Pastor (Mrs) Duduyemi’s water had broken when she collapsed but she was weak and uncooperative. Ifedapo hurriedly picked up her mum’s phone, curious as to what message she had received.
“Don’t! Don’t look at it, Ifedapo”, Her dad had panic written all over him, ” let us get your mum to the hospital first.”
Ifedapo agreed that her mum was more crucial, so, she helped him carry her into the car. She pocketed her mum’s phone and on the way to the hospital, called Dr. Mamoud, explaining the situation to her without spilling her family dilemma.
As her mum was being wheeled into the labour ward operating room, Imma’s call came in. Ifedapo gave her father the meanest look she could contort her face into before stepping away to receive the call. The theatre was quite busy that day. It seemed spontaneous vaginal delivery was not the order for that day. The noise level was high, almost drowning out Imma’s voice even though the call was on loud speaker.
But, Dapo heard. She heard the panic and fear in her best friend’s voice. She went back in search of her father. There was nothing she could do for her mum again for the time being.
“Daddy, I need to quickly get somewhere. I would be back soon.”
She got a bike fast enough and asked to be taken to Ikolaba estate.
I don’t know his house. I don’t know how I would find him. I don’t even know what is going on, maybe I would need a gun or a fire brigade. What will I do when I get off this bike?
Alighting from the bike ten minutes later, she saw that there were bike men with the Ikolaba bike association uniform or so. It occurred to her to ask if they knew any Jed in the area.
It’s a long shot but I have to try.
The smell of ‘igbo’ and strong alcoholic drinks with a touch of herbal mixtures assaulted her nose as she moved closer to the bike men. The moment she mentioned “Jed”, all of them started hailing him in absentia. Dapo focused on the one that seemed most clear headed and literate among them.
“So, you said you know his house?” She asked him once she had his attention.
“Sure now. All of us sabi ‘oga’ Jed. Him be our guy. E no dey fall hand. You too, you be him babe?”
“No sir”, Ifedapo was quick to dissociate herself from him, “but my friend is his babe.”
“True talk? Which one she be? See, no worry, the guy’s parole too plenty sef. Climb bike make I carry you go there.”
She thanked him and kept hoping her friend was alright.
“Babey, I said I am sorry. I really don’t know what came over me. Please, look at me.” Jed had on a sober look.
I could almost kick myself for not recognising the signs of illegal substance overdose. I was so foolish. I wished I could muster energy enough to tell him his very existence irritated me and I wished he was dead or never even born. But, my mouth was swollen and up until five minutes ago, had been bleeding.
Jed had brought out a first aid box the moment the devil born in his Pink Pnahter and cultivated in his brain had died. A temporary death I was sure. I recoiled in repulsion the moment he tried to come near me again. I so wanted to refuse the cleaning up but I was weak and seeing as I was not sure how I was going to get myself out, I resigned myself to it.
The methylayed spirit stung, my body screamed in pain, tears coursed down my cheeks steadily, but I made no sound.
“Immaculate, please say something, I beg you…” He was trying to hold my hands or hold my eyes with his but I made all difficult for him.
Somehow, strength came to me and more importantly, sense also came. Me lying down on his sofa, both eyes and mouth swollen nearly shut, thighs and abdomen painfully throbbing, was like a duck waiting to be fried, again. I stood up, carried my bag and dragged myself towards the door.
“Please don’t leave like that. Please… I love you. I think I… I just overdosed on the weed.”
I felt like turning to spread my fingers at him, ‘waka’ style. But I kept going. Didn’t I pick that weird smell buried beneath the heavy perfume?
I got to the gate of the compound his house was in and gave it a push, it gave way and I saw Ifedapo. Never had I been happier to see her.
It took a while for Ifedapo to arrange getting me back to the hospital, Jed offered to drive us but I refused as vehemently as a semiconscious person could. He kept pleading and asking for forgiveness. My skin heard but it did not go beyond that.
At the hospital, I was given post exposure prophylaxis against HIV, morning after pills to prevent getting pregnant, antibiotics and analgesics. I asked to be sedated as I was not in a state to be looking for sleep by myself. In fact, I was not in a state to do anything for myself except breathe.
When I woke up, Dapo had left a note, explaining that her mum had given birth. I sighed.
She left all that to get me. I owe her, big time.
When my hands were steady enough, I dialled my mum’s number. Prof. (Mrs) James, widow of late Dr. James (former head of the Emergency Unit).
Dad’s death had solidified the gap between my mother and me. I could not place a finger on the exact reason why we were not close when he was alive and I lost all zeal to figure it out when he died. We spoke every month, once or twice, but those calls barely lasted five minutes. She insisted I refer to her as Prof. James, not mum, mother and definitely not mummy.
“Prof James, good afternoon ma.”
“Immaculate. A pleasure it is to have you call. Is anything the matter? I thought we spoke just last week…”
“Something happened.” I paused, unsure whether to tell her about anything anymore.
“You know better than to be vague with me. Go on…”. Her mum’s stern voice was no encouragement but decided to try.
“I was… raped… yesterday… by my boyfriend… when I went to his place.”
“Good. You have covered the what, when, who and where of this unfortunate event. You have not told me why it happened though.”
“Mum! Sorry, I mean… Prof. James, how am I supposed to know why?”
“Hmmm. Have you been seen at the hospital? How much do you need?”
Imma heard the unspoken words her mother decided to swallow at the last minute. As far as Prof. James was concerned, Imma had daddy issues. Not the typical type of having no father or having a wicked one. Hers was trying to ‘see’ her dad again.
“Yes, I have been attended to. And I don’t need money.”
“Good. Take care.”
The call was over before I could say any more. I stayed with my phone still against my ear for a long time.
I just want you… you
For the first time since I left Jed’s place, I allowed myself cry. I bawled. I wailed. I flung the phone away, hitting my hand against the protective rails of my bed.The nurses came running, a syringe was filled and a muscle in my thigh jabbed. I slipped into a fitful sleep.
Waking up again hours later, I saw Dapo sitting on a chair beside me, reading a novel. I offered up thanksgiving for the gift of a friend like her.
“How is your mum? And the twins?” My throat felt sore but I was glad I could even string words together again.
She looked up at the sound of my voice, “You are awake… I am so glad”, She stood up to hug me, careful not to squeeze too much, “I’m so sorry you went through all that…”
“Shhh, Dapo, tell me about your mum and new siblings.” I needed to be there for her and dwelling on my problems wasn’t the way.
She smiled, nodded and sat down again before speaking, “Mum is fine, although, we really can’t say for sure yet. The boys are fine too.”
“Awww, now it is three boys to two girls in the house.”
Ifedapo was sad, something was disturbing her.
“Dapo”, I reached out to lift her face up by her chin, “you know you can tell me.”
In a voice almost dissolving in tears, Dapo gave the full gist of what had happened. When she was done, she brought out Pastor (Mrs) Duduyemi’s phone.
“You didn’t give it to your dad?”
“He asked me not to check the message. If I had given him, I have a feeling he would have deleted the message.”
I understood her. “And you’ve not opened it since…?”
She shook her head and held the phone to me, “You open it first.”
I collected the phone, wondering what I was going to meet. The message was a picture. I clicked on it.
Pink Panther!!! Or… Wait… This one looks older and… darker and has more hair on it.
“What’s the message about, Imma?” Dapo was staring at me.
I calmed myself as much as I could before replying, “I am not certain… But it may be your father’s… err… You know…?”
Her disappointed face told that she knew what I meant.
“Please help me delete it.”
I did as she asked and gave her back the phone.
She was crying, “Why didn’t he just confess?”
I continued helping Ifedapo with hospital errands once I was discharged. Her mum was still on admission.
Jed had continued calling me, sending multiple apologies as texts and WhatsApp chats. I ignored all.
One day, during one of my hospital runs for the Duduyemis, I saw Joel being wheeled into the emergency unit. Memories of my father came rushing back, he would have been part of the team taking care of him. He was particular about anything concerning medical students having to be at the emergency.
I miss you dad… You really shouldn’t have died.
I pushed the memories away as I made a mental note to check up on Joel later on.
I hope he is alright. Their final exams should start soon.
A week passed before Dapo’s mum was discharged. Her father had paid all the bills but was nowhere to be found. His numbers were not going through either.
The day she was discharged, a hamper of fruits and a greeting card was delivered. It was addressed from “Susan Famisola”.
That’s Jed’ s surname. Could that be…? Are they related?
I hadn’t particularly mentioned Jed’s surname to Dapo, so, I kept quiet. It was quite obvious this was the same Susan that had become a thorn in the flesh of the Duduyemi family.