I almost fell down. The three figures that bruised past me were like nothing I have ever seen. Men of bursting biceps and triceps, height like an Iroko and faces mean like warriors slaughtering their enemy in war front. I was able to recognize just one face; Idima’s. I instantly cowered by the corner of the room, few steps close to the door which I made sure stayed open. I needed to be careful, alert and vigilant about my life.
I watched him peddle his heavy legs closer to the bed, morose and sad. His eyes fixed on Hope as a brother would watch his raped sister with a chronic fury for the rapist. Then he turned, whispered to one of the men and they headed out of the room. The other two were out and before Idima left; he stopped, stared at me for some time and then turned to Hope.
“You know her?” he asked, eyes on Hope.
I was furious, tempted to leave the design of my palm print on his face or the mark of my fist on his jaw, but I couldn’t. I was rather scared of my life than I wanted to help and protect Hope. “I do, I know her,” I replied.
“She is my girlfriend, and I love her,” he added. “I love her so much and it hurts me to see her like this.”
“What really happened to her,” I asked, feeling the need to engage him in a conversation.
“Domestic accident,” he grinned bitterly.
I saw the pain in his face, the agony which was fuelled by regret and remorse.
“It looked more like domestic violence,” I objected.
“Why would you think that?” he slurred, piteously. “I will never lay my hands on her, not when I am sober,” he added.
“Maybe you were not sober then,” I chipped in, having this undefined gut that I knew within me might get my ass kicked. “Look at her body, bruises and wounds and I am sure that hand is broken and you are telling me it is domestic accident. Did she fall from the ceiling?”
He stared at me for some time and sniffled. The piteous look in his eyes slowly disappeared and her face scowled. I knew what was happening and though I was scared within, I didn’t show it. I wanted him to know that I knew what he did, or maybe what exactly happened to Hope.
“If you are trying to make any stupid and false accusation, I will advice you shove it down your belly because I will kill you,” he said with a mischievous smirk, patted my shoulder and walked out of the ward.
A gaze at his evanescing back and my upper teeth hugged the lower ones in a fulfilled rage. My right fingers embraced themselves, forming a fist socked in anger; anger directed not to Idima, but to me, anger geared by my inability to challenge my fellow man who was assaulting, not just any woman, but the woman I love. Something in me was dragging my feet towards him, yet something bigger glued them on the floor of the ward. All I could do was stare at him, rage in my heart as I feel pathetic for the weakling that I was.
I turned to Hope; her face wore that innocence you see in a sleeping child. She was so pretty, with a calmness and tolerance that nowadays girls hate. I stepped towards her again, wondering what and why she chose Idima over all the guys in the campus.
Idima was no match for her slender body; a wrap of his hands on her waist would envelop her waist and make it disappear. Even a romantic caress would feel like a slap to her. Just what was she doing with someone who has the demonic and shameless behaviours that could leave her at the mercy of the hospital staff? What was it he has on her? What was she gaining from him that she thought would stop if she said no? The questions were starting to pile up in my head and I knew I was not getting any answer any soon, although I was desperately in need of one.
So I sighed, forcing enough oxygen down my lungs to let my brains think clearly again. I took her left hands, placed it in mine and for some time, got lost in a wild fantasy of how she was already mine. I would do whatever I could to make her comfortable and happy. But then again, my feeble heart would not let me talk the only talk which would express my feeling to her.
“Fuck debility,” I slurred. “Once she wakes up I would…”
My words got stuck in my mouth as the picture of Idima flashed before me, like an angry lion aiming at a wounded goat.
“All he has is his bloated biceps,” I hissed trying to be strong. But deep in my heart, I knew those biceps were not bloated. I knew they were results of hours spend in a gym house, a local gym arena where local boys gather not just for body building but for a wicked solidarity to defend their own especially in matters of love and ladies. I could face Idima and wholeheartedly take any form of beating he would be willing to dish out for me. What I was terrified about was the additional bloated biceps that would join him. I was in my finals and the last thing I would want was to make an enemy of any group in school, occultic or otherwise. I calmed, ready to just take care of her while waiting for the right time to strike.
I opened the ward and stepped into the reception. My first step down the raisers of the hospital got hung by Ahmed’s voice, calling my name like he was my father. I hissed and with a scowled face turned at him. He flashed a victorious smile at me, sending me on a confusion ride about what he was happy about. He stood at his spot; I stood at my spot, each waiting for the other to approach. I knew he would get tried eventually and walk to me so I maintained my stand and when it seemed like he was not ready to bulge, I made to leave the hospital.
“Wait,” he said and hurried towards me. “Why are you being unnecessarily stubborn?” he asked as he came closer.
I gave him a blank look, wondering what was stubborn in letting him, who wanted something from me to approach me. “The name is not stubbornness, the name is policy,” I said.
“Oh, okay,” he muttered.
And for the next ten second he stood, voiceless but with a gawking eyes all over my body which was making me uncomfortable.
“How are you doing?” he finally loosened his tongue.
I chuckled, certain that he did not take ten seconds to ruminate on how to phrase the how are you question. Something was on his mind, something he knew I was not ready to talk about yet he would not stop asking.
“I am not kid Ahmed,” I said, ready to dismiss him and go my way. There was already an underground plan with Eric and until I get a situational report from him, I wouldn’t want to say anything to him, lest I mar the plan with my choice of words. “So don’t act like how are you was the reason why you called me,” I paused to recollect my confidence. He shook his mouth to speak but instantly shut him off. “I know what this is all about,” I started again. “And like I have said a thousand and one times, I am not ready for it again.”
“Common Thony,” he came closer. I sneered at him and moved backwards, creating enough space between his toes and mine. “You think I just come to you because I couldn’t resist you or because you are cute? No. I want to be with you because you bring out the best in me, you make me want to fight this evil desire, you give me the reason to know that life is not all about doing what we wanted, but about considering the repercussions of every of our actions. And…”
“Hey!” I hushed him. “Don’t, please! You are dating Amanda now, or whatever you two are doing, allow her to bring out the very best in you. It’s in her place to help someone like you not mine,” I added.
I couldn’t even fathom where he got those words of Eric from but I sure would not fall for it this time. Eric was already a handful, adding Ahmed; a fanatic conscience deprived fellow to that list was not a good idea.
“I should go,” I said, and made to leave, the third time. Then I suddenly stopped turned and walked closer to him. “A friend of mine is in Ward 12, I think she suffered battery. Can you please make sure she is given good attention?”
He was staring at me all though my plea, with this irritation in his eyes. I knew exactly what he was thinking. How selfish I was and how he would not grant my request, but I did not care. I didn’t make the request for him to grant it, I made the request as a notice to him that I have another female friend and he should not try what he did with Amanda with this one because I would, well maybe not me, but something terrible would befall his bugging ass. I grinned at him.
“I am not letting you go Thony,” he said.
“Well, sometimes, we hold a shadow of something with the illusion that we are holding the real thing because we cannot face the harsh truth that we have lost the real thing,” I said. “You lost me years back Ahmed and the sooner you realize that the better for us all. Now go take care of my friend, will you?” I smiled again.
And before I could return my face to its normal and cute shape, an angry lady stomped towards us and left her palm print on Ahmed’s cheeks. I gaped, that was what I wanted to do to Idima. That was the exact mode and force with which I wanted to slap him. I marvelled that what I could not do was gloriously done by a lady.
“Wow!” I gaped even more. “You should teach me how to do that. Someone desperately needs that resetting mechanism,” I added.
Ahmed glared at me with his hands on his cheek, shocked at my response. Our eyes met and I recalled that I never cared about the slap or who slapped him. So I paused to take a closer look at the Amazon. A quick glance on her reddened face, my upper lips divorced my lower lips and my legs, like they were dipped in a mud refuted movement.
….the story continues…