Jeff followed the nurse to his aunt’s room. The girl was making a point of walking before him with an exaggerated swagger. She was already out of her uniform and was dressed in jeans that were so tight, he averted his eyes from the sight before him. At the ward, she opened the door without knocking and entered.
“What is the problem, Madam?”, she asked rudely.
His aunt was lying in bed trying to feed the baby.
“My milk is not flowing. She has been crying. I don’t know what to do,” she replied as she raised herself stiffly.
Jeff rushed to her side to assist her. Kasarachi made a hissing sound.
“Is that what you are calling me for? This is your fourth baby and you are asking me who has never had a child how to force your milk out? Mtcheww!”
With that she spun on her heel to leave. Jeff and his aunt were flabbergasted. They were still contemplating the next line of action when a knock sounded at the door.
“Come in,” they called simultaneously.
It was the nurse who had the morning shift, Anuli. She entered with a warm smile.
“Good morning! Congratulations! God has done it again. Wow! I heard your baby came in the night. Is it a boy or a girl?,” she approached the bed.
“Look at when you are coming to work, Anuli,” Jeff’s aunt scolded lightly, a smile playing on her lips.
“Forgive me. I was in traffic. You know I try to be punctual but last night’s rain flooded my street. It took grace to get here,” she apologised, reaching over to hug her patient.
“You left me in the care of that girl”
“I’m sorry. Let me give baby a bath.” She picked the baby up and began to sing while swinging her gently.
“God is good. He has done great things. O my soul, rise up and praise the lord”
“Aunty Tammy is worried that her milk is not flowing,” Jeff informed the nurse.
“Has baby not eaten all night?”
“Not a drop”
“Okay. I will bathe her while you get some rest. Probably, you have not put her to your breast for long enough. You need to keep trying. When she suckles, the milk will flow.” She smiled as the baby opened her eyes.
“I see you have a new doctor?,” Jeff asked.
“Dr. Veronica? She is the new director. Dr. Nigel left the hospital to her. You met her?,” Anuli responded.
“Yes. The other nurse refused to answer our calls so I had to report her.”
“I apologise on her behalf. We are still going through a transition. Be assured that I am now here and everything is in order.”
“Sister Anuli!,” Jeff’s aunt hailed her.
“Madam the Madam!,” she replied. “All is well”. She dropped the baby gently and made for the bathroom.
“I have to go now. Uncle said he would be back at 10am. Let me go home and make sure that everything is in order,” Jeff said.
“Thank you so much,” his aunt greeted.
“Thank you O. Come back with goodies for us,” Anuli called from the bathroom where she was preparing the baby’s bath
Jeff headed for the stairs. He wanted to stop and see Veronica again. She had left an impression on him when he saw her standing unsure of herself before the nurse. He wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be alright. Before his courage could fail him, he headed for the office he had seen her enter. He knocked but there was no response. An orderly passing stopped to tell him she was in the ER. It appeared she had to attend to a small child. He decided to leave and check on her another day. She was going nowhere.
Dr. Adebayo arrived one hour after the Xrays for the injured child were done. His mother was yet to arrive but Ekemini informed them that the boy’s name was Edet. She also said he was 8 years old though he looked 5. It was easy to tell why he was so skinny. His mother had him for a police officer who refused to marry her because his wife would not hear of it. She was 19 at the time. Now, she survived by minding a shop about 3 hours away from the slum where she lived.
He examined the films while Veronica stood by solemnly. She had managed to do a ward round while waiting for him. There were 3 patients on admission and none required her urgent attention. The 2nd doctor who was to cover the morning shift with her had called to say her son was ill and so she had to stay back. Only 2 out patients had reported at the time, so she saw to them quickly and dismissed them.
“He has multiple fractures of the femur and his fibula. You know what that means, right? ,” Dr. Adebayo asked.
Veronica sighed. “He is a charity case. I doubt his mother will be able to afford our bills.”
“Well, you know my bill for this kind of surgery. He will be on admission for a long time and will require skin grafting over the wound at the end. Are you ready for the expense? If not, refer them to the public hospital, ” he advised.
“Thank you sir. I will discuss with our accountant and get back to you,” she walked him to the door.
Just then, Ekemini and a young woman came in. Veronica guessed she was Edet’s mother. She signalled for Dr. Adebayo to hold on so he could give the woman his professional opinion. He headed to her office to wait. She followed the two women to the ER. The boy’s mother was already in tears. When she saw her son, she wailed loudly and fell on him.
“Edet! Edet! Who did this to you? My son! My son!” She was thrashing about on the floor, tearing at her clothes.
“Take it easy,” her friend tried to console her.
The 2 nurses on duty came in to ask her to refrain. Veronica stood by, waiting for an opportunity to speak.
“Where is the person that did this to my son? Where is she?,” she asked looking about.
Before Veronica could react, the woman pounced on her and held onto her white coat.
“Why did you hit my son? You don’t know how to Drive? You want to kill him?,” she screamed at the top of her voice.
The nurses pulled her off Veronica.
“What are you saying?,” Veronica asked. “A bike hit your son. I stopped to help and this is how you reward me?”
“What bike? You are a liar!”
“Your friend here saw what happened.” Veronica turned to her companion.
That one averted her gaze.
“I didn’t see what happened. When I heard he had an accident, I ran out and saw him under your car,” she claimed.
“Under whose car?,” Veronica felt her head pounding. “What are you saying?”
Dr. Adebayo had heard the commotion and joined them. “What is going on here?,” he asked.
Edet mother fell on him.
“Doctor! Abeg help me. This girl injured my son….” She was raving like a wounded animal.
Dr. Adebayo pushed her away gently.
“That is not what happened. She only stopped to help. You must be very ungrateful, ” he scolded.
“Sir, she is lying…,”the woman insisted.
Veronica was fuming as she stood by watching the lady roll on the floor at his feet. Her chest constricted with anger and regret. She fixed her gaze on Ekemini, who refused to look her in the eye
“Madam, go and get a vehicle to carry your son. I intended to treat him for free but now you have to take him to General hospital,” Veronica announced, arms crossed over her chest.
“I am not going anywhere. You hit my son and you want me to take him away? Never!,” the lady countered.
“Wetin be your name sef*? ,” Veronica asked.
“Mayen,” she replied shortly.
Dr. Adebayo cleared his throat. “Mayen, this doctor is in charge of this hospital. She did not hit your son. It is very unfair of you to accuse her. You had better apologise”
“Who be doctor*? This small girl? ,” she asked, pointing a finger at Veronica rudely.
The nurses snickered.
“The person wey you call “small girl”, you senior am?*,” one of them asked.
“Mayen, make you take am easy*,” her friend warned her.
“No call my name*!,” she spat. “You dey there dem wan kill my pikin*”
Dr. Adebayo signalled for Veronica to follow him outside.
“Let us not try to force her out. She is clearly trying to manipulate things so that no one will ask her to pay for the boy’s treatment. I will do the surgery for free. Just admit him and get everything set. When he is stable, we will discharge him for her to treat at home. She will be forced to cough up money for his drugs,”he advised her in the hallway.
“I am so angry right now. How could she lie against me?” Veronica could barely control herself. “Why did I stop to help that boy?”
“See it this way: God sends the sun and rain for both the righteous and the sinner. If He gave breath only to the deserving, who would survive? ,” he asked wisely.
With those words, he patted her shoulder and waved goodbye. Veronica turned to go back to the ER but changed her mind. The only thought in her mind was to throw the woman, her lying friend, and her injured son out. She had to take a walk around the hospital to pray and clear her head. Dr. Adebayo was right and no matter how it pained her, she knew the situation would escalate if she tried to get back at Mayen.