at the beginning of the month.
That’s because we are on our way to you all, mum.
See you soon!
Iye, if you had seen me in the hospital, you’d wonder who was having the babies – Esohe or me.
If anyone had told me I’d be a semi-wreck during those crucial hours, I’d have denied it vehemently, defiantly. Me? Edosa Williams? Never! I’m a rock in whatever situation I find myself. Familiar or strange.
Not this time, Iye. Not this time.
Memories of Isi and my glaring absence during her last hours, clouded my vision, overrode my thoughts, messed up my mind.
Upon arrival at the airport, Esohe complained of major discomfort. Who could blame her?! The long hours in the air, with just one layover, can take its toll on the average traveller; the exertion on one bearing one or more humans in the guise of pregnancy id best left imagined.
Thankfully, Ade previously put us in contact with an OB/GYN friend of hers and registered on our behalf the week before our departure. I called the doctor as we headed out of the airport and she instructed we make straight for the hospital instead of waiting for the next day as scheduled.
That marked the beginning of my descent into partial wreckage.
I’m in my element in a courtroom, grandstanding with any and every rival counsellor. Give me contracts, impossible clients, sensitive oil & gas negotiations, the usual legal conundrum, and I can lambast my way through them, emerging victorious at the other side.
But hospitals…dealing with hospitals isn’t my forte. I wasn’t built for that battle.
Fortunately, I’m blessed with a healthy constitution that, once maintained appropriately with the right diet and activity, enables me to rarely see the insides of a hospital(My GP back home is mainly for my bi-annual checkup).
Coupled with Isi’s experience, this…this was disconcerting. More so because it descended on me unexpectedly, without warning, rocking my balance as memories of Isi flooded my mind. It wasn’t pleasant. It wasn’t a good combination either. It sent me on a collision course with the events unfolding in front of me.
The doctor and her team waiting for us at the entrance of the hospital
Esohe being placed gingerly, efficiently in a wheelchair
One of the nurses accompanying me to the reception to fill out the necessary forms. I don’t recall much of what I wrote; I was distracted as I watched Esohe disappearing down a corridor. Did I fill out the correct information?
I was half way gone when another nurse appeared by my side further rocking my unsteady foundation with her words: Both Esohe and the babies were in distress! The team had to act now!
I hurried away with her. I think I heard someone talking to me, but I have neither the time or presence of mind to make certain of it.
We reached the room Esohe had been checked into just in time. She was already on a gurney being rolled out.
Seeing her like that and realising all I could do was stay by her side, I held her hand tight and jogged along as we all made for an elevator at the end of the corridor.
She looked calm, a quiet smile playing on her lips. Nothing like the mess I was rapidly becoming. I wanted to stay with her, draw some of that silent strength she exuded and be the acclaimed rock for both of us, for both our children, for the entire family but the sliding sound of the elevator doors opening signalled how far I could go.
I love you. I tell her. Come back to me. I implore her, and kiss her before we are separated by the same doors sliding shut.
If Ade hadn’t called me thereafter, I wouldn’t have realised that I hadn’t called her to let her know we ‘d arrived. Or remembered our baggage in the taxi out front at the hospital’s parking lot. Or anything else for that matter except I wanted, prayed fervently to see Esohe alive again.
I was familiar territory for the nurse who stayed with me earlier at the reception. Sensing my emotional state, she guided me back to the room Esohe recently occupied , and I must have made sense when she asked if there was anything she could help me with because she left me to pace that room and returned a while later with our baggage, something to eat and an encouraging word: Everything is going to be all right, sir.
I didn’t respond.
I didn’t trust myself to answer coherently. Instead I was thinking: and she knew that how? Was it polite nothingness to me? Or a standard phrase of a care to anxious, first-time fathers? Or was she a witch who really knew?!
I continued pacing, working up a sweat in that cool room like I was the pregnant mother!
I tried, desperately, not to think of Isimeme. I hadn’t even been there!
I failed dismally. It was inevitable.
It had been a hospital just like this one. Filled with doctors and nurses and the smell of antiseptic.
White walls. Frantic activity. Green scrubs.
The promise of a new birth and addition to our small family. A child. Ours. Isi’s and mine.
My mind recalls scenes in vivid technicolor frames.
This is hard to write.
My impatience to reach Isi. The senseless and impossible delay. The long hours spent in traffic. Can I ever forget when I finally arrived at the hospital? Or the looks on the doctors’ faces as they led me away? The news they delivered.
My world shifting on its axi-
I collapsed into a chair by the bed.
Please God, bring her back alive! Is all I can muster when I eventually found my voice, and it wasn’t mine. Alien to the ear. Hoarse. Pained. Conflicted.
He called, leading with three things:
Happy birthday, man!
How was your trip?
How is BB?
I took the call outside the hospital building. I needed to clear my head and get a grip of myself.
The air was crisp. How could I forget the weather of this city in November? For goodness’ sake, we were here at precisely this time last year! I tugged my windbreaker closer and shoved my ungloved hand into one of its pockets.
In the middle of the last tumultuous hours, I had forgotten it was my birthday. Thanks, Dipo, I reply. Esohe is…
The mere mention of her name on my lips renders me emotional again, and tears sting the corners of my eyes but are swiftly whipped away by the swirling cold air.
Esohe is fine, I continue. And so are the children – a boy and a girl.
What?! What?! They are out already?! Dipo’s shocked excitement in his booming voice are quite intent on damaging my eardrums.
The tears return, accompanied with laughter this time around. They are relief. Huge signs of relief and release and gratitude and…
Esohe returned to me alive and well…though she’s asleep right now.
The story gets better. She returns with two children of ours.
At first, I wanted just one princess to spoil silly.
After meeting Osayu, I changed my request to two fiercely- protective sentries.
God smirked at me and sent forth two children of both genders, leaving me to name them as I (as we) pleased – princess, sentry, sergeant, general, etc. Stunning me to grateful silence was more like it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. He knows best! He knew what I wanted better than I did.
The icing on the cake was bringing the babies early, just in time to share my birthdate with. Is this the best present ever or what? And from the woman I love to the moon and back?
In just a few hours, unsettling and trying notwithstanding, I have become a different kind of man.
I’ll work on the husband part once the love of my life wakes up.
Photo: None. You’ll be seeing your grandchildren in the flesh, mum!