TWENTY TWO

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HE strode into the departure lounge of the
airport wondering for the umpteen time what
kept urging him on.
He glanced at the large vases of flowers and
then up the stairs. The figure… the lady…
He blinked severally as his heart beat
quickened. He quickened his steps, practically
peering and squinting his eyes.
‘Hester! ‘
About to step down from the stairs that will
take her to the passage through which she will
get on board.
She turned thinking it was the figment of her
imagination, then saw the possessor of the
voice she would always recognise.
She saw him!
She slumped, half of her towards the stairs and
the rest on the platform.
He forgot about the stairs, He forgot about
airport rules and regulations.
Ethel ran and dashed for the rails.
+++
‘That’s goodnews honey, I’m very excited! ‘
‘Yeah. It should be the best news but she is in
a hospital in Germany and unconscious… mum
she is in coma.’ He sniffed and wiped his nose.
‘Oh my God! ‘ Akudo gasped. ‘Hang on
sweetheart, be strong. Your father and I will be
flying in tomorrow. ‘
+++
***
She was so fragile and so pale that his hope
began to slip.
He was so scared.
He carefully took the hand that was free of
cannula, cuff and clips, afraid of hearing a
crack.
His eyes lingered on her face with the oxygen
mask. Now sore from crying, praying and
speaking words of faith to her , Ethel decide to
remember happy moments they had shared.
He remembered the first day he laid eyes on
her, how she took his breath away. How she
seemed to have seen through him and …
He closed his eyes.
+++
***
Akubo sniveled before wiping the tears that
were finding their way to her mouth.
‘Sweetheart, he loves her so much. She is so
pale, can she survive? can she pull through? ‘
Franklin heaved, one of his palm on Hester
forehead. ‘I have never been on such a cross
road before. I don’t want to talk negative …yet
I don’t know what to say. This child is broken
…she is left raw after the treatment they gave
to her. ‘
‘Ha! How do I encourage Ethel when I’m so
discouraged. ‘ She burst into tears before going
down on her knees. ‘Oh God do forgive me …
help my baby girl.’ She raised both hands.
Franklin closed both eyes tightly fighting back
the tears that was threatening to break free of
his orbital cavity. ‘Dear God …can I survive
losing a darling child of mine? Please have
mercy …’
+++
‘There is a difference between giving active
treatment and the patient loosing his or herself
to it and same treatment being applied to a
patient who is not loosing his or herself. She
has a mind set of dying and that has not left
her in coma.’ The doctor told him.
Ethel spirit sank as he lowered his head.
‘Mr Franklin…? Ethelbert …’ The doctor brow
creased.
‘Doctor. ‘ He looked up, both eyes red for lack
of good sleep and tears.
‘Are you okay? ‘
‘How can I be okay when you’re preparing my
mind for the news of her death. ‘
+++
***
‘Hey honey …calm down na ehen. Please nnam.
‘ Akudo said soothingly into the mouth piece.
‘I already told the secretary general. The date
of my public address has been rescheduled. I
…I can’t be the president without her by my
side. ‘
‘Lord have mercy on me! ‘ Akudo sobered.
‘what will become of me if I lose both of you? ‘
‘Mummy please …get a miracle for me. ‘
+++
***
Hester opened her eyes and it was glassy. She
blinked severally and took in her environment.
Seeing the difference he had longed for, he
didn’t know Which reaction would be
appropriate.
She eventually turned and saw him. She studied
him with a blank expression.
He took her hand in his. Then he saw a sparkle
in her eyes and she gestured to the breathing
mask.
He removed it.
‘Ethel.’ She mouthed with raised brows.
‘Hi honey. ‘ His lips spread into a smile.
She smiled too and it spread across her
deathly pale face.
The doctor came in, on seeing their
countenance, he extended a warm smile to
both of them before leaving. Surprised at the
miracle yet knowing they needed the space.
Minutes passed between them with her eyes
not leaving his face.
‘I guess you brought me back to say goodbye
and more importantly …thank you.’
‘No darling, if I ever wanted to say goodbye, it
is to those things that brought pain to you in
time past. The battle has been fought and the
victory won, honey you’ve your life to live
bigger, better and to fulfil God’s promises for
your life. ‘
Her smile faded. ‘I have lost it all in the fight. ‘
‘You have your life back Hester, all of it. You
have me too. ‘His placed a hand on his chest.
She turned her head to the other side and
when she did she look at him, he saw pain and
remorse.
‘Sweetie I love you …you have successfully
worked your way into my heart. ‘ She sighed.
‘Ethel, I am not me anymore, I am washed out,
drained …I can’t be everything you want me to
be …I have lost all the qualities you love about
me, I can’t give you me because I don’t have
me anymore …Ethel …’Her voice trailed off.
‘Ethel …’
He listened without knowing tears were
running down his face.
‘Ethel …you …you don’t deserve me, you
deserve better because you’re going to be
the… president. ‘ She began once more. ‘It’s
just unfortunate that I wouldn’t be able to vote
for you. ‘
‘Baby please …please don’t do that to me.
Don’t write yourself off …Hester, I love you.
It’s you I need, It’s you am choosing. Please
darling …darling please don’t kill me …don’t
give up on yourself… don’t give up on your
dreams …don’t give up on my dreams …Oh
please… ‘ He had both palms closed before
him.
‘You will be Nigeria president. ‘
‘No …not without you by my side. ‘
‘Stop it please …’ She muttered. ‘My life
chapter has closed. My life is finished. I am
sorry …really I am.’
Ethel stood and took a parting memory of her.
She had dashed the tiny hope he had clinged
to. She had sentenced him herself.
He head for the door with blurred vision and
slow strides praying that something bizarre
would happen to him so he wouldn’t think of
the moments that had nailed his fate.
She realized that her heart beat quickened with
each step he took, and emptiness began to
overwhelm her. She was going to kill him, she
had dealt the final blow.
‘Sweetie please …’ she pleaded and beckoned.
He halt, he was going crazy already, he was
now hearing things… unreal things.
‘Sweetie please forgive me, I am so sorry
dearie …please forgive me my love, don’t leave
me …’
‘Oh my God …!Oh God! ‘He gasped. He felt so
relieved that when he closed his eyes and
exhaled. He felt as light as a feather.
He went to her, he had fought for and won. He
held her hand.
‘Will you forgive me? Will …will you still accept
me …? ‘ Her eyes shone in eagerness and she
searched his expression. ‘If you allow me …I
will do everything I can to be back.’

‘I forgive you …and I will help you get better. ‘
He beamed and touched her face. ‘I want to
hear your soothing laughter, I need to see
your charming smile… I need a sign of
happiness . What can I do? ‘
Hester smiled up at him . ‘I am okay
Sweetheart …I am happy.’
‘Can you sit? ‘
‘I’ll try.’ She looked at the infusion. ‘I don’t
need this anymore, come over and help me
remove it.’
‘No baby, Let me call the doctor, I don’t you
to be hurt.’ He panicked.
‘Nothing will ever hurt me again. ‘ She said
determined. ‘I am still a doctor dearie, hope
you’ve not forgotten. ‘
‘Sincerely I almost did.’ He chuckled,
thankfully he was already on his feet when she
gave him a -you’re lucky you’re no more by my
side, I would have given you a punch- kind of
look. ‘
Together, she got free of most of the devices.
She sat on the bed and he sat opposite her.
‘My love what is it? ‘ she noticed he was all of
a sudden distanced and thoughtful.
‘I don’t know if I can wait anymore. ‘ He stood
reached into inner jacket pocket and brought
out a box.
Surprising him, she burst into laughter and the
sparkles graced her eyes.
‘Baby what is it ? ‘ He trembled slightly tensed.
‘Nothing actually, ask the question. ‘ Her eyes
glistened.
‘Emmmm… ‘ He glanced at her face and got
down on a knee. ‘Will you be my one and only
…the one I will hold and cherish above all …
Hester, will you be my first lady? ‘
‘Mmmmh …’ She placed both palms under her
chin and peered at him. ‘How about you giving
me a couple of years to think about it? ‘
‘Ehen! ‘ He glared at her before narrowing his
brows. ‘Baby na …’ He pouted.
‘Marrying you is going to be one of my greatest
pleasure and Yes, I will be your first lady!’
‘Thank you.’ He said gleefully before sliding the
diamond ring into her engagement finger.
He carried her into his arms, place a kiss on
her forehead.
Then,
they shared their first kiss!
+++

***
‘Mummy…mum, she said she would marry
me!’ Ethel was breathless.
‘No …no honey, do not make me suffer
hypertensive crisis. Are you alright? ‘
‘You don’t believe it right? I’ll give her the
phone. Baby here …’
‘Oh my! Darling are you for real …?’
‘Hello mum, top of the day to you.’ She
greeted enthusiastically.
‘Hester? ‘
‘Mummy. ‘ She chuckled.
‘Sweetheart, my world today! Oh God I give
your praise. Oh I bless the day I accepted you.
I’m so happy, how are you …?’
‘I am engaged mum to a unique man, I am
happy …excited, glad, elated …’
‘Oh honey, I am so happy! ‘
Ethel took back the phone. ‘You know what, on
the day I am sworn in as the president, we will
get married. ‘
‘Aha! Uniqueness at it’s peak! Wait till your
father hears this. ‘ She chuckled.
While mother and son chatted some more, her
mind drifted away.
Comfortably seated on Ethel’s lap, she
remembered a hymn she had memorized back
in children department:

NEVER GIVE UP

Never be sad or desponding,
If thou hast faith to believe.
Grace, for the duties before thee,
Ask of thy God and receive.
Never give up,
never give up,
Never give up to thy sorrows,
Jesus will bid them depart.
Trust in the Lord,
trust in the Lord,
Sing when your trials are greatest,
Trust in the Lord and take heart.
What if thy burdens oppress thee;
What though thy life may be drear;
Look on the side that is brightest,
Pray, and thy path will be clear.
Never be sad or desponding,
There is a morrow for thee;
Soon thou shalt dwell in its brightness,There
with the Lord thou shalt be.
Never be sad or desponding,
Lean on the arm of thy Lord;
Dwell in the depths of His mercy.
Thou shalt receive thy reward.
‘Baby? ‘ He called
‘My Sweetness. ‘ She beamed at him, making
note to give God special praises in her privacy.
Overwhelmed by the endearment, he laughed
forgetting what he wanted to tell her.
She touched her abdomen as shefelt a dance
that needed no introduction. ‘I’m hungry. ‘ She
whined.
‘That’s like music to my ear! What will you like
to eat? ‘
‘Africa salad. ‘ She blurted.
‘Huh? ‘ Ethel went wide eyed momentarily
before bursting into bouts of laughter. ‘We are
in Germany Sweetheart, I will get you
something else to eat. Hopefully we will be
discharged home soon.’ He helped her up,
stood and swept her off her feet and back to
the bed. ‘I will be right back! ‘
+++
***
‘Will you marry us? ‘ They were both on their
knees each holding a bouquet of flowers.
Vanessa looked up from the laptop.
Hester turned on a heel and beamed.
‘Definitely! ‘
They stood and she hugged them. ‘Hi guys. ‘
Vanessa stood. ‘Did I just hear you all well?’
She approached them smiling. ‘Ethel must hear
this.’
‘Do you want chocolate, icecream, chips or
better still, do you want our proposals? ‘
Dominic coaxed.
Vanessa laughed.
‘How are you? ‘ Precious asked.
‘Very well and how is everyone? ‘ Hester
returned.
‘We are excellent. ‘
‘We came to give our beautification token. ‘
Dominic told them.
‘How Lovely! ‘ Hester received them and gave
them to Vanessa who drooped them on a
nearby table.
‘Vanessa meet my darlings and right hand men,
Dominic and Precious. Guys meet my dear
friend and assistant, Vanessa. ‘
They shook hands with her.
‘This institution is magnificent, I will like to see
around. ‘ Precious glanced around.
‘Permit me to.’ Vanessa said and they excused
themselves.
‘Come over. ‘Hester gestured radiatingly and
they went to sit.
‘This institution will be great. ‘ Dominic looked
up at the building before sitting.
‘By his grace.’ She returned and poured him
juice in a tumbler.
‘Our lady, you look so beautiful. ‘
Hester chuckled. ‘I thank God Dominic. ‘
It was an institute to cater for teens having
emotional challenge.
+++
***
“Atlas the long court battle was brought to an
abrupt end today.That was the report brought
to you live, Oladimeji Adeniyi, son of Nigerian
late president, Adeniyi Gbolahan has been
sentenced to life imprisonment with hard
labour. ”
“Nigeria is now the standing giant of Africa in
every standard, standing close to European
world. God has been hearing and seeing our
cries and has compensated us greatly with the
rare duo. When we listen to the news, what we
look out for majorly is -yet another reason for
our joy to overflow courtesy of our strong
willed President, Ethelbert Franklin and our
dynamic first lady, Hester Franklin. The wind
of revolution blowing through out younger
generation is so refreshing, our first lady is
really a blessing. Watch this video clip on how
the national youth conference in Abuja went
down with her Excellency and you will surely
be swept away.”
+++
***
‘I am so blessed to have you, my treasure of
incomparable value. Every second I spend with
you make me more aware of God’s love for
me.
She leaned into his embrace and grinned. ‘You
can say that for me too. I love you.’
He placed a hand on his wife abdomen for she
was heavy with his child. ‘While I was away,
how was my angel? ‘
‘Angel? hmmmm …’
He observed her searchingly. ‘Honey? ‘
‘I was minding the grammar Sweet, we are not
having an angel,’ She looked up at him ‘but two
-cute -angels. ‘
‘No! ‘ He went wide eyed grinning.
‘Yes.’ She affirmed.
‘Oh my God! Yup! Yeah! ‘ He jumped and then
kissed her. ‘I love you so much! ‘
She laughed at his excitement.
‘We will be having a boy and girl right? ‘
‘Yes.’ She confirmed before sitting on the bed.
‘Wow!’ Ethel knelt before her and took her
hand in his. ‘I am so excited. ‘
‘I am happy for us.’ She beamed.
‘What will their name be? ‘
‘I have been thinking Sweetheart. ‘ Her
expression became calm and serious. ‘I have
been thinking of our departed love ones, let us
name our babies after our best of friends,
Osagie and Victoria. ‘
He looked at her calmly.
She waited and then she saw tears in his eyes.
‘They wouldn’t be Osagie and Victoria, they
would be Victor and Victoria because Osagie ‘s
English name is Victor.
‘Oh my God! ‘ She gasped and sobered. ‘God
ways indeed are not our way.’

‘Yes dear.’
+++THE END.

Hope fighting back was a happy reading for you, do not forget to tell me what you think about this story.

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