“Hello Keji.” She replied. She didn’t sound her usual bubbly self.
“Alice?” I prompted her.
“There was a kidnapping attempt on his team, he was hit by a bullet in the exchange between…..”
I screamed in horror.
I screamed and dropped my phone, it landed with a thud in my food. Aunt Mabel dropped her spoon in fright?
“What, what has happened?”
I couldn’t reply, I just pointed at the phone and began weeping?
“Hello, who is this?” Aunt Mabel asked tersely into the phone.
Our gate man ran in, brandishing a knife.
“Aunty wetin happen?” he asked, looking around to see if we were under attack. At the same time there was a loud banging noise at the gate.
The whole scene was chaotic. Aunt Mabel was still speaking with Alice on the phone, I had subsided to quiet sobs. All I could think was; ‘Nifemi!’. The banging at the gate continued, the gate man stood in our living room ignoring whoever was at the gate and trying to find out the reason I screamed.
Aunt Mabel ended the call and ordered Jubril to go open the gate.
“Aunt, Nifemi?” was all I could ask. A million questions loaded into those words.
“He’s in the hospital, the doctors are operating on him to remove the bullets as we speak.” She replied.
“Hey!” I exclaimed and got up. I looked around like one so confused and sat on the floor.
“Keji. You’ll hurt yourself.” Aunt Mabel warned as Nifemi’s parents ran into the sitting room.
“What happened?” Mrs Olatunji asked. Fear, worry and concern etched on their faces. “We heard you scream all the way, next door and rushed over immediately.”
She rushed to me and tied to pull me up.”
“Ma, Nifemi!”I said pulling her hand frantically.
“What has Nifemi done?” she asked anxiously.
“What is going on here? We heard you scream all the way next door.” Mr Olatunji asked, himself also scanning the room for the cause of my scream.
“Nifemi’s secretary just called. She said, there was a kidnapping attempt on his team and he was shot in….”
“Ye!” his mother exclaimed, and joined me on the floor. His father came close, looking at Aunt Mabel as though willing her to say more.
“He’s in surgery as we speak. She’ll call back as soon as there’s more news.
“Aye mi o!” Mrs Olatunji exclaimed with tearful eyes.
Mr Olatunji pulled out a dining chair and sank in, lost in despair.
We made a sorry lot. From the gate man standing at the door, to us women on the floor.
Aunt Mabel was the first to snap out of the shock we were engulfed in. “We need to stop crying, Nifemi will pull through.” She said wiping tears. “Especially you Morenike, not in your condition.”
I sprang up. “I’m going to Port Harcourt!”
“I’m going with you.” His mother said.
“Where is my phone, I need to call Alice, she should book us the next available…….”
“Neither of you is going to Port Harcourt!” Mr Olatunji interrupted. “If it wasn’t safe for Nifemi, it’s not safe for you ladies. I will go. I’ll ask Segun to meet me there.”
That’s true, Segun, Nifemi’s brother worked for one of the multinational oil companies in Warri. He could be in PH sooner than we could be.
“I want to go, I need to go.” I protested.
“The stress wouldn’t be good for you.”
“I would still worry if I stay here.”
“You’ll be where your doctor can monitor you. I’ve got to go, I need to be on the next available flight.”
He left. And us three ladies sat lost in thought.
Just a few hours ago, all the insecurity and violence in the Niger-Delta and the North-East seemed far away, and we in Lagos were insulated from it all. But now, it seemed closer than ever.
The next few hours dragged. Mrs Olatunji left to see her husband off to the airport and came right back to my house to wait. I worried Alice through the phone for any news possible. I knew the exact moment he came out of surgery. I demanded to speak with the doctor.
He told me pretty much the same thing Alice said; Nifemi’s vitals were strong. Though there was some loss of blood, he had been stabilised and should awake immediately the anaesthesia wears off.
Then I could breathe again.
Nifemi’s father’s plane landed in PH, and Alice made arrangements for a driver to meet him and take him to the hospital.
That day was one of the longest of my life. I prayed, I pleaded, I bargained, I promised. If Nifemi pulled through, I promised to be good all my days. I would marry him immediately, come hell or high water. We weren’t going to wait for the owambe aunt Mabel and his mother were planning. Immediately we could, we were getting hitched, and he wasn’t ever going to leave my sight again, much less travel to and unsafe place.
Seriously, why was all these happening? Why did we keep having these bumps? From the beginning of the relationship, its been one issue or another. No happy stretch! Didn’t I deserve some happiness?
Nifemi’s mom and aunt Mabel tried to distract me with tales of how our marriage would stand the test of time. According to them, the more troubles a relationship has in the beginning, the longer it will last. Frankly, I didn’t care about any old wife’s tale. I knew with Nifemi by my side, we could weather any storm.
That was why he had to survive.
My phone kept ringing non-stop, such that I had to sit beside the socket where it was plugged in to charge. All his siblings called, I can barely remember what we said to each other. Dupe called every thirty minutes for updates until she returned from work.
Later at night, the tag team of Aunt Mabel and Nifemi’s mom force fed me like a child. They called my doctor to ask him if and which sleeping pill I could take. He refused to prescribe any, and asked me to come over to the hospital the next day for a checkups.
My phone rang while, I was already in bed, trying to invite sleep. The call was from Nifemi’s phone. I sat up immediately, and calmed myself that it must be his father or brother calling with his phone.
Oh my God. Thank God. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks. Nifemi was awake.
“My love. How are you?” I said through dry cotton mouth.
“I’ve been better. How are you? Daddy says you’ve been worried sick and if I didn’t speak with you, you wont sleep a wink.” He sounded so weak, but no doubt my Nifemi.
“I’m fine. Better now I’ve heard your voice.”
“Are you crying?”
“No.” I wiped my tears.
“You should know I wouldn’t let a little thing like a bullet keep us apart. We are going to grow old together.”
I was nodding my head as though he could see me.
“Now we’ve spoken, we’re going to go to sleep. We’ve had a long, rough day.”
“Okay my love.”
“Goodnight my love. Love you sooo much.”
We ended the call. I cradled the phone to my chest and blessed God for saving Nifemi.
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