EPISODE 9 SERIES FINALE PART 2
It had been three months already and a lot had happened. Lade was finally back in Lagos with his mother and that had been the high point of her life; living a daily with her child. He asked questions. She knew those questions were bound to arise. And she didn’t know what answers exactly to give him.
For one, he had asked why daddy rarely visited them. Nike didn’t know how to explain to her thirteen year old son that his father was HIV positive.
She remembered that night when he came to her apartment three months ago when she had called him. She had been so vulnerable and couldn’t take the news of her child going wayward to the extent of smoking cigarettes. She had lost one to the claws of death. She couldn’t lose the other to addiction. Lanre had held her and told her everything would be fine. He had rubbed her back and told her he was sorry for everything that had happened and gone down between them. Maybe she was not in control of her emotions…or she had missed being loved and held by a man; especially a man she had been in love with for almost her whole life.
“I need to tell you something.” Lanre had said.
She looked up to face him and he wiped the tears that had fallen on her face with his fingers. She knew there was something wrong. She knew she wasn’t supposed to be vulnerable around him. She knew old feelings would return faster than the speed of light. She cleared her throat and stepped back a bit.
“I’m sorry.” She had said, wiping her face. “I got carried away.”
“It’s okay. It’s me, Nikky.” He said.
She nodded too.
“What were you gonna say?” She asked.
Lanre hesitated at first but then he looked at her and heaved for a bit.
“I am sick.” He said.
She looked puzzled. Her face quizzed him for answers.
“Sick? What’s wrong with you?” She was starting to panic. Why were all the men
in her life getting sick?
“I want you to promise me that I’ll have your support.” He said.
“Lanre what is it?” She raised her voice.
“I am…I’ve got HIV.” He said.
Nike staggered backwards a bit. She literally lost balance.
“What? Oh my God! Oh my God….Oh no…not you, Lanre. Oh tell me it’s not true.” She started another round of tears.
Lanre tried to hold her but she flinched and retreated.
“I warned you! I warned you, Lanre. You hurt me but I warned you and I begged you. You chose this. You’re so wicked and mean! Why do you want to do this to us.”
Lanre pulled her close and held her in his embrace. He couldn’t help himself. He burst into tears too.
“I’m so sorry, baby. I’m sorry. I have failed you. I have wronged your spirit. I just need you to forgive me for everything I ever did. I haven’t stopped blaming myself for Lekan’s death and for this divorce and now for Lade’s situation. I’m a failure and I apologize for everything. Please, Nikky.” He sobbed.
He went on his knees and held her waist, weeping profusely.
Nike looked up, sniffed and wiped her face with a tissue.
“I need you to leave. For now. I need to process this, please. I’ll call you later, okay.” She said.
He nodded. She feared for him. She hoped he would be able to drive home safe. He hadn’t come with his driver. She was tempted to ask him to stay and pass the night. But she needed to process what she had just heard.
The next morning, she had called him and met him at his apartment. She told him she was willing to help him if he quit his bad lifestyle. Most importantly, Lade was coming to Nigeria and she didn’t want him picking worse habits from his father. She had convinced him to start attending HIV counseling at the general hospital. He had refused at first. He was scared of the news getting out to the public. He hadn’t even broken the news to his father or siblings yet. He knew how fast bloggers were in circulating rumours…which in his case would be a correct rumour. Nike agreed to go to counseling with him and he finally decided to go.
Lade had been back in Lagos for about three months and Lanre had seen him five times. Nike had been battling her own issues. For one, she wasn’t sure if to permit close contact or allow weekend visits at Lanre’s place. What if Lade mistakenly touched a razor or a needle or a clipper? Maybe she needed some counseling of her own. She knew that Lade was acting out because he didn’t have a present father figure. Lanre had never really been available for him. Nike had to admit that a part of her was scared to the bones. She didn’t want to lose her ex-husband to death. She had already lost a son.
He had come out of the heart attack situation and on his word, he had started eating healthy. He now only ate junk food once in a blue moon. Nike tried to believe him.
“Nike, I need to ask if there’s any future for us.” Tosan had asked. He came to her house after his early morning Saturday run and she had entertained him with a bottle of water even if he had asked for orange juice.
“Come on. Can we not talk about this?” Nike replied, running her fingers through her hair. They sat together in her living room.
“We have to. I need to know how your mind feels about me.” He said.
They heard footsteps. Then Lade walked in, wearing his pajamas.
“Hey Mom.” He said.
Nike looked at her teenage son.
“Can you say a decent hello to my guest, please.” She said.
“Hey.” Lade raised his hand mid way and turned back to face his mom. “What’s for breakfast? Plus, is dad coming today?”
Nike eye balled him.
“Omolade please don’t make me get up and whoop you! Will you say a proper hello to this gentle man?” Nike yelled.
“I said hey already. I should go. See you later.” He said and went back upstairs.
Nike sighed, putting her head in her hands.
“Teenage tough time, huh?” Tosan said.
“I’m fed up. He’s so….so mean. I blame myself. I should never have let him go abroad in the first place. Maybe we should have let him travel for University alone.” Her voice croaked.
“It’s going to be alright, okay? Everything will be fine. He is just angry at everything that has happened.”
“Thank you.” She said.
“Do you mind sharing what it is that is eating you up though? I can tell you have been really bothered. Even Toju asked me if I knew what the problem is.”
Nike shook her head. She didn’t want to inform anyone about Lanre’s status. Yes, he had hurt her, but she felt she owed him that much being the father of her kid
“It’s nothing.” She said.
“Okay. I guess now is not the time to talk about me and you.” He said, standing up.
Nike held his hand.
“Tosan you are a great guy…”
“Great guy? Ha—ha please don’t friend zone me!”
“I have no choice, Tosan. I just have a very complicated life going on right now. And I don’t think there is any space in my heart for extra…” She said.
“Is it because I’m fat? No space for me?” He joked.
Nike laughed again.
“Be serious joor. You’re a good friend and I cherish your friendship so much! You’re an amazing guy. But I need to focus and sort things out with my life.”
“I understand dear. It’s okay. Maybe some other time?”
“I can’t say. I can’t ask you to wait. I still feel guilty for my divorce. I don't know. Maybe I should have prayed more. I was hurt and I don't think I should feel guilty. I don’t even feel right with God even though my husband committed adultery.” She said.
"I think it's just my own personal life that I need to figure out."
“Maybe if Fisayo Talabi decided to write an Episode 10 to this blog series...maybe we would be together…” Tosan laughed.
Nike laughed too. She was laughing so much.
“Just maybe.” She replied.
“One suggestion though,” Tosan said. “I think you should pray to God for direction.”
It had been three months since Lolade had gone to the hospital to get tested for HIV. She hadn’t slept with Lanre that night. She was grateful for the phone call from the woman whose marriage she had willingly destroyed. The result had come back negative and she had been extremely glad until the nurse asked her to come back for a re-test in three months after the suspected window period. She had been a walking corpse for the entire three months, living in her own shadow.
She had moved out of the apartment. She hadn’t been able to pay the rent. She had no option but to move in with Ada. Ada had been extremely mad at her at first for what happened. She had even refused to accommodate her but Lolade had gone on her knees and pleaded with her, blaming it on the devil.
Reuben hadn’t been the one to tell Ada what had happened. Lolade had told Ada herself. Ada said she hadn’t heard from Reuben in a long while and she had been unable to reach him. He had gone incommunicado. Lolade didn’t have the courage to face him or apologize. She knew he never wanted to see her and she respected that. She deserved it.
She had still not gotten a job and she was beginning to think of starting a business but she had no capital. She had exhausted her savings and all she had was her body…which she had vowed to not abuse anymore, no matter what.
She missed her mother. She knew she had to reconcile with her. Lanre had been the obstruction in their relationship and now that he was out of the way, she knew she just had to. Lanre was the devil himself. He had known he was HIV positive and was still willing to have sex with her. Maybe it was his revenge scheme. Maybe he blamed her for breaking his home.
She remembered the last time she had gone to her mother’s house at Mile 2. She had gone with a car, dressed in beautiful fabric. This time, as she went back, she was on a bike, dressed in a tee shirt she had picked up at Eko market, and a pair of old jeans. She was team natural now. Her hair had become due from months of non-perm. And she had no money to make new hairstyles.
She opened the knob of the wooden door. She didn’t sanitize her hands. She had no sanitizer. As she walked in, she saw the little girl she had met the last time. The girl still had some struggle with speaking correct English.
“Who you?” The girl asked.
“Where is Mama?” Lolade replied.
“He’s insayd.” The girl said.
Lolade followed the lead of the girl who was not her sister and was directing her to where her own mother was.
She entered the small bedroom. Mama was laying on the old mattress. Her eyes were shut. Lolade rushed to her side.
“Is she okay? Ki lo she won?” She panicked. (What's wrong with her?)
“Ara won o ya. O ti pe.” The girl said. (She has been sick for a long time.)
Lolade dropped her hand bag and held her mother’s hand. Her head was a mass of grey and her face looked tired and droopy. She squeezed her mother’s hand but she got no response.
“No…no..God…” Lolade exhaled.
“She dey sleep. She go wake and she go piss for body.” The girl said.
Truly, Mama opened her eyes. She looked at the ceiling, and then her eyes settled on Lolade. Lolade knew her mother wanted to speak, but she was unable to. Her mother winced and struggled but she couldn’t pass direct speech. Then Lolade felt the warm liquid seem from the bed to her jeans. Mama had wet herself again.
She had passed the night there. She couldn’t leave her mother. She was heartbroken.
By morning, a young woman had come into the house. Her name was Bisi and she was a local nurse. She had also been the one bringing food for Mama from time to time.
“Good morning. Can I help you please?” Lolade asked.
“I am Bisi. I am doing nurse work. I bring food for Mama.” Nurse Bisi said.
“Thank you. I am her daughter.” Lolade said.
Nurse Bisi said mmhhh and gave her a look.
“What?” Lolade had to ask.
“I am the one that call you all these days to pick your phone. I want to tell you that your moda have stroke but you always cut.”
Lolade closed her eyes.
“What can we do? Can I get her to the hospital?” Lolade asked, but then she remembered that she didn’t have any money.
“No hospital here. All the doctors have strike. Take,” She gave Lolade the cooler she had brought. “Give her food when she wake up. I am going to market.”
“Thank you Bisi. I appreciate it.” Lolade said, taking the cooler from her.
Hours after, Mama had woken up and again urinated on herself. She refused to eat. Lolade didn’t know what else to do. Then she began to narrate everything that had happened since she left home. She just wanted to talk and pour it out and she was a little grateful that Mama was mute. She didn't want the tongue lashing or the judging. She just wanted to pour out the expired content of her soul. She was a prodigal daughter. She was lost and she wanted to come back home. She only hoped it wasn’t too late.
“Mummy, I am so sorry. Please forgive me for everything. I just want you to say you have forgiven me. I will find a decent job or do something decent this time. Please Mummy. Please…” She squeezed her mother’s hand again. She knew her mother was numb and felt nothing. Her eyes only blinked.
Then Mama started to gasp.
Lolade ran out of the room and went to the small living room, confused. She went on her knees and looked up.
“God! Where do I start from? I can’t see my mother die. Please God. I have lost my sister and technically my dad. Please God. Please…help me. I know I have been running from you but you need to answer my prayers today! Prove to me that you are God and I promise I swear down with my life! I will never go back to my old ways. Please let a miracle happen. Please God! I am tired!”
“I need your help. Please. She can’t die and leave me. I’ll kill myself because I am not living for anything else. Please God….Please!”
Reuben got into the pick up truck donated to his company by one of the big drug manufacturers in India. He had to admit that he was not ready for all the blessings that had come his way within so short a time, just when he had thought nothing else mattered after seeing Lolade in Mr. Akingbile’s house that night. He had resigned from his job and gotten all the more motivated to start his company. Surprisingly, there was no delay in finding sponsors. He already had support from two other pharmaceutical companies who were planning something similar for the CSR and wanted to partner with him.
Then one other big thing had happened.
One fateful day, someone had called his phone and told him he was his father’s lawyer who had represented him in a land dispute against the Federal Government before his father passed on. After seven years, judgment was finally awarded in his father’s favour over the three plots of land in Lekki together with another Four storey building at Badagry and damages in the sum of ₦85,000,000.00. He had thought it was a scam at first, until he received the title documents and the cheque. Things had changed so fast and he missed Lolade all the more. If only she had waited. If only she had believed him and seen what he hadn’t even seen yet believed.
He was scheduled to deliver drugs to residents of Mile 2 that morning. He had gotten requests since the past month and he felt it so strongly in his spirit that he should not procrastinate.
Nurse Bisi immediately ran back into the house and saw Lolade praying. She ran into the room and saw Mama who was staring into space.
“They don bring medicine o! The doctor don bring free medicine. I want to go and collect for Mama. I just hope say that they have the one Mama need.” She said and hurried back outside. Lolade followed her. Was this a sign of a miracle? Had God already started to answer her prayers?
She saw the van and then she ran towards it. A young man was at the other side, working with his staff to bring out the boxes of drugs from the trunk of the van. A small crowd was beginning to form around them.
Then she saw him.
“Reuben!” She screamed uncontrollably.
He turned around. He was shocked to see her. He opened his mouth and dropped the boxes he was holding.
“Oh my God! Your dream came true.” She said, smiling. She was embarrassed.
Reuben nodded. He still looked like he had just seen a ghost.
“What are you doing here?” He asked.
Lolade narrated everything to him. He insisted on going in to see her mother.
Mama was wincing when they got back to the room, laying stiff. She blinked when she heard them walk into the room.
“We need to get her to the hospital.” He said.
By noon, they were at Richfield hospital and Mama was receiving care. Lolade sat still in the reception. She still hadn’t said much to Reuben and neither had he.
“Have you…have you done a test?” He finally broke the silence.
“I didn’t sleep with him, Reuben.” She said.
“But you were going to. He’s your ex, right?”
Lolade looked surprised.
“Ada told me everything. Even before I asked you out. I just didn’t know it was him.” He said.
She swallowed saliva. She didn’t know what to say.
“I…I did a test. I am negative. I am supposed to do another one.” She said.
“There is a lab in this hospital.” He said.
“I know. I am broke and I am scared.” She replied.
“Let’s go.” He said, looking at her.
“I still don’t know how his happened. She is such a strong woman.” Dr. Tony said. He was the doctor personally assigned to Lolade’s mother.
Lolade searched his eyes for answers. Mama had been admitted for close to two weeks.
“Is she still…alive?” Lolade asked.
Reuben told her to calm down.
“I think you should come into her ward.” Dr. Tony said, leading them to Ward 10.
Mama was sitting with the support of two pillows. She was drinking from a bottle of water with a straw. She held the bottle but her grip was not very firm yet. Lolade dropped her handbag and ran over to her. She hugged her and both women were drowned in their own tears.
"It's a miracle. I haven't seen this since all my years of practice." Dr. Tony said to Reuben.
“Mummy! Oh my God thank you!” Lolade cried. “How are you feeling?”
Mama winced and made a sound. Reuben looked at Dr. Tony.
“Why isn’t she speaking?”
“It may take a while. She is still under intense observation.” Dr. Tony said.
“Okay.” Lolade said. “Can you please excuse us for a minute?” Lolade looked at the two men. They nodded and left the ward.
Then Lolade held her mother’s hand.
“I have my result Mummy. I am HIV negative.” She cried.
She saw tears drop from Mama’s eyes.
Mama raised her hand slowly and rubbed it gently on Lolade’s face.
“God haaas answered my prayers.” She opened her mouth and spoke faintly but loud enough for Lolade to hear audibly. Her speech slurred.
I hope you enjoyed this series.
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*Episode 9 Series Finale Part 2