Hi everyone!!! And we are back!! Yayyyy!!!
First off, thank you so much for your patience. An even bigger thank you to those amazing people who kept bugging me about completing this series. Chief culprit, Yemi Ajala who protested by initially refusing to read or share anything else on the blog until I finished this. Lol. This is for you darling. Hope we are cool now. Then this is also for Titty. Your last comment was the final push I needed. I had given up on this story somewhat till I saw your comment.
So for everyone else wondering what is going on, I’ll explain. Two years ago, I started this series with a woman (Belema) attempting suicide on the 1st of January. She was ironically found and saved by a woman (Ojiugo) who had a cancerous tumour in her brain and had been given 3 months to live. As at episode 7 which was the last I posted, Belema had left town and was trying to find her sanity in Abuja in the company of her eccentric younger sister (Nengi) and Nengi’s best friend Olanna. Seun, her exboyfriend and best friend was stuck in Lagos worried about her because she had shut him out. Belema is quite the stressful character. Lol. Dr. Ikem, Ojiugo’s personal doctor also sadly broke the news to Leslie (Ojiugo’s boyfriend) that Ojiugo might not live up to March. So all caught up now are we? Still go read previous episodes if you missed them. The story will make a lot more sense that way.
So why did I leave the story unfinished? Life happened. I entered a crazy season at work and it took a serious toll on my writing. But here we are. Just look at God!!! Haha. I’m talking too much. Here’s the new episode. Please share and leave your comments behind. They make writing even more worth it for me. Don’t just read and run. Let’s talk. Let me know what you think. Thank you!
Leslie stared at Ikem in shock, eyes gradually going blank. He opened and shut his mouth a few times but no words proceeded from them.
“I’m sorry. I did a scan last night. The tumor appears to have grown some more and I don’t even understand why because the drugs she has been taking are meant to stop the growth at least.”
Leslie gave no response still.
“Leslie, this is rough. But I couldn’t possibly lie to you about how bad things are.”
Leslie nodded. He stood slowly from his seat and walked out of the office, heading back to Ojiugo’s private ward. Dr. Ikem did not stop him. .
When Leslie walked in, Ojiugo was still asleep. Leslie sat beside her and held her left hand, rubbing it gently. He had tried to ensure that Ojiugo took her pills religiously but with Ikem’s recent revelation, he feared she may have been skipping some of them. He recalled how she had complained that the drugs left her exhausted and feeling listless and knowing how vibrant and energetic she was, he understood that this was a frustration.
Ojiugo’s eyes fluttered and she opened them slowly.
“Hi babe,” Leslie responded with a forced smile. He was not about to let her in on his panic.
Ojiugo trained her eyes on his face as though searching for something that would wipe the confusion that was apparent on hers.
“How, how did I get here? What happened?”
“How did I get here? I don’t remember anything.”
“You- we were having dinner last night and the headaches resumed and got really intense and your pills didn’t work so we came here.”
Ojiugo still looked confused.
“Maybe they gave you something that knocked you out badly. I’ll go get Ikem.”
Ojiugo nodded a little uncertainly and Leslie left the room, his head spinning. The memory loss had begun to set in. That much he was certain of. He burst into Ikem’s office and said curtly,
“She’s losing her memory. She doesn’t recall what happened last night.”
Ikem stood up and hurried out of the office with Leslie. As he walked into the ward, his face lit up with a bright smile.
“If it isn’t the sexiest woman on the planet! Hey beautiful!”
Ojiugo chuckled lightly. Her voice was tired when she spoke
“This ashawo man. What did you people give me? My mind is so foggy and I can’t feel my right hand properly. I can barely move it.”
Ikem’s smile dimmed a little bit and he went to her side and helped prop her up. He ran his hands over her arms and massaged her right leg slowly, watching her for reactions to his touch but she barely gave any. He subsequently surmised that paralysis was beginning to set in as well.
“Alright, you have to rest some more boo. I need to go review some of your previous scans and then I’ll let you know what I think, okay?”
Ojiugo nodded and Ikem signaled to Leslie as he walked out. Leslie kissed Ojiugo on the lips before walking out.
“I’ll see you in a bit.”
Once back in Ikem’s office, Leslie shut the door behind him and looked into Ikem’s eyes.
“It has begun, hasn’t it?”
Ikem nodded gravely.
“Look, I don’t want to raise your hopes but at this point, I think it’s best to let you know. There’s a specialist in India I’ve been trying to contact for the longest time now. I just got an email before you came in. I’m trying to see if he can see Ugo, only so we exhaust all our options. But just in case he has nothing to offer, you must begin to prepare yourself. Ojiugo will not be here forever.”
“When can she come home?”
“Tomorrow. Let me observe her for the rest of the day. Excuse me.”
Seun rubbed sleepy eyes as he mechanically unbolted his front door. He had slept through his alarms and was surprised to wake up and find that it was well after 10am. Then Belema’s call came in shortly after he opened his eyes and she said she was at the front door.
“Hi,” he said with a yawn. Belema smiled nervously and responded with a shy “hey”.
They stood there looking at each other for a few odd seconds before Seun stepped aside.
Belema walked into the house and immediately wrinkled her face. The house looked a mess- an empty vodka bottle lay on the center rug, empty KFC packs were strewn across the floor, a crumpled shirt lay haphazardly across the couch and a blanket was on the floor, right next to a pillow that partially buried a laptop.
Belema stepped carefully over the items and stood by the couch looking at Seun a little uncertainly.
“Your place is so messy.”
Seun ran his hand over his head and shrugged.
“Good morning to you too.”
“Sorry. Good morning.”
Seun walked close to where she stood and began picking items from the floor one after the other, tossing them in a heap on one of the couches in the room. He then sat on another couch across from Belema and indicated for her to sit down.
Belema sat down gingerly and clasped both hands together.
“So?” Seun urged.
“I don’t know where to start but I swear, I’m really sorry.”
“I don’t need your apology babe. At least not now. I just need an explanation of what has been going on the past two months. Because I am completely lost.”
“I dunno. I just got to a really bad place I guess.”
“And you couldn’t talk to me?”
“Seun, every time I told you I was depressed, you told me to cheer up and go out more and be happy. You always said ‘do something fun’ as if that was all there was to depression but being sad had nothing to do with it.”
Seun regarded her carefully but Belema looked everywhere else but his face.
“Well, I thought you just needed to do something more fun, I didn’t realize it was anything serious but when it got serious, you should have told me.”
“You don’t get it do you? Was I supposed to come to you and say ‘hey I think the whole world hates me so I just want to take a dive into the ocean?’ especially when you couldn’t deal with the basic symptoms before things got worse. I had to see a therapist Seun. I was placed on medication.”
Seun’s eyes dimmed and he felt instant regret and guilt.
Belema’s eyes clouded and Seun went to sit beside her and wrapped an arm around her.
“When I went to Osogbo for a few weeks in October last year, it was not for work. I was getting treated then.”
“I’m so sorry. I should have taken this more seriously. And please believe me, the whole world doesn’t hate you. I don’t even know why you would think that. I would never have forgiven myself if anything happened to you. Plus mumc and Nengi would never have recovered.”
He rubbed her arm and slowly, she leaned into him, brushing her face against the stubble on his cheek.
“It’s just been so much to deal with.” Belema whispered.
Seun sighed. He didn’t know what else to say.
“Do you feel better now?” he asked after moments of silence.
“I think so. I mean, I’m getting there. I went out a lot in Abuja with Nengi and her friends. I had fun.”
“Ok. Good. You actually put on some weight so that is good. But how can I help going forward? What can I do? Because I honestly don’t want a repeat of January 1st. If you’re ever feeling low, please talk to me. We’re best friends Belz. I love you.”
Belema sniffed and withdrew from his hold.
“Yeah. I’m okay now.”
Seun barely noticed the slight shift in her eyes.
“Okay. Good. Do you want something to eat? I can make some noodles.”
Belema smiled and shook her head.
“No. I’m good. Aren’t you working today?”
Seun looked around the house as if suddenly aware of the time.
“Yeah. I swear I’ll get fired one of these days. I slept through my alarms but that’s because I was up all night working. Didn’t get to sleep till like 5 this morning. But I’m sure there’s nothing serious happening there, otherwise someone would have called me.”
“I need to go shower. What do you want to do?”
“I’ll just head home. Haven’t seen mumc. I came here straight from the airport.”
“Oh? Where are your bags then?”
“Nengi took them home. We came in together and shared a cab here. They dropped me off and went home.”
“I see. So how are you going to get home?”
“I’ll get an Uber.”
“Alright. Get one then, let me clear up these stuff.”
Belema brought out her phone and Seun took the heap of items on the couch to his bedroom. He returned a few minutes later and Belema was already on her feet.
“The driver is 2 minutes away.” She said.
“Alright. I’ll come by the house later this evening if that’s okay.”
Seun gave her a warm hug and she felt somewhat stiff in his arms but he said nothing about it. Her phone began to ring.
“That must be the driver. See you later.”
She stepped outside the house as she answered the phone and Seun shut the door after her. Their friendship had taken a major hit and things felt different now. He just hoped they would find a way to get back to where they used to be.
Loud laughter emanated from Nengi’s bedroom with the door slightly ajar. Nengi was spread out on the bed with Olanna beside her.
“You like Jide jor. Stop fronting.”
Nengi released another set of giggles.
“You are on your own o. I don’t know what you are talking about. He is cute and funny, but who that one epp abeg? Those are the ones you never take seriously. They are too much trouble.”
“Trouble or not, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re interested. Meanwhile when I was saying we should go to Abuja, you were doing shakara.” Olanna said with a tease.
“I’m admitting to nothing. It’s like I told him before we left, we won’t see again. No point.” Nengi said finally and pushed herself off the bed.
“I really think your dad is so cool though.” She added as she began unpacking a bag that sat close to the bed. Olanna’s eyes lit up.
“I swear! Can’t believe I grew up without him. We have so much in common!”
“Did you guys get to talk about that though?”
“Nope. The first time I tried to raise it, he just said something about having to make tough choices and skipped the topic. We were having so much fun, I didn’t want to ruin it.”
“Is he coming back to Lagos again?”
“I dunno. I’m not even sure what the situation is with him and mum.”
“Have you asked her?”
Nengi emptied the bag of all its contents, sorting dirty clothes into a laundry basket and returning unused clothes to the closet. As she rummaged through the bag one last time, a sudden frown appeared on her face. Olanna who had been watching her raised a brow.
“What is it?”
Nengi pulled out a small box and held it up.
“What is this?”
“Uhh, open it?”
With her frown still in place, Nengi opened the box to reveal a gold chain wristwatch.
“Wow. That is beautiful!” Olanna gushed. She got off the bed and snatched the box from a shell-shocked Nengi and took out the wristwatch delicately before strapping it over her wrist.
“If it is jazz now, that’s how you will just disappear.” Nengi remarked.
“This is so pretty! Oh look! There’s a note.”
Nengi rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to her bag. Olanna opened the note and read from it.
“A golden woman has no hiding place.”
Nengi turned around sharply.
“Is that even a thing?”
Olanna began to laugh.
“Girlllll, this is definitely Jide. That dude has the hots for you.”
Nengi rolled her eyes again.
“No. He has the hots for my backside. And he ain’t tapping that.”
Olanna burst into loud laughter and Nengi shrugged.
“You know me. I’m not wearing that nonsense. I don’t even like chain watches. You can keep it. I’m even going to block his number sef. I don’t have time for stress or drama.”
Olanna looked disappointed.
“You’re really not interested?”
“Did I carry water in my mouth when I said it before? Madam, keep the watch. You have early Valentine’s present. Congrats.”
Olanna shook her head.
“You are something else.”
Mrs. Ochoga lay in bed in her room when the door opened softly and Belema walked in.
Mrs. Ochoga sat up with a smile.
“Belema. Nengi said you were back but went to see Seun.”
Belema nodded and went to sit beside her mother on the bed.
“How are you?” she asked.
“I’m fine o. I missed you girls o.”
“I missed you too mum.”
She hesitated briefly then continued.
“I’m hoping we can talk. I feel like I owe you an explanation.”
Mrs. Ochoga gave her an encouraging smile.
“Only when you’re ready darling. Just take your time, as much of it as you need.”
“I’m ready. I just got overwhelmed with everything and you and I haven’t been that close and there was no one to talk to.”
“Mum, it’s complicated with him. I think the only reason we dated was because I told him I was in love with him. It wasn’t because he wanted it. And you, you were so preoccupied with your own worries, I didn’t want to burden you more.”
Mrs. Ochoga smiled sadly.
“Belema, I know I may not have been everything you wanted me to be as a mother but I am still your mother. I still love you like my life depends on it and I will still sacrifice anything to keep you happy. You scared me. Really. I felt like I had failed you.”
“Well maybe you did. After dad left, you just quit on life. You lost your essence. You lost yourself. We couldn’t count on you for strength or support. You just stopped living.”
Mrs. Ochoga swallowed a lump in her throat. She knew Belema was right.
“I’m sorry. I just kept hoping that things would change and we would go back to where we were as a family. But that’s never happening again. I know that now.”
“What caused this grand revelation?” Belema asked, her tone hinting at a tease.
“Nengi trying to break your father’s head with a pestle.”
Both women chuckled lightly.
“Yeah, Nengi is something else.
I want to try again mum. Start over. Find my happy. Can I count on you?”
Mrs. Ochoga nodded.
“Yes. Even I want to start over.”
Belema smiled warmly.
“Do we start with a hug?”
Mrs. Ochoga laughed.
Both women shared a warm hug and Mrs. Ochoga suddenly pulled back and went to a corner of her beside and produced a bottle of wine. Belema began to laugh. She could not help herself.
“Really? When did you start drinking alcohol mum?”
“But it’s only 6%” Mrs. Ochoga argued.
“No judgment. Shebi it’s new beginnings?”
“Mhmm. And I don’t have any glasses here. So here goes.”
She opened the bottle and raised it up between them and said
“To fresh starts, to fixing things that were broken and to letting go of the past.”
She then took a huge gulp and passed it on to Belema who took a light sip.
“To fresh starts mum. And while we’re at it, I’m pregnant.”