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George left his brother’s house a little more lightened than he initially was. He dug his hand into his pocket, feeling the Naira notes brushing against the back of his hand. He pushed away the fact that his brother could do more than this. Surely thirty thousand Naira was nothing where his brother was, but he refused to think about that. He was grateful for the money he was given and knew that the God that brought this would bring the remaining. There was that nagging thought though. This was just thirty thousand Naira, where was he going to get the remaining two hundred and seventy thousand Naira?
George’s tired legs moved methodically by the side of the road, he barely felt them beneath him. His feet were sore and achy, emitting enough heat to roast a chicken. The sole of his shoe announced the level of his tracking louder than words but George couldn’t care less.
A bitter taste eroded his mouth as he remembered Fred. George had preached about forgiveness more times than he could count, but this? No! George didn’t think he could forgive Fred for what he did. He couldn’t forgive Fred for adding to his pain and sorrow. He couldn’t forgive Fred for being the cause of his current misery. He just couldn’t. That was one of the many downsides to being a pastor. How could he be seen to be contradicting what he always preached about?
George pushed that thought aside and tried to think of another place he could get money. He had been to five people before he put aside his pride to visit his brother; where could he go from here. He surely wasn’t going to ask money from any church member, but the days were running out. He had just three days left, three days to give Mr Haruna his money back. Yet, Timothy was still in the hospital. He needed money. He needed money especially now that they had taken him to a very expensive hospital. Money was needed now more than ever. Yes, Mrs Pascal had asked them not to worry about anything but George couldn’t just sit back while someone else took charge of what was his responsibility. Nothing frustrates a man more than his inability to help those he love.
A car horn blared and George jerked out of his reverie, letting out a loud yelp as his leg slipped into the deep gutter by the road side, causing him to lose balance and tilt dangerously towards the gutter. A passerby grabbed his hand almost instantly, pulling him out of the gutter before he fell face first into it.
“Are you okay, Sir?” he asked bewildered, looking at George with concern.
George nodded. His leg hurt so much, it was almost unbearable. “Thank you” George murmured as the guy turned to leave. He stared down at his leg and saw a small dash by the side of his leg. George moved away from the road and leaned against the fence of a building to recoup his strength. His phone rang and he quickly removed it from his pocket.
“Hello” he murmured.
“Hello Pastor, It is Brother Isaac, please where are you, sir?”
“Hope there’s no problem sir” George asked. God just healed Brother Isaac’s daughter, surely she was fine now.”
“Yes sir, everything is fine. I just want to give you something.”
George reminisced on it briefly. “Okay. I’m not so far from your house, I’d just come there” he said finally.
“Oh, thank you sir; I’ll be waiting”
George dropped his phone in his pocket and took a cleansing breath. His foot, though sore, felt better now. Pushing away from the fence, he made for Brother Isaac’s house.
Mrs Pascal stared at the DPO in stunned disbelief. Her husband, seated right next to her was also shocked beyond words. “No, I’m sure there’s a mistake somewhere” she murmured. “I mean… You can’t be serious” She muttered, looking stunned.
The DPO shrugged his shoulder. “Unfortunately, I am ma’am” he looked towards the door and yelled. “Bring her in”
Teju stared at her husband, still finding it hard to believe that Cynthia wanted her dead. It had been four days since the incident at her office and yet Teju couldn’t get the incident off her head. After waiting in stunned silence for about a minute, the door of the office opened and Teju turned as a police officer pushed Cynthia into the office. Teju stood up slowly, her mouth slightly agape as she stared in shock at Cynthia. Cynthia had been Teju’s friend for so long. They were so close, even got married in the same church… But where Teju was rich, Cynthia was poor. While Teju got married to a wealthy politician, Cynthia married a struggling entrepreneur. Teju – as always – took it upon herself to change this, by setting Cynthia up in a business. She initially wanted them to work together in her plaza with Cynthia as her assistant, but her husband had warned her against it. She never knew a day would come when she would be eternally grateful for not doing that.
Teju had instead opened a boutique for Cynthia and furnished it perfectly; even at that, Cynthia still always asked her for money every now and then and Teju never hesitated in giving her until…
“Cynthia” Teju gasped out, staring at the battered face of her friend. Her face was swollen from severe beating and torture. “Cynthia, you? You sent assassins to kill me?” Cynthia couldn’t meet her eyes as she looked at the ground. “How could you? How could you, Cynthia?” Teju yelled.
“I’m sorry” Cynthia said unevenly, the swell in her mouth muffled her voice as she winced painfully.
“Oh, you’re sorry ehn? If you had succeeded in killing me, I’m sure you’d be passing your ‘sorry’ condolences to my family by now, isn’t it?” Teju yelled.
“Calm down, baby” Mr Pascal said calmly.
Teju ignored him. “I’ve dedicated my life to making you better; what did I not do for you? Yet, you sent assassins to kill me…” Teju shook her head. “Is it because of our little fight? Because you asked me for money some weeks back and I refused?”
“She asked you for money?” Comprehension dawned on the DPO as he stared at the scene in front of him.
Teju turned to the DPO furiously. “She came to me about three weeks ago and asked for five hundred thousand Naira. I refused. How could I? I don’t pluck money from trees, do I? I opened a boutique from her but despite that, she’d always come to me for money.”
“Interesting” The DPO said, running his fingers around his stubble.
“I always gave it to her but that last time, I refused because I expect her to be financially stable by now.” Teju continued. “How was I to know that she’d go as far as hiring people to take my life?” Teju’s eyes were ablaze as she glared at Cynthia.
“I… I am sorry… Teju… Please forgive me” Cynthia fell on her knees, crawling towards Teju. Teju scrambled out of reach.
“Please get her out of here” Mr Pascal said forcefully and the DPO nodded at the policeman standing by. Cynthia was dragged out of the office pleading and crying. Teju could hear the furious undertone in Pascal’s voice when he spoke. He could keep calm in the face of a storm and that was what Teju loved most about her husband. “Come here, baby”
Teju stared at the closed door and exhaled deeply, wishing she could release all the anger she was feeling as she moved closer to Pascal, sitting beside him again. He squeezed her lap lightly, in a comforting manner as he looked directly at the DPO. “I want this case charged to court as soon as possible. She has to pay dearly for this.”
“She can’t escape it. I am just glad she is being charged for attempted murder and not murder.” the DPO smiled at Teju. “You really handled the situation well before the police arrived.”
Teju shook her head as her eyes turned thoughtful. “Believe me sir, I am not the one who deserves the credit”
Timothy looked up as the doctor approached him. It hasn’t taken anything to like this woman, she was just so likeable. Her smiles made him feel less pain and gave him hope of one day leaving the confines of a hospital. Timothy received the doctors big smile with a smile on his own.
“How is my favorite patient doing?” Doctor Kemi asked, smiling at Tim like he was the sweetest thing she had ever seen.
Tim smiled. “I am better, Doctor, I always feel better when you come around”
Doctor Kemi raised her brow with an amused smile on her face. “Oh, a flirtatious lil boy, eh?” she muttered and Timothy grinned slightly. She noticed the slight wince of pain Timothy quickly hid but she made no comment. “Okay, if you are flirting with me, I think that’s a good sign; it means you are getting better”
Timothy suddenly turned serious. “Am I?” he looked so hopeful, Doctor Kemi already used to this kept her face straight, with her smile not faltering. “I want to go home”
Doctor Kemi feigned a sad look. “You want to leave me so soon?”
“It’s not that… It’s just…” he looked away. “I miss my siblings”
Doctor Kemi stared at Timothy’s sweet face and felt an unfamiliar emotion. In this profession, it was always advised not to get too personal or attached with patients. Doctor Kemi often succeeded in being perfectly professional without getting emotionally attached to her patients, but where Timothy was concerned, she seemed to be failing woefully.
She lowered herself, sitting at the edge of the bed. “What are their names?”
“Loveth, Tessy and Jerry” he answered automatically.
Doctor Kemi smiled. “You’ll see them again, I promise you”
Timothy’s eyes flashed with hope. “Soon?” Doctor Kemi nodded. She couldn’t remember ever seeing Timothy so enthusiastic.
“Why haven’t they visited you?”
“No” Tim said almost instantly. “I don’t want them to see me like this.” he looked away, feeling sad. “I don’t want to see them cry for me again”
Doctor Kemi blinked then smiled forcefully. “Well, I guess I’m happy I have you to myself now” she got what she wanted because Tim smiled. “Your mum?”
“She went out to get something to eat” Tim explained.
Doctor Kemi nodded. “I noticed you hide what you feel, Tim. I don’t want you to do that; whatever it is that you feel, I want you to tell me or anyone around, do you understand? That way we can treat you faster and you can go home faster, how about that?”
Timothy nodded. “Okay ma”
Doctor Kemi straightened, did a few routine checks and left, promising to return soon.
George still couldn’t believe that Brother Isaac had actually given him a hundred thousand Naira. It had taken all his willpower not to burst into tears right there in Brother Isaac’s sitting room. God always had a way of pulling him out of whatever mess the devil had in store. And to think that Brother Isaac didn’t even know that he was in financial crisis… didn’t even know that his son was hospitalized. George knew that one hundred and thirty thousand Naira was not even halfway through what he was expected to pay but he had faith Mr Haruna just might give him more time; probably wait till Timothy was out of the hospital before demanding the rest. He couldn’t be going around, searching for money to pay off money he didn’t spend while his son was in the hospital.
George felt the throbbing pain from his injured leg as he walked towards his office. He had called Mr Haruna to meet him there. On getting there, he met Mr Haruna already waiting for him. “Good afternoon sir”. George was certain that Mr Haruna was way younger than he but that wasn’t important.
Mr Haruna had that hostile look in his eyes. He didn’t come with his wife and George knew it was a deliberate act just so his wife wouldn’t interfere with his decisions. “Do you have my money?” Mr Haruna ignored George’s greeting and asked without preamble.
“I have part of it” George brought out the One hundred and thirty thousand Naira.
Mr Haruna scowled. “I didn’t give you part of the money, I gave you three hundred thousand Naira” he stated emphatically.
“Excuse me sir, but you gave Fred, not me” George pointed out.
“You asked me to pay to Fred when I was ready didn’t you? How sure am I that this is not part of the money? Besides, how could you have gotten the money so fast if you didn’t get your share from your accomplice cousin?”
George swallowed and took a calming breath. He stretched the money wordlessly. “This is one hundred and thirty thousand Naira, it’s all I could raise. Please give me more time to get the rest; my son is hospitalized and I have to be with him now. I promise to pay you back every penny once my son is out.”
Mr Haruna looked at him like he had gone mad, still not collecting the money. “I should wait for your son to get better? Mr man, I don’t think you know who you are dealing with. If I collect this, I need the balance tomorrow”
“I can’t. It was a struggle getting this money, please understand me.” George had been hoping that Mr Haruna would at least be understanding but now, it seemed that was an impossible task for the man.
“Does it look like I care?” Mr Haruna’s voice rose. George wasn’t ready for another embarrassing scene. His name was smeared enough as it is. He took a deep breath. It was decided! He was going to do it.
“Can I give you my car?” George asked suddenly.
The mechanic stared at George like he had gone completely crazy, then stared at Mr Haruna. “Pastor, don’t do this” he finally said when George was done explaining the situation. “Someone promised to come get this car next week for four hundred thousand Naira” he explained.
“I need my money now” Mr Haruna said stiffly. His eyes brimmed with concealed delight as he gave the car a thorough look.
George sighed. He was tired of this. He had his name to protect and if he had to forfeit his car to free himself from this mess, he was ready. “Mr Haruna, I believe this car is enough payment. This car is worth four hundred thousand Naira but I’m willing to let it go as payment for the money my brother took from you.”
Mr Haruna walked around the car, feigning a look of indifference when they all knew for a fact that he was probably jumping for joy internally. The car was worth much more than the mechanic wanted to sell it, George had bought the car when he was financially buoyant, he knew the value of what he was giving away.
Mr Haruna finally turned. “I’d take this car under one condition” he looked directly at George. “I’d take the money also”
“What?” Baba Sodiq yelled. “Ah! Eeyan ma nika o” People are wicked. “How can you be so heartless?”
Mr Haruna ignored the mechanic. He was a business man, he was used to being called names. “I already have a car, this is more or less, a liability. If I am taking the car, I am taking the money, or no deal”
George smiled painfully. He just wanted this over. “I can only give you hundred thousand because I have to pay the mechanic. He repaired the faults and has been the one marketing the car, I’d give him the rest”
Baba Sodiq just stood, looking stupefied.
“Alright.” Mr Haruna conceded.
George counted a hundred thousand Naira and gave Mr Haruna. They signed undertaking stating that George had paid Mr Haruna back fully and with that, George watched Mr Haruna drive away in his car until the shiny black car disappeared from view. George closed his eyes briefly and turned to the mechanic. He was supposed to pay the mechanic about twenty thousand Naira but Baba Sodiq collected only five thousand and told him to forget the rest. George thanked him for all he did and left. That chapter was closed.
“I want to know what can be done about Timothy’s health, Kemi” Teju Pascal sat facing her doctor friend. “I know cancer is a serious disease, but tell me categorically, Kemi; what are his chances?”
Doctor Kemi sighed and leaned forward, bracing her hands on the table. “Honestly, Teju, his case is a peculiar one. His best chance at survival would be get a bone marrow transplant. I say it is peculiar because the rate at which the cancer cells spread is way above the normal, making me feel, despite my medical ethics, that there’s something above the ordinary at work here. However, the good news is that he is responding very well to the chemotherapy treatment. I’m actually very impressed.” Doctor Kemi took a deep breath and looked straight at Teju.
“I have some doctor friends abroad who have been successful with similar cases. I forwarded his case to them and they are positive that he can be cured. I’m sure, Teju, if Timothy is flown abroad, with lots of prayers, he’d survive this”
Teju let out a breath she had unconsciously been holding. “What you are telling me now, Kemi, is that there’s hope”
Kemi smiled. “Yes, Teju. There’s hope”