….“Doctor, are you sure there is nothing we can do to save the leg? Without a limb, she is useless to me! I can never go out with a cripple, talk more of marrying one.”
The fates were unkind; for it was at that moment Kemi came to and heard Teddy talking to the doctor. She was utterly shocked at the disdain that filled his face when he said ‘cripple’.
…the street lights on the way home were non-operational, a situation not strange for Nigerian roads. Teddy had been speeding like a bullet and it was all he could do to steer away from the hulking shadow that came rushing out of the darkness at them. If he hadn’t been drunk, he would have realized that the life threatening silhouette was a truck that had broken down in the middle of the road. There was no caution sign whatsoever to warn road users of its existence.
The truck was situated in such a way that the driver’s side would have taken the maximum hit on collision. However, Teddy, even though drunk, had enough presence of mind to swerve the car in such a way that the passenger’s side was the most affected.
As the Jeep rammed into the truck, the agony of screeching and screaming metal shattered the quiet night. Following the accident, silence pregnant with foreboding reigned again over the debris of broken bodies, burnt rubber and tortured metal. The car had become a match box crushed in the hands of a peevish giant and from its innards seeped blood. The blood was everywhere, a crimson tide that made the senses reel. The policemen who had gathered from a nearby check point shook their heads and snapped their fingers in melodramatic wonderment. They stood at the scene making no attempt to rescue the duo since they believed no one would come out of such horrific wreckage alive.
The wails of an ambulance siren soon filled the night with its lament, expressing grief over the spoils of a calamitous night. The medical crew managed to extricate the victims and everyone sighed in relief and amazement to see they were still breathing. The wounded couple were then rushed to a nearby hospital.
Teddy came out unscathed except for a deep gash on his forehead which was sutured. However, Kemi was in terrible shape. Her right leg was mangled and she had lost so much blood. To make matters worse, her blood group was O negative which was rare to find. She was going into shock but mercifully, the Doctor on call that night also had the same blood group as hers and donated freely.
While she was being resuscitated, Teddy placed a call to her mother.
“Ekaaro ma. Kemi ni accident l‘aaro yi, she had an accident this morning”. He always resorted to Yoruba, their native language when he spoke to Kemi’s mum. “She needs surgery and someone has to sign the consent form. She is at Lifegate Specialist Hospital”. He said that in a very detached manner and left the hospital. He never went back!
Kemi’s mother gave a go ahead for the procedure which went successfully.
While recuperating, her world became black. Bats of depression flapped their wings continuously in the dark caverns of her soul, the shrieks of their ultrasonic cries bouncing off the walls of her mind. She thought she was going insane. Life was just about the motions now. All the juice had been wrung out, the sauce of living was bland, and she just existed. She felt lost, numb and dead especially when she thought about the aborted baby that the battery of tests had revealed. She had been pregnant! Her boyfriend was unmoved by this revelation, all he cared about was the crushed limb. He didn’t want her hobbling beside him for the rest of her life, irrespective of her beautiful face.She felt like someone had ripped out a part of her heart.
Kemi was furious with herself. She had seen all the signs but kept a blind eye to them. She had always known Teddy was selfish. He had always been more interested in showing her off like one would a brand new custom made SUV. She was beautiful, intelligent and a social butterfly which made her fit easily into the circles he moved in. His friends after meeting Kemi always called him a lucky bastard for having a chic like her. Without a leg she was a SUV with a knocked engine. Her allure had diminished! She felt so foolish.
She built an impregnable cocoon around herself that no one could penetrate and kept all and sundry at bay. The day she completely lost it was when Gabby came to visit her with his wife and little baby. Even though he was genuinely concerned and did not spite her in anyway. The visit was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
That night, the mistakes of the past wrestled her to the ground and put a stranglehold on her throat. She could not sleep as she thought of all that could have been. Desolation tore at her soul with the ferocity of a grizzly, a grizzly that swiped relentlessly at her until all her being became a mass of fresh weeping wounds.
Her life reeled out before her. Her past was swiftly moving pictures of black and white while the future was blurred images with lots of static at the end. She saw that instead of the confetti she had waited feverishly for, it was sand that was going to be poured on her coffin. In place of the love songs that was supposed to accompany her steps down the aisle to the altar, she was going to be sent off on a barge of dirges. She was never going to wear the designer wedding dress she had always envisaged. Instead, her final journey was going to be in black unceremonious garments. She imagined how the medical staff would freak out when they came to discover her corpse, pale and without breath, swimming in the sheets of her own blood.
Diabo Culebra rubbed his hands together in a delightful flourish. Puffing furiously on the cigar dangling in his mouth, he took a sip of the cognac swilling in the glass beside his laptop. The ending of a dark story was what he lived for, what gave him orgasmic joy. For him, they didn’t get better than how the plot of “Life” was going to end. He started typing the conclusion.
Kemi grabbed a brand new razor blade and began to take it down, aiming for her wrists, a guillotine determinedly descending to sever the vessels carrying her life essence…
The door to Diabo’s study shattered with such fury, that he was frozen in place…
…As the blade descended, Kemi halted mid action.
He turned around to see the Author of “Life” walk in with some of his body guards and Eve. Eve was the disgruntled staff that he had gotten to betray her former boss. After she gave him the soft copies of the story that he had requested for, Diabo employed her as one of the assistants in his publishing firm. Eve discovered she had made the mistake of her life. The person that deduced that the grass always looks greener on the other side is profoundly wise. Mr. Diabo was a hard task master, he made you work weekends and public holidays without pay. He never forgave, gave queries at the slightest infraction and owed salaries. Furthermore, he was the father of liars and never made good on his words. She was still being owed for the betrayal she performed for him.
On the other hand, she realized that it was greed that made her disloyal to her former employer. He was kind and merciful and would pay every man his due but she wanted to rise up the ranks very quickly without going through the process. Secondly, her spending habit was appalling so she always owed which was why Diablo’s offer had been quite tempting.
Eve confessed to the Author of “Life”, who forgave her and gave her back her job. They went together to the Diabo’s “Lair”, which was where the thief called his home and broke down his door.
The Author of ‘Life’ was usually a lamb but when crossed, he became a lion. He strode majestically to where Diabo was cowering and punched him hard on the jaw.Diabo fell like he had been struck by lightning. As he laid on the floor, he tried to work his mouth and knew his jaw was broken. That was the last thing on his mind though. With the amount of offenses he would be charged with in court, he knew his days were up because he would be locked up and the key thrown away.
The Author of “Life” retrieved his story and was wrathful at what Diabo had done with it. He took the story home, went up to his study and wrote and wrote…
Kemi glanced at the TV. Someone had changed the DSTV channel to 331, 1 Gospel and musical strums filled the room. She had always been a sucker for good music and this was heavenly. She saw a guy with a thick mop of curls strumming away and stomping his foot like there was no tomorrow and then the songs came and washed over her aching soul. She did not know the group but saw their name was Jesus Culture. They sang so lustily! The music was beautiful and the lyrics were healing.
Nothing can separate
Even if I ran away
Your love never fails
I know I still make mistakes
But You have new mercies for me everyday
Your love never fails
You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails
The wind is strong and the water’s deep
But I’m not alone here in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails
The chasm is far too wide
I never thought I’d reach the other side
But Your love never fails
You make all things work together for my good
The song was a hook that reeled her into an ocean of love she had not swum in ages. The essence of a God she had forgotten washed over her. In that sea, she dissolved until every cell in her body became tears that merged and fused with the Force of Life that bubbled in the living waters. The ocean, in which life was being baptized, cleansed and washed her so much she felt new. It was like being re-birthed.
She remembered how her grandma used to take her to Sunday school. The joy she used to experience when being regaled with the tales of David and Goliath, Noah and the ark, and other stories. The sadness of the crucifixion, the euphoria of the resurrection, the sweetness of the Cabin biscuits and the Three Top drinks. The teachers usually ended up giving her extra biscuits because she usually answered most of the questions.
As she grew older, she had meandered away from those ancient paths especially after she started going out with Teddy. It went downhill from there onwards.
When the Doctor on call went to check on her that night, he saw Kemi on a personal mount where transfiguration was taking place. He knew he had happened on a very private moment and went out quietly. As he walked to the Doctor’s room, her rapturous image stayed with him and would not let go.
When he saw her the next morning, she was a new creature. The old Kemi seem to have passed away. She was radiant and friendly.
“Good morning, Miss. Olude,” greeted Dr. Timothy. “How are you doing this morning?”
“Good Morning, Doc, Please forgive me for my churlish attitude, you saved my life by your donation and I have not been good mannered enough to say thank you. I am so very sorry.”
“Pleasure’s all mine, Miss,” He said.
“Please call me, Kemi.”
“Since we are dispensing with formalities, you might as well call me Tim.”
She smiled and light poured from her eyes to fill the room, she had such limpid eyes. He was amazed that he had never noticed. Since she had always been drenched in the rain of depression, they had been difficult to perceive. Her smile was accompanied by two playful dimples that danced merrily on her cheeks.
“Really?” she asked.
“Yup, try saying Tim, you will find out it doesn’t hurt at least not as much as the intramuscular shots you take anyway.”
“Hmm, a Doctor with a sense of humour, you are rare Tim. Anyone ever told you that?”
“I think someone has mentioned it. Has anyone ever told you that your mouth is like an exquisitely sculpted grotto with fine pearls decorating it and a river of rubies running through it?”
She giggled, “Tim, you are quite a flatterer.”
“Just calling a spade a spade, ma’am. However your own spade is diamond studded with a golden handle.”
That morning, Tim left late after handing over and came earlier than usual to resume his night duty.
There was something about Kemi that he found irresistible. He had been praying for a wife before he met her and the more he prayed, the more he was drawn to her.
One thing led to another and a year, six months after they met, they got married. The wedding was lovely but the only fireworks that exploded that day were the ones in her heart for her man. It was also the first day she used her new prosthetic limb.
Tim had a brother working in a research and design company in America where prosthetic limbs that are almost as good as normal limbs were manufactured. Kemi had the privilege of being fitted with one.
She got pregnant and finally delivered a beautiful baby boy. As she suckled him that day, his baby fragrance filled her being. She lovingly ran her hand over his curls and felt such gratitude towards the Author of her Life.
She remembered one of her Grandma’s favourite scriptures and it struck her how true those words are.
..FOR I KNOW THE THOUGHTS THAT I
THINK TOWARDS YOU. THOUGHTS
OF GOOD AND NOT OF EVIL, TO GIVE
YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE..
.© 2013 Ekpo Ezechinyere