It had been an hour since we arrived and Dr Ayo hadn’t brought any hopeful news about Kelechi’s condition. Each time she or a nurse came out of the emergency room – after she’d gotten information from me about his blood type – they simply told me and Ebuka that they were still trying to stabilize him. I got frustrated hearing that line every two to five minutes. That was in the first thirty minutes.
In the last half-hour, none of the medical experts came out or entered the room. I became restless though not as restless as Ebuka who had been banging the door, shouting for them to bring his brother out of the room.
Some minutes after he stopped banging, the door opened and Florence came out of the room. We stood up as she advanced in mine and Ebuka’s direction.
“How’s he doing?” Ebuka asked as I simultaneously inquired, “Is he awake?”
She looked at me then at Ebuka before she finally fixed her gaze on me. “Fisayo, can I talk to you alone in my office?”
I was about to ask why she had to see me alone but didn’t as Ebuka growled, “Whatever you have to say, say it to both of us. He was first my brother before being” – he pointed at me as he eyed me – “her husband.” Fury could be clearly seen in his dark eyes throughout the time he spoke.
Her eyes were wide as looked at him. She had finally experienced firsthand what I’d been going through with him. She glanced at me and gave me a visage, which read, You’re right: he’s very rude.
After that visage, she had another, which resembled sympathy.
Having no idea why she was that way, I asked, “What is it?”
She stepped closer to me and held my hands. “Fisayo, I want you to take heart.” Her eyes became teary. “This is not the end of life. God will always be here for you just like I would be. Please don’t give up on life.”
“Doctor,” Ebuka yelled, “can you stop with the motivational talk and tell me if my brother’s fine or not? I hate the suspense!”
She swallowed hard. “I’m sorry, both of you, but Kelechi’s…” Whatever made her sympathetic only made her demeanour to be worse. “He’s…”
“Just say it already!” I shouted, removing my hands from her hold and raising them, being frustrated. “What happened to him?” I brought my hands down.
“H – he could –” She inhaled sharply before quickly saying, “He couldn’t make it.”
I furrowed my eyebrows at her. “What do you mean he couldn’t make it?”
“Kelechi’s gone, Fisayo,” she croaked. “He breathed his last some minutes ago. I’m sorry.”
I shook my head while my eyes were mayhap as wide as my face. “No.” What Florence said could not be true. “Tell me you’re joking, Flo. Please, say it’s a joke.”
She shook her head. She looked apologetic as she croaked again, “It’s not a joke.”
“Weren’t you able to go through with the blood transfusion?” Ebuka asked.
She glanced at him. “We weren’t. We were just about to set up for the transfusion when we realized he stopped breathing. We tried reviving him first before going through with it but it was hopeless. He probably was unconscious for a long time before Feyisayo found him.”
“No, no, no,” I said, shaking my head. “Florence, you have to try again. He can be revived.” I held her by her shoulders. “Please try again.”
“I’m sorry, Fisayo. But we tried all we could. Trust me; we did. I wouldn’t have dared to come to tell you if we didn’t try.”
I let go of her, stepping away. She couldn’t have been telling the truth; Florence had to be joking. There was no way the man I kissed just this morning, the man I had told I loved him, was late now.
“It’s your fault,” said Ebuka. His voice sounded more hateful than any other time he talked to me.
I faced him. “What do you mean it’s my fault? Did I push him?”
“Yes, you did.” His dark brown stared at me coldly as his jaw became tight. “Even if it wasn’t literally, you pushed him.”
I glanced at Florence, wondering if she heard the same thing I did. She stared back at me, seeming surprised as well.
I faced Ebuka again. “Okay. Explain to me how I pushed him?”
“If you had been the kind of woman you’re supposed to be, he wouldn’t have been in the kitchen in the first place. A man has no business in the kitchen. If you had woken early and prepared his breakfast or boiled the water for whatever purpose he had for it, he would still be alive now. You killed him, Fisayo; you killed Kelechi.”
Indignation: that was what filled my mind as I imagined strangling Ebuka now. How could he say because I decided to wake a little later than I normally did was the reason why Kelechi no longer lives? I never asked him to enter the kitchen. And knowing that sometimes he liked to surprise me with breakfast in bed, I couldn’t blame Kelechi for his current stance now. What happened to him was an accident and nothing more.
“Ebuka,” I said, “was there ever a time Kelechi called to complain that I didn’t wake early to give him breakfast?”
His eyebrows became furrowed. “No.”
“So what’s your problem now? Instead of you to be grieving you’re blaming me for his death. If you look at the time now, it’s barely after nine. It’s around this time he eats breakfast, so whatever reason he had to be in the kitchen was not my fault.”
He icily stared at me. It was as if it dawned on him that I was right, making him to not give a comeback. It very much looked like he wanted to because his eyes never left mine as his mouth twitched.
“I’m really sorry this has to happen to you,” said Florence, probably to stop the tension between Ebuka and me. It’s possible she must have sensed it.
When I glanced at her, something behind her caught my attention. I fixed my gaze at the door to the emergency ward. There was a nurse coming out of there with a few bags of blood.
Seeing that it was the same bags one of the nurses had taken in when everyone ran helter-skelter, it then dawned on me that Kelechi was truly no more. A major part of my world had gone forever; half of me was dead; my longest and best friend was no more, and there was nothing I could do about it.
My whole world came crashing down as I fell to the floor and began to wail.
Florence knelt in front of me before she hugged me. Her action only caused me to cry harder.
Why had this had to have happened? Kelechi had never been careless, so how could have spilled water caused his death?
It was then Ebuka’s lamentation made sense to me. Right now, I felt bad for looking at him at that time disdainfully.
With my head buried in Florence’s chest, I began to wonder how I’d cope as a young widow. Kelechi’s family were already a pain in the arse when he was alive. Now that he was dead, I couldn’t imagine what they could do to me. Kelechi would have been the only one to call them to order but won’t be able to because he can’t.
I don’t know how long I must have wailed before Florence asked. “Do you want to see him?”
I turned my face away from her chest to rest my head on her shoulder. I began to wonder if I could do it: look at him and think he was never going to cheer me up whenever I was down. I asked myself if I could stare at his gorgeous face and believe in only a time it would rot away. There was no way I could I look at him and not remember that I’d be the only one to bring up our twin kids when we’d already promised them we’d be there for them until they were old enough to start their own families.
I shook my head. “I don’t…” I sobbed, answering Florence. “I don’t think I can.”
She tightened her hug. “It’s okay. God is in control.”
“Fisayo!” Ebuka barked.
I glanced up to look at him.
Florence helped me as I stood up and wiped my tears that stained my cheeks.
Staring at Ebuka, I noticed how he didn’t look even a bit remorseful. How could he when he was a heartless man?
I then remembered Kelechi was supposed to give him money to go back home. “Do you have money,” I asked him, “to go back to Onitsha?”
Another glare that was good enough to put me six feet beneath the earth was shot my way by Ebuka. “Do I look like I have money?” he barked again.
I soon felt like I’d upset him. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to –”
“Even if I did, do you think I would spend my money on a selfish woman like you? You killed my brother so you could have everything to yourself.” He cackled. “But I tell you, Fisayo, your plan shall not work; your plan has failed, witch.”
My blood instantly boiled to over a hundred degrees Centigrade as it ran through my veins: I was irate. I thought it was high time I stopped acting like a coward and stand up for myself. I was older than he was, yet he never showed any regard; it was usually the other way round. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was related to Kelechi, I would’ve dealt mercilessly with him and his twin a long time ago.
“Look here, Chukwuebuka,” I shouted, poking his built chest, “I did not kill my husband. I love him; even in his death, I still do. I will never do anything to hurt him. So, you and your family should stop calling me a witch.”
He hissed and rolled his eyes before walking away. At that moment, I knew I was already in a battle I couldn’t win without God by my side.