Throughout the three days Richard spent at the hospital, Lillian had only gone home once to take her bath, she never left his bedside. Everything they needed was brought either by Mary or by her mother. Immediately the doctor told her what could be wrong with her husband, she had picked her phone and punched the dial; she called her mother who joined them in no time.
At the time Debra arrived, Lillian was in the doctor’s office. Lillian’s face was not damp which meant that she had not been crying but she recognize the look she was wearing; that of fear.
The doctor didn’t mind Lillian’s mother joining her in his office. Ordinarily, he would not have allowed her but he felt Richard’s case needed more ears.
Debra knew how awful it could be to be at the hospital, either as a patient or to wait on one. She remembered when she had to stay with her husband for two weeks before he eventually died.
The doctor had told her that they brought him late. But who could she blame? Her husband had concealed his pain well enough for nobody to notice; even she his wife didn’t on time. She wept bitterly because she had lost her beloved and was lonely. Months passed before she came out of her grieve. Now, her daughter is in pain and the last thing she wanted her to feel was grief. She had felt it; it was bad, very bad.
From the envelope he had earlier placed on his table, he brought out some papers that Lillian though would be the results of test carried out on her husband. ‘From what I have here, your husband’ he was looking from the papers to Lillian ‘may be suffering from cardiac arrest.. .’ he was cut short.
“Cardiac?’ she asked bewildered, she had had enough for that day. She could not listen to what the doctor was saying again. She sat there like a statue, gazing into the air.
Debra noticed she wasn’t paying attention and it took just several taps to bring her back out of her reverie. ‘’How can that be?’ Debra asked the doctor, leaning forward.
He returned the papers neatly into the envelope and placed it gently in one of the many chests of his table drawers. “He may” he emphasized politely. “When he is well stabilized, we will have him do an arteriogram”. He paused and sighed. “to know whether he has a blockage or a damage.”. Seeing the fear in their eyes, he quickly added. “I can assure you, he looks too healthy to be a heart patient, it must be the stress”.
If there was one thing she knew about doctors, Debra knew they can be very tactic. When she was in school, she had a medical student friend who always told her that no matter the condition of the patient, a doctor must try to make it less serious at least to save the situation. And she felt the doctor was doing exactly. Just what she felt, she could not be so sure.
Slowly, from where she sat on the edge of the bed, she rose to stand before her mirror; she pulled her stool from underneath the mirror stand and sat on it. She touched her hand to her face and slowly roamed it to her neck where she left it for a while resting on her neck bone. She steadily released the air she had held for a while. She didn’t like how she was looking, sallow. It was then it flashed her mind that she not been on a good diet for the past five days.
It had been two days since they got back home. She had not been eating well ever since she was at the hospital and even when she got back home, her appetite did not embrace her. Still staring at her image, she felt sick from inside and she thought it was because she lived some days in the hospital.
Hospital! The thought of it and its acrid scent of disinfectant made her stomach rumble, she felt nauseated and the urge to puke was getting difficult to hold back. She felt her stomach with one hand, I hardly ate anything last night, she mused to herself, what could I possibly want to vomit? Before she finished her thought, she ran to the bathroom and threw up. In the closet, the answer to her thoughts swam. She noticed her vomit had more fluid and some chunks, which she knew must be the undigested eba she ate the night before.
Holding the cistern, she noticed that her vomit was greenish and she silently prayed and hoped she was not having typhoid. She turned it and waited for it to flush; her eyes whirled as she watched the waters do the same.
Richard who was lying on the bed saw her run into the bathroom. “Are you All right?” he called loud enough for her to hear from where she was.
She came out of the bathroom and rested on its doorpost. “Am fine” she smiled feebly.
“Did you not just throw up?” sounding confused.
“Yes, but am fine. I breathed in much of the hospital air, you know how much I hate the smell there?” She asked rhetorically
“Then you need to go back, for check-up”. He stood up from where he had been lying. He changed to a casual t-shirt and trousers from his night robe
Lillian sighed. The only thing she needed was rest; going back to the hospital was the last thing on her mind. “Am totally fine, I just need rest” she smiled superficially. Just then, someone knocked. She knew it could just be one person to dare knock at their door or try to come in. “come in” Lillian called.
“Good morning sir” Mary greeted. “How do you feel now sir?”
Smiling he replied Mary. “I am totally fine now. If today was not Sunday, i would be in the office”
Mary laughed feebly. “Aunty, good morning” Lillian nodded with a smile. “We need some foodstuff at home. I did not want to border you at the hospital”
Lillian sighed. “All right. I would get you money, you tell Kasali to take you”
“He has gone for the weekend Ma” Mary said rubbing her palms together as if she was the one not available.
“Did I not ask him to stay” she squeaked.
“I asked him to go” Richard answered. Mary looked at Lillian surprised; it was rare for her to yell and if she did, it was not on trivial issues such as this. While Lillian was still thinking of an alternative, Mary scrutinized her with her eyes. And she noticed that for the few days that she had not seen much of her, something had happen to her, a change, one she could not make out at that moment.
“I will take you then”. She left the door post” at least I should do some practice” she said off-handedly.
Mary was as surprised as Richard was. She was because she felt Lillian wanted to keep it a secret from Richard. And she still did not know why she refused to take him to the hospital and insisted that they take a taxi.
Still stunned, he asked her with his eyes if he heard her right. Lillian nodded and he got flared. “You can drive?” the change? He asked himself silently.
“Yes Richard. I learnt it when you travelled” she beamed, proud of herself.
“Where?” He was calm about it.
“Oh! A friend taught me” her voice was going bright and breezy which was making Richard more angered. While Lillian refused to see the anger in his eyes, Mary knew the discussion would not go down well. Standing behind Richard, she gestured at Lillian to abort the conversation; she was putting her hand to her throat as if to slaughter something.
“A friend?” he knew she did not keep friends. “Who?”
“Femi” because Lillian did not lie, because she was not used to it, she forgot totally that they had said or fought over Femi calling her phone instead of Mary’s.
“You lying whoring prostitute, was he not the same person that called you that day? You dare lie to me he is Mary’s friend. So you can drive and you refused to take me to the hospital, did you hate me that much. You wanted me to die?” he spoke with accumulated anger.
Lillian stood up. “Come on Richie, it is not what you think. I could not drive in an emergency and I still can’t” she wanted to tell him she had only had few times behind the wheels, that she was not good enough to drive on express roads yet. Even though he knew, she wanted to tell him that the market place was few miles away from the house and not like the hospital that was far away. While she was still trying to find a way to begin her argument, he screamed at her.
“Shut up“ He screamed
“You shut up” she yelled back. “Can’t you just listen and reason with me for once? I have totally had enough of you. I told you I cannot drive an emergency, you want me to drive us to death” how she gathered the strength and courage she did not know, and she was not even ready to think of it, maybe later she thought.
Richard pulled her back as she tried to walk past him “come back here, have you lost your manners?” he demanded. “How dare you shout back at me?” before Lillian could reply, he slapped her. “Your new friend also taught you to be rude to your husband right?” he unbuckled his belt. “I will teach you a lesson you will live to remember” the first time the belt landed, it was on her stomach.
“Richard please” She managed to beg. Her obstinacy would not save her now. He kept on using the belt on her and she could hear Mary’s plea. Everything was becoming faint; she hardly saw the both of them. Faintly she heard Mary’s scream of blood and the sight of the blood she did not see but felt as it oozed out from her knocked her out.
“Blood?” Richard asked. Now he had stopped using the belt on her because already, she had passed out.
Her short satin-laced nightwear had soaked in little or nothing of the blood, it was light-textured and it had allowed the blood drop to stain the cream coloured rug. It was the rug Mary saw when she screamed. “Oga blood” she repeated again as she ran to where Lillian collapsed.
“We could not save it” Debra looked at the doctor, confused; she did not know what he was talking about. He saw the puzzled look on their faces. “The baby, we lost it”
“Jesus!” Debra yelled. “Jesus!’’ She placed her hands on her head. She looked Richard in the eyes.
“God!” he exclaimed. He did not know she was carrying a baby. “The change!” he exclaimed.
“The change!” Mary exclaimed. That explained it, the reason she had been acting all funny lately. Her mother was right when she told her that pregnant women flare up at any little thing. Lillian had been doing so much of that but none of them knew in time that she was having a baby. Now they knew it was too late; the doctor could not save it. Silently she blamed Richard for not knowing his wife, for not knowing what she could do and at what time did it; she also shared in the blame. Lillian had complained to her severally when they were cooking that she was fast losing her strength that she needed to sit to regain more. And what had she done? All she did was give her water and some energy boost. Mary felt bad; she should have told her to see her doctor.
She was still on her hospital bed; she managed to avoid her husband until when the doctor discharged her. If she wasn’t sleeping when he came in, then you would sleep when he came in.
Now that she had been discharged she knew she should at least tell him of her intentions.
Richard had gone to pay the bills immediately he left the doctor’s office. Anxiety ran all over him as he entered Lillian’s room. When they brought her he asked that she be in a private room. “Lilly he called quietly as he sat beside her. She didn’t respond but he knew she was not sleeping, he had seen her turn as he turned the door knob. “You have been discharged” he said quietly like he called her name.
Still she did not respond. he wanted to tell her he was sorry, he wanted to lie flat on the floor and beg her to forgive him, he wanted to open up his heart to her that moment so she could see how deeply sorry he was but what his mouth could say was can we go home?
Just as he asked, Lillian turned and sat up. Can we go home? Do we even have a home? She asked bitterly. “I cannot believe it took us six years to conceive this baby, and you killed him, with your own hands” Lillian sobbed.
“Am sorry, am so sorry” he snivelled. How could he have even thought of beating her again? The last time he tried to hit her it had cost him something, he landed on the hospital bed, and now it had cost him a life, his baby’s.
“Could you not have tolerated me that once, have I ever spoken to you in that manner? I didn’t understand myself and you failed to understand me as well”
“I would never raise a finger on you again”. He assured. “Am sorry, let’s go home” as if that was all his wife needed to hear.
“Sorry does not heal all wounds, not a deep one as this. You already said you would teach me a lesson I would live to remember, you did. You should not apologize for it. Am going to my mother’s, am sorry” she turned her back to him and sobbed silently
With the help of Mary, Lillian packed a few things she would need at her mother’s house. Mary insisted that she go with her to help her until she was at least strong, But Lillian declined, she knew Mary too well, if she followed her, she would not return until she returned, and she was not ready to return, at least, she was not thinking of that.