“Little girl” She called out. “Where is your mother? What happened? Where is your house?”
The tears in the baby’s eyes were much that they couldn’t let her speak instead she sobbed the more. Dr. Maureen quickly carried her out of the sanctuary to her car and started pampering her for some answers.
“Where is your mother?” She asked her again while cleaning her tears.
“I will show you” the tiny girl managed to say.
Dr. Maureen could tell the hardship. She looked so malnourished. The little girl wanted to come down from the car and walk but Maureen drew her closer and showed her the window so that she could point where her mother was.
The car moved slowly out of the church premises, to the road. Just two streets away, the little girl pointed another mouldy road by the left that finally led them to her place. A compound full of wooden houses.
The dark woman was almost going totally cold when Maureen rushed in with the girl. She screamed a little and two men ran in. Together they laid the woman in her car.
Her prayers as usual were always for others. Lives were priceless to her even if she didn’t value hers’ a while ago. ‘How can she die of malaria. That’s so cheap. Lord have mercy’
She worked as one of the routine doctors in the state university so getting the woman treated would be easier. When she finally arrived, other staff aided her and in no time the woman was fixed in a patient way. She left her to the care of the nurses on duty and went home with the child.
Little girl couldn’t forget her mother. She kept asking ‘What about my mummy? Can I stay with her? Can she talk to me tomorrow?’
“Yes she will. Let’s get some rest and buy her plenty things that she will use tomorrow” Maureen answered and rubbed the child’s unkept hair.
‘Poor ones. Malnutrition was really the curse. Her immune system was so low to even fight malaria a little. Lord have mercy!’
Soon, the child fell asleep after eating everything she bought for her. Maureen really laughed at the way she ate everything so fast. She was overjoyed to have had a companion. Then she remembered her own self. She laughed, she greased her palms with sweat and wept a little, she slapped herself. ‘Stupid fool. I wanted death when there are lots of lives out there for me to save. While I was selfishly crying for my own self. It was you Lord that reminded me of my purpose in life. I’m sorry to have disappointed you Lord. Deeply sorry’ she knelt down and gave thanks.
She woke up so early the next day, turning and rolling waiting for the little girl to make a noise from the visitor’s room. At 6am, she couldn’t bear it anymore so she ran to the room but the child wasn’t there. “What? I should have heard the door if she ever ran away” she was almost in tears. Little pretty girl whom she wished was hers. She wished pretty babies were already made like her exorbitant handbags. “I forgot to ask her name?”
As she was about to rush out of the room, she collided with the girl.
“Where are you coming from?”
Without words, the girl showed her the broom she went to fetch from the store. Maureen emotionally embraced all of her.
“Hah. You are wonderful. How did you get there this early and I didn’t hear you?”
“I saw where you took the broom from yesterday. I want to sweep your house aunty. I can sweep.”
Maureen laughed, “seriously? I know you can. Good girl. What’s your name now?”
“OK Ijeoma. Good.”
“My mummy’s name is Chika”
“Chika. Fine. I am Aunty Maureen. Don’t sweep the house OK? So that we can have enough time to prepare for the hospital.”
First, she called her colleagues to make sure the woman was handled properly.
Later, she washed the little girl and combed her hair into better curls after filling them with black gel. Her gown were really rags so she dropped by different stores and bought her new dresses and a lot of important items before they left for the hospital. She could tell the girl was having fun.
Ijeoma was still eager to see her mother.
Chika wasn’t doing very fine when they got there. She could only touch her daughter and say few words that got Maureen sober. She begged her not to speak further but to get better for her child. The little girl caressed her mother’s fingers all day till they left at night.
Dr. Maureen was enjoying Ijeoma’s great company. The child of another woman. She shook her head many times in her moments of quietness and pain.
“Tomorrow is my wedding!” She told Chika as they arrived at the hospital on Friday.
“Don’t say it again. Hei! Thank God o. You are blessed already. Thank you Dr. Maur Maur!” Everyone laughed. The woman really had her own sense of humour.
Ijeoma was so excited that her mother was going to live with her in Dr. Maureen’s house. She was already telling her mother how big the house was and how food was never a problem. Chika felt very poignant that she might be bothering the soon-to-be-wife of another man but Dr. Maureen begged them not to worry.
She led them gently to her car outside.
Suddenly, a male voice called out, “Aunty Chika! Aunty Chika!”
The three turned quickly. It was him. Her husband who was about to marry a snake. Maureen watered her lips and held unto the child as if she was her own.
Mike embraced Chika who rejected him jokingly, “Don’t hug me. Don’t hug me. You and your mother and everybody rejected me. Tell your mother who is also my sister thank you. I am alive”
“Aunty Chika it’s not like that. You know you are at fault too. You don’t ever listen to Mum that is why everyone behaved like that. Where have you been for six years?”
“Question man. I went to my husband’s people na but no way… Nothing. Please leave me let me go and rest with my New friend. I was sick. I almost died o!”
“New Friend. Maureen?”
“You know her? Good lady Maureen.”
“She is very good. Very very good. I heard from your elder sister that you are getting married tomorrow. Chei! It’s too late. You for marry my doctor friend. She is good but her own wedding is also tomorrow.’ She sneezed.
Mike’s gaze on Maureen tensed.
Aunty Chika continued,
“Don’t worry. I will attend her own wedding. Tell my sister that you didn’t see me. Nonsense people.”
She giggled and turned back on him with Maureen, “That’s my sister’s son Mike. You two know each other. What a small earth”
Chika was such a loud, jovial and outspoken figure. She winced at her nephew Mike as Maureen drove off.
“My nephew is still watching us drive away. That’s how God will shock all our enemies oh. In this world, the good ones are few that is how my sisters refused to send me money again because I followed a man. Ask them o. Who should I follow?”
Maureen laughed with her and signalled her that her child was in the car but she didn’t still mind. It seemed her little daughter was used to her words. She kept talking about issues upon issues till they arrived. Her lecture made the journey faster.
“What a small earth! Small earth! Big house.”
She kept complimenting. Maureen even laughed to a fault. She could still recall Mike’s expression when he heard that she was getting married. ‘Such a big lie’
Once she settled Chika to a chair, Chika’s mouth opened again asking her questions about her wedding and why the big house was too quiet for a bride.
Maureen hesitated a little but told her the story of her regrets after they have had dinner and Ijeoma was fast asleep.
“How pitiful” Chika commented. Tears trickled down her cheeks, Maureen noticed that she easily cried as much as she laughed. She begged her to stop crying but she wouldn’t.
“No. I am a disobedient person. Let God punish me not you. Your mistake is better than my own. No. My brother should be your husband. He can’t marry a witch. No. I no gree. Loooord. Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!”
The whole crying thing was already turning into a drama that Maureen almost laughed. Just when she was about to openly laugh at Chika and her funny elegy,
Ijeoma screamed from the bedroom. Race!
To be continued.