The young doctor was wearing a patterned red shirt with a crisscrossed green tie, complemented by a checked grey trouser. He was a battle ground of factions of divergent patterns. There was a time she would have found this so hilarious all day long, good natured soul that she used to be, but that was a long time ago. Life had stolen her laughter and left a heart as frigid as an arctic desert behind.
After giving a perfunctory glance at her results, the doctor surmised, “your hormone profile is still imbalanced and the fibroids have started growing back.” His voice was a death knell of indifference, cold and impersonal. She made excuses for him though. The number of patients waiting outside to see him and the mountainous case files on his desk made it difficult to be nice but a little empathy would still have been welcomed. She sighed.
She had gotten used to them all, the good, bad, ugly, refined, uncouth, cheery and dour. Old, middle aged, young, the pompous gods and the humble types. She had seen the best and the worst in the country, professors, residents, GP’s, medical officers, name it. Now, she could write a dissertation on doctors. Her life has been about hospitals in the last decade plus. She visited them the way people used bathrooms and could tell you about the locations of all the general hospitals in Lagos and their layouts. When her situation got worse, she had been referred to the private ones owned by the doctors in the government ones. Good thing about the private ones at least was that she did not have to be subjected to foul mouthed nurses whose words were caustic and more dangerous than venom. Bottom line though, was that she was not getting any better.
She had been a hot shot career lady with a managerial position in one of the fastest growing banks in the country before she fell ill. She had to resign to take care of herself after the bank could not sustain paying her health bills since she spent more time on hospital beds than at work.
She used to stay on Chevron drive, Lekki with her husband back in the day, days that had gotten lost in the mists of time. Even if she wanted to, she could not visualize those days anymore, even with the help of fog lights. Everything had been honky dory before the disease struck with ravaging viciousness and toppled her world. Her inability to have kids made her in-laws put tremendous pressure on her husband. They said it was an abomination for two men to be living under the same roof. Ultimately, he broke under the pressure and everything had gone awry. The sweet strains of Kenny G that used to fill their nights turned into a rock and roll of battering and bashing. Her Harvard trained husband brought in a younger girl his mother had recommended to shack up with him and threw her out of the house. The infirmity and not death did them part.
She had sold her car and some other valuables to get a self contained flat in a classy area of Ogudu, Lagos. The doctors had initially said she had dysfunctional uterine bleeding before the fibroids appeared for which she had undergone surgery. The investigations, admissions, surgeries had wiped out her finances until she was utterly broke. She moved to a face me I face you (low cost, one room apartments facing one another with communal toilets and bathrooms) in Ketu.
Her medical bills kept mounting. All the consultations amounted to nothing and the bleeding had persisted. The woman was always with a pad. She jokingly says that her purchases alone had made the pad industry rich. How, she had suffered!!!
She used to be a picture of health and vitality, her skin had had such a ruddy glow her husband used to joke that tiny rubies were embedded underneath it. Looking at herself back then, she used to wonder why any lady in the world would have to use bleaching creams. She was so black and beautiful they called her DL (dark and lovely) but she had become pale and ugly. Like a bandit, the illness had mercilessly robbed her of the jewels from her skin. Life could be painfully ironic. She could not recognize herself these days. Her skin hung on her frame like parchments. A perpetual odoriferous cloud that made people almost hold their nostrils around her was the halo that announced her presence. Her designer clothes have turned to second hand ones and more recently, old Ankara materials. She was not even forty and her best years were behind her. Trapped, she was undone and coming apart at the seams like the cheap fabrics she wore.
Most nights she wept, wondering who she had offended to deserve her fate. The tears usually came strong and thick; the type of weeping that heaves and shakes the body like a rag doll. Mucus from her nostrils ran with the boundless freedom of a drugged stallion. Her eyes and nose were usually in an internecine war where each did its damnedest not to be outdone by the other in a battle of grief.
One day while watching TV, she was pricked to attention. It was the tall, dark Pastor she had seen a couple of times though she rarely paid attention. There was something peaceful about the way he delivered his messages, an air of humility, confidence and peace that was difficult to be overlooked. While most pastors jumped and shouted, he usually spoke so softly, gently but you could not deny the power behind his sweat less teachings. That day, he concluded his message with the saying that “The Word works wonders…”
Suddenly she felt that she needed to be in the service the next day, that if she could make it there and connect her life would change.
The next morning, she took her bath, had a left over meal of “Agege” bread and “Agonyi” beans and headed for Oregun. It had been shown the day before that the church had four services and she was trying to make the third one. She left about 6am because she had no money for transport and would have to walk. Secondly, rising early was the best way to beat the queue of tenants who would want to use the bathroom. Her incessant bleeding had made it that she usually got so tired after the slightest exertion so she had to walk very slowly. She almost gave up when she had to climb the pedestrian bridges at Ketu and 7UP bus-stops. The climb made her almost faint but she held on with grim determination, nothing would deter her from reaching her objective. The climb was as laborious as climbing the Everest but with each step she took, she kept saying “I MUST GET TO CHURCH!” It was like her survival depended on it!
She could not believe the crowd when she got there, tens of thousands of people. The greeters at the gate where so warm and friendly, their sing song “welcome to church” was sweet music welcoming you to a table of hospitality. People milled everywhere, some were exchanging cards and networking, others were busy taking in the beauty of the surroundings. It was like a fashion fair, men and especially women arrayed like peacocks. Loads of people came to see the church they had heard so much about, where “it was happening”. However, she refused to be distracted; she was a woman on a mission.
During the service, some people around her were whispering, analyzing the Ministers suit, some guys were talking about a lady in the front pew they wanted to hit on after the service. A couple of people were toying with their gadgets but she shut down on all and fastened her attention on the Preacher. Coincidentally, he was preaching about how God sent His Son to die to die for humanity. He made it clear that The Son was punished severely for the transgressions of mankind even though innocent and that by “His stripes we were healed!”
That was when it happened! A spiritual chemical reaction was ignited. The spirit of God’s word connected with a prepared human heart. A seed from God’s essence was sown into a faith filled soil. The spermatozoa of God’s rhema fused with the ovum of her conviction. It was an explosion that no human words could ever adequately describe. Something erupted within her, an energy that warmed up her being and moved her from within. Something lit up within the bowels of her existence. She felt something had stopped draining within her…she was healed!!! The magnetic force of her faith had created an osmotic gradient, drawing supernatural force from the vaults of heaven!!
Uncharacteristically of the Pastor during a Sunday service, he gave room for testimonies. He said he was persuaded that someone in the service had a special one. She was initially hesitant but she came out and told her story. The Pastor told her that her faith had made her whole..
She never understood the wholeness bit until years later. Her husband came running back to her and they gave birth to 2 sets of twins. Her finances were back on track through her consultancy firm and other businesses. She had become a strong member of the church and an active member of the prayer team. “If that is not wholeness, I don’t know what is…” she thought…
As the Message translation of the bible is to King James. This is a present day version of the story of the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8: 43-48, Matthew 9: 20, Mark 5: 25), set in Lagos, Nigeria.
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