Category Archives: Whitney M.D.

30May/18

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.

23May/18

Whitney M.D. Episode 4

Doing things people would consider stupid was not a problem for Whitney but even she could not excuse coming to this meeting drunk. Nobody except Nengi knew she was drunk but it was only a matter of time. She had dumped her bum shorts and was wearing an unflattering, oversized black dress and a pair of sneakers. She had caught a few people cast questioning glances at her sneakers but she didn’t care much. She just wanted the thing to be over.
Barrister Iranloye had been her father’s lawyer all her life and even though she never saw him much he’d always made an impression on her. He was a tall man with an afro most young guys would kill for. It was part of his modus operandi – and her father had complained about it – to always be the last person to enter the room. This usually meant his meetings never started on time if the participants weren’t on time.
Whitney knew most of the people in the conference room. Most of them were relatives and she recognized some people from the hospital. Maybe it was the alcohol but it felt like everybody in the room was doing their best not to make eye contact with her. Even those that sat across from her. She couldn’t care less, she probably would never see all of them again. Except maybe at the funeral.
She heard footsteps and voices at the door. Whoever these new people were, she hoped they were the last ones and the meeting could finally get started. The door opened and she saw the afro enter the room; it was Barrister Iranloye. The afro was still as high as the last time she saw it except now, it was grey in some places. The man had also grown a beard; a grey one. Barrister Iranloye looked like everybody’s dream grandfather.
He was not alone and he had broken is ‘last man’ rule; somebody was entering behind him. It was a woman. She wore a black dress like everybody in the room and she also wore a black scarf tied below her chin. She looked familiar but she sat on a chair closest to the door so Whitney could not see her face.
Whitney nudged Nengi and nodded in the woman’s direction. “Who is she?”
Nengi looked and shook her head.
Barrister Iranloye had taken his seat next to her, at the end of the table. He leaned close to her and placed a gentle palm on her arm.
“I’m so sorry Whitney,” he said.
“Thank you,” she replied.
Barrister Iranloye sat up straight and looked around the room. Whitney looked with him. Everybody looked at the lawyer, expectant. Her father was wealthy. He had made a lot of money from several investments outside his medical practice. He always said he made so much money so he could be a real doctor. He didn’t want money to decide who he could treat and who he couldn’t. All that money was about to be distributed. The people in the room wanted to know how much of it was about to become theirs. She saw Mr. Daramola; her father’s cousin who had come to the house before, he looked so desperate, it was pathetic.
“Good morning everybody,” Barrister Iranloye started. “You all know why we are here and by Doctor Daramola’s request, we will not spend more than ten minutes in this room.”
Whitney smiled, her father was still in control even after he was dead.
Barrister Iranloye brought out an envelope. “This envelope contains the last will and testament of Doctor Daramola, and Whitney will now confirm that it is sealed and has not been tampered with.”
Whitney nodded without even looking at the envelope. Barrister Iranloye opened the envelope and brought out a single sheet of paper. The room was silent. The tension in the room was almost physical. This was probably what it felt like in court for a criminal watching the judge read out his sentence.
Barrister Iranloye placed the sheet on the table and started to read.
“I, Adetayo Phillip Daramola, residing in Ilorin, Kwara State, being of sound mind and in contemplation of the certainty of death, do hereby declare this instrument to be my last will and testament.”
Barrister Iranloye read out some other legal jargons that did nothing to help the tension in the room. Then he stopped. Now he was at the part that mattered, the part everybody – except the woman with the scarf who still wasn’t looking up – was waiting for.
“Whitney Medical, my joy, and pride goes to the only person I love more than the hospital itself; my daughter. If she would have the hospital, she is to run it any way she sees fit with support from Doctor Okiki and every member of the Whitney Medical staff. If she would not have the hospital then my cousin, Niyi Daramola is free to sell it to any buyer of his choice.”
Whitney looked at the man and he was already looking at her. This was not what he wanted but he had nothing to worry about. She was not going to run the hospital.
Barrister Iranloye was not done.
“All my other assets have been put in a trust fund with Damilola Iranloye Chambers as the trustee. If my daughter, Whitney takes over Whitney Medical and runs it for a whole year to the satisfaction of Barrister Iranloye, she is to be named the beneficiary of the trust fund. If she fails to do this, the trust is to be liquidated and the money donated to the World Cancer Research Fund International.”
For a few seconds, nobody in the room moved. Whitney’s mind was blank, still, totally numb. And then the first thought dropped. Had her father left her everything he owned? No, he didn’t. He wanted her to earn everything that should already belong to her. Did they really belong to her? She didn’t speak to this man for the final five years of his life, he should have left her nothing.
Whitney felt every eye in the room on her, like they were waiting for her to say something. She knew what most of them felt for her was hate and she could not blame them. Most of them had given more for her father than she ever did but they had all gotten nothing.
Whitney felt Nengi’s head come close to hers. “Wanna bounce?”
Before Whitney could answer, Barrister Iranloye spoke.
“There is one last thing,” he said. “To Shade Oyeyipo, I leave my mother’s old ring. I never got to give you this ring and even though it means nothing now, I hope it reminds you of all we were and shows you all we could have been.”
What? Who was Shade Oyeyipo? Whitney followed everybody’s eyes to the woman with the scarf. Then she remembered. This was the woman her father brought home that night. She had not given any thoughts to the woman or what happened to her after she left for Lagos. Seeing the woman drove a sea of emotions through her that not even the alcohol in her system could stop.
Whitney looked at Nengi and without saying a word, her new friend understood what was happening. Nengi stood and pulled Whitney up with her.
“We will get back to you Barrister,” Nengi said.
Whitney kept her eyes on the floor and she put all her mind into putting one foot successfully in front of the other. She knew everyone in the room was looking at her and she hoped she made it to the door before collapsing or throwing up.
She was almost at the door when she felt a hand on hers. She looked in the direction of the hand and it was the Shade woman. For a second she thought about what to do. This woman had destroyed what she had with her father. But it looked like she was the only one in the room who genuinely loved her father. This was not helping her bid not to collapse or throw up.
The woman rose to her feet and wrapped Whitney in a soft embrace.
“I am so sorry Whitney,” she said.
Whitney wanted to respond but her brain did not form any words. The woman let her go and she ran out of the room with Nengi on her heels. She ran across the corridors and down the stairs and straight towards the front door. It was great she wore sneakers and not heels. She got to the front door but she didn’t stop running. She got to the gate outside the building and it was locked. She had gone as long as she could. She leaned on the fence, bent down and emptied the contents of her stomach on some poor flowers.
Nengi stood a few feet from her, watching.
“I’m fine,” Whitney said.
Nengi shrugged, “I didn’t ask. So what do you want to do now?”
Whitney stood up straight and said, “nothing.”

***
Wole stepped down from the motorcycle with a huge smile on this face. The bike-man gave him a questioning look, he probably thought he was crazy but he did not care. His day had been good and he rarely had good days. Even though he could not celebrate his good day with money he would celebrate it with a smile. He paid the bike-man and the man rode off. He turned around and faced his daughter’s school.
Somewhere inside this school, his daughter was breathing with a lot of difficulties but it would not be for long. He had finally sold ten of his paintings. The market price for each one was ten thousand naira but he had to sell them for four thousand each. It wasn’t a good deal but a bad deal was better than no deal at all. Now his daughter could have her CT scan.
He greeted the guard and walked into the school compound. He wasn’t used to coming into this school in the middle of the day. He always knew this was a good school but seeing it now when everything was in motion made him appreciate the luck he had. Bad or good, he could not decide. His daughter was attending the school on a scholarship because his late wife used to teach here. He shuddered at the thought of having to pay the fees they demanded here.
He got to April’s class and peeked in. The teacher in the class wasn’t Miss Lara. This could be a problem. He walked into the class and the man, whom he assumed was the teacher looked up. Wole glanced at the children and saw April looking down with so much concentration on something. He smiled.
“Hello sir,” the teacher said. “Can I help you?”
“Good afternoon sir, I am here to see Miss Lara.”
“She is not available today,” the teacher said. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
He had come to take April for the CT scan, he had to do it now before something else took the money from him. His plan had been to flirt with Miss Lara until she agreed to allow April out of the class. That plan was not going to work on this man.
“You see, I am Wole Best, April’s father.”
The man beamed a huge smile. “Oh wow, of course. You are here for her birthday.”
“What?” Wole asked. Her birthday? Her birthday was May 18th, today was… oh crap! How could he have forgotten?
“I was meaning to ask you, why name her April when she was born in May?”
“She was supposed to be born in April, there was a delay…” his voice faded out. How could he have forgotten?
He looked over at April, she was still concentrating on whatever she was doing. He needed to celebrate this birthday, his baby was five now. He shook his head, the money he had was for the CT scan.
“So what are your plans?” The teacher asked. “Other parents would just bring food and drinks to the class and we dedicate some time to celebrate with the child.”
There was no way he could do that. “That sounds like a good idea but I can’t do that right now.”
“Really? Why not?”
“Nothing much,” Wole said. “I’m not sure how much that would cost and…”
“I can arrange everything for you. We have somebody who takes care of things like this. It will cost only twenty-five thousand.”
Wole gasped. “Twenty-five?”
The teacher smiled. “Only.” Before Wole could figure out what to say the teacher turned to the class. “Hello Children, April’s Dad is here and we are going to have a party.”
The children cheered and for the first time April looked up. She saw her father and smiled. Wole expected her to run to him but she sat on her chair, but she didn’t take her eyes off him and she did not stop smiling. He was yet to understand the girl. She never did what he expected.
“Sir, can I have the money now so we can put everything in place?”
Wole looked at April and then at the teacher and back at April. He knew what he had to do.
“Can you give me a minute alone with April please?” Wole asked the teacher.
“Of course, you can take her outside.”
Wole beckoned to April. She stood, picked up a piece of paper of her table and walked towards him.
“Happy birthday baby,” Wole said.
She smiled and handed the piece of paper to her teacher. She returned to Wole and they walked towards the door.
“Mr. Best?” The teacher called and Wole looked back to see a surprised look on his face. Had the teacher figured out his plan? “You need to see this.”
Wole walked back to him and the teacher handed him the paper April had given him. Wole looked at the paper and he understood the man’s surprise. April had drawn a picture of a man and a little girl sitting under a tree with a rooster. The drawing was too good for a five-year-old. His daughter could draw, how did he not know this?
“Your daughter is talented sir. I have never seen even a ten-year-old who can draw this well.”
Wole nodded and looked down at his daughter, at least she got one good thing from him.
“Thank you,” Wole said. He held April’s hand and they walked out of the classroom and started towards the gate.
He was not coming back today and he was not spending twenty-five thousand Naira for a party. He could not give his daughter a party this year but he could give her a chance at health.
“Daddy?” April called. “Where are we going?”
“You’ll see baby, you’ll see.” For the first time in a while, everything looked like it would be alright.
But that was only until he got the result of the CT scan.

***
Whitney lay on the sofa in the living room. She had thought she would spend the day drinking and keeping her mind away from the big decision she had to make. Nengi, for the first time since they met, had prohibited her from drinking. She had tried to think of other things but she could not control her mind.
Every moment she spent with her father gone, she realized she loved him more than she knew. She had made several decisions without him but she needed him for this one. She had a thriving medical practice in Lagos and all her friends were there. None of those friends had called her since she got to Ilorin but that was probably because none of them knew her father was gone. She loved living in Lagos. She loved the fast life. But she also loved Whitney Medical. At least, she used to.
Her father never brought work home so she would not have known much about medicine if she had not spent time at Whitney Medical. It also helped that it was named after her or maybe they were both named after Whitney Houston. She smiled as she remembered all those years she spent learning the lyrics to “I will always love you” and “I’m every woman”. Whitney Medical was important to her, she could not imagine some strange person running the place.
There was also the matter of the money. Everybody assumed she was going to run Whitney Medical just so she could get the trust fund. They had a point. She was not sure how much her father was worth but she knew it was a lot. She was doing okay but okay was different from wealthy. She would finally be able to take that year off to travel the world. She would be able to attend all the film festivals she had always wanted to attend. That money would change her life. But at what cost?
Whatever the cost was, she should do this to honour her father. If he wanted her to run Whitney Medical after all the years of silence, then maybe she should honour his trust.
Her phone rang on the table beside her. The phone had been ringing all day and it had mostly been her father’s cousin calling. She knew what he wanted to say and it wasn’t going to help her. He wasn’t the one calling this time though; it was Doctor Okiki. He had not been at the reading of the will, she wondered why.
She answered the call. “Hello?”
“I heard what happened today,” he said.
Whitney frowned. “No ‘hello’?”
“I know you will probably take the hospital because of all the money attached to it,” he continued. “I want to remind you that the will said you must run it well. Can you do that?”
“What?” Whitney was not sure where he was going.
“You cannot. If you could not be loyal to your own father, how would you be loyal to a hospital? This may sound hurtful but it is the truth. You want to go back to Lagos, that’s what you want. I know this, you know this, everybody knows this. Don’t think the money will keep you happy here when everybody you work with hates you. Think well before…”
Whitney ended the call and sat up. She scrolled through her contacts and got to Barrister Iranloye’s number and dialed. He answered at first ring.
“Hello Whitney? You left early this morning.”
“I’ve made my decision.”
“Oh, are you sure you don’t need more time? This is not a…”
“Sell the hospital?”
There was a pause followed by Barrister Iranloye saying “what?”
“I have no interest in running Whitney Medical, sell it.”

16May/18

Whitney M.D. Episode 3

Tank top, bum shorts and dark glasses; it was not the most responsible look in the world but Whitney did not care. Her goal was not to look responsible, she just wanted to see her Dad. She looked in the rearview mirror; her eyeballs were still red and her eyes were puffy. She wiped off the lines her tears had made on her face. She cleared her throat and stepped out of the car. She slid her glasses on, slammed the door shut and headed for the entrance of Whitney Medical.
She had not seen the building since she left the house but it looked the same. Her father renovated the building every year when she was still around but it looked like it hadn’t been touched in years. The white paint was dirty, the blue paint was faded and the whole building looked old. Her heart ached at the sight. The only thing her father loved more than this hospital was her. Why had she been so cruel?
Be strong. This was not the time to show any weakness.
She walked into the reception and a lady, who had obviously been crying, looked up at her.
“Good morning ma,” the lady said. “We are not taking patients right now.”
Whitney walked closer to her. The atmosphere in the building was not good, it felt like grief hung in the air. She wanted to run out of the building and cry but she stilled herself.
“I am not a patient. My name is Whitney Daramola.”
The lady stared at her for a few seconds then she realized what the name meant.
“I’m so sorry,” she started then burst into tears.
Whitney stood, eyes unblinking, body unmoving and her expression unchanging. She waited till the receptionist got a hold of her emotions.
“Can I see him?” Whitney asked.
The lady nodded vigorously and led Whitney up a flight of stairs.
Whitney looked at the wall at the end of the stairs, it still held her picture and her mother’s. She had always believed she looked more like her father until the day she saw these two pictures beside each other. Her mother’s picture was taken a few months after their wedding and hers was taken at her graduation. They looked like they could have been twins. She took her eyes off the picture and followed the receptionist lady door a corridor.
The corridor connected so many rooms and as they walked by those rooms, Whitney could feel eyes turn to her. She knew what most of them were thinking. Her fight with her father wasn’t a secret. They all probably hated her. She couldn’t blame them, she hated herself too.
“This is the place,” the receptionist lady said and started another round of sobbing.
“You can go,” Whitney said and the lady scurried off.
Whitney stood in front of the door and wondered if she had any right to see her father’s body. She had several years to see him alive but she chose not to. She could not see him. Not now, not ever.
She turned around to walk away but stopped. A few feet away, looking at her with a blank stare, stood a rough-bearded man. She looked at him and for what looked like a thousand years, he held her gaze.
“You are not going in?” The man asked without breaking eye contact.
“Who are you?” Whitney asked.
“Doctor Okiki.”
“Oh.”
He started moving towards her and Whitney looked away. There was something weird about this guy. His eyes had such intensity, she feared he saw beyond her dark glasses and bum shorts into her guilt-ridden soul.
“You have not answered my question.”
“No, I’m not going in,” Whitney said and quickly added, “not right now.”
“We can’t keep him here forever, we need to move him to the mortuary.”
“Do that then,” Whitney said and swallowed.
All these talking was building up a well of emotions in her. It was only a matter of time before she would break down.
“Will you be…?”
“I have to go,” Whitney said and started towards the stairs.
“I hope you found what you were looking for,” Doctor Okiki said and she stopped. “You broke his heart, hope it was worth it.”
Whitney bowed her head for a second as several angry retorts bounced around her brain. She could feel her lips shivering and tears welling in her eyes. If she broke down now, nobody would understand it was anger, not grief.
She lifted her head and walked away from the idiot who called himself a doctor. She went down the stairs two steps at a time. She got to the reception and headed for the door. She was a few feet away from it when the door opened and a lady entered. Whitney would have brushed past the lady except she was dressed exactly like her; tank tops and bum shorts.
“Whitney?” the lady said.
Whitney stopped, “Do I know you?”
“No, you don’t. I am Doctor Nengi, I’m sorry about your father.”
Whitney nodded, wondering how a doctor would dress like this. Except she was also a doctor and they were dressed the same.
The lady doctor must have noticed the look on her face because she said, “I was on my way to the gym when Nana called me.”
Whitney wanted to walk away but she also knew what she would spend her day and night doing if she did.
“Nengi… is it okay if I call you Nengi?”
“Sure,” Nengi said, “but I’m going to call you Whitney too.”
“You already did.”
“Great, we are on the same page.”
“Do you know any clubs?”
“Clubs? Like Manchester United and Arsenal?”
“No, clubs like nightclubs? Do you know any?”
Nengi paused for a second and Whitney expected a condemning look but instead she got a smile.
“Yes I know a few,” Nengi said.
“Good, can we go to one right now?”
“It’s not even noon yet, no clubs will open at this time”
“If they hear how much I’m ready to spend, they will.”
Nengi smiled, “I like you already.”
Whitney knew she was being stupid but stupid was what she needed right now. Her father was dead. She was alone in the world. Alone. By herself.
Soon all those thoughts would be drowned in liters of alcohol.

***
Whitney stumbled into the house with her head banging. She could barely see or walk or talk but her mind was still very active. She had gone on this drinking binge to forget about her father’s death but it was the one thing that stayed strong on her mind. She felt around the wall for the light switch but she found nothing. She groaned and dropped to the floor. She lay flat on the cold floor and writhed from the pain that wracked her mind.
The lights came on and she lifted her eyes to see Nengi standing next to her.
“What are you doing here?” Whitney asked.
“You think I was going to leave you alone? You could die.”
“Just go, I am fine,” the words came out slurred. “I appreciate the care but I’m fine.”
Nengi chuckled. “I’m not here because I care. I’m a doctor, I swore an oath that prevents me from watching people die, so please just stand up.”
Whitney looked at Nengi and smiled, this girl would have been an awesome friend if she was in Lagos. Nengi pulled Whitney up and held her steady.
“How come you are not drunk anyway?” Whitney asked.
“I never get drunk,” Nengi answered like it was a fact.
Whitney looked up at the wall in front of her; it had a large picture of her father receiving an award. She had never seen that picture. She was not even aware her father had received any sort of award recently but she was not surprised, he was a great man.
She turned around and looked at the living room, the only change was that picture. She hadn’t realized how much she missed this place. She had spent years and years rearranging the room without a word of protest from her father. She had even made him repaint it on a couple of occasions just because she saw a movie and she liked the colours of a character’s room. Her life had been entwined with her father, how did she survive without him in Lagos?
“Are you done reminiscing?”
Nengi’s voice brought her back to reality and she nodded.
“Good, let’s get you into the shower. You stink.”
Whitney dragged her feet as she walked towards her room. The room that held most of her favourite memories. She got to the door, took a deep breath and pushed it open. She entered the room and stopped. This was not her room, was it? The bed was the same, all her pictures were still on the wall, her pile of Karen Kingsbury novels was untouched. But her closet was filled with her father’s clothes. His shoes were everywhere in the room and one of his pyjamas – she could not believe he still had it – lay on the bed. Did he move into her room?
“Hey, come back to us.” It was Nengi again. “I’m going to the kitchen to fix something for you. Take a shower and meet me in the living room in ten minutes.”
Whitney nodded.
“I’m serious Whitney.”
“Sure, I’ll do that now.”
Nengi walked out of the room and Whitney closed the door behind her. The room smelled like her father. Or maybe his Nivea roll on. He’d used the same roll on for years, it had become his scent. She got on the bed and lay her head on the pyjamas.
At first, the tears flowed down her cheeks slowly, then they began to pour in torrents. She bit her lips to stop herself from crying aloud. She had a feeling that Nengi girl would not take it well.
The door opened and Nengi walked in. Whitney looked up, how did she know?
“Are you serious Whitney?”
“I’m sorry,” Whitney said in between sobs. “You realize I lost my father today, right?”
Nengi paused and for a second Whitney saw compassion on her face but then it was gone.
“I know you want a hug but I can’t do that right now.”
“Okay, I’ll get in the bathroom now.”
“And please be done in one minute because there is a man in the living room asking for you.”
Whitney frowned, nobody was supposed to know she was around.
“Who is it?”
“I don’t know him but he is talking like he owns the house so I guess he is a relative.”
“Let’s go.”
“Like that?”
Whitney realized she wasn’t dressed to welcome visitors but she was not welcoming anybody. She needed her privacy and if the visitor was offended by her dressing, that was great.
Whitney walked into the living room, Nengi behind her. The man had his back to her so she couldn’t tell who it was.
“Hello, can I help you?”
The man turned around and stopped when he saw Whitney. She recognized him, he was her father’s cousin. He had once been close to her father once but they had drifted apart. Her father had shielded her from his family; there had to be a good reason for that.
“Is that how you greet your Uncle?” the man said.
Whitney was not in the mood for this at all. “I don’t know you.”
“You don’t know me? I am your father’s younger brother, how can you say you don’t know me?”
“My father was an only child, he had no younger brothers.”
“Are you not a Yoruba child? Your father has many younger brothers.”
Whitney sighed, arguing will only prolong this. “Okay sir, you are welcome.”
The man looked at Nengi then back at Whitney, “is this how you people dress in Lagos?”
Whitney held back a curse, “what can I do for you, sir?”
“Sit down, we need to talk.”
Whitney looked at Nengi and shook her head.
Nengi stepped forward, “Whitney just lost her father today, could you please come back?”
“Chai!” the man exclaimed like he had been slapped on the head. “I should come back?”
“It is a legitimate request,” Nengi continued. “She needs to mourn her father.”
“Mourn which father? The father she refused to talk to for years?”
It was Whitney’s turn to feel like she had been slapped. She walked to a chair and sat.
“What do you want?” Whitney asked.
“This is a family matter, she can’t be here.”
Nengi folded her arms across her chest and stood firm.
“She can stay,” Whitney said.
“No problem, it doesn’t matter. I’m here to talk about your father’s hospital.” Whitney frowned, she had no idea where this was going but she didn’t say a word. “Before your father died, he was planning to sell the hospital and he even found a buyer.”
Her father wanted to sell Whitney Medical? Why would he do that? More importantly, why was this man bringing it up now?
“I don’t understand what you are saying.”
“The buyer is ready to pay the money now.”
Whitney jumped to her feet, “are you crazy?” she screamed. “My father’s body is not even cold and you want to sell his hospital? You will have to kill me before I let that happen.”
The man just sat on his chair looking at her. “Are you done?”
Whitney looked at Nengi who had not moved. She had her eyes on the man like a predator watching its prey. Whitney was exhausted from her journey and with grief. It did not help that she had been drinking all day. She needed to get rid of this man.
“Sir, I think it’s time for you to leave,” Whitney said and started to pace.
“The buyer is traveling out of the country in three days and we have to decide if we want to sell the hospital or not.”
“Are you not listening to me? I said I am never going to sell that hospital.”
“It is not your call, it is your father’s. I am here so we can bring the reading of the will forward.”
“What?” Whitney whispered.
“Stop this self-righteous nonsense!” The man shouted. “Stop thinking with your emotions and use your head. Do you want the hospital to run down until it is taken over by rats? Or are you going to stay here and run it? Answer me.”
Whitney stopped pacing.
“That’s right,” the man continued. “I knew you will never leave the wayward life you are living in Lagos to come and run your father’s hospital.”
Nengi stepped forward and even though she wasn’t bigger than Whitney, she had an intimidating presence that affected the man.
“She said it was time to leave,” Nengi said.
“Are you going to beat me?” The man asked with a sneer, although Whitney could see the man believed it was a genuine possibility.
“Wait,” Whitney said and they both looked at her. “Bring the reading of the will forward, let us find out what Daddy wanted.”
The man stood and smiled triumphantly. “Now you are using your head. The lawyer will call you.”
Whitney and Nengi watched the man walk out of the room.
As soon as he was out, Nengi turned to Whitney, “what are you doing?”
“Let’s read the will and find out what will happen.”
“Your father just died today,” Nengi said, sighed and added, “what if your father leaves the decision to you?”
“Then I’m in trouble because I have no idea what to do.”

09May/18

Whitney M.D. Episode 2

“There is nothing in Lagos for you.”
Whitney continued to pack without paying her father any attention.
“Where are you even going to stay?”
She could tell her father was genuinely worried but that was the least of her concerns. She was not exactly sure about what she was doing but something inside her kept pushing her to continue.
“You’ve never stayed alone for a whole year, not even during your NYSC,” her father said and he was right. “And for your first time, you are picking Lagos? Stop being stupid Whitney.”
The tears she had dammed behind her eyes were threatening to burst through but she could not give her father the satisfaction of seeing her cry.
“Come on,” her father came closer and pulled her. “It’s been the two of us for so many years, don’t do this to us.”
She turned to face him, barely seeing through her watery eyes, “I didn’t do this to us. You did when you brought that bitch into our house.”
Wham!
She felt the slap before she saw it. For a couple of seconds, the whole world stood still. Her father did not move and she could not move. Her father had never hit her before, she couldn’t believe in it.
“Whitney…”
Her father started towards her but she grabbed her box and stormed out of the room. The tears were pouring down her face without restraint now, things were never going to be the same again. She grabbed her car keys from the living room table and headed for the door.
“If you’re going to leave my house, you cannot take that car, it is mine.”
She heard her father say and she stopped. For a second she was afraid. She had never taken care of herself before, she always had her father. But she couldn’t turn around now. She dropped the keys on the floor and marched out of the house.

Her phone rang beside her and Whitney returned to the present. She wiped tears away from her eyes with her wrist. This was the first time she had ever allowed herself to relive the memory of the day her life changed forever. She could not believe how foolish she was that day.
She looked at the number calling her, also trying to keep her eyes on the road as she drove. It could be the doctor who had sent her a text about her father. She picked up the phone and answered the call.
“Hello?”
“My name is Doctor Okiki, I sent you a text last night,” the voice on the phone said.
Why was he calling, was her father dead? “Hi.”
“Doctor Daramola wanted to know if you were coming.”
“Yes, I am,” she answered very fast. “I’m on my way already.”
“Alright, that’s good. I will see you when you…”
“Wait!”
“Yes?”
“Are you with him?”
“With who?”
“My father, Doctor Daramola.”
“Not at the moment. I am in the hospital but not in the room with him.”
Whitney wondered what she would do with herself if he died before she got to him.
“Hello Miss Daramola?”
“I’m sorry…”
“Will you like to speak to him?”
Did she want to? On the phone? After all these years of silence, was she going to make up with him on the phone?
“I’m already on my way to his room. If you want me to stop just say so,” Doctor Okiki’s said.
She did not respond. She wasn’t sure what to do or what to say, it was all too much for her.
“I’m in front of his door now, should I go in?”
She sighed and whispered, “Yes.”
She heard the door open and at the same moment looked up and saw Federal Road Safety Officers just a few metres away from her. One of them was standing in the middle of the road and already had his hand up to stop her.
“I’m in the room now Miss Daramola,” Doctor Okiki said. “He’s asleep so… oh wait, he’s awake now.”
Whitney heard everything the Doctor said but she was stopping in front of these officers with a phone to her ear. She pushed a button and the window slid down, she was in trouble.
“I’m giving the phone to him now,” she heard Doctor Okiki say at the same time the FRSC officer was saying, “can you end that call please?”
“Hello?” The voice was weak and strained but she would recognize that voice if she heard it on the moon.
“Did you hear me?” The officer was getting loud. “I said end that call!”
“Hello, Daddy?” Whitney said, her eyes closed to prevent another stream of tears.
She felt a hand grab her phone from her hand and she opened her eyes. The Road Safety officer had collected the phone and ended the call. A surge of anger rose through her and she opened her door and jumped out of the car.
“Are you stupid? Do you know who I was talking to?” She said at the officer, her voice shaking but loud.
“When an officer talks to you, you obey,” the officer said with a smug smile on his face.
Whitney took a look at his face and she knew exactly where she wanted to land her fist. She ran towards him and as her hand rose up to meet his face she felt a strong hand grab her arm from behind. She pulled and struggled but the hold was strong.
“Madam, don’t do anything you’d regret,” the owner of the strong grip said to her.
She stopped struggling and he let her go. She covered her face with her palms and sobbed. What would her father think happened? What if he thought she hung up on him? What if it killed him? She had to go, she really had to go.
“Please give me my phone, I have to go,” she said but the officer just stared at her. She turned to the person who had stopped her from punching the idiot officer. “Tell him to give me my phone.”
“Are you okay Madam?” The nicer officer asked.
“I am fine.”
“I don’t think you are fit to drive.”
“I am fit to drive, just give me my phone and let me go.”
The officer looked at her and shook his head, “no, I don’t think so. Please come and sit for a while, you need to calm down.”
“No, I don’t have time, you don’t understand. I am in a hurry, my father is dying.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that Madam but I can’t in good conscience allow you drive. You are agitated and upset, you are an accident waiting to happen.”
“Please, I need…”
“The faster I see you calm and stable the faster you get to leave. I won’t even write you a ticket for calling while driving.”
Whitney could not believe her bad luck. She looked at the names of the officers and made a mental note to remember their names and faces. If her father died before she got to Ilorin, she would hunt them down and kill them both.
“Please sit in your car and try and settle down,” the officer said. “Do you have any good music? Maybe Ebenezer Obey?”
She did not even look at him, she could only think about one thing; her father at the other end of that line, dying.
Or dead.
***
Life as a child must be awesome. They had no responsibilities, no fears, and no worries. He was the exact opposite. His responsibilities were killing him, he lived in constant fear and he would win if there was an Olympics game called worrying. He had only one thing in common with the children around him; he had no money of his own.
Wole walked up the classroom corridor, April’s hand in his. Her pretty, pink bag; her most precious possession, bobbed up and down as she walked. She had beautiful long hair, just like her mother and it was weaved into a bun that stood on top of her head like a bulb of onion. It made him smile. She always insisted on the pink ribbons even though she lost at least one every week. She was his whole world, and it wasn’t only because he had nothing else, it was because she just meant the world to him.
He got to the entrance of her class and Miss Lara, April’s class teacher saw them. She hurried to the door with a big smile. She was beautiful, he had noticed from the first time he brought April to the school. She was plump and dark-skinned, the exact opposite of his late wife but they were both very beautiful women. Why was he even comparing them?
“Mister Best, good morning sir,” Miss Lara said.
“I’ve always told you to call me Wole.”
“It’s school policy sir,” she said with a smile. “The only way I can call you Wole is if we had a personal relationship and we don’t. Or do we?”
Wole smiled. She wasn’t shy at all. But he was not ready to replace his wife. Not yet.
“I have put tissues in April’s bag in case she needs to blow her nose,” Wole said.
Her smile disappeared and for the first time, he saw Miss Lara’s serious face.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” she started, “she’s had this cold for so long, have you been to the hospital?”
He knew it was only a matter of time before this question arose. “Yes, we have been to the hospital and she’s already taking drugs.”
“Have you seen any improvements?”
“Yes, of course, yes,” Wole said. But it was a lie. There had been no improvements but it scared him to even think about it. “If there is any problem, please give me a call.”
“Alright Mister Best,” she said.
Wole knelt beside April, “give Daddy a peck.”
April kissed him on the cheek and he returned the favour. He stood and watched Miss Lara lead April into the class. He turned around and hurried out of the school. He had a big day in front of him, one that could change his and April’s life.
He got to the road and stopped a tricycle. In a few minutes, he stopped in front of Deltatech Holdings. This meeting was the most important one he had ever attended but somehow he wasn’t nervous. He was not sure that was a good sign. He was nervous the day he asked his wife out and she said yes. He was nervous the first time he met her father and he loved him. He was calm the day he lost his wife.
He shook his head, it was all nonsense. Today was going to be a good day. If he closed this deal, he could finally do what he needed to do for April.
He walked into the building and smiled as he approached the receptionist.
“Good morning ma,” he said.
“Good morning sir, welcome to Deltatech. How may I help you?”
“I am here to see Mister Jimoh.”
“Okay sir. Do you have an appointment?”
“Yes I do, for 8 am.”
“Okay sir. Please hold on for a second while I put a call through to his office.”
Wole nodded and dipped both hands into his pockets. He was way too calm and maybe he had a right to be. His paintings were amazing and Mister Jimoh had said so himself. They were mostly abstract but they would look good in the new Deltatech building. If this deal went through and it looked like it would, it would solve more than half of his problems. And it would open more doors for him. It had to go through.
“I’m sorry sir but Mister Jimoh is not yet in,” the receptionist said.
Still, he remained calm, “can I wait for him?”
“Sure, please take your seat over there,” she said, pointing to some chairs behind him.
He had taken only one step towards the chairs when Mister Jimoh walked into the building. He saw Wole and smiled.
“Wole, how far?” he said.
“I’m fine sir, good morning.”
“You’re here concerning your paintings?”
The man was going straight to the point; that was fine. “Yes sir, I am.”
“I’m sorry o, we gave the deal to somebody else.”
The words hit him like a blow to his temple. “Sir, you said my paintings were great.”
“Yes Wole, they are,” Mister Jimoh said. “I liked them; everybody liked them. But the Chairman has a nephew who takes pictures, he asked us to buy his pictures instead of your paintings.”
“Oh my God,” Wole said, his hands involuntarily going to his head.
“I’m sorry Wole.”
“Sir, I need this deal. Even if you won’t buy everything, just buy a few sir.”
“It is out of my hands now, it was an order from the oga at the top.”
“Sir, I have a sick daughter and she needs a CT scan. I was banking on this money for that.”
“Sorry about your daughter Wole. If anything else comes up, I will give you a call.”
“Sir…”
“I have to go upstairs now, I have a meeting in thirty minutes and I need to prepare my presentation.”
Wole wanted to protest but the man had run off. He looked at the clock on the wall, how could his day get so bad so early? The only good thing about this was, things were so bad, they could only get better now.
His phone rang in his pocket and he pulled it out.
It was Miss Lara.
He swallowed. God, please let her be calling to ask me out.
“Hello Miss Lara?”
“Mister Best, you need to come to the school now! April is unconscious.”

***
Whitney was calm when she resumed her journey. She had given what the officer said a lot of thought. She was in a hurry because she wanted to see her father before he died but it would all be pointless if she died herself. She took the advice of the officer and tuned her radio, looking for a station playing soft music. She found one playing music by Whitney Houston and she stopped tuning.
All her life people always asked if she was named Whitney for Whitney Houston and she always wished she could say no. Her mother had been an obsessed Whitney Houston fan and had always insisted she would name her first daughter Whitney. Her father said he never agreed to the name but when she passed he felt obliged to give her that last honour. But that was not it, he played so many Whitney Houston songs, trying to make her love the songs just like her mother did. And it worked.
She’d fallen in love with Whitney Houston and all the special moments she had dancing with her father to the songs. She had always imagined that on her wedding day, she would dance with her father to a Whitney Houston song. Even when they didn’t speak for five years, something in her still always hoped they would reconcile just for that dance. Why had she been so stubborn?
Why didn’t her father reach out more? He was the parent, he should have risen about her stupidity.
She shook her head, she could not blame her father for anything right now; the man was dying. She nodded along to the song and let her mind linger in the happy memories they brought.
Her phone rang and for a second she thought her heart stopped. Was that the doctor from her father’s hospital? Was he dead? She could not take this call while driving. She pulled the car to the side of the road, took a deep breath and picked up the phone.
It was Jordan. She sighed and answered the call.
“Hello Jordan?”
“Hey girl,” Jordan said in a rather subdued voice. “Thanks for last night.”
“Last night…” Oh yeah, she had saved his life. It felt like it had been several days instead of hours. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m going to be okay,” Jordan said. “Will you be coming to Venom tonight?”
“What?” She could not believe what she was hearing. “Are you stupid Jordan? You are going back there tonight? Do you want to die?”
“No, no, I’m not going back. I can’t even go back. My mom is here now and they’re shipping my butt back to Akure.”
“Good for you. Come on Jordan, I know we love to have fun but drugs? Come on.”
There was a momentary pause then Jordan said, “So are you going to the club or what?”
“I’m not going. Why are you asking?”
“Somebody wanted to know if they would see you there?”
“What? Who?”
“Take a guess.”
Whitney furrowed her brows and thought for a few seconds then she knew!
“Please don’t tell me it is Hayes.”
“He is the one,” Jordan said and Whitney hissed. “You made him buy that drink and you think he would drink it alone?”
“I can’t believe I parked for this,” Whitney said to herself and added aloud, “tell him he can pour it down a toilet if he wants, I don’t care.”
“Come on, don’t break the man’s heart. All he wants is to sit down and talk.”
“Goodbye Jordan.”
“Wait…”
She ended the call. The nerve of this Hayes guy. Well, he was a billionaire, he was probably used to getting everything he wanted. She had to get back on the road, she shouldn’t be losing time to stupid calls.
She was about to start the car when her phone rang again. Jordan was relentless. Was the man paying him?
She answered the call.
“Look, I don’t care if I break his heart, I am not coming.”
“Well, I guess his heart can’t be broken any further because he just passed away.”
Whitney chuckled, “what?”
“We believed you were coming and he tried to hold on for as long as he could.”
“What are you talking…” she removed the phone from her ears and looked at the number that had called her, it was not Jordan. “Oh my God, Doctor Okiki?”
“We hope you can come around for the funeral, he was your father, you owe him that much.”
She opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. Tears ran down her face in torrents and her body shook as grief racked every cell in her.
“Hello? Are you there? I need to…”
Doctor Okiki continued to talk but she didn’t hear a single word of what he said. She heard only one voice and it said only thing, over and over again.
“It’s been the two of us for so many years, don’t do this to us.”
She had done “this” and now there was only one of her.

02May/18

Whitney M.D. Episode 1

Whitney Daramola swayed her hips as she walked into Venom.
Venom was popular for two reasons; exorbitant prices and exclusive clientele. Although with the number of people inside the club on this weeknight, it didn’t seem so exclusive. It was a few minutes to 12 AM, she had arrived at the perfect time. The boring people were all gone, the alcohol was starting to kick in and the DJ was a little drunk himself. The room was lit in a weird way. The lights had different intensities, colours and they flickered at different rates. It had disoriented her the first time she entered the club, but now, it was all part of what she liked about Venom.
“Hey Riri,” the familiar voice of Jordan called from across the room.
Jordan was the only person who knew her real name here but he called her Riri just like every other person. He was a friend, as far as she was concerned but he still harboured hopes of dating her. She let him hope but she knew it was never going to happen.
She watched him make his way toward her with two shots of whatever the “Brewmeister” was serving that night.
“Hello honey,” she said, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him on the cheek.
“I told you to stop kissing me on the cheek, I have lips,” Jordan said.
“And they look gorgeous,” Whitney chipped back with a wide smile.
She pulled away from the embrace and collected one of the shots from him. She threw the content in her mouth and swallowed. She shut her eyes as something that felt like a bolt of lightning went to her head. She opened her watery eyes and looked at Jordan with a huge grin.
“You like it?” Jordan asked. Her smile told him all he needed to know. “Well, I will keep it coming all night.”
He walked back towards the bar and she meandered through the sea of bodies towards her usual corner. She felt the eyes on her as she walked, moving her body to the music. She enjoyed this attention and she never failed to get it. She had the body to get any man’s attention and she knew how to carry it. Her dress was helping a lot too. It was a short, black lacy dress that accentuated her shape and was transparent in all the right places. It was a great thing Venom had a ‘look but don’t touch’ policy.
She settled into her sofa and placed her purse close to her. She knew she wouldn’t be on the chair alone for too long.
“You look hot.”
Whitney turned towards the voice and saw Uche. Like all Venom waiters, he was built like an athlete and always wore a tank top. Waiters weren’t supposed to flirt with clients but Uche flirted with Whitney without consequence and she would not have it any other way.
“Thank you Uche,” Whitney said.
“Oh no, I was talking to myself but now that you mention it,” he looked her over, “you don’t look so cold yourself.”
Whitney laughed and rubbed her palm on Uche’s muscular arm.
“What do you want me to bring for you?” Uche asked.
“Don’t worry Uche, Jordan is my waiter tonight.”
“Really? Don’t take too much of what Jordan is serving. That stuff is…” he stopped and smiled. “Enjoy yourself good girl Riri.”
Whitney frowned, what was that about? Before she could give it further thought, a man was standing in front of her.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
Whitney looked at the man, her face straight. “No hi or hello?”
“Hello,” the man said, his face concealing whatever was going on in his mind.
“What drink are you going to buy me?” Whitney asked.
“What drink do you want?” The man smiled, he assumed he was in.
“You don’t know what you want to buy?”
“I’ll get you anything you want.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
The man’s smile was fading. “Yes.” His voice wasn’t as strong either.
“What if I wanted Legacy by Angostura?”
The man was getting pissed now but Whitney wasn’t done with him. She adjusted her dress and the motion knocked out all annoyance or resistance from the man.
“If they have it here, I’ll buy it for you.”
“One bottle costs 25 thousand dollars.”
Whitney watched the man go stiff, and she almost burst out laughing. She could tell the man was wealthy but she also knew he wasn’t going to spend that much on her. Where was Jordan anyway, she wanted more of whatever he had given her earlier.
“Okay,” the man said.
What? Whitney looked up at the man, “what?”
“I’ll buy you the Legacy drink.”
Whitney searched the man’s face for any hint of mockery or deception, she found none. There was no way he was going to spend that much on her. Did he want her that bad?
“Are you sure? You know you can just walk away and talk to another girl.”
The man looked her over again and nodded. It was clear he was being controlled by his lust for her. She had no intention of sleeping with this man, what was she supposed to do now?
Her phone rang and she almost jumped for joy. She opened her purse and dug out the phone. The caller was her father. She shook her head and ended the call. She had hoped the call would save her from this man but she would rather sleep with him than take her father’s call.
Where the hell was Jordan?
“So, should I get the bottle and or should we have them send it to The Hayes?”
She needed to buy a little more time. “A hotel, really? A girl like me doesn’t deserve to go to your house?”
“I own The Hayes so it is kind of like my house.”
What? She looked at the man’s face, this guy was a billionaire. Behind the man, she sighted Jordan coming towards her with a bottle. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to see him now.
“Hey Riri,” Jordan said then noticed the man. “Mister Hayes, how are…”
He stopped in the middle of the sentence and for the first time, Whitney noticed that he was sweating. She stood but didn’t move towards him.
“Hey Jordan, are you okay?”
The bottle in his hand dropped and his hand started to shake. Whitney stepped forward and held his hand.
“Jordan,” she called his name, he didn’t look like he heard her. She looked at Mr. Hayes, “get a doctor now.”
Mr. Hayes stood, rooted to the spot. He was either in shock too or was too mesmerized by what was happening to Jordan. Or was he staring at her boobs?
She felt Jordan’s hand leave hers and he crashed to the floor. His body moved in violent jerks. She looked at Mr. Hayes, he was still there; no doctor was on the way. People were starting to gather around them.
She knew what to do but she didn’t want to do it. There was a reason they only knew her as Riri here. She had kept a low profile for so long. If Jordan was going to live, she had to do something.
“Riri, what’s going on?” Jerry, the club manager asked. He saw Jordan on the floor and ran off.
She could not wait for him or whoever he was going to get.
She got on her knees and picked up Jordan’s hand. She placed her thumb on his wrist, his heart rate was slow and so was his breathing.
“Jordan?” She called again.
He was unconscious now. Had Jordan overdosed?
“What did he take?” She shouted to nobody in particular.
No answer. The club had a zero drug policy, admitting they knew what Jordan took meant they would be kicked out too.
She looked up and saw Uche standing a few feet away. She looked at him, imploring. “Coke?”
He nodded and walked away.
She turned back to Jordan and ripped his shirt off. She laced one hand on top of the other and placed them on his chest.
“Jordan, come on,” she said and started to push. Her arms and her shoulder went up and down as she pushed. She had not done this in years but instinct had kicked in. Jordan lay under her, still unconscious.
“What are you doing?” Jerry was back and he didn’t look pleased to see her.
“CPR, what does it look like I’m doing?” She replied. “Do you have a naloxone injection here?”
Jerry, probably surprised that she knew what CPR or naloxone was, pointed at a box he held in his hand.
“Okay, open the box and hand me the injection,” Whitney said.
He opened the box and placed the injection in her hand.
“Riri, do you know what you’re doing? I can’t have a dead body here.”
“My name is Whitney and I am a doctor,” she said and removed the cap on the injection. “Now, pull off his pants for me.”
She waited for Jerry to pull off the pants and she resumed her position beside Jordan. She pushed the needle into his thigh and pushed the content of the syringe into his body.
She sighed and looked up at Jerry, “it may take up to five minutes for him to come to, call your doctor or an ambulance and get him to a hospital.”
Jerry nodded, “thanks Riri. I still can’t believe you’re a doctor.”
Whitney returned to her seat and picked up her purse, her night was done. So was her visits to Venom. She loved the anonymity and mystery she had but that was all gone now. She had hoped for a great night out after a whole week of continuous work. She walked towards the exit, amidst the several calls of “good job” and “well done”. The night was exactly the opposite of what she’d wanted, the night could not get any worse.
Her phone beeped and she pulled it out. She stepped out of the club before she checked the phone. She had received a text from a number she did not recognize.
Your father has less than 12 hours to live, it would be nice of you to come see him. – Doctor Okiki, Whitney Medical.
She stopped and felt her head suddenly become light. She staggered and a guard rushed to hold her.
“Are you okay ma’am?” The guard asked.
She steadied herself, moved away from him and she walked on towards the parking lot. There was only one thing on her mind; finding her car.
“Hello Whitney,” a voice, accompanied by the sound of running feet came from behind her.
The owner came up beside her and it was Hayes. He walked in silence beside her until she got to her car. She clicked on her key and the doors of her car unlocked.
“I didn’t realise you were a doctor,” Hayes said.
Whitney looked up at him but instead of his younger but less good-looking face, she saw the face of her father. Was he really dying?
“So, I already paid for the drink. I can buy two if you want.”
Whitney looked at Hayes, her eyes bleary and glassy. “My father is dying.”
He nodded and paused for a few seconds then looked at her, “so, my place or yours?”

***
It was dark outside. The city was still fast asleep and it was going to be for some time. Whitney, the neighbour’s rooster was still asleep too, thank God. It looked like everybody and everything in the world was at peace except for him. And his daughter.
Wole Best sat on a white plastic chair watching April, his four-year-old daughter breathe in and out with her mouth wide open. She made noises so loud he wondered how his neighbour’s troublesome rooster slept through it all. He wanted to go back to his room and join the rest of the world in their peaceful sleep but he was afraid to leave his daughter alone. He was her father, her protector and it did not matter that he could do nothing about what plagued her.
He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket and he knew what was next. His alarm was about to announce that it was 5 AM with its annoying but effective loudness. He pulled out the phone and muted it before it made any sound. He looked at April, she had not been disturbed. He heaved a sigh of relief. She needed every second of peaceful sleep she could get.
Cock-a-doodle-doo! Whitney sang at the top his voice; the rooster from hell was awake.
And so was April.
She stirred for a few seconds and Wole hoped she would go back to sleep. Any hope of that was dashed when Whitney decided to turn his single into an album.
Wole watched his daughter go through her five minute process of waking up. He smiled and his eyes filled with tears as he watched her stretch and hum and rub her eyes till he was afraid she would bust them.
“Hello beautiful,” he said.
She looked at him and without a word, climbed off the bed. She walked past him into the bathroom. He moved to follow her but he stopped, she had warned him never to do that again. He smiled and waited. Two minutes later, he heard the toilet flush and she came out.
“Did you wash your hands?” Wole asked.
She stopped, looked at him like he was intruding on her perfectly organized routine. She returned to the bathroom and he heard the tap running. The tap stopped and Wole stood, it was time for his morning hug. It was two hours early and he was still hoping she would go back to sleep but he was going for the hug anyway. He needed it.
She was taking longer to come out than he expected. Then he heard her sneeze. He paused and waited, was this the beginning of another sneezing marathon? He waited but she did not sneeze again. Instead, he heard her blow her nose. He wanted to go into the bathroom but he waited, she was fine. If he wanted her to believe everything was going to be alright like he’d always told her, he had to believe it too. Or at least pretend to.
He waited for almost a whole minute, pacing in the room, telling himself she was fine. He could hear her moving in the bathroom so she had to be okay. Was he being stupid by not going in?
He could not wait anymore.
“April, can Daddy come in?”
“Yes,” she said.
Hearing her voice broke his heart. His baby had the most beautiful voice in the world, at least she used to. Now, she could not even say a word without people asking if she was okay.
He entered the bathroom and found her standing over the sink, looking into it.
“What’s happening April?”
He got to her side and followed her eyes. He gasped and grabbed the sink for support.
“Baby, go back to your room,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady.
He faked a smile the best he could until she was out of the bathroom before he allowed the first tear to drop. It was quickly followed by others. What was he going to tell her when he came out of the bathroom and she asked what this meant. He had no idea what it meant himself. He had seen a doctor, he had followed all his instructions.
Why did his little girl have to suffer?
“God, you promised to take care of April. This is not how to care for a little girl.”
He looked back into the sink and the bloody discharge that had come from his daughter’s nose. This was not how to care for anybody.
***
Whitney felt the cold breeze blow against her face as she sped down the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. She rarely drove with her windows down, the atmosphere in Lagos made sure she didn’t but this was a better way to drive. The traffic at dawn was light so she could drive very fast.
The road wasn’t much different from her last trip to Ilorin. She had gone to a friend’s wedding but she had returned to Lagos the same day. Her father didn’t even know she came to town. She shook thoughts of her father off her mind. It was strange; she was going to see him but even the thought of him made her angry.
She concentrated on the road and tried to keep her mind empty. It did not work so she put on the radio. It took only a few seconds before her mind went back to her father. Maybe there was no point fighting it. She needed to think anyway. She did not call the Doctor who texted her so nobody knew she was coming. She wasn’t sure she wanted to see her father, not even now he was dying. But then he was the only one she had.
“Stupid, very stupid,” she heard herself whisper.
Her sight blurred for a couple of seconds and she blinked the tears away. She reached for a flask sitting on the passenger’s seat beside. She opened the cap while steading her other hand on the steering wheel and keeping her eyes on the road. She took a sip from the flask, it would keep her awake for a while.
Her father forbade alcohol while driving or at any other time. You don’t need alcohol for fun, he would always say, all you need is friends and family. And he was right. For a while. She had the best fun times in her life with him. The death of her mother when she was born was supposed to be too much for him but it never was. He raised her like any girl who had two parents. He taught her everything she knew about anything. When she hit puberty and her body started changing, he told her everything she needed to know and do. It probably helped that he was a doctor. Sometimes she wished he wasn’t.
Everything had been fine before medicine entered the picture. She was brilliant and school was never a problem. She’d loved her father and loved how random people would walk up to him and thank him for saving their lives. She wanted to do the same; save lives and if she had to be a doctor to do it, she would. But while she waited to make the choice, her father made it for her. He filled her JAMB form and only told her about it after he had submitted. She didn’t like this but she was too young to say anything. She wasn’t too young seven years later.
Her brilliance had earned her scholarship in the United States. She wanted to become an ENT specialist, mostly because one of her most influential lecturers was one but her father had other ideas. Just like he did with JAMB, he filled the form and filled in her specialization as family medicine. She was furious when she found out and she made sure he knew it. But that was only the beginning.
Everything went to hell one day when after twenty-two years of being a family of two, he came home with another woman. She’d seen the woman around him a few times but she always assumed she was a colleague.
“Whitney, I want to introduce you to Shade,” he’d said.
“Hello,” she’d greeted the Shade woman.
The woman nodded back. She could tell the woman was nervous but she did not understand why. The woman had dinner with them that night. Dinner was a private father and daughter ritual that she cherished so much. Even the big fight she had with her father did not end it. Why was this woman qualified to eat dinner with them? But she should have known.
Her father dropped the words that ended their relationship that night. He was not only replacing her mother, he was replacing her. She was no longer enough for him. She had never been so angry and she had said a lot of things. Mean things. She shivered as the memories of that night flooded her mind. She left the house the two weeks later and never returned. Her father reached out but something inside her had died and she wanted to keep it dead.
But now her father was about to die. She was never going to see him again. The memory of her he would take to the grave was her angry face and her bitter words.
“No,” she mumbled and wiped away tears from her face with her sleeves.
She pushed on the accelerator, she needed to get to Ilorin very fast. She’d always thought she hated her father but she never did. She was hurt and angry but that wasn’t hate. How could she let her father die thinking she hated him?
“Daddy, please hold on, I’m coming.”
She floored the accelerator.

See you next week.

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