Tami’s writhing figure on the floor made Tume’s heart to almost stop beating. “My darling, what’s the matter?”
He said without thinking. Did he call Tami ‘my darling’ in the presence of his wife? He was lucky, his wife was so scared of the sight before her that she didn’t assimilate what he said.
“Babe, what’s wrong? Talk to me sister,” Nessa shouted. “Babe, talk to me dear,” Nessa said, trying to lift her up.
“It’s the baby. I think it’s coming,” she paintd. The alcohol disappeared from Nessa’s system. Less than 40 minutes later, they were in the hospital. Nessa had not prayed like she was praying now in a long while.
The doctor had confirmed that Tami was in labour. She’d been wheeled into the labour room.
Tume was confused, he didn’t know what to pray about. He walked aimlessly around the hospital premises. Only one song came to his mind. Efforts to push it out of his mind failed. He began to hum, “Sinner man, where will you be on judgement day? Sinner man, where will you be on that day?
Sinner man where…” all of a sudden, he sang aloud, “Sinner man, where will you be on judgement day? Sinner man…”
As he walked past his wife with glazed eyes, Nessa stared at him but he moved on. She continued her prayers. A nurse walked briskly out from the labour room. Nessa and Tume ran towards her but she disappeared into another room.
Nessa launched into another round of prayers and Tume walked aimlessly about, the song forgotten. The doctor came out from the labour room and signalled that they follow him to his office. “How’s she? Is the baby out? How are they doing?
How…” the questions tumbled out from both of them.
“The baby is not out. If she doesn’t give birth in the next five minutes, we’ll wheel her into the theatre for surgery. I recommended this earlier but she would not hear of it. She’s worried about her dad,” the doctor said, looking directly at Tume.
“Can I see her?” Nessa asked. The doctor nodded and she ran out. Dr Ben pushed some documents towards Tume. “You may be required to sign some things,” he said, standing up.
At the door, he turned, looked darkly at Tume and said, “Tume, yousonofabitch! I loved her, I still do. She was my first love.” “Who?” Tume asked, but the doctor was already out of the office. He felt like a knife was plunged into his heart.
It was a boy, but sadly, it was a stillbirth. Tume was furious. He felt like strangling somebody. Why should this happen to him all the time? Who was against his having a child? Six times!
His wife had lost pregnancies before full term. Now a pregnancy nursed to full term for him had produced a ‘still’ result! Tume screamed at the doctor, “Dr Ben, what happened? How could our child die? What did we do wrong? OMG…”
He stopped suddenly. Nessa was watching him closely. He had been behaving in a strange manner. “Oh no! What have I done? I have given myself away. My wife must be suspecting something. I have ruined myself…” Tume sat down.
They had been standing in the doctor’s office. Nessa stared at her husband and wondered how the father of the baby would feel if her husband felt this bad.
“Or… am I missing something?” She asked herself. Dr Ben felt so sad that the baby died. They did everything right to ensure a safe delivery. Sometimes, things do happen. This was just one of such cases. He observed Tume and Nessa silently.
Ben grew up in the same neighbourhood with Nessa and Tami. His first stolen kiss was with Nessa when they were in secondary school. It was during the holiday.
Everyone had been home for the long vacation. Then, his childhood lust was transferred to Tami. It took him years before he could get Tami to look his way. They were in the second year in the university then. She was a bookworm.
Years later, they met again and he realised that he still loved her. His father was Tume’s father’s personal physician for years until the latter died years ago. Their fathers were great friends and so were their children.
Ben had been working in the UK until two years ago when he returned to take charge of his father’s hospital.
His father retired from active practice last year. He had thrown himself into the job, sparing no time for social life. His girlfriend of five years left him shortly before he returned to Nigeria because she didn’t want to leave the UK.
Ben returned to the present. He knew that his friend’s marriage was threatened.
Tami, scared that she was going to die during labour as punishment for sleeping with her bosom friend’s husband, had confessed to him when his senior colleague, Dr Akin left the labour room momentarily.
He really had never stopped loving Tami. They had met again during Nessa’s last pregnancy. Enough of the past. Ben wondered how he would help his friend. Nessa was no fool.
Tume had aged within a twinkle of an eye. He cleared his throat and said, “I feel pained that we lost our baby. We had planned…” Tume and Nessa sat up. “We…our baby? Ben, what is going on here?” Nessa asked.
Staring fixedly at Tume, Ben said, “Yes…our baby. Tami and I!” Nessa jumped up and sat down almost immediately. “I don’t understand. You mean you’ve been going out with Tami and I didn’t know about it? But Tume, you also said ‘we…our child.’
Am I going mad?” She asked. Tume stared at Ben who had just saved his marriage. Ben had been sticking out his neck for him repeatedly. Dr Ben stood up and paced around the office. He wasn’t a good liar and didn’t know what else to say.
“Nessa you are not going mad. I think Tume is just over reacting. You won’t blame him,” he said. Nessa stared at Ben and said, “Ben, I know you and Tami had a fling those days but she never mentioned you for years. Not even after we saw you last year.
She never told me she was seeing you. I never saw you near her and she never mentioned your name.
How come you didn’t visit her all the while she was pregnant? You are mean Ben, you’re mean. Tami suffered. She suffered! You made her go through this? Where’s your conscience Ben?
You don’t have conscience. Gawd! Oh no!” Ben felt most uncomfortable. He didn’t bargain for this. All he did was to try save the marriage of his friend. It was a spur of the moment decision.
Nothing else. If he thought it through, maybe he wouldn’t have done that.
Tami had confided in him and he was angry with her for being a bad friend to her best friend. He didn’t even give her the impression that he would help her in anyway. It never occurred to him.
But seeing Nessa innocently showing so much concern for a friend who had dealt treacherously with her moved him to take the blame for something he knew nothing about.
He knew that if Nessa ever find out the truth, it would break her. Now, he had apparently dressed himself in a robe that wasn’t his.
It occurred to him that if this little secret leaked, it would tarnish his image. He shivered. A shell-shocked Tume stared at Ben. What in the world made Ben to take that fall for him?
Or, could it be that Ben also farmed in Tami’s honey field? He doubted it. Tami gave him full access to her life. No lady would do that if she had something to hide. So, why did Ben do this?
Nessa was crying. So it was Ben? Tami made it look like she slept with a ghost and got pregnant! Gosh! “How come no one knew you were seeing her?” Tume asked Ben.
“It was a one off thing and I didn’t see her again. She kept away from me. I didn’t even know it led to pregnancy until a few hours ago,” Ben said, looking him straight in the eyes.
That question made him feel a bit better. He was sure Tume asked for a purpose. It occurred to him that since he didn’t tell Tami that he would claim her pregnancy, she could say something else to Nessa and his lies would crumble like a pack of badlystacked cards.
Unfortunately, Tami was under heavy sedative, she would sleep for a while. He would have to get to her first, immediately she woke up to update her…
Nessa stared at Ben for a while, stood up and left his office, tears streaming down her cheeks.
She would pretend that Ben hadn’t revealed the secret. She would compel Tami to tell her the truth. Her response would determine if their friendship would stand or break.
Let’s continue this journey on Sunday!
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