George collected his belongings from the police and saw that his phone was flat. He thought of Bola and Tim back at the hospital, they’d been on his mind all night long. How could Fred do this to him – his own cousin. How could he? George couldn’t understand it, couldn’t understand anything. He stepped out of the station just as the landlord approached. “You’ve been released, oh Thank God” he muttered, looking relieved.
George smiled faintly. “Thanks so much for the help, sir, I’m grateful”
“This trouble is too much for you, Pastor. How can your brother do this to you?” he said, shaking his head. He drew closer, bringing down his voice. “Listen Pastor, I want to tell you something, I don’t know how you’ll take it.”
George gave him his undivided attention though he knew he wouldn’t like what he was about to hear.
“Erm… I know one baba” he started, dropping his voice. “He is very good. I’m sure if you take your son there, he’ll be cured. He can even tell you where to find Fred. I think you should try him” he murmured gently. “I know you are a pastor and wouldn’t like this but this is life and death o”
George blinked and smiled bitterly. He had been preaching to Mr Lawal for months, never did he think he would get this sort of counsel from him. Never did he think he would get to this point. “Thank you sir” George said with a smile. “I know you mean well, but I can’t do what you want, sir” he explained. “Beyond being a pastor, I am a child of God and would never do this. God gave us Tim, if He decides to take Him, I won’t question Him, neither would I go to the devil – the giver of death – to seek life. Anything my God wouldn’t do for me is better left undone.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry sir, but even if the world collapses on my shoulders, I won’t forsake my God. I’d rather die in Him than live in the hands of the devil”
Mr Lawal shook his head but in his eyes, George could clearly see the admiration brimming. It was like he had just passed a test. “I respect you.” He said. “Where are you going now?”
George shook his head. Mr Haruna had given him the ultimatum of one week to produce his money if he didn’t want to be rearrested and locked up indefinitely. He hadn’t the slightest idea of what he was going to do. “I don’t know.”
Mr Lawal sighed. “I’m available if you need me for anything”
“Thank you, sir”
Bola was going mad with worry and worse, she couldn’t hide it from Timothy anymore. She paced the length of Tim’s hospital room, feeling like the weight of the world was on her shoulders. What on earth was happening?
“Daddy would be back soon, mummy” Tim said, looking at his mother with worry clearly visible on his face.
Bola swallowed and walked back to the bed. “He’d better, because if not…” I just might go completely insane, she finished to herself. She sighed and sat on the bed. “I’m sorry, Tim. How do you feel now?”
Tim smiled. “I am fine, mum, I am only worried about you and daddy”
Bola looked straight into his eyes “I don’t want you to worry about anything, okay? Your father is fine” she said fiercely. “… he… he probably had to spend the night somewhere.” That didn’t explain why his number wasn’t going through though, but she didn’t have to say that.
Tim smiled. “I’m sure he is fine.” he mouthed. He definitely knew his mum’s fears and didn’t want to add to her worry. Definitely didn’t want to mention that his joints when hurting so badly and that he had this terrible pain in his head that won’t go away.
Bola sighed. “Are you sure you are okay, Tim?” Tim nodded. “I’ll be back in a second, okay? Don’t go anywhere” Bola kissed Tim’s head and headed out of the room. She had to dial George’s number again, though it was probably the fiftieth time already but she would call even a thousand times till she could hear his voice.
Bola bumped into Nurse Abigail is the hallway and straightened herself awkwardly. She was standing with a Nurse Titi. “I’m so sorry”
Nurse Abigail frowned, looking worried. “Is everything okay, Bola? Is Tim alright?” Nurse Abigail had been Bola’s saving grace though she wasn’t always available. It had been easy to get on first name basis with her.
“No. Tim is fine… it’s… my husband. I haven’t seen him since yesterday and it is so unlike him. His phone has been off.
“Oh my God”
Nurse Titi shook her head. “I just pray he hasn’t ran away”
“Titi” Nurse Abigail warned subtly”
“What? It happens all the time. What have we not seen in this hospital? A man once abandoned his wife because she gave birth to triplets and he didn’t have money. Parents abandoned their only child in the hospital when she fell sick and they had no money. It is not a new thing. Especially with the nature of your child’s sickness…”
Bola shook her pale face. “No! George would never do that”
“Of course he wont” Nurse Abigail eyed Nurse Titi before looking back at Bola. “I’m sure something is holding him back”
“Holding him back since yesterday. It’s almost dark, Abigail, I think it is better Bola is prepared for anything” Nurse Titi said.
Bola swallowed. “Please excuse me.” She didn’t think she could stomach any more of what the nurse was saying. George would never leave her alone at a time like this. He wouldn’t!
“No wait” Nurse Abigail muttered as she made to leave. “Why don’t you try him on my phone?” she brought out her phone and stretched it forward.
Bola nodded gratefully and collected the phone.
Bola’s head snapped up and she nearly fainted with relief. “George” she shrieked as she rushed towards George, collapsing into his open arms. George held her so close but Bola couldn’t get close enough. “Oh George… I’ve been worried sick” she muttered as tears of relief flooded her eyes.
“I can imagine” George whispered into her hair.
“No, you can’t.” She pulled her head back. “Where were you, George? What happened? I’ve called your number almost a million times” she lamented as she stared into his eyes. She saw pain in his eyes masked with the small smile he put on his face.
“I’m sorry I caused you so much worry” he muttered. He seemed to be struggling with himself as his stroked her cheek slightly with his thumb.
“But something’s wrong, isn’t it?” Bola pulled back slightly with a frown on her face. “You look like you so exhausted, George, what’s going on? Are my children okay? ”
“Yes! It’s not them” George hesitated. “Bola, I don’t want you worrying about this”
Now, Bola looked angry. “What are you saying? I don’t want you giving me that because that’ll only get me worked up. You are telling me what’s going on whether you like it or not.” from the tone of her voice, George knew he had no other option, and frankly, he couldn’t hide something so big from her. George pulled Bola to a corner, affording them a bit of privacy and she trained her eyes on him, waiting for him to drop the bombshell.
George took a deep breath, holding Bola’s hand. “Remember I told you of Mr Haruna, the client I expected to pay for an apartment?”
Bola nodded. “Of course, I remember”
“Well… he paid for the apartment”
Bola stared at him for a prolonged moment, then blinked. “But…?”
George swallowed. “Fred disappeared with the money”
“What?” Bola busted out.
“Mr Haruna is all bent on getting back his three hundred thousand Naira, I was held down at the police station till this morning. Since I got out, I have practically trekked the whole of Lagos but Fred is nowhere to be found. His wife said he hasn’t been home for four days now.”
Bola felt her legs go weak beneath her. “Oh God”
“How can be do this to us? Where are we supposed to get that sort of money?” Bola yelled at she paced in front of George.
“Calm down, Bola”
“I can’t calm down, George. If we had even a tenth of that money, Tim wouldn’t even be in this hospital to start with”
George took a deep breath. “I’ll ask my family for help.”
“Your family? George, we have been in this hospital for three weeks, none of them even has the decency to check up on us, do you think they’ll be of any help?”
George sighed, taking Bola by the shoulder. “We’ve got to try. I have searched all over for Fred and I’ll keep searching. I don’t want you getting all worked up over this. I’ll find a way”
“But how?” Bola looked up at George with panic. “You don’t have any money I don’t know about, do you?” she asked rhetorically. “We don’t even have money for Tim’s treatment here in a government hospital. We have borrowed so much already. We can’t deal with this now.” Water ran down her eyes. “I don’t have the strength for this anymore”
George pulled Bola into his arms. “Shhhhh… It’ll be fine. We’ll get through this. I promise” he whispered as he held her close.
“I’m losing faith, George. I don’t think I can keep up with this” Bola’s perched voice rasped.
George’s heart beat fast in his chest. Her immense faith had been keeping him up all this while, she couldn’t afford to lose faith now. “Don’t say that. Everything would be fine, dear, we’ll get through this”
Bola nodded with her head on his chest. “You should see Tim”
Running feet separated them before George could answer. They looked up just as Nurse Titi drew closer. “It’s your son” she muttered breathlessly.
“Tim” Bola gasped, running towards the hospital room with George. Oh God, not another crisis, this was just too much for her to handle. George held on to Bola’s hand as they ran. Just as they got to the door, Nurse Abigail came out and stopped them from entering.
“What? I want to see my son now” Bola yelled at her, pushing around to get past her.
“No, you can’t go in, I took two nurses to stabilize him.”
“Where is the doctor?” George asked anxiously.
“That’s the thing” Nurse Abigail muttered. “He has refused to attend to him”
“What?” Bola yelled just as George stormed down the hall.
“He is in his office” Nurse Abigail yelled.
“Please, my son” Bola pleaded just as she turned to follow George. The doctor would have to do what she says or be ready to kill her.
“I’ll do all I can” Nurse Abigail promised, going back inside as Bola ran towards the doctor’s office.
George arrived at the doctor’s office and pushed the door open without the thought of even knocking. The door bounced against the wall and the doctor’s head snapped to him. There was a really elegant woman seated just opposite him but George didn’t even spare her a glance.
“Doctor Felix. Please, I beg you in God’s name, please attend to my son. He is between like and death. Please” George laid down his pride.
Doctor Felix glared at him just as Bola stormed in. “I told you before, didn’t I? I said I won’t attend to him if there’s another crisis.”
“What’s he talking about?” Bola asked George, then shook her head. “I don’t even care. Doctor, it is either you treat my son or be prepared to kill me here because I wouldn’t watch my son die, you hear me? I won’t watch him die” Bola yelled at tears ran down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry madam, but I can’t do anything for you people again. Your son’s case is a hopeless one”
“Good God, doctor, how can you say something so cruel” the elegant woman snapped, looking furious.
“It is the truth, Mrs Pascal, their son is a cancer patient”
George scratched his head furiously as he paced. He looked like he could fly into a million pieces. Bola knelt down as she wept. “Please doctor… Please… I can’t lose my son… I just can’t”
Doctor Felix ignored her.
Mrs Pascal stared at the doctor for some seconds, looking bewildered. It was like she couldn’t believe he was so inhuman. She stood abruptly. “Where’s your son”
“He is in his room, some nurses are with him” George muttered, glaring at the doctor with fisted hands. His helplessness was the most frustrating part. Bola blinked, noticing the elegant woman for the first time.
“Come with me, we are taking him to Wickins Hospital.” She said, moving towards the door instantly.
Bola blinked. She had heard so much about that hospital. “That… That’s a very expensive hospital” she gasped out.
“Don’t worry about it. Come on, we don’t have time to waste”
“Thank you, ma” George muttered wholeheartedly as they rushed back to Tim’s room. He knew from the looks that the woman was older in age, but at the moment, he would even call a child anything if it would help his son.
They got to the room and they busted the door open. Nurse Abigail looked up with a pained look as Bola and George crowded the bed, finding Timothy unconscious. “He is in coma. He needs urgent attention now, if not, I fear for the worst” she explained then looked up. Her face registered surprise as she saw Mrs Pascal. “Mrs Pascal, it’s been so long since we saw you” Mrs Pascal often came to the hospital to help some of the patients, but she hadn’t visited in a while.
Mrs Pascal didn’t have time to explain anything as she stared at the form on the bed with worry and compassion engulfing her face. “I am taking him to Wickins. Can you help move him to my car?”
Nurse Abigail nodded instantly, calling the other nurses instantly. Within minutes, they were wheeling Timothy out of the General hospital towards the waiting Jeep. A dark guy which George knew must be a driver opened the door instantly as they approached. Together, they put Tim inside the car and got in as the driver got behind the wheels. Nurse Abigail insisted on going with them to keep Tim stable if need be.
The doors slammed shut and the the jeep sped out away. Bola looked back at the fading building of the hospital. So much had happened there. Never again did she want to step her feet in that hospital. Never again!
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