From the moment I heard my phone ring, jarring me awake from the hands of sleep, the brightness of my new phone glowing in the darkness and my eyes squinting, blinking, gradually adjusting to the light, I knew that Grace had put to bed.
Call it intuition, call it whatever. I just knew.
I said into the phone while I groggily stood up from the bed to reach the light switch by the door.
“Mummy, Mummy are you awake? Please call Pastor! Mummy are you there?”
He was near hysterics, rambling and making me scared.
“Obinna calm down. What’s the matter?”
I asked as I sat back on the bed, gripping my phone tightly.
“How is Grace? Is the baby here?”
“Yes Mama. The baby is here.”
I was immediately filled with joy and so I wanted to rise and dance the dance of Grandmothers. However, I heard a silent “but” in Obinna’s voice and my legs immediately stilled.
“So what is the matter? Why is your voice like this? How’s Grace?”
I immediately started to pray in my heart, my words tumbling over the other.
“Grace is not fine Mama. I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to her Mama. I would die Mama, I would die…!”
“Mechionubiko young man! What’s with all this I would die I would die chant? Nobody is dying here o! Grace won’t die. You won’t die. My baby won’t die. So calm down and tell me what’s going on.”
I rose as I spoke, bent over to pick up a scarf that had fallen on the floor and then used my feet to seek out a pair of slippers from under the bed.
“Mama she won’t stop bleeding and she’s been unconscious for a while now”, he began to say amidst sobs.
“The doctors are refusing to tell me anything more. They keep saying they have it under control but I can see the fear in one of the nurse’s eyes. Mama pray for us. Mama please. Call Pastor Ajala too, maybe he can get the prayer group to join in praying…”
“Obim, Geria, Grace won’t die. She won’t because my God tells me that we shall not die, but live to proclaim his works! And I know my God doesn’t lie. Chi din du! Be strong…I’m coming right away.”
I ended the call and threw aside the scarf I had been struggling to tie. There was no use. A man who escapes being burnt alive doesn’t come out crying about the loss of his beards.
My bare head would have to do today.
Hurriedly, I picked up the dress I wore yesterday from the door where it hung while I mentally calculated who to call.
Yes Pastor Ajala first. Let me call Pastor Ajala.
He picked on the first ring
“Pastor…it’s me, Mrs Okolo. Good morning sir.”
“Oh Good morning Ma, I know it’s you. It’s so unusual of you to call this early…?”
“See Pastor, it’s Obinna’s wife, she just put to bed. Baby is fine, but the mother isn’t sir. She won’t stop bleeding and I’m afraid. Remember the dream I told you about last month? Madu egbu lam! Pastor please agree with us in prayers. Please call the prayer band people, I’ll also call my women group to see how many can meet us at the church.”
“Ok Ma, it’s well in Jesus name. She would be fine okay? You have to be strong for both of them now, God would take control, and it is well.” He said as I ended the call.
Should I go to the hospital or head to the church? The hospital, let me head to the hospital. Obi needs some moral support and I can still pray from there.
My phone starts to ring again. It’s Obinna.
“Obim I’m on my way. I just spoke with Pas Ajala and he said he would get some prayer band members to join him. See me at the hospital gate now.” I rambled into the phone all the while not hearing the eerie silence in Obi’s voice.
“Obi are you there? Obinna?”
“Mama, it’s too late, Grace is gone.”
Immediately, my heart lurched, my hands shook, my body trembled, and my new phone which was a gift from Grace just because she wanted me to be on whatsapp so we could enjoy video calls fell, scattering on the tiled floor like a pack of ice and my heart broke into a dozen pieces while I screamed, Ndị iro m nwetara m!
Glossary: (Languages used rather than English is Igbo-Eastern Nigeria, Meanings.)
MechiOnu shut your mouth
Maduegbulam let no man harm me
Chi din du God is alive
Ndị iro m nwetara m my enemies have gotten me
However, when compelled, she puts pen to paper and tries to make magic. Connect with her via Instagram @miwa_odujay