A lot of questions flooded her mind as she sat before the stockily built doctor, in his consulting room.
Is she pregnant?
Did she drug herself?-No way!
A lot of voices were screaming to be heard in her head and fear bloomed within her. She was restless as she kept moving from a side of the chair to another. Beads of sweat covered her forehead.
Dr. Alechenu wore a pair of medicated, dark-rimmed glasses. Coupled with his body build and nice looks he had an air of dignity around him. He raked his fingers through his neatly combed afro hair carefully, so that it remained unruffled. He looked at the file before him for the umpteenth time before Mrs Ayeteju broke the silence.
“Sir, how is she? What is the problem? What does the test result say? When is she going to be discharged sir?” She anxiously bombarded him with many questions, leaving him to flounder on which to answer.
“Well, we’re trying and hopefully she’d be fine. We carried a series of test on her and we are making head ways.” Mrs Ayeteju nodded in a way that made him know she wanted to know more.
“She’s got peptic ulcer, gastric ulcer specifically.” She was a bit calmed. At least she knew that whatever was wrong with Lara was within the confines of ulcer.
“We also discovered that the ulcer is already bleeding.”
Internal bleeding? That sounded lethal to her.
“Ehn?” She shook her laps vehemently as tears welled up in her eyes.
“Eleda mi ooh!” She cried out putting her hands on her head. She dug her fingers into her weave and tousled it.
“No, Not to worry it’s just trickles.” He stated calmly and she relaxed again.
“So what are we going to do sir?”
“Drugs should be enough for now. In addition to that she would also need adequate and suitable food, also very importantly, she needs good rest. By rest I mean both of the body and mind because agitations could also trigger hyper-acidity. So she needs to surround herself with things that would make her happy and not otherwise. Please she needs to take her drugs religiously.” She kept nodding like an agama lizard basking in the sun.
“If she doesn’t take to all these measures and the bleeding increases or worse yet the ulcer becomes perforated -er- It could be life threatening! If the bleeding increases she might have to be operated upon.” The doctor said and she shuddered.
He pulled a little piece of paper out of the file before him and he quickly scribbled on it.
“Here.” He slid the piece across the pristine surface of his desk. “That’s the prescription. You could get the drugs from the hospital dispensary or from another other trusted pharmacy store.”
“Thank you very much sir.” She mumbled as she picked the note and carefully tucked it into her bag.
“So about when would she be discharged?”
“Eerm.. All things being equal, she should be discharged soon.”
With her Mum seating next to her and watching her closely in the range rover sport, she knew she mustn’t show emotions. She remained as calm as she could and except for intermittent sighs she remained quiet.
Thankfully, all the mess were happening during her leave and she wasn’t rushed to the hospital where she worked.
She had a lot of questions for her but she’d keep them for the right time. Although the question bit at her throat, she remained silent. She’d wait until they got home. She knew there were things she needed to know. She had rushed Lara down to the hospital three days earlier after she collapsed and since then, she had been observing various strange things.
Lara rested her head on the cold window and watched immobile structures move past the car.
“Abbie!” Mrs Ayeteju called out with enough venom, as soon as she stepped into the house.
“Ma..” She screamed as she rushed in. Abbie was a thin and tall lady in her late twenties and if not the hideous tribal scars that disfigured her cheeks, she would have been a striking beauty. Lara often wondered how deeply whoever drew the marks must have gashed her cheeks, for the scars were huge!
“Oponu! So I had to scream your name before your half-dead brain could tell you to come and help with the loads abi?” Mrs Ayeteju fumed and genuflecting, Abbie mouthed a brief apology. She collected the bags and basket from her.
“If not for Sam I would’ve laid you off a long time ago.” Abbie was always at the receiving end of Mrs Ayeteju’s transferred aggression.
Lara was left in the parlour with her Mum. Not wanting any more bother, she turned her heels upstairs. Her Mum’s call stopped her and she turned.
“Lara we need to talk.” She said and Lara heaved.
“What’s the matter with you?” She asked concernedly and Lara shook her head in the negative.
“No, Lara. Something is definitely wrong.” She insisted. “Okay why did you lock yourself up?”
“Why did you lock yourself up and wouldn’t let anyone in?” She repeated raising her voice, when Lara wouldn’t say anything..
“I needed to be alone.” Lara replied weakly.
“Really?” She scowled. “And you didn’t eat? And you didn’t take your drugs?”
“Do you want to kill yourself? Do you want to kill me?” Her voice shook and her eyes glinted with tears. “And you know you’re all I’ve got left in the whole-” her words trailed off giving way to sobs.
Lara was moved by compassion. “Mum, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t let that happen next time.”
“Okay, fine. Apology accepted. But why did you say I shouldn’t inform Lanre about your health condition and your admission in the hospital?” Mrs Ayeteju asked curiously.
Lara’s shoulders sagged.
“Nothing.” She uttered thickly looking past her Mum.
“Nothing?” She asked furrowing her sweat beaded brows.
“Mum, nothing.” Lara repeated defiantly and she moved towards the staircase. Mrs Ayeteju twisted her mouth.
“Alright. Since it’s nothing, I’d just call Lanre right away to tell him every-”
Her brows flickered up and she turned sharply to her Mum.
“No mum, please don’t.”
“I would do just that.” She said picking up her phone from her purse. “If you don’t want me to, then tell me what the issue is.”
“I just didn’t want to bother Lanre, I don’t want to bug-” Mrs Ayeteju quickly raised her hands to stop her.
“Oh please, Ma fi nu mi, mo m’oje.” She said figuratively in Yoruba telling her not to patronize her. “We both know that’s not true. So you had better tell me the whole truth.”
She scratched her nape. She knew her Mum had pinned her to the wall. Frustrated, she sank into the nearest settee. She fumbled with the twigs that stuck out of an opulent large brown flower vase standing beside the settee as she stalled for time.
“I’m waiting..” Mrs Ayeteju singsonged, standing with arms akimbo.
“Fine. He called off the engagement.” Lara eventually blurted out raising her hands resignedly.
The truth is; sooner or later, she’d still get to know.
She chuckled without amusement. “Is supposed to be an euphemism for saying he broke up with you?” Lara didn’t answer.
Mrs Ayeteju grabbed her wrapper and jumped, landing with a thud she spun.
“Ehn! Why? Why did he break up with you?” She searched Lara’s face.
“I don’t know.” Lara said dully avoiding her face and cocking her head to a side.
Mrs Ayeteju tipped her chin quite roughly so that their eyes could meet.
“Lara, you know. Ah! Iwo omo yii. You allowed your man leave you ehn? You want to give my enemies a reason to laugh at me abi?” She lamented on. Her traditional/superstitious concern about ‘enemies’ was something Lara found annoying. She stood up to leave.
Mrs Ayeteju pressed her shoulders so hard that she sank right back into the chair.
“Common sit there joorh!” She charged at her. “You better tell me the reason yourself before I inquire my own way.” She threatened but Lara remained silent.
Mrs Ayeteju bent forward and narrowed her eyes. “Wait oh, is it because of that idiot?” With her index finger between her teeth, she racked her brain. ” Ehen. Noah. Is it because of him?” She asked perceptively.
Although Lara kept quiet, the guilt etched on her face gave her away and Mrs Ayeteju was sure her guess was right.
“Yeeh! Yeeh! Yeeh! Mo gbe ooh!” She exclaimed putting her hands on her head.
She hit her vibrating laps repeatedly. “Lara! Lara! Lara!”
“Ntori Olorun. (For God’s sake.) Ahh! And I warned you ooh.” She pointed her index finger at her.
“You know I said it, God knows I said it. Mo kuku wi. Mo wi ooh o ko o k’eti s’apo. (I warned you but you turned deaf ears on me.) Ahh! Eni a wi fun…. Eni a wi fun oba jeko gbo ooh.”
Tears trickled down Lara’s cheeks.
“Can you see now?” She splayed her fingers.
“Why are you crying? You should be happy now. Abi? You can now confidently move all around with Noah now. You should smile, you should rejoice.” She said with bleak sarcasm.
Lara wept on.
“Mum, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not listening.” she managed.
Mrs Ayeteju’s ire was swallowed up in compassion for her daughter. Nonetheless she didn’t budge. She walked out of the parlour with a loud, long hiss and a resounding “Nonsense!”
Lara sank to the floor and wept on dejectedly.
Mrs Ayeteju returned about thirty minutes later.
“You better get up from there and let’s fix lunch. You know the doctor said you must eat lunch by 2 PM and I’m not about to bury you. So just save this your yeye tears for later and get into the kitchen now!”
Lara wiped her eyes and plodded to kitchen.
“Just sit at the table and wait for the food. Abbie and I would do the cooking. Pele oko mi.” Her tone was softer but it quickly regained the harshness when she turned to Abbie, “Is that how to-” the smack she gave Abbie on her neck elicited a groan from her- “slice onions?”
Lara smiled in spite of herself. She wasn’t sure she was ready to face this phase of her life, but it was facing her already, leaving her with no choice but to face it.