Jide noticed his palms were sweaty as he took his seat. The look on the lab scientist’s face was ominous. Had they find out he had HIV or some other dreadful disease? He knew they tested blood for all sorts of things.
“Sir your blood group does not match the patient’s blood group…”
“W…what do you mean? What are you saying?”
“Sir that’s what the result says!”
Jide lost his temper. What sort of rubbish was this?
“Incompetent fool my son is on the brink of death and you are telling me I cannot give him blood?”
Then a switch flipped in his head.
Was it medically possible? Could Nkechi have lied to him? Was there a chance that Gideon wasn’t his son? He needed answers!
He got up in a hurry and bumped into a man carrying a black bag.
“Yes” both men answered.
Jide turned incredulously to look at the other man who was looking at him with a bewildred look.
“I am Mr Ojo”
“I too am Mr Ojo”
The scientist looked very confused. He rummaged through the papers on his table and fished out a second result.
“Ermm sorry sirs, I t..think there may have been a slight mix-up but please can you show me your receipts so I can verify the hospital numbers of the patients you are donating blood for.”
The two men silently handed over their receipts. Jide’s mind was reeling. What on earth was going on? He had a thousand questions for Nkechi but the turn of events had him holding his breath.
“Sir, there was a mistake…”
The lab scientist stammered as he addressed Jide.
“Your blood is a perfect match and free from any disease, we will proceed to take your blood. I’m so sorry.”
Then he turned to the other man. Jide didn’t hear anything else after those words. His mind was lost in thought.
To taste freedom and then to have it taken from you again so suddenly was so cruel. A part of him was relieved that he would be able to help his son but a part of him wept at the direction his life would have taken if Gideon wasn’t his…
Five days later, he was seated beside Nkechi watching Gideon as he slept peacefully. He would be alright. The doctor said they’d discharge him at the end of the week. He had never seen her so worried. She seemed to have aged and he felt sorry for her. He held her hand reflexly.
“He’ll be alright…”
“I know Jide but I can’t stop beating myself up for being so careless. What if I’d lost him?”
Nkechi broke into tears.
“You didn’t lose him and we never will. Please stop crying. God gave us a second chance with our son and we should be grateful.”
Jide felt for Nkechi. She seemed so frail. So broken. Thank God they wouldn’t be burying a child. He didn’t think she or even he could take that sort of loss. Gideon had stolen their hearts and the effect that little boy had on Nkechi was something he was unravelling day by day. The Nkechi he was beginning to see was mellow. Did motherhood make a woman mellow?
They still bickered and quarrelled when they were apart but when he was with her, she reminded him of the woman he had once loved. The realization took him quite by surprise. They had had to postpone the court wedding because of the surrounding circumstances and no fixed date had been set. Maybe they really could make the marriage work. Nkechi as if reading his mind, turned to look him in the eyes.
“Jide I’m sorry for everything. It’s my fault that all this has happened. I now see that I have been a bad mother and a bad woman. Please forgive me…”
He looked at her face laden with sorrow and regret.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself Nkechi, we have all made our mistakes. Let’s look towards the future.”
“I’ll understand if you do not want to marry me…”
She trailed off in a mournful whisper.
Jide was silent. Was this a test? A part of him wanted to take the offer and run. Nothing had prepared him for instant fatherhood but where was he running to? Tayo would be trying to move on with her life and probably assumed he was already married. And there was the issue of Ahmed and his feelings for Tayo. Jide had been shocked out of his mind when Ahmed had broached the matter with him but he could see the sincerity in his friend’s eyes and though it had been a very bitter pill to swallow, he had finally accepted the fact that it wasn’t a premeditated betrayal. Jide knew Ahmed had the means and methods he lacked and would win Tayo’s heart effortlessly even if he was still in competition. Tayo deserved to be happy and so did Ahmed. Ironically, he loved them both and he knew that if any woman could give Ahmed the fairy tale he dreamed of long ago, Tayo could. He sensed how much Ahmed needed his blessings and he had finally given them. He knew they were better suited for each other anyway.
Besides who would take care of Nkechi and Gideon if he went back to Tayo? He looked at Nkechi and he wanted to protect her. They’d shared a tragedy together and lived through it. He didn’t want her to suffer alone. He wanted to be there for her and his son. He looked at Gideon. His firstborn son. He felt a sudden well up of fatherly pride. He’d do right by them, so help him God.
“I’m not going anywhere Nkechi…”
“But I don’t think it’s fair tying you down just because we have a kid together. You deserve true love…I deserve true love too…”
“Nkechi remember September 9th, 2011?”
“You took me to that concert, it was my birthday…”
“And remember how the bouncer wouldn’t let me in even though I had my ticket because he said I was wearing slippers?”
“You wanted me to go in and have fun without you…”
“But you insisted that you weren’t leaving my side!”
“We ended up missing the concert… Why did you remember this?”
“Because I made you a promise that day. To love and cherish you for the rest of my life as long as you would have me. Do you still want to be with me Nkechi? I still don’t have much. May never be able to give you all the beautiful things you desire-”
“Stop Jide. I was being immature and selfish when I broke up with you just because you were poor. When I realised I was pregnant, I was too ashamed to come and tell you. My mother eventually did it for me. I have matured a lot since then and I’d rather help you build your fortunes than grumble about the things I can’t have. I am truly sorry Jide. I realise that men like you only come around once in a lifetime. I never for once stopped loving you…”
Nkechi was sobbing and she knelt before him penitently.
Jide pulled her up and hugged her. He felt like a weight had been lifted. Life was truly full of surprises. He knew beyond doubt that there was no other place in the world he’d rather be…