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Sleeping With Yesterday (Episode 12)

Posted by on September 9, 2016.

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Upstairs she goes straight to her cupboard and brings out the book Helen gave her the other day. She looks into it the second time, drawing in tomorrow’s horoscope like air:

“Today, you will get the chance to either heal or further injure.”

She puts it aside and goes to bed.

The next morning she wakes to something sweet entering her nostrils. Turning on her side she faces a tray on the bed. When she sits up she sees that it contains a cup of coffee and a plate of fried plantain. By the side is an egg.

Dayo’s voice startles her. “I fried the plantain myself.” He is already in his shoes, the length of his tie around his neck, waiting to be knotted. He walks over to the bed. “I had to stay in here and watch you so you don’t turn over the tray on the bed.”

Nnafuka chuckles. “I told you that I will be going.”

“I know, I know.” He picks a plantain with the fork and brings it to Nnafuka’s mouth. “I just wanted to add extra persuasion.”

“My mouth had better persuade me that this breakfast is edible.” She opens her mouth and as her tongue touches the food she feels an urge to throw it out. She does not, though. Rather she jumps for the cup of coffee and drinks plenty of it. As the plantain follows the coffee down, Dayo asks her, “What’s the matter?”

“Don’t ever near my kitchen again.” She kisses him on the lips and jumps out of bed.

“Really? You’re welcome.” Dayo smiles as she walks into the bathroom.

“I’m almost late for work.” He stands. “I’ve written down the details of the counselor for you. It’s on the centre table downstairs.”

“Okay. Honey, could you drive by Helen’s house and ask her to come over?”

“Okay.”

***

In Minna, Nnafuka discovers that the hospital they are headed to is a private one. She wonders why Dayo who works in a federal polytechnic and as such enjoys free medical attention for himself and his family would opt for a private hospital. Maybe he has considered that they have visited so many in the course of looking for a child. Maybe he is hoping for solution to come from a change of name, a change in the kind of hospital. As Helen pulls the vehicle through a bend, Nnafuka looks again at the paper which Dayo wrote: Dr. Funmilayo Abiola, Hassan Specialist Hospital.

From Bida to Minna, the two friends did not say much. Nnafuka had appeared downstairs to see Helen there. Helen had stood up and said, “Are you ready?” And they had both entered her car. Now in Minna, as Nnafuka looks at the paper for the third time, Helen says, “Concerning what happened between us the other day…”

Nnafuka cuts in. “It was just a bad time for me.” She looks at Helen and slowly allows a smile over her face. Helen steals a glance at her, faces the road and begins to smile too. It is their own way of apologizing, and they well understand that.

When Helen drives through the gate of the hospital, the security man says to them, “Welcome. Who you look for?”

Nnafuka replies, “Doctor Funmilayo Abiola.”

The security man points forward to a sign along the road that reads Maternity. Helen thanks him and drives on.

At the maternity unit, Nnafuka stands at the door. As she wills herself to take the step her ears become filled with the cries and voices of babies in the building. It is as though there are millions of Seun in there, crying. The voices to her are questioning, indicting, full of doubt on her ability to be a full woman. A tear stings her eye but it does not shake her from a deep need to go back to the last time Seun cried. She wants to hear her again. She wants a sound of her voice crying to cover the image she has in her head of Seun’s last minutes – her struggling to breathe, her arms stretching into the air, her legs kicking.

Helen remains standing behind her, giving her time, looking at her back. She sees an ant crawling on Nnafuka’s shoulder and she brushes it off. Nnafuka bounces at her touch, turns looking at Helen with a tear in her eye.

“Mrs. Aregbesola?” Nnafuka and Helen turn to the voice. Coming towards them from the building is a woman with a slender neck that looks as though it is held up my irons. She has her hair in a bun at the back, a lab coat on and her hand in the pocket. She stops in front of the duo. “I am Doctor Funmilayo Abiola.”

“Pleased to meet you, Doctor,” Helen shakes her hand first. As Funmilayo takes Nnafuka’s hand, she tries to say something but is distracted by somebody at her back. She turns, revealing a girl carrying a child.

“Yemi, I thought I told you to sit there. I am not going out yet.”

“Sorry, aunty. But if him no dey see you him no dey gree dey. Na so him go dey cry.”

Funmilayo turns to Nnafuka. “Sorry. That’s my baby.”

“How old is he?” Nnafuka finds her voice.

“He is one.” Funmilayo smiles. “Please let us go into my office.” Funmilayo leads, forcing the girl carrying the child to step aside. Helen follows her, and as Nnafuka passes she looks at the child in the girl’s arms and pats her bag. Part of the manicure set in her bag is a pair of scissors and she is going to put it to another use before she leaves here.

She smiles as the child begins to wail.

To Be Continue

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