The woman who called me son must have been very convincing, because against the doctor’s wish, she made sure I didn’t spend another day in this hospital. Not that the room I was in looked like a hospital, but to these people who showed me so much love, it was a confinement that they believed I shouldn’t be in any minute longer.
I had hardly said more than a few words, which by the way didn’t seem to come out well. They made me sit up by inclining my bed. No, not that exactly. Actually, with a little remote control used by the one of the nurses who had first come in with the doctor, my entire bed was transformed into a comfortable stretched seat with arm rests, even as I lay on it. My ordinary self would have been thrilled, but as surprised as I was, I remained calm. I couldn’t respond like I thought I should.
The doctor had earlier watched my vitals on a large screen that had replaced a part of the wall only a few minutes ago. I had to be in some hi-tech facility. Now the Doctor was nodding his head as he monitored a gadget in his hands.
“Blood sugar still low, but by the end of the week, it should be good.” He wasn’t really addressing anyone in particular, but the oldest woman in the room responded immediately. “Don’t worry Dr. Smith, by the end of today, his blood sugar would have balanced.”
I turned to look at her, and she only smiled at me. “Do you like the music?” She asked me. For the first time I paid attention to the music that played in the background. It sounded kind of strange. The male voice in the song sounded more like Cait’s voice after his her larynx was damaged by surgery. It was more like someone whispering; either trying not to speak, or trying not to be heard. Was I supposed to like the song?
“We got your favorite artistes’ X3 hits,” the young white lady said. Someone had mentioned her name a few times earlier, but I’m not exactly sure if it was Joko or Jojo. She seemed to be trying hard to give me some space. It was like she wanted to sit beside me, feed me, and right now she was sniffing down my neck. But throughout, I kept my smile firm, which easily reflected on all their faces. It made them happy.
So my smile must have meant I liked the song. I didn’t understand what the whispering in the song was about, neither did I know why the instrumental sounded like a nearing train. I just smiled.
“His brain activity is also still very low, which for us is great news, if we have to go by the accident. Let’s just watch how he gets back to shape. Apart from monitoring his vitals within the next one week, I should come by at the house at least once in two days to monitor his physical improvement. Remember, for no reason whatsoever should he be stressed.”
Mum smiled. As long as I was going to be leaving here with them, I suppose she was happy.
The nurse strapped a green rubber monitor on my left wrist and it came to life, showing three pairs of luminous digits: first two were blue, the middle digits were yellow, and last two were red. I watched it for a few seconds, and kept wondering, but still wasn’t sure if I should ask a question yet.
I knew this had to be a dream, but I couldn’t understand how everything seemed so real.
“Sam… Sam… Saaaa’aaam.”
A little tap on my shoulder made me look to my right. Oh, someone was trying to get my attention. Hey, my name isn’t Sam, I wanted to say, but again, I only smiled.
My cornrow look-alike stood before me with tank top in one hand and a baseball jersey in the other. “Ya, buggie, which would you like to put on?”
I didn’t respond immediately, but I slowly shook my head. I never fancied wearing either, and they looked so big it seemed I was going to be lost in either of them. Couldn’t I wear a polo shirt? “I would prefer a polo shirt, please.”
A slight frown narrowed the furrow on his forehead. “What’s a polo shirt?” he asked, then looked over my back to ascertain if he was the only one who didn’t understand me. He breathed deeply and smiled calmly. “Okay,” he said. “Just a minute.”
I watched him go over to the wardrobe carved into the corner of the room. He pulled out a luxury box and dragged it over to where I sat in my transformer bed-chair. “Zanta zanta…” Cornrow bro gestured before me like a genie. “Make ya’ choice, buggie.”
At last, I decided on something which was close to what I had planned to wear to work this morning. It was a dark blue slim fit long sleeve, with cufflinks. Except that this one looked new and starched crisp. It looked mature for a respectable HOD of Sales Dept that I would become someday.
As I changed from my hospital dress into the clothes that this lovely yet strange people had gotten for me, I discovered that my skin seemed a little lighter in complexion. It was like my skin had been drained of more than half of its melanin pigment. My veins were more visible, and a little coloured. A shadow of perplexity seemed to cover my thought. This was only a dream.
Naturally, I would have flipped off calmness and gone into panic mood, instead, I blinked less often, reacted slower than normal, as if all the adrenaline in my blood had been frozen. Where was I? I couldn’t stop asking.
The woman who called me son refused that I wore it bare, and insisted that I had a jacket on it. Wow! The jacket looked very classy and expensive. I only saw this kind of pricey thing when I went window shopping at the ultramodern malls around town. I had promised more than a few times that I would give myself a good treat when I got that big commission from my sales.
“C’mon, Danny, help your big brother into his jacket,” my supposed mum said. But before he could, the white lady was on my side was helping with the lapel. They were done in seconds but didn’t give me space immediately. I took the chance to look closely at them. The white lady looked really beautiful, her hair full and glittery. Danny, the name of my look-alike-other-than-his-braids, had no facial mark whatsoever. His dentition however, looked too white to be real.
“Okay, fine, fine, fine. Let me have a look at you, handsome,” mum said. “Hmm,” she nodded her head a few times. “Your father should see you in this. You should dress like this more often, instead of your jersey and jeans. This is the new you.” The way she looked at me, it was like she found it hard that I could choose to wear a normal shirt. I’m a sales guy, remember?
I bowed my head slightly, trying to have a look at myself. I looked good, but felt a little bit labored with the thought of how expensive my clothing was. Using my intuition, I said “thank you, mother.”
“Morrrrther? Wow, When last did you, or anyone of you call me mother?” she exclaimed.
Oh, Lord. I wasn’t supposed to call her mum?
“Well, not that I can’t get used to it, but, I think I’m just used to y’all calling me Suss,” she said.
“Mother!” The other two black ladies who had been more amused than anything else all day, called out in unison. Mother’s face brightened and she could have blinked more than a thousand times if anyone had counted.
“Now you’ve a new pet name, Suss,” Cornrow bro put a hand around Suss. “Mother sounds medieval but I like it, mother,” he teased.
Suss was mushy for a little longer than I felt was necessary. She was smiling so widely her cheek almost glowed red. Then she literally skidded towards me with arms wide spread. She gave me a bear hug and almost squeezed life out of my lungs. I hugged her in return, however awkward it felt. She paused to look at me in the eye, perhaps trying to read my mind. I wanted to tell her I didn’t know who she was, or who anyone here was for that matter. Had she seen it in my eyes? I couldn’t tell. She just rubbed my shoulders like she was bracing me up for what was ahead.
“You are a fighter. Right from the day I gave birth to you, I knew you were a fighter.” She suddenly had misty eyes, and opted to concentrate on the tiny weave of my jacket.
“You look good, Sam,” She said, leading me towards the full length mirror that stood lonely at the far end of the hospital room. “Have a good look at yourself, handsome.”
Together, we stood at the mirror, and for the first time since I found myself in this strange place, I saw my reflection in the mirror. What I saw was truly handsome, but frightening. What I saw when I looked in the mirror wasn’t me. No, there was a slight remembrance, but that wasn’t me.