A Friend in Need
Why do bad things happen to good people?
The answer to this question has always eluded me. I’d asked my parents before but they could not give me a satisfactory answer. “Son,” dad said after I asked why Dan died at such a young age, “God doesn’t owe any of us explanations of why He does the things He does, neither do we have any justifiable ground to question His sovereignty.” His answer was always the same every other time I asked. Mom often added, “God does what He likes, to who He wants, when He pleases. We may never know why, but—if we are His children—we can only trust that He has our best interests at heart. When we get to heaven, we’ll know it all.”
Maybe it’s true that heaven holds all the answers we’ll never know till we’re there. I sure must make that heaven. I need to see Jesus because I have some questions for Him. I’d like to know why Daniel, my childhood friend, had to die of leukaemia before his sixth birthday. I’d like to why Juliet, my niece, had to taste a little bit of hell in a fire accident that consumed her skin and deformed her face, leaving her with permanent disabilities. I’d like to know what algorithm defined which and whose children were born with holes in the heart, boneless limbs, or even still-born. Those horrifying thoughts sent a shot of cold shivers down my spine as I paced around.
Feeling depressed, I sank into a chair in the hospital lobby knowing I would probably never get answers to my questions—at least, not on this side of eternity.
Sandwiched between Tayo and Mr Okafor, I wondered what they were ruminating in their minds. Mr Okafor had been called immediately his wife was brought to the hospital. He was told she went to buy some fruits and was already on her way back before a driver swerved off the road making her stumble till she fell, before veering back, and off. She’d fallen on her tommy which landed heavily on the watermelon she was carrying, while she hit her head another ball that rolled out, knocking her unconscious. The doctor had assured him before we arrived that she’d be alright but he couldn’t guarantee the safety of the unborn child. It was the same doctor who had conducted her pregnancy test.
More questions busied my mind.
Why do the wicked live for a century while the righteous are cut off in the prime of their years? Why is it that those who barely attend lectures and cheat in exams get away with it forming genius while diligent Christian students who preach against examination malpractices keep having failed references? Why is it that those who have legitimate businesses hardly make profit enough to cater for their families while the fraudsters are swimming in wealth? Why do young ladies who prostitute their lives away keep getting pregnant for abortionists while those who married in the will of God cannot even conceive from dawn to dusk, after years of marriage?
Why is it that after waiting for the fruit of the womb for half a decade years, Mrs Okafor had to lose her first seed to a drunk driver, while we still hoped she herself survives?
Why this? Why her? Why now?!
I was jolted by the creaking of the door leading to the emergency ward. I sat up, stretching to catch a glimpse of what was happening inside. The door went ajar revealing the doctor who was removing blood-stained gloves and ditching them in a trash can behind the door. Two nurses appeared, one carrying a file, while the other waited on the doctor. Mr Okafor stood up to meet the doctor as she approached, gazing searchingly at her.
“I’m sorry, Mr Okafor. We tried the best we could. Your wife is okay but we had to evacuate the fetal remains to—” Doctor Sarah’s words met Mr Okafor’s teary eyes. Another dashed hope. He’d waited for years just to hear her tell him she was pregnant. When she finally did last month, he had taken her shopping for herself and the unborn child. Who cared if it’s a boy or a girl!
“If it makes you feel any better”, she added quickly, “Her womb is intact, which is a miracle because the impact the fruit had on her was what caused the bleeding. I’m sure you’ll have another one.” She patted him on the shoulder in a consolatory manner before making her way to another waiting patient. He’d have to wait a little longer; his wife needed a short rest because of the blood she’d lost. Tayo and I offered our condolences and promised to return the next day.
Now that Mrs Okafor wouldn’t be able to help us with our plight, we had to find another way.
“How about asking Tolani about it? Maybe she could tell us what Mrs Okafor said to her parents and how the whole thing went.” I suggested.
“She already has enough on her plate. I don’t want to bother her with my own concerns. Plus, I can’t meet with her without Mrs Okafor’s consent.”
“But you can talk with her over the phone for as long as you want.” I protested.
“Then, you’ll call her as soon as we get home.”
The journey home was rather strange. Tayo hardly spoke, and when he did, it was laconic. Every now and then, he took deep breaths, then exhaled loudly. I kept wondering what he had on his mind. He sure had much to think about: he was going to be a father in a short while and he still hasn’t been able to wrap his mind around the best way to present the situation to his father of strict demeanour. I better leave him with his mentation.
We arrived the hostel late. The car had a puncture which took time to fix as the driver didn’t carry a spare tyre. We went straight to Tayo’s room ready to make the call. Tayo was dialling Tolani’s number when my phone rang. It was Mrs Okafor. I signalled him to continue with his call while answered mine.
“Hello, Femi.” I could tell Mrs Okafor’s voice from anyone else’s; she had this warm telephone voice that bore the force of a thorough massage. This wasn’t hers, it was Tolani’s—gentle and innocuous. Why was Tolani calling with Mrs’ Okafor’s number?
“Hello, Tolani. Good evening.” Tayo, whose call had gone unanswered looked toward me when he heard me mention Tolani’s name. “Is Mrs Okafor around?”
“Yes. She asked me to call on her behalf. She appreciates your visit.”
“Oh. It’s nothing. After all she’s done for us, that’s the least we could do in return.”
“She also wants to know why you called earlier in the day.”
“You mean this afternoon? We just wanted to ask her opinion about something.” He paused for a moment contemplating telling her, but he quickly changed his mind, “It can wait.”
“I’ll tell her you said so.”
“Please do. And you, how’re you feeling?” I expected her to be weak and indisposed, and maybe bedridden—after all, she’s pregnant. My tone conveyed my thoughts.
“Pregnancy is not a sickness, Femi. I feel well and dandy.” Really? I used to think of pregnant people as sick folks. It’s a good thing I’m learning this. My silence sold me out. “I’m sure you didn’t know that before.” I do now. “I missed Tayo’s call a moment ago, is he there with you?”
“Yes, he is. You want to speak with him?”
“I think he wants to speak with me.” I passed the phone to Tayo.
After they exchanged pleasantries, Tayo went on to ask how Mrs Okafor was able to help her inform her parents. She explained how furious her father got when he was told. If not that she’d grown into a lady, he would probably have flogged her that day. She told of how it took the intervention of Mrs Okafor to calm him down and make him reason with them that the deed had already been done and nothing could be done to undo it. They needed to focus on the solution. Her mother was quiet but sad, shaking her head in pity and giving her daughter sorry looks. Tolani knew she was a bad example to her younger ones who were still in high school.
Tolani quickly changed the subject of their discussion when she heard footsteps but Mrs Okafor had heard enough to know what was going on. “I thought you were resting.” We could overhear Tolani ask.
“I was, until I started hearing the trend of your conversation with Tayo. He hasn’t told his parents, has he?” Mrs Okafor’s voice became clearer as she approached Tolani. “Let me have the phone. Hello, Tayo.”
“Good evening ma.” Tayo stammered a response. “Hope you’re feeling better?”
“Yes, I am. It’s just a bruise around my chin and a slight headache.” She sounded like everything was alright. “We need to talk. Is tomorrow okay by you?”
“Ma, do you really have to go to work tomorrow? You need to rest.”
“I’m off for the rest of the week, you’ll have to come over to my house. We have a little family matter to discuss.” She’d once told us Tolani was more like family to her. Obviously, Tayo too had become one.
“Tomorrow it is then. Do have a restful night ma.” She wished me the same and ended the call.
To Be Continued…
A Friend in Need