Leaving the hospital

  “I do not have money to pay this lump sum of money.” I said.

“Stop pretending. Pack up, go pay your bill and leave.”

“I have no money please.”

Leaning backwards, he says:

“Do you expect me to believe you? You are such a pretty young lady that you shouldn’t have problem settling your bills. If I were half as pretty as you are, I wouldn’t be working in a hospital for just a pittance.” As we continued to argue, I couldn’t find Abudu. “May be he’s gone to settle the bills.” I consoled myself. I quickly hurried to the check-out counter to find Abudu. With a low guttural growl, I asked the lady at the counter.

“Please where is that tall and lanky gentleman who wore a blue T-Shirt and sunglasses?”

“Do you mean the man who was lecturing us about the evils of 9-11?”

“Exactly!”

“I’m sorry, he’s left.”

“Did he say anything before leaving?”

“Not that I know.”

At this point I knew I was wrong. I was wrong in thinking that Abudu had come to the hospital to help pay for my medical expenses. He’s now vanished into thin air, what should I do? I begun to recollect what Dad had told me some time ago.

“Beware of men who make you feel as safe and warm as a cup of cocoa with a marshmallow melting in it. But then, when you get to the bottom of the mug, you find a dead fly, and disgust replaces delight.” I had the strong belief in me that, virtually every woman has had experience with a man who comes on strong like Abudu, and retreats just as vehemently!

The problem is, as Dad always lamented, “Women are experts at ignoring warning signs.”

My octogenarian Dad was also in another hospital fighting for his life. Tears started to flow freely down my cheeks as I continue to ponder how Abudu, who had been so nice to me could abandon me at a time I was badly in need. I felt betrayed. Abudu, after all wasn’t destitute. He was comparatively wealthy.

I know he had been stingy on his family. But I wasn’t a member of his family. I thought he had come to the hospital today to impress me with his largesse as he’d always done to me and a few others. I knew his wife would be furious if she got to know that he had come to see me at the hospital, not to talk of   even paying for my medical expenses. I knew it was wrong to expect this from him. But what could I have done, given the fact that among all of my teachers, he was the most generous? Despite the fact that he wasn’t the most affluent among his colleagues, he was more generous than those of them who were well provided with the good things of life.

As I sat on the bench facing the counter thinking of what has just happened, and what to do in order to get out of that hospital. The queue in front of the counter begun to grow longer and longer. I had begun to experience a hollow feeling of the stomach, it was already mid-day, and I had not yet eaten my breakfast. Sadness and despair had now overtaken the euphoric mood that Abudu’s voice had generated in me when I fist heard his voice inside the hospital. The cashier at the counter was unemotional, impassive and unexcitable. She could not be easily roused. How could I have explained to her that I couldn’t afford to pay my bills at that moment, and would come to do that later?

At that moment, I had succumbed to despair, and to the strains of the rat race. In the line in front of me, I saw how some few people looked exuberant and dressed so flamboyantly, while the majority of them looked wretched and dressed miserably. In this queue, I could see the whole African microcosm. This is a continent where the gap between the rich and the poor is widening at an alarming rate. A place where one was always apt to find, in shocking proximity to the homes of the rich, slums so squalid as to jolt one’s conscience.

To be continued…

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