…………..JUST BEFORE DUSK

Steph stood still under the shower and allowed the water run through her a daily ritual she had become accustomed to since meeting Remy at the teaching hospital. Under normal circumstances she would stay a couple of minutes before stepping out, but today was very special in an odd way, she could stay in for a lifetime as it’s the only way she could wash off the pain.  Four months ago, all she needed do was thoroughly wash her hands with antiseptic and hand sanitizer after leaving the hospital.

Steph is the perfect definition of a sanguine, she had a nice blend of sanguine and phlegm attributes that endeared people to her and an easy going, playful attitude towards life that seldom made her worry  about anything. The baby of the house, Steph had all she needed; intelligence, good looks, and rich disciplined parents.Three months ago was her 18years birthday and as a sophomore at the university of Ibadan she had a  pool of  funky friends  that would have made her birthday rock, but heeding her dad’s advice, she decided to visi11800-Crying-In-The-Showert the pediatric ward of the teaching  hospital and throw her party there. After saving enough money from her allowance, she contacted the society of saint Vincent de Paul resident in the University hospital, gathered her friends together and visited the hospital bearing gifts.

It was during this first visit that she met Remy, she just needed to run out after being greatly affected by the terrible condition of the peds ward; the antiseptic laced urine  smell that hung in the air making it difficult for her to breathe and  she almost got blinded with the tears that betrayed her on seeing those bland look on the faces of innocent children who have suffered more than they could bear so much. It took a great deal of self control not to weep while they chanted happy birthday. On her way out, they stumbled into each other. He was tall and handsome but a year younger and they coincidentally shared the same birth date, though fragile looking, he had a lovely sense of humor as he lightened her up when he said he came upstairs to see who stole his birthday.

She observed how different his ward was, it was well kept and isolated from the main children’s ward and had tons of ‘Simara banner’ that made it look organized. They immediately took into each other,  so when he told her he was diagnosed with leukaemia he thought it would have discouraged her, but instead she made him look on the bright side, encouraged him, told him he would be better so he could continue  his admission status cheerfully. Inquisitive as she was she did lots of research, enquired from doctors and was assured it wasn’t that life threatening as long as he wasn’t bleeding.This she made sure of by ensuring he finished his chemotherapy treatment, such that she even stole from her dad to assist when he ran out of cash, and all her effort did pay off because he did get better, resumed school, and went out on dates with her.

Those days were the longest in his life but towards the third month he started feeling the terrifying joint pains again and soon awoke one morning to a tiny stroke of blood which ran down his abdomen, this of course he tried hiding from her but she soon found out when he slumped while they were on a date. She called his dad but he had nothing more on him having exhausted his pocket since the diagnoses. He was admitted once more but this time was different, he couldn’twalk around even after chemo, his bleeding exacerbated and he bled from his nose, anus, and internally. He bled profusely that when it came time for the next chemo treatment his blood level wasn’t enough that he had to be transfused. She gave a pint, called friends who had same blood group and they all donated several pints, yet the bleeding didn’t stop and the hospital lacked equipment to separate enough platelet.

Those days were tiring,she went daily to the chapel to pray, exhausted all the money she had, helped him defer his admission, and spent countless night awake. His case deteriorated so bad that his mum came and couldn’t spend a night because she felt he wouldn’t make it and couldn’t bear see him suffer. Still Steph had faith… she assured him he would get better once more but this time his smiles were gone, the golden enchanting smile she was used to gave way to agonizing winces and  bitter cries of pain. He was tired of having so much to bear and of being  too much of a burden to those he loved. And each time she prayed with  him, he muttered a silent amen.

As she stayed on under the shower she remembered the last time she saw him smile, it was goodbye, she knew it but pretended to be God. She had a compulsory field work in school that took her out the next day, but not before leaving him with a peck and a promise that he will be better, he did promised and tried his best to keep it. On leaving the ward,  he whistled and she turned just in time to catch the kiss he had blown her , one she held onto as a source of hope. Immediately the field work was over she called his dad got assurance that he was stable and then she ran out of battery. After what seemed like the whole day and only a few kilometers to the University of Ibadan, she managed to bring her phone to life when a distress call came in and all hell broke loose. As she sobbed harder under the shower she could not decipher which tasted saltier, the water or her tears. The only thing that rang continuously in her head was the time of death  6:00pm  while she  arrived 6:30pm, he slept just before dusk.

 

 

Written by Perpetua IBEZIM

 

He is a young Nigerian who is passionate about positive social change, youth leadership development, and the growth of SMEs in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Maple is the Principal Consultant of Mapemond Resources, a Brand Development and Idea Management Firm. He is the Founder of Fayples Nigeria, an online clothing store. He is also the initiator of the Southern Brands Project, an initiative aimed at inspiring creative enterprise among young Nigerians in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

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