BREAKING THE SPELL When a phone rings, you answer. When I answered a call from my sister on that Saturday afternoon, I did so jovially. She hadn’t called in a while. Was it because she was seven months pregnant? I pondered. I was happy that she had finally broken the silence. My gaiety did not last. ‘’I am in hospital.’’ She said. ‘’What? Why?’’ I asked. ‘’I woke up at 5am this morning with a throbbing headache. I rose to leave my bed and two large clots fell from between my legs.’’ She was talking amidst spasms. ‘’I was rushed to hospital. On arrival, the doc said my blood pressure was high and when they checked for my baby’s heartbeat, it was weak.’’
‘’The doctors have set me on forced labour. They say the child will be born premature but fine.’’ A glint of hope. I said a soft ‘’Ok’’.
A doctor friend confirmed my fears- the seven month foetus may die.
I slept with a heavy heart and early Sunday morning I set off for the hospital, six hours away. She was in pain, but managed a weak smile- I was the last person she expected to see.
All our lives, we have cared for one another but physical closeness is something we shy away from. How far could I stay when she needed me right there...massaging her back...mumbling words of encouragement? Her pain became my pain. In all these, now that I recount, we never held hands.
After 24 hours of excruciating pain, the doctors confirmed it-the baby was no more. They couldn’t tell her and they opted to operate on her. She smiled. She was finally going to have her baby.
The nurse brought back a bundle wrapped in green-lifeless. A bundle of pain.
When she came to, she asked for me. ‘’Have you seen my baby?’’. ‘’The nurses say the baby is in the nursery ‘’, was all I could say.
Someone had to tell her the truth. I was waiting for the head doctor by the hospital entrance when he walked in the following day. ‘’Speak to my sister’’, I beseeched.
I waited one minute...two minutes...then I walked back to the recovery room. She broke into tears. She was too frail to wail. ‘’Did you know all along that my baby had died?’’ She asked. I couldn’t hold it. I held her hand. I asked God for strength. God could carry this burden. It was too heavy for us to bear. We were inconsolable. We buried baby Emmanuel at a cemetery. My sister was too weak to attend. I took photos. That’s all she has left, and a deep wound that only time can heal.
As I left her bedside, I held her hand, kissed her goodbye and she smiled.
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