Thursday, 15 November 2018

Angel Lost (final part)

Chi, the excitement in his eyes are like twin flames of fire burning in amber depths, very infectious. Then, suddenly, they go off.

“I was halfway back to the school when something occurred to me, something that dampened my joy. Iyabo… what if after all said and done, even with this money, the operation is still not successful?” 

“God forbid!”

“No, let’s think of this objectively, Iyabo. Dr. Efe told us it’s a rather dangerous operation with a 50-50 chance of survival. If Chisom doesn’t survive it, we lose both ways – we lose the money and we lose our child.”

“I don’t understand what you are saying. Why are you being negative-minded all of a sudden? It’s so unlike you. By God’s grace, my daughter will survive the operation. She won’t die!”

“I can’t do it. I can’t take the risk.”

I’m confused. What is the matter with your father? Why is he losing hope now that the money is finally complete? It doesn’t make sense.

“Look at them, look at our other children,” Sylvanus is saying, waving his right hand such that it traces a wide arc over the floor on which your siblings are fast asleep on mats. “Born into poverty and wallowing in it. How long do we let them continue to live like this? Is this how I am going to give them a good education, send them to the University? Even feeding them is hard. My children have to hawk plantain everyday for God’s sake! What kind of man does it make me, Iyabo, if I let this opportunity slip away? How can I let this sort of money, more money than I’ve ever thought possible for me to see in my lifetime, go for something we are not sure of? Something which holds only half a chance of being successful?”

His words are like sprinkles of iced water as they seep into my heart. “But she's our little baby. We can’t afford not to do the operation… she can’t continue to live like this.”

“We can, and that’s because we have to think about our other children too. Imagine if we go to Israel and the operation is unsuccessful. Then we come back home to this state of poverty and continue suffering these poor, healthy children? No, that won’t be fair on them. Even if the operation succeeds we still come back to our life of poverty. No, no, no! Iyabo, this is an opportunity our darling baby has brought our way, and we have to utilize it right. If not, we are fools!”

As greedy and horrible as Sylvanus’s words sound, as much as I dislike the idea of what he is suggesting, I know he is right. He is always right.

But I can't imagine doing such a thing to you, my little angel. It’s wrong to let you continue living with that tumour now we have the money to get it out, knowing it would rob you of any kind of living and eventually claim your life. It isn’t your fault we are poor, so why should you pay for it?

Yet, I don't want you to think your father doesn't love you. He does. He just happens to be more practical than I am.

“But the money is not ours to do as we please with, Sylvanus. It’s meant for Chisom’s operation and it will be a crime to use it for anything else. Dr. Efe…”

“To hell with Dr. Efe. She can’t force us to go ahead with the operation. Is it her account the money was paid into or is she the one that gave birth to Chisom for me? It’s all very simple. We move away from here and change our phone numbers, then we take out all the money from the account over the next few days. Is it not when anyone can reach or find us that they will be able to ask about any money or operation?”

“Jesus Christ!”

Oh, I have startled you? I am sorry, Chisom. It is just shocking that your father had planned all of this in so short a time.

“Imagine what we can do with all this money, my love. Our lives will never be the same. We would get a better place to live in, put the kids in better schools, no more hawking for them…”

“What about Chisom, what happens to her?”

He doesn’t respond. But I can feel his eyes boring tunnels into my back as I lift you up from the bed, not really a bed since it’s only a mattress. His eyes remain on me as I sit on the mattress and begin rocking you gently back to sleep. Even without turning round, I know he is running his thumb and forefinger across the sparse hair on the sides of his chin like he does whenever he is trying to think something through. I know he is trying to structure his next words for best impact, and something tells me I won’t like them.

“We can’t take Chisom with us. We have to leave her here.”


“Hear me out and don’t wake the kids and neighbours up with your screams. You know these walls are thinner than tissue.”

Another pause. More strokes of the chin.

“After we have taken all the money out of the account, we will Chisom something that’d make her sleep deeply, and be on our way with the rest of the kids. But we won’t lock the door. When we have gone far enough, we call Dr. Efe and tell her to come over as quickly as possible, acting like there is an emergency. When she comes she’ll find Chisom and she would have no choice but to take her away with her. With us gone, the government will have to take care of Chisom. Who knows, they might even sponsor her for the operation. Iyabo, it’s a win-win situation.”

“Please. Please don’t ask me to do that, Sylvanus. Don’t ask me to abandon my own child.” I only realize I’m crying when I notice the water stains appearing on the Ankara wrapper you are swathed in in little dark patches.

“It’s the best thing we can do. We won’t be helping her if we take her with us without doing the operation. She stands a better chance under the care of the government. Please, Iyabo you have to trust me and do as I say in this situation. You will never regret it. I promise.”

The tears drop faster down my cheeks and unto you. And I know I am crying so much because I would do exactly as he says. He is my husband and my obedience is his right. And even if I have any resistance to him, it’s hard to keep it up in the face of so much money.

I nodded weekly. “Okay, Sylvanus. I will do as you say.”

Please, little angel, understand that I just have to do it. He is right, even though what he suggests is wrong. Please forgive me, Chisom, forgive us… 

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