I waited mindlessly for my turn, I tried to keep myself busy with my phone but there wasn’t much to do with it. I was bored, lonely and felt marooned. Yet, I had no verve for chatting with anyone. I woke up in the doldrums, and as I left home with no one to commune with, an unnatural ennui struck me. Meanwhile, I had woken up with the lark to hastily run to this hospital at a time fair to middling but public hospitals, eh? The modalities and bureaucracy can be sickening, not to mention the incertitude of not being attended to. I was amidst several persons all seated as the crow flies – a large amount of old men and women, you would wonder if it were a Darby and Joan party. Of course, senectitude attends us with several maladies, I hunched.
“Destiny, you are number 52 right?” One of the nurses asked from her cubicle with a facetious smile. I simply nodded affirmatively and let out a grimace to complement her guilty smile. This was the fourth time she was asking me the ABCs of my coming here. Indolent nurses, insolent behaviours and impudent utterances, a common tapestry in hospitals. I resumed reading John Grisham’s “Pelican Brief” I earlier commenced out of angst.
As my mind journeyed far into reading, my attention was stolen by a young beautiful girl who sat by me. She came with her parents and they all joined in the wait for attention. She ferreted about the hospital with a pra.ctised feet. I could tell she had visited the hospital before now. She was very happy and animated. I envied her ability to be happy in a place where the acrid smell of hardened drugs almost disembowelled me. She’s a kid, I thought but, I was wrong.
“Good morning uncle,” she greeted innocently after minutes of clambering over benches. Believe me, since I was born, I have never seen such a smile. I have never been a victim of love at first sight and I found the idea very underwhelming but this girl was easy on my eyes.
“Good morning, how are you?” I smiled back.
“I’m fine uncle. Why have you not greeted my mummy?” she asked. I laughed up my sleeves as I was quite ashamed I hadn’t greeted the parents even though they were a spitting distance from where I sat. I realised I had been consumed by the mesmerising humour of the book I was reading. The mum looked at me and smiled too. I greeted the parents and then she continued. “Uncle, why are you here? Are you sick or are you a doctor?” I told her I needed to do a bit of checkup. She sat close to me and continued talking. She was so smart and engaging. Trust me, I find it highly amazing when a lady engages me in a discussion for minutes, even hours. These days, they are boring and unadventurous with chats; the reason the young girl caught my fancy. I tried to discern her age but her sharpness, voice and innocence in tone convoluted my mind reading. She was altogether but a young girl, no more than 12, I supposed. She kept asking me questions of different sorts and I was laughing uncontrollably.
“Uncle my name is Treasure and I like my name. Should I tell you what it means? I’m sure you know uncle. You said you are a student and not a doctor so students know English,” she said and giggled.
“Yes, I know what a treasure is. You can call me Destiny okay?” The next question was one I never expected. She was just too smart for what I could conceive was her age. “Uncle, are you married? Do you have any treasure in your life?” she asked, grinning and winking at the same time. I kept laughing because I didn’t expect her mind could be so profound. The parents kept looking at us and smiling. I’m sure they knew how interesting their daughter was. They didn’t restrain her.
“Treasure I’m not married yet, okay? I’ll get married when I cease to become a student” I answered holding her shoulders.
“Uncle what’s the meaning of CEASE?” she asked. Very adorable of her. In fact, I love kids who are sensitive of what people tell them, it’s very promising.
“Cease means ‘stop’, okay? What class are you now?” I answered and furthered the discussion. I gathered she was just in JSS 1 with such a bright mind. Many of her questions awed me not because I am easily excitable but because I least expected a random kid to ask such personal questions. Look who the cat dragged in, I received a call from a friend who inquired the goings on at the hospital.
“Uncle Destiny, is it not your treasure that called you?” she teased and laughed loudly. I told her it wasn’t but she wouldn’t believe. “My Dad always calls my mum his treasure and my mum calls my Dad the same too.” She said still doubtful of my reply. Her mum beckoned on her to keep quiet jokingly. She was obviously talking too much, I agreed.
We spent more than an hour still waiting for the doctors to attend to us individually but I didn’t notice that I dawdled. Even when I desired to come out the hospital to get confectioneries, she opted to follow me and the parents agreed. At a point I was uncertain why the parents trusted me with their daughter’s safety. I noticed she couldn’t keep up to my pace so I raised her to my shoulders as we walked along.
“Uncle, don’t fart o. I have a lot of weight” she teased again. I laughed and continued. I bought all I needed and then went back to the ward to meet the parents. Her father had left at our arrival. The mother just kept smiling at us both. As we ate, I narrated George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ as she wanted a story. I first read that story in primary 5, I told her. I taught her a few lines of the animal song they sang on the field and she learnt them easily. Really, I admired this young girl. She was already like my younger sister. She took me away from my sulky mood to being happy. Some of the laughter and guffaws I let out were so sincere, I realized I hadn’t laughed so freely for some time and it was horrible of me. Perhaps, too much to think of and too much to upset you, I surmised.
A while after eating she flaked out on the bench I sat on. She slept for about thirty minutes, or so. While she slept, I asked her mum how old Treasure was. “She will be 13 by November” she answered. Wow! That’s so cool, I thought. Hearing the mother speak, I had no more doubts as to the daughter’s sharpness. Treasure was a dead ringer for her mother – same looks, beauty, wit and smile. Then the mother told me something about Treasure.
“You know why I’ve been smiling all this while? Treasure is a very funny girl. She talks a lot but recently she has not been very happy because she is not fine so I had to allow her play as much as she wanted with you” she said. I was surprised. She didn’t look ill in any way. She could run and jump and laugh heartily without any tell-tale signs of indisposition.
“Sorry ma, I thought she only followed you here. I didn’t know she was ill i shouldn’t have stressed her,” I apologized. Her mother was getting emotional and that was making me jittery. Whatever it was that made her morose couldn’t match the blessing she had for a daughter.
“No, it’s okay. Treasure needs to be happy. She’s got a few weeks to spend now. She has a hole in her heart and the doctors say she may not make it if we don’t treat it quickly. We need a couple of millions to save her. She’s just here for a checkup. We need all the prayers and support. Please pray for my daughter as much as you can. I’m sure she’d be grateful too,” she smiled. I was shocked. I didn’t want to cry because the mother was crying already but covering it up with a smile. My eyes were pale already. Treasure? A hole in the heart? How could that be? I knew biologically that such only occur at childbirth and continue to hollow out the heart at maturation. I wept bitterly at heart. I couldn’t believe my ears. I looked again at treasure as she slept. So innocent. ‘She has no idea she will be dead soon’, I told myself. I couldn’t hold back a tear or two. No jokes. It’s not like I have so much tears to waste but you need to have seen this girl just for 2 minutes. She was out of this world. Oh God! Why her? What has she done to suffer such pain? These questions kept coming and the mum was already crying much.
“I will pray for your daughter ma’am. I won’t forget I promise. God will help her ma’am Please be strong for her,” I enjoined trying to make her feel any better.
“Thank you very much. We are grateful” she muttered. I couldn’t stand the message and the sight of Treasure sleeping. I quietly woke her up and told her I was leaving.
“Uncle Destiny, why are you leaving?” she asked. “I’m going to see my doctor dear. Please take care of yourself,” I told her and hugged her this time.
“Uncle Destiny will I see you again? Will you tell me another story?” she asked. I gently kissed her forehead and told her I would see her again. I really hope I do.
“Who is Number 52? Come over” the doctor called in me. I left, and by the time I came back, Treasure was gone.
Get updates on our post by joining our BBM Channel via C00396EEB, if you are reading from mobile click: http://pin.bbm.com/C00396EEB