Whitney M.D. Episode 5

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Whitney stood by the grave in complete stillness. Her eyes stared straight-ahead and only blinked when something came close to it. The rest of her body was just as still. The only way she could tell that her heart was beating was because she had not fallen down dead.
A lot of people were gathered around the grave but she did not pay attention to any of them. She was waiting for the ceremony to be over so she could run away, as far as she could. She would return to Lagos and never ever return to Ilorin. She would cry for her father every night before she went to bed and every day she would wake up and forget about him. It was the only way she could live a life close to normal.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
She heard someone call her name but she kept her gaze steady, maybe it was all in her mind. She felt a nudge on her elbow and then Nengi leaned over to her,
“Babe, come on.”
Whitney snapped out of her matrix of silent solitude and looked at Nengi. Nengi nodded in the direction of the Pastor holding out a shovel to her. She had never been to a funeral – and she had foolishly hoped she would make it through life without attending one – but she knew what the shovel was for. She collected the shovel and held it in her trembling hand.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
She leaned forward, stabbed the ground with the shovel and picked up as little sand as she could. This was it. Her father was gone forever. The moment she threw the sand on the coffin, she had sealed his fate. His fate was already sealed anyway, and so was hers. She never even saw his body, she didn’t want her last memory of him to be his dead face. Maybe it would be better than the memory she currently carried; his angry and disappointed face.
Everybody was still waiting for her. She threw the sand into the grave and she stepped back. That was it, now she was alone in the world. Suddenly she did not feel like going back to Lagos. She could not stay here, there was nothing here for her. Maybe she could move to another country, start her life all over again. Or maybe she could join “Doctors without borders” and spend her life in a jungle somewhere in South America. Or maybe she could make it all go away. She was a doctor, she knew a thousand ways she could take her own life.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Suicide was selfish, she had heard many people say so and maybe they were right. But she had always been selfish in life, why couldn’t she be selfish in death?
“Whitney?” It was Nengi again. “We are done.”
Whitney looked up and saw that people were starting to leave. Her father had done a lot for many of these people but they were all going to leave him now. But who was she to judge? She saw a few people making their way towards her, the commiserations would kill her faster than any poison.
“Get me out of here,” Whitney whispered to Nengi.
Nengi locked her arm to Whitney’s and started moving towards the car park. Whitney kept her eyes down as they moved but she heard a few people call her name. Nengi did not stop for anybody and in a few minutes, they were in the car. Nengi got behind the driver’s seat and started the engine.
“Wait,” Whitney said. “Let’s wait till everyone is gone.”
Nengi settled back in the seat but left the engine running. Whitney watched people walk away from the graveside towards their car. Most of them wore black but that was the only mournful thing about them. At least they had the courtesy to pay their respects when nobody would know they didn’t come. There was no wife to comfort. Most of them didn’t know the only daughter and those who did knew she didn’t care much about what they thought or said. They had come for her father.
Whitney looked at Nengi, she had known her father too.
“You want to ask me something?” Nengi said.
“What?”
“I have been looking at you in the mirror.”
“Oh.”
“What do you want to ask?”
Whitney leaned forward. “What can you tell me about my Dad?”
“He was a good a man,” Nengi said and stopped.
“Come on.”
Nengi sighed. “Okay, I will tell you one story and that’s it.”
“That’s good enough for me,” Whitney said and she had a feeling it would be more than enough.
“I came to Ilorin as a Corps member and I decided to stay back for a while. Mostly because I was dating a stupid boy back then.”
“Stupid?”
“He got a job in the U.S. and he took it.”
“That doesn’t sound stupid to me.”
“How could he pick the job over me?”
Whitney smiled. “Really? Nengi?”
“Should I continue my story or what?”
“I’m sorry, he was stupid.”
“After he left, I became very sick, not because of him but… anyway, it got so bad. I fell off a bike one day because I was too weak.”
“Did you hit your head on the ground?”
“No, why?”
Whitney smiled again. “Never mind.”
“Don’t think I don’t understand that subtle insult Whitney but I’m glad my sad story is making you smile.”
“Thank you.”
“Anyway, I was rushed to Whitney Medical and for some reason, your father was the one who attended to me.” Nengi paused and smiled. “I was so arrogant back then. I kept screaming that I was a doctor and I told him my diagnosis and how I needed to be wheeled to the theater immediately.”
“I can picture the scene, it looks glorious,” Whitney said.
“It was glorious. Your father just smiled and went about treating me like I was an eight-year-old throwing a tantrum. Thinking about it now, I actually looked like an eight-year-old throwing a tantrum.” Whitney noticed that Nengi had a few tears dripping down her face. “I spent a couple of days in the hospital but I never saw your father again after that first night. On the day I was supposed to be discharged, I asked a nurse for my bill and I was told your father had left a special bill for me with the receptionist. Guess what my bill was?”
Whitney paused and said, “Nothing?”
Nengi shook her head. “Better than that, it was a job offer.” She stopped and wiped her tears. “It was reckless but it was also kindness. That was the kind of man he was.”
Whitney leaned back in her chair. What was she doing to herself? Why did she have to listen to that story? She needed to get out of this town, fast.
“Let’s go please,” Whitney said.
“Are you sure?”
“Please.”
Knowing more about her father would only make feel guilty and sad and depressed. She was going back to Lagos, where she had her life.
Her empty life.
If she died in Lagos, she was not sure there would be ten people at her funeral. She couldn’t even be sure of five. Was that a life worth living?
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
She had to do something. Something drastic. Something reckless. She knew exactly what she had to do. She smiled, she had never felt more hopeful about something. She tapped Nengi on the shoulder. Nengi looked at her through the rearview mirror.
“Are you smiling?” Nengi asked.
“Yes, I am. There is a little change of plans.”
“Okay…”
“Take me to Barrister Iranloye’s house.”
“Your father’s lawyer? Why?”
“You’ll see when we get there.” Whitney leaned back in her seat, she felt a surge of energy she had not felt since the day she got into Medical school.
“You looked excited.”
“Yes, I am.”
Now she had to hope that the Hospital was not sold yet.

***
IMPORTANT NOTICE.
Thank you for reading today’s episode.
I will be taking a break from blogging for a little while. I have a few personal things I need to take care of. I’m sorry I’m leaving in the middle of a series but I need to do this now. Thank you all for your support.
Like the Terminator, I will be back.

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