I have two news- one good news and one bad news. Which one would you love to listen to first?
That was the first question Dr. James from South Africa Specialist Hospital asked after conducting series of tests on our boy.
My husband pulled at my skirt as we watched on.
I was unexpectedly composed although all the bolts holding my jaws had been loose as I could only look on with a façade smile
My husband was really shaken by the incidence even more than I
Whoever says medical doctors have had their feelings and emotions mauled by their years of experience should come and see my husband and be convinced that they are also human beings having blood flowing through their veins.
He was really hit!
Well, Jean was the only child we had!
It was quite understandable then that we had to send for a specialist so that there wouldn’t be any interference of any kind
Good news and bad news?
“Erm…the good news first” I said and my husband, who was shaking seriously, placed his head on my shoulder.
Dr. James was not smiling though
“The good news is that the spinal cord of our child is still very intact. There is no injury of any kind” he said and my eyes shone
My husband almost jumped up
“For real?” he exclaimed
My eyes didn’t leave Dr. James for a moment.
The expression was not consoling!
“Dr. James, what’s the bad news?” I asked and he looked into my face penetratingly.
“Mrs. Douglas” he called out and I held my breath, praying as I did
“Dr. James” I replied as my husband reversed back to the seat beside me, his hands on my laps, tugging at my flesh as if it was a dough.
I looked into his face and though he gave me a smile, I knew he was very anxious- his lower lip was pursed
“Does any of you have a history of cancer or any kind of tumor?” he asked and I had a sudden migraine
“Cancer?” I asked in a shaky voice, jumping as though I had learnt that a bomb was planted on the bench on which I was seated
“You can’t be serious my doc” my husband said as he laughed in a way that made me very scared.
I went close to him and held him to myself as I looked into Dr. James’ eyes
“Check again my Doctor James. There could be a mistake somewhere please. Never has anyone in my family or his been diagnosed of cancer or lumps or tumor” I explained
“Never!” my husband exclaimed too, vibrating against my chest
“Well, I am so sorry but some cancerous cells were found in his bone marrow. I am afraid he is in the early stage of Leukemia” he said and my head jumped off from body.
My husband disengaged from me as he heard and staggered to the window panes.
I could see it on his face- mist
Were those sweat or tears?
I had only been hearing of it but never had I imagined that I could have a close relative who would have it
I didn’t even know what it meant.
Dr. James came close to me, sensing my confusion.
He placed his hand on my shoulders and smiled
“Mrs. Douglas. Please you have to be strong. It’s not so serious. It’s been detected early so we can fight it successfully” he said and I sat down on the bench and stared into space.
I was emotionless.
Even I didn’t know what to think about at that point.
My husband was beside the window panes, shaking his head in a regrettable way.
Though I didn’t know what it meant, whatever leukemia meant must be serious then.
Dr. James held my hand
“Leukemias are cancers that affect bone marrow.” He said and I just looked into his face, still confused
Couldn’t he realize that I was just a layman?
“Let me make it simpler for you..” he said. He must have seen that I remained confused
“As cells divide into different divisions to produce red and white blood cells, they could become cancerous. Do you get me?” he asked and I just looked on, tears already calling themselves together to form in my eyes
“If a progenitor cell becomes cancerous at the beginning of a series of cell divisions, the leukemia is termed acute. But if it is in the later stages of division, we have chronic leukemia” he explained further, patting my shoulders
“Hmmmm” I said eventually as the tears ran down my face- very hot against my skin
“We thank God that Jeans’ case is still acute. Though it is serious as well, we can still have 60% success” he said and I shook my head as I beat my laps in repeated successions
“Ah! Jesu oooo” I screamed aloud
I had never even imagined that such a bad thing like that existed in my handsome looking boy
“Oh my God! Why? Why?” my husband screamed aloud and I looked towards him
He looked totally shaken
He dug his fingers into his hair, crying like a baby
“I hate chemo, I hate radiotherapy. I hate them with passion!” he cried with such passion that I knew the extent to which the problem was
I looked in Dr. James’ face and he was quite disappointed in his friend
“Dr. Douglas, please pull yourself together. This is not a hopeless situation as you are posing it to be. It will be well.” He said and my husband nodded as tears ran down his face the more
“Mrs. Douglas. The only thing now is to get a matching bone marrow donor. I have sent his blood sample to the lab. The result should be out anytime soon so that we would know his blood type in order to determine if it is you or his dad that would donate” he said and my face shone
“We can donate? Isn’t one bone marrow everyone has?” I asked,
He smiled, relieved at seeing my shining face
“No dear sister. Bone Marrow is that soft, pulpy tissue that fills the cavities of bones” he said and I became hopeful again
I had thought that it was a bone or something
“We will suction the red bone marrow from the pelvic bone of the donor with a long needle attached to a syringe. That’s all we need. It would be treated so that the white blood cell in it would be removed”
“The white blood cells are removed so that they wouldn’t attack the recipient” he explained on, making the subject more interesting to me
“It would be done through an intravenous infusion and immature, but healthy cells would be introduced into the bloodstream. That would be all” He explained, little by little
As he explained, I felt a whole new ray of hope for our son
“You forgot to mention that it’s not as easy as you have said it Dr. James. You didn’t mention that yes, bone marrow transplants are helpful but they cannot always cure a blood or bone marrow disease because the match between donor and recipient is seldom perfect. Where do we get a perfect match? Have you found any before? Since you started practicing this…” My husband started talking and I found such unbelief irritating to me
“Dear, could you be positive for once? Are you still a Christian at all? Let’s hope in God please” I spoke so loudly that our boy stirred.
Dr. James ran to his bed. He was there on the bed with a lot of tubes inserted into his body intravenously and with bandages holding his lower limbs and neck
“He is coming back to consciousness soon. We would have to find a donor soon so that we can start chemo in other to get rid of those cancerous cells” Dr. James looked into my face hopefully
I smiled as I wiped my tears from my face
I refused to be daunted by the expression on my husband’s face and his words
Where is Doctor Jesus?
He can heal everything
He did not tell me that such a thing would happen
He didn’t tell me that I would suffer the loss of my child- my only child for that matter.
I relaxed at that point.
We shall await the result and my boy would be well again- very soon
“That is impossible!” My husband exclaimed loudly and I moved close to both doctors
“What is the matter again?” I asked
Immediately Jean’s blood type result was brought, his dad and I were asked to have our blood type checked too.
The result have been brought now and I wondered what the problem was again
“How can his mum and I be A and then he is O? How? How is that possible?” my husband asked on and I was confused as well
“You are sure he is your son?” Dr. James asked and I shot him a very serious look
Seyi shook his head
“What does that mean Dr. James? Does that mean you can’t recognize Jean again? You knew when we gave birth to Jean and before you travelled to South Africa, he had always been in and out of your house. What are you saying?” My husband said, almost screaming
“I am sorry. I am just so confused. Probably we should re-run the tests then or what could the problem be?” he said
And we did!
The results were still the same!
The silence in our house that night could be touched!
My husband had been extra-ordinarily quiet as our driver drove us back home and I had just a lot to ruminate over too
How could our blood type be different?
What could have happened?
I stood up to go to the kitchen.
I was extremely tired and famished.
As I opened the fridge to pick some apples, I heard my phone ringing.
When I expected my husband to call me so I come and pick the phone up or bring it to me and none was forthcoming, I went into the room and saw him, his back against the pillow, looking at the phone as it rang
I picked the phone and as I was about to press the receiver, my husband spoke
“Who is that?” he asked, his forehead hewn into a slight frown
“It’s elder” I said and picked the call.
I moved out of the room in order to close the fridge that I had left open
“Hello Mrs. Douglas”
“Good evening sir” I said
I had sworn not to ever pick his call when he did call but I decided to change my mind
“We have not seen Mercy for three days now.” he said and I was tempted to his although I didn’t yield
He was still my spiritual leader anyways
“And you are just calling today Elder?” I asked
“Nooo…We thought she angrily left because her mother corrected and would soon come back but no, we waited long until someone told us that she was rushed to the hospital from school day before yesterday”
“Well, she is” I replied curtly as I sorted the apples too choose
“Please, I am in the hospital right now where I have been directed to that my daughter is. But I am not allowed into the ICU where she is” he said and I smiled a bit
I had instructed the nurses not to allow anyone in no matter the relationship they claim they had with the patient
“Sir, she is in the intensive care unit. Just no one is allowed to enter in there” I said
“What! I am her father. Don’t you get? This is Mercy’s father. I want to see my daughter” he said with authority
“Sir, when we move her into a ward, you might be able to see her but definitely not now. She is in a critical situation and she is being monitored” I said and he sighed deeply
I shook my head as I washed the apples under the tap
“What exactly could the problem be Mrs. Douglas? What happened to my daughter?” he asked and I sighed too
“She had a very critical miscarriage” I said as I cut the apples into small cubes inside two salad bowls
“What! Miscarriage?…Mrs Douglas, see, erm…let me call you back…” he stammered in whispers
I dropped the call, shook my head, carried a tray with the salad bowls and two bottles of water and moved to the room
As I got to the room, my husband looked up at me.
I was not comfortable with the look
“Dearie, what is the problem?” I asked as I dropped the tray on the table.
I carried a bowl of salad and was walking to him when he shouted suddenly
“If you can eat at this point, I am a man of conscience and I won’t be able to swallow a tiny bit”
I was shaken
Since our seventeen years of marriage, Seyi had never raised his voice at me before.
I was shocked
He saw it and was guilt-stricken as he scratched his head
“Come over here” he said and I dropped the salad bowl on the table as I obeyed the last command
I sat on the bed and he held my hand
“Sorry for shouting at you” he said and I nodded, yet to be out of my shock
“But dear, why? Why would you do like this to me? Why?” he asked and I was confused the more
What had I done to him?
“Since our marriage almost two decades now, I had never seen any other woman. I had drawn water from my cistern and I had been contented with you. So, why would you do this to me?” he asked and my throat became clogged up immediately
What was he saying?
“Never have I seen any other man too dear. What did I do to you?” I asked, very confused
He shook his head as if he was sorry for me
“Even if you don’t pity your son, I pity him a lot. You can see that I am not a match for his transplant; I would have done it for him. But you have to confess now so that your only son would be saved” he said further and everything became lumped up in my head
What was he saying?
Why is he saying ‘Your son’ instead of ‘Our son’?
I couldn’t comprehend anything at all!
“Seyi, I don’t get you” I said and he held my hand, fixing his eyes upon mine
“Who is Jean’s father?” he asked and my walls came crashing down
“What!” I exclaimed as tears ran down my face, unrestrained.
Seyi just accused me of extra-marital affairs?
I tore at my hair as I stood up and danced mournfully as I cried.
“Ah! Impossible! I just heard wrongly! Seyi can’t say such to me…I am…” I was saying when he shouted suddenly
“Would you shut up my friend!” he screamed and I fell into a chair, very shocked
I should shut up?
“How is it possible for an A blood group couple give birth to an O blood group child? Impossible! Produce the father of the child now” he screamed as he approached me
“Who is it? One of the parents of your students? Or is it elder?” he asked as he came closer and I started crying
“The devil is a liar. My marriage is covered with the blood of Jesus” I said and he looked so dangerous as he came closer. He slapped my face hard
“Would you stop pretending, you hypocrite!” he screamed
“Jesus” I screamed in a high-pitch as the pain entered into the innermost part of my body
“I should not have trusted you at all. I should not have placed my life into your hands. I should never have believed you. Now wonder she smiles so seductively with men…ah…I should have known!” he said as tears ran down his face
Oh my God!
I was really shaken
Shaken that Seyi could even think that I could do this to him!
Really shaken that my husband could distrust me this much
“Seyi, I can’t believe this” I cried hard and he shook his head
“You are a liar. Even today, you have proven to be a bastard, a whore, a filthy adulteress” he cried again as he sat on the bed, holding his head with his two hands
“How?” I asked
I was sure this was the devil’s handiwork
Was I not watchful enough as a wife?
Was I not wise enough?
“Why couldn’t you pick Elder’s call in my presence? Why did you have to take so much time that you left for hours in the pretense that you went to get apples?” he asked and I shook my head
What a strategy the devil wants to use!
I refuse to let go!
I refuse to allow bitterness against my husband
The devil wants to create a huge problem for me but that is not what I need right now.
Bitterness would make me prayerless and angry and I might let curses run out of my mouth against Seyi
I would not allow those roots of bitterness to spring at all
“Seyi, I was out to get apples for us. We haven’t eaten since morning when it is not like we are fasting. My phone rang and I waited to see if you would bring it to me. When you didn’t, I had to run to the room before the ringing stops. I had left the fridge opened. I went out to close it immediately after getting my phone so the gas won’t all escape.” I explained and he nodded as if he was convinced
Then, he stood up from the bed, went close to the mirror and picked a bottle of perfume. He threw it at the mirror and it came crashing down
I stood up, mouth agape
He screamed loudly and knelt down on the broken pieces with a thud
“You ruined me Bola! You ruined me yet you said you loved me. Bola!” he cried so loudly that I was confused
There was a knock at the door but my husband continued weeping
“Omobolanle, Oluwaseyi, please someone should open the door”
I had even forgotten that Seyi’s old grandmother was around.
She was already so old and bent and I wondered how she got to the door so quickly
Seyi stood up, wiped his tears and walked to the door, still heaving with violent sobs
He pushed me off the way as he opened the door
Mama, with face full of wrinkles was at the door, a cane in her hand, her long grey hair fallingover her shoulder.
She looked not too happy as she entered the room slowly.
She sat on the bed and looked at both of us- her sight was almost gone.
Seyi lost his mother to an accident when he was a child and his grandmother had been his strong support.
He loved her as he loved his eyes
“Oluwaseyi” he called out and he went close to her and fell before her, burying his face in her laps, resuming his crying session
She rubbed his head soothingly
“Omobolanle” she called out to me as I went close to her, Seyi pushed me back and I almost fell
“Mama, she can’t come close. I don’t ever want to see her close me again!” he cried out
Mama looked shocked as she looked from her grandson to me
“Oluwaloseyi! Ah ah…why? What could have happened between both of you that you don’t have respect for me? What?” she asked and Seyi started crying again
“Mama, our marriage has been a deceit. Could you believe that she has been deceiving me ever since” he cried and mama looked at me
“How?” she asked
“Mama, I told her my greatest pain in life when we wanted to get married. I told her all about it but she said she loved me and would marry me just like that” he said and that was when I realized what he had been talking about.
I shook my head because he had taken it too far!
During courtship, he had told me that he was impotent but I really loved him that I believed there was nothing impossible for God. I told him God will perform wonders before we even get married and for real, about two months to our marriage, he started seeing and feeling changes in his body.
We went for some tests when after five months of marriage, I was not pregnant and that was when we were told that he was infertile. It was difficult for him to bear but I believed in the Lord for him and prayers started fully.
The third month after that, I conceived!
“So, what happened?” Grandma asked.
“I couldn’t make babies quite alright and we were ready to go all the way to adopt. But she went outside marriage, got pregnant and came back to me saying a miracle had happened…such a woman can kill…ah ah!…ah …oluwa oooo” he cried violently the more
Mama cleared her throat
“How did you know that my son?” She asked
“Mama, all i know is Bola cheated on me. I loved her and I thought she loved me too but no mama. Bola cheated on me” he said and Mama shook her head repeatedly
“Impossible! Not my own Bola” Mama exclaimed and I started crying
It was so touching that I could still have someone to believe in me at that point.
“Jean is not my son.” He blurted out and Mama covered her mouth, shocked
“You are shocked too Mama?” He said and I sat up, crying heartily
“Mama, that’s not true.” I cried as I watched Mama clearly and realized that tears had started gathering in her eyes
“Ahhhh!” Mama cried as she slid from the bed and her grandson quickly held her as she went on her knees
“Mama, I have never cheated on Seyi. Jean is his son” I cried on when all of a sudden, Seyi came close to me, strangling me and tightening his grip on my neck.
I wheezed on when I heard the frail voice
“Leave her alone!” Mama screamed weakly and he stopped almost immediately
It all looked like a dream to me.
Strangling me like this?
After almost two decades of living together, Oluwaseyi!
I was battered!
I was crushed!
I was yet to come out of the sad news that I read from Mercy’s diary three days back but here I was in almost the same shoes as hers- exactly the title of her diary- Crushed!
After reading clearly over and over the writings in her diary, I had seen the title of the diary.
Written boldly was the word ‘Crushed!’
I felt like I might need to get a diary too and start writing how crushed I was at that point
“Jean is not your son Oluwaloseyi” Mama said and I jumped up
“Mama, that’s not true. You won’t believe Seyi over me, would you?” I asked, my voice shaking vigorously
“My daughter, I know my end must be very near and then truth must come out” she said the more and I was more confused.
Seyi held her hand
“Mama, you know about it all?” he asked and she shook her head
“Jean is not your son but it’s not Bola’s fault” she said in a shaky voice
“What!” Seyi and I exclaimed
Mama cried the more again
“I have a confession to make” she said and we exchanged looks with our swollen faces
What could have happened?
It was just impossible for mama to do wrong!