Mrs. Uzo rushes from the parking lot of a hospital and through the doors of the emergency unit. A nurse behind the counter arches her eyebrow.
“Good afternoon, madam.”
“I understand my daughter was brought here about… Accident…”
Mr. Uzo rushes over to the nurse. “Good afternoon, sister.”
The nurse clucks. “Sorry, please. One at a time.”
Mr. Uzo nods. “We’re for the same child.”
“Okay. Please take a seat,” the nurse says.
Mrs. Uzo shakes her head. “No, we can’t sit. I want to see my daughter.”
The nurse gasps. “Will you calm down, madam?”
Supo steps forward. “Bibi?”
Nurse Bibi beams. “Aha? Oga Supo. How are you?”
“I’m with them, please. Just see what—” He shrugs. “The call seem urgent.”
Nurse Bibi beckons Supo to one side. “The accident baby is almost gone. I can’t let them see her.”
Supo sighs. “You can just tell them to wait for the doctors.”
Nurse Bibi shrugs. “I told them to sit and wait.”
“Okay. I’ll handle it.”
Supo walks to Mrs. Uzo and takes her by the elbow. “She’s in intensive care. But she’ll be fine. I’ve told the nurse to inform the doctor you’re here.”
Mrs. Uzo cries. “Is that what the nurse couldn’t tell us?”
Mr. Uzo steps forward. “I’m her father. What’s happening here?”
Mrs. Uzo sniffs. “We just have to wait.”
It is late afternoon and Betty cuddles on the couch in the parlour. She dozes off on a magazine. Paul opens the room door and peeps at her. Then he tip-toes toward the kitchen.
Betty startles awake. “I thought you’ll never come out.”
Paul freezes. Then continues to the kitchen.
Betty sits up. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Paul sneers. “I’m hungry, what is it?”
“You’re hungry. Oh so which food did you keep in the kitchen?”
Paul ignores her and enters the kitchen.
Betty follows him. “This one no wan sabi.”
Paul opens a pot on the cooker in a small kitchen, and drags in his breath. “Wow.”
Betty bursts in. “Leave my kitchen.”
“How can it be your kitchen? This is my father’s house.”
“And you are the worst-mannered boy on earth.”
Paul hisses. He picks up a plate and the serving spoon.
Betty snatches the plate from him. “You’re not touching my food.”
“What is your problem?” Paul faces Betty squarely. “Give me my plate.”
They stare down at each other.
Suzie sits outside the gate and stare at the road. It’s been hours since the accident and no one has said anything or called. She’s confused on what to do.
Gidi crosses from Mma Pastor’s salon over to her. “Mma said you should come inside and rest.”
Suzie looks at him with tears in her eyes. “How? How? I don’t know where my sister is? Now my mum’s number is switched off. My brother is not here!”
Gidi shrugs. “I think you should go to Mma’s house. We’ll soon close the salon before you know it, everywhere is very dark.”
Suzie sobs. “I’m tired. I’m just tired of my life.”
Gidi shrugs and returns to the salon. A few minutes later, Mma crosses the road and pulls Suzie to her feet. She reluctantly follows Mma pastor to her house.
Betty and Paul struggle for the plate. Betty overpowers Paul and pushes him toward the door. He tries to give a comeback but Betty pushes harder and Paul stumbles through the door. Betty slams the door shut. Paul kicks at it but doesn’t open it. Betty chuckles and returns the plate.
It is evening before Ekaette walks through the gate of Mrs. Akpan’s residence with Atim, Etido’s sister, and meet the small group of Etido, Mfon, Aniefiok and Edem.
Mfo rushes to Ekaette. “Mma! Welcome. Thank God you could make it.”
Ekaette grips Mfon’s neck. “My daughter, ah thank God. This Lagos is not easy. If not for MTN and Atim.”
Atim smiles. “I was monitoring Mma with my phone.”
Mfon steps back. “Thank God you’re here.”
Atim looks at Etido. “So how far? Have the people come back?”
Etido shrugs. “No. No, and they will know today.”
Ekaette drops her bag on the ground and sits on it, her lips pressed together in grim realization. .
The company wait, quiet, each person pondering what next. A car drives past the gate of the house. Mrs. Akpan and her children are inside the car. They drive slowly past their gate, see the small group seated on the ground, and speed off. But the people under surveillance are not aware of it.
They may have been there for over an hour after the car drove past before a police truck drives through the gate and three uniformed police men come out of it. They round up the group and push all of them into the back of the truck amidst serious protests and resistance.
Itoro steps out of her house and glares as the policemen round up Etido’s group and whisk them away.
Shortly afterward, Mrs. Akpan drives into the compound and comes out of her car. She hisses and curses at no one in particular. Then herds her children into her house and slam the door.
Four hours after they arrive at the hospital, Mrs. Uzo cuddles on the hospital bench, still clad in her office suit. Mr. Uzo stands against the wall, looking down the corridor.
Supo walks up to Mrs. Uzo carrying a bag of fast food. Mr. Uzo eye him suspiciously.
“I brought some food for you,” Supo says.
Mrs. Uzo sits straight. “Ah, that’s so thoughtful of you. Thank you so much.”
“I knew you won’t think about it.”
Mrs. Uzo takes the food. “Thank you. I can’t eat till at least I know something.
“I understand.” Supo sits beside her. “What does the doctor say?”
“Nothing yet.” Mrs. Uzo shudders. “I just pray she’ll be fine. O God, please help me.”
Supo squeezes her hand. “She’ll be fine.”
“You have really been so kind to me. Thank you.”
Supo’s eyes scan Mrs. Uzo’s face. “Don’t thank me. It’s the least I can do.”
Mr. Uzo folds his arms across his chest and stares hard at both of them.
Imoh takes out the garbage at the same time Mr. Eke’s car drives in through the gate. She drops the garbage and runs back into the house.
Imoh stays in the kitchen, her back pressed against the wall. She closes her eyes for a while and waits. Nothing happens.
Paul stays put in the room till another hour later. Betty wears her shoes and carries her handbag.
“Paul! I’m leaving.” She pauses. “Paul!”
Paul mumbles from inside the room. “I heard you.”
Betty smiles. “Well, bye.”
Betty exits. Nothing happens for a few seconds then Paul opens the door to the room, and steps out to the parlour. He waits another second, listening for sounds and when he hears none, goes to the kitchen.
His hopes are dashed when he looks at the cooker and there’s nothing on it. He angrily opens the microwave oven. Nothing. He opens the fridge, nothing. He slams the fridge shut and kicks the air.
Shopping bags lay on the floor in Lekan’s parlour. Bukky opens them and ticks off on a list. Lekan walks in looking like he’s fresh from work.
Bukky gives him a hug. “Sweetheart. Welcome back.”
Lekan drops into a seat. “Thanks dear. Anything to eat?”
“Sure. I cooked vegetable rice, your favourite.” She exits.
Lekan pulls off his shoes and looks at the shopping bags suspiciously. “What’s this now?” He pulls out clutch bags from one bag. And underwear. And jewellery box.
Bukky speaks from the kitchen. “Your mum sent some fresh fish.”
Lekan drops the stuffs guiltily. “Really?”
“Yes. Alive ones o. I was so scared, I just dumped them in the freezer like that.”
“That’s so sweet of her.”
“You should call and thank her o.”
Bukky says, “I cooked it for you.”
“Thanks darling.” Lekan takes the list Bukky left on her seat and looks at it.
Bukky continues talking. “Better cooked fresh.”
“Prepare for spoiling.” Bukky enters carrying a tray.
Lekan smiles. “I need it. Thanks, darling.”
Mrs. Uzo waves Supo off and stands hugging herself after he’s driven away.
Mr. Uzo walk toward her. “So you have a boyfriend already.”
Mrs. Uzo startles. “I don’t have to answer you.”
“Really? This is what Paul has been talking about.”
Mrs. Uzo gasps. “What has Paul been talking about?”
Mr. Uzo shrugs. “Your lifestyle. You stay away till late. You come home anytime you like. You have no time for my kids?”
Mrs. Uzo squares her shoulders. “And do you have time for them? Ordinary to discuss their welfare you cannot.”
Mr. Uzo growls. “What was Angel doing in the middle of the road today? Where were you when my baby was being hit by a drunk driver in the middle of the day?”
“Where I was meant to be.”
Mr. Uzo snaps. “With your boyfriend! If you were at work, would that young man be following you around? Or did you call him before calling me?”
“Decide which one it is.”
Mr. Uzo raises his hand to hit her.