A week after my discussion with Tiwa, I was watching a movie with Bode in our room. It was one of those rare nights when we did something together other than sleep or have sex. I had imagined that being pregnant would have made us closer but it seemed to be doing the exact opposite. Bode was faithful in taking me for antenatal clinics, getting all the necessary drugs and vaccinations, paying for my investigations and contributing to the shopping list for the babies but beyond these, he had become aloof.
“Mummy ibeji, how is Dr. Kunmbi?”
I was engrossed in understanding the Black Panther story, so, I just nodded and said, “he’s fine.”
“When next will you be seeing him?”
“I think that should be next week at antenatal.”
Again, I replied lazily, not noticing that Bode had moved away from me, clasping and unclasping his hands.
“You’re not even being discrete about your affair with him.”
“He is my doctor.”
“Even more reason why you should not be sleeping with him!!!”
I snapped out of the movie at that. “What?!? Sleeping with who?”
“Will you actually pretend not to know who or what I’m talking about?”
“Dr. Kunmbi is my doctor just as Dr. Tijani is your doctor. Do you see me accusing you of sleeping with him?”
“I am not gay. Find another point. What are you getting from him that I’m not giving you? And you thinking my silence is ignorance or foolishness is another insult in itself.”
At this point, I figured there was no point lying to him. I should have known that my husband was smarter than that.
“It will not happen again Bode, I promise.”
“That is a very stupid reply. Do I even know how long it’s been happening? You’re making it sound like it was just a one night stand. Maybe he is even the father of the twins.”
“You still doubt your ability to father a child?”
The slap had come unexpectedly. I was still trying to comprehend what just happened when my phone started ringing. It was Tiwa.
‘Your boyfriend is calling. Your knight in shining armour.”
I made to pick the phone so I could end the call but Bode was faster. He answered it.
“You have the audacity to sleep with my wife and you still have the nerve to call her at odd hours of the night. I admire your craziness, it is not from here but I’ll show you a higher level of craze.”
Bode ended the call, smashing my phone into the wall. Fear crept up my spine as I backed away from him. There was rage in his eyes and I felt very unsafe staying in the same room with him.
“Bode, please. I’m sorry. Bode, just calm down. I love you. I didn’t mean to let things get this far. Olabode…”
“You didn’t mean to but you were able to tell me you were going for one vigil or retreat or sisters’ night with Tinuke. Your sister is apparently more truthful than you are.”
“Tinuke… told you?”
His response was another slap followed by a sound beating that left me unconscious.
I woke up to see Dr. Tijani. I had always known that if things ended up the way they did, Bode wasn’t going to take me to The Heritage hospital anyways.
“Welcome back ma, your husband has been beside himself with worry. He said you fell at home and it was all his fault.”
“Yes doctor. I fell in the kitchen. He had spilt some water without cleaning it up.”
“Hmmm… he told me you fell in the bathroom. Unless your home is one of those bathroom plus kitchen multipurpose type houses, I’d say you’re lying or he is lying. What really happened Mrs. Kuforiji?”
“Nothing. Please when can I go home?”
“We still want you to take another bag of intravenous fluid and also review the results of the emergency scan we did. Also, I called Tiwa, he’s on his way.”
“What? Why? Why did you call him? I think it’s quite obvious my husband did not want him to know that’s why he brought me here.”
“Your husband’s story wasn’t adding up with the injuries you came in with. Also, Tiwa told me about both of you.”
So Tinuke ratted me out to Bode. Tiwa told Dr. Tijani about our affair and I was of course bearing the brunt of it all. Well, I was the one stupid enough to fall for my doctor.
“Nike… Oh my God… are you okay? I rushed down here as soon as I could. Did Bode do this to you?
Tiwa had come into the room just as Dr. Tijani left.
“Of course. He got angry and… That aside, why did you tell Dr. Tijani about… anything?”
“He’s my friend and even though we hadn’t seen each other for a long time, he could read me plain and clear. It’s not only ladies that can read body language. He asked me about you the day we met at your place. I’m sorry, I just needed someone to talk to.”
“And you couldn’t tell me about your broadcasting skills?”
He was stroking my hair, his back to the door, thus, unable to see Bode come in through the open door and he was too lost in thought to notice my gestures. Bode grabbed him by his collar from behind, pulling him away from me. They were now facing each other, clenched fists held ready.
“Did my wife call you again?”
“None of your business, wife beater! How could you do that to a pregnant woman? What if she had lost the babies?”
“Of course, that’s what matters most to you; the babies, as if they’re yours.”
“And what if they are? What will you do about that?”
Bode turned to me, his eyes red, “you’ve been sleeping with him for that long?!? Woman, you’re a prostitute!!!”
Tiwa slapped him hard at that and that signalled time to unleash their clenched fists. I was about getting off the bed, ignoring the wave of nauseous dizziness that came with the attempt when Dr. Tijani came with two male nurses. They were able to finally separate my husband and my lover, taking them both out of my room. Dr. Tijani ensured I was settled back in bed before leaving.
When I woke up again, it was dark outside. Tiwa was sitting on a chair beside my bed, lost in thought. I watched him for a while, seeing his jaws twitch occasionally.
“Tiwa, where is my husband?”
“He left. He said you could follow me home seeing as you’ve chosen me over him.”
I nodded. It was expected but, no, I was going back to my matrimonial home that night.
“Nike, are you serious right now? Look what he did to you… he almost killed you and you’d still go back to him?”
“Yes, I was the stupid one. Us… you and me… was a mistake and it ends right here, right now. I didn’t invest ten years of my life in this marriage to just lose it.”
“I know, but I’m talking about your safety right now, Nike. Just stay at my place or I can even take you to Tinuke’s place, at least for tonight, please.”
He was right. There’s no point going home that night. Even if Bode did not beat me again, we both needed the space.
“Take me to Tinuke’s place, please. I guess I can use the opportunity to understand why she could not keep her mouth shut.”
At Tinuke’s place, the house was dark and the doors locked.
“Let me call her, maybe she’s doing some extra time at work. She should have a spare key somewhere though.”
I remembered telling her the importance of keeping an extra key after she once misplaced her main key. I checked under a window sill and found the extra key.
“Thank you Tiwa, goodnight.”
“Morenikeji, we can’t be over. We won’t talk about it tonight. Just get some rest and find something to eat. Good night.”
I watched him walk away, get into his car and drive off. I kept trying Tinuke’s number with no response. I let myself into her house, found my way to her room in the dark and slept once I hit the bed. Tinuke did not come back that night.
The morning came with Tiwa knocking at the door. I tried calling Tinuke again but it was still the same ringing with no response.
“Where’s your sister?”
“She isn’t back yet and still isn’t picking up her phone.”
“Should we be worried?”
“Nah. I mean, she’s old enough to take care of herself. She mentioned this new guy she has the hots for, I won’t be surprised if she’s with him.”
“Oh, that will be a welcome development. At least, we all would have something else to talk about. How are you this morning?”
“My body still aches. Shouldn’t you be at work? I know you’re not a housewife like some of us.”
“I’ll be leaving soon. I could not just go without checking on you.”
“Yeah, you could have just called.”
I was really hungry and was looking through the kitchen cupboards for anything at all eatable. Tiwa kept following me around.
“Tiwa, stop following me. You need to get to work.”
“Nike, about us… we do need to talk.”
“There is no us. We do not exist. I’m sorry it went on for so long. I should have known better. I want to bring these children into a stable and peaceful home. I know Bode has been… somehow over the recent years, I know he lied and is probably still lying about some other things, I know he would still get back at me for this affair but I signed up for forever with him.”
“Morenikeji, I love you.”
I stared at him. Did he not just hear all I just said?
“Uhm, Tinuke is calling, excuse me please.”
I was right Tinuke had spent the night with her new guy, Ayotunde. I still had not met him and I wasn’t particularly eager. Tinuke had this bad habit of not having long relationships and she was always the one breaking up with them. She was not sure what she wanted yet, as far as I was concerned anyway. She would always find something wrong with the guys. There were those who were not as spiritual as should would like, there were those who did not even want hugging or brief kisses and on and on with the contrasting complaints.
“Are you alright sister Nike? I can’t believe Bode would do that.”
“Just hold it there! How could you not keep a secret? Why would you tell him about Tiwa?”
“Your marriage is important. You can get angry at me all you want. I had to tell the truth and he would have found out anyway, you were not even trying. It seemed you wanted him to know.”
“Pastor’s wife!!! Saving the world. Our new Jesus. Tinuke, please stay off my matter. I guess my mistake was confiding in you at all.”
Throwing the phone on the closest sofa, I paced the kitchen, trying to calm down.
After he left, I sat on the rug in Tinuke’s parlour. There was no way I was going home yet and I wasn’t going to wait till Tinuke got back. Neither was I going to Tiwa’s place. I needed a place to stay. I would have checked into a hotel but that was not my thing. Also, I needed someone around me.
There was someone I could stay with, my childhood friend who I had cut contact with out of jealousy. Sijuade and I had grown up with plans of how our career and marital lives were going to look like. She was going to start a fashion school, get married to a doctor and have two boys and a girl. I was going to work with the Red Cross or some other non governmental organisation, marry a handsome guy and have three boys. I wasn’t about to have another girl steal my handsome husband, not even my own child. Just kidding.
Siju had gone ahead to achieve all she desired. Her husband, Toni, a half caste, worked at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). Her fashion school, Siju Designs, was well known across states and her first son was going to be 10 years in a few weeks. Yes, we got married the same year. She had encouraged, advised, referred and prayed with me through the rough years.
It was strange watching her live the exact life she had imagined and even more. I got my nursing degree but that was the end of it. A certificate. Bode was handsome but as Tiwa had come to prove, there were many other guys out there who fit the criteria and would allow their wives work rather than stay back and play house. Giving birth to the twins would get me closer to my dream of three children but after how long?
Seeing as her fashion school and work took her outside country frequently, it was easy to use that as an excuse for why we did not speak often anymore. I think she also got the hint and kept away.
Bode did not exactly like her anyway. He felt she was a bad influence.
“Not every woman has to prove anything other than how great a wife and mother she is. Sijuade is proud” That was his conclusion during one of our conversations. This had not stopped Siju’s friendly attitude towards him.
Her number was still on speed dial on my phone. I had missed her.
“Nike?” Her voice over the phone held many questions and brought tears to my eyes.
“I need… I need to come over…”
“Sure Nike. Definitely. When are you coming? Are you okay? Is everything alright? Oh dear…”
Amidst sobbing and hiccups, I gave a brief summary and asked if I could come stay for a while.
“Did you say you’re pregnant, Nike?”
I nodded, forgetting that she could not hear that.
“Nike, I can’t hear you.”
“Yes, I’m pregnant. I’m 6 months plus now.”
After the call, I stepped out of the house, already calculating my journey and the things I needed to get. After withdrawing some money, I went to the park and luckily for me, I was the last person needed to fill the first bus going to Lagos.
SIX WEEKS LATER
“You ehn…” Sijuade was doubled over with laughter.
” I’m not the one that was all over the head boy now. You could barely function when he was close by.”
“And who knew our head boy only had eyes for our own Morenikeji?”
“Oh please, the guy just wanted to be disvirgined.”
“And you did a good job.” Siju’s laughter rocked her whole frame, including her three months pregnant belly.
“You ladies should stop with these weird stories already.” Toni sauntered in, playing a game on his phone.
“Like we don’t know your own stories. Toni, thank God for ‘sister’ Sijuade and for Jesus in your life. God knows what horrors you would have committed.”
“Nope, I’m a saint. I’ve always been one.”
“Yen, yen, yen, like saints would have thought of the things you’ve been doing to my friend here in za ozza room.” I winked at Siju who covered her face with both palms.
“Okay, okay, I think I should leave now. One man against two women is not a balanced equation.”
“Except in certain situations.” I snickered.
“Nike!!! Who did this to you? Same Bode?”
There was a sudden sharp pain building in my lower belly. It was spreading around and getting more intense.
“Nike, are you okay?” Siju had come to stand beside me.
I could barely speak so I shook my head in the negative.
“You’re really sweating. Toni… Toni… Please come back.”
Her husband had immediately turned back from the door and came to kneel beside me on the floor where I was crouched.
“We need to get her to the hospital.” Siju was already up and about, trying to put things together.
“Siju, call the hospital. Tell them to prepare for an emergency cesarean section. I think she’s got an abruptio. She is bleeding.” Toni showed Siju the blood on my maxi multi coloured skirt.
“Abruptio… That’s not good, right?” I could hear the tremor in Siju’s voice as I felt some warm sticky liquid flow down my thigh.
“Siju, let’s just try and get her to the hospital fast enough. Those babies have to come out as soon as possible.”
Toni’s crazy drive to the hospital was enough to get us all killed but we made it in one piece to LASUTH. For the first time in Nigeria, I actually saw, though blurry, an emergency team with a trolley, waiting for us. I was wheeled straight to theatre and was put under anaesthesia.
No, I did not float around the hospital in spirit form, finding out a doctor was touching me inappropriately. But I did wake up feeling groggy and wondering if everything had been a dream. I tried to lift my right arm but felt a pullback. I figured it was a drip, again. Lifting my left arm, I felt my belly was still big.
Maybe it was all a dream then. The babies were not due for another eight weeks or so.
There was some commotion as a group of medical personnel came round to my bed. There was one that looked like a consultant, a woman, which is a rarity in the obstetrics and gynaecology unit. The others looked like a mixture of “scared-to-be-here-but-glad-to-have-senior-registrars-around” medical students and “can’t-wait-for-the-consultants-to-leave-highly-nervous-senior-registrars”.
“So, whose patient?” The consultant leaned back on the wall as she scanned the over fifteen faces present.
A bespectacled, thin medical student raised his hand and stepped forward.
“Good. Tell me what you can see here.”
The poor boy was already sweating profusely.”I present Mrs. M. A. Kuforiji, a 34 year old…”
“Young man, I asked what can you see?”The consultant gestured at my general direction, her head tilted to the right.
“Ma, I see a blood giving set, a urinary catheter…”
That was the last I heard as blood giving set registered in my head. Somehow, I did not get to looking at what was being given to me through the drip.
What exactly happened? Where is Siju? Why is no one talking to me?
“Madam, madam, excuse me, Mrs. Kuforiji…”
My bad habit of zoning off had followed me to Lagos too. The consultant, who introduced herself as Dr. Ganiyu, was finally trying to help me figure things out.
“We are glad to see you awake ma. You pulled through. We really should not disturb you for now…”
“Doctor, tell me what happened. Am I still pregnant?”
“Oh, no no, you had an emergency caesarean section. We had to bring out the babies, then you were bleeding so much you went into shock. We had to transfuse you with blood as you can see and we even used an anti shock garment. You, medical student pressing her phone, what’s a non-pneumatic anti shock garment?”
While the ‘apprehended’ medical student was stammering away and almost breaking down, I was trying to digest what I just heard.
Where are my babies? Why is this doctor not telling me? Is shocking or electrocuting garment more important right now?
“So, go and read it up, all of you. Get out of my ward round and if you like, don’t be on call tonight.”
The consultant waited till all the medical students site and resident doctors had gone, except one, before she spoke again.
“Your son is stable. We have admitted him into the Intensive Baby Care Unit. He’d be there for a while but would be healthy and fit to go home as soon as you are too…”
“But Dr. Ganiyu, I was carrying twins… what of the other one? Where’s my second baby?”
“Please lower your voice…” Dr. Ganiyu’s palm over my right arm was both comforting and irritating. “Your daughter, the second twin, did not make it. She came out alive but with extreme respiratory distress and our efforts were just not enough to keep her alive. We took pictures of both of them together and also placed beside you before we separated the living from the …”
My gut wrenching, high pitched scream cut her short. I could feel my heart racing and an artery throbbing in my left temple. I really did not care if it ruptured at that moment. The hot tears falling from my eyes partially blinded me to the gathering of nurses and other concerned faces nearby. Dr. Ganiyu was holding me, trying to calm me and still get instructions across to her team.
“Get her husband in here please and the Mrs. Siju lady. Also, bring me some intramuscular diazepam and paracetamol. Please, Mrs. Kuforiji, calm down, you’ve lost a lot of blood and still need… Hey, I said her husband and the lady, not two men.”
In the haziness of tears and pain, I saw Bode and Tiwa walking in just before I blanked out.