There are moments in our lives that the pain feels so deep that it’s as though our hearts are literally being squeezed of all it’s joy and happiness by an invisible hand. Even then, we must move forward.
Ebuka rested his head on Eva’s bed. His hands loosely holding hers and lost in thought when he felt a slight jerk. His head shot up in surprise as he stared into Eva’s open eyes.
‘Eva?’ Ebuka asked softly, his gaze was fixed on a confused Eva.
‘Doctor! Nurse! Anyone?!’ Ebuka yelled as he stood up from his seat and walked briskly out of the hospital room.
Kosi was hunched over on the bench outside, when he saw Ebuka walk passed him in a hurry. He quickly got up and entered the room fearing the worst.
He entered cautiously, his mind running in different directions but every thought went out the window when he caught Eva’s eyes on him.
Eva. My Eva. She’s awake!
Kosi said to himself as he slowly walked up to her, his eyes twinkling with unshed tears as he held her face in his palms.
‘Baby. Sweetheart. You scared me. I… I thought I was going to lose you.’
The words tumbled out of him in a choked whisper as he carelessly reached for the empty seat formerly occupied by Ebuka. His hands were latched unto Eva’s like a lifeline.
‘Who are you?’
Her words caught him off guard and her actions surprised him as Eva gently but firmly removed her hand from his grip. Before he could react, Ebuka walked in with a nurse.
‘Sir, I’ll need you to excuse me while I check on her.’ Then he turned to face Ebuka. ‘You can both wait outside. I’ll let you know when to come in.’
Reluctantly, they both left the hospital room to wait outside. Ebuka sat calmly on the bench in the corridor, his legs crossed while Kosi paced, unable to sit. He kept replaying Eva’s words in his head.
‘I must have not heard her correctly. It has to be a mistake.’ He mumbled to himself.
Ebuka spared a glance at Kosi, seeing him mumbling to himself and pacing the corridor and shook his head.
A few minutes later, the nurse walked out of the room to join them outside.
‘Everything seems normal…’
‘No! Everything is NOT normal!’ Kosi screamed.
‘Sir, can you calm down and explain what you mean?’ The nurse asked, surprised at Kosi’s outburst. Ebuka on the other hand, remained quiet, watching Kosi.
‘She… she…’ Kosi stuttered as he tried to get the words out. ‘She doesn’t remember me.’
‘What? What do you mean?’ Ebuka asked in wonder.
‘Because she looked me dead in the eyes and asked me who I am!’
The nurse nodded his head and turned towards Eva’s room door as if he could see right through it.
‘Well, her vitals are fine. We can’t run any tests at the moment but once the doctor comes in he will take a look at her.’
The nurse noticed the dejected look on Kosi’s face and tried to encourage him.
‘Don’t worry, if you say she can’t remember you then it’s most likely temporary amnesia. There’s nothing we can do for now but wait until the doctor comes in.’ He turned to face Ebuka before continuing. ‘You both need a goodnight’s rest. I’ll check in on her by the hour while you both sleep.’
Kosi mumbled his acceptance but Ebuka was silent. This piece of information came as a shock to him. Without saying another word, the nurse left them both in the corridor.
‘Wow. She doesn’t remember you, her husband. You must have hurt Eva real bad for her subconscious to forget you. I wonder… how interesting things would be if she remembers me.’
Kosi and Ebuka waited outside as the doctor checked on Eva. Ebuka’s words weighed heavily on his mind.
After waiting in uncomfortable silence for what seemed like forever, the doctor finally came out of Eva’s hospital room, softly closing the door behind him. Without sparing another second, Kosi rushed to speak with the Doctor.
‘So? Can you fix what’s wrong with her?’
Doctor Audu chuckled.
‘Calm down, Mr Ogbonna. There’s nothing wrong with your wife. She has Amnesia. A neurologist will come in later to check on her and we’ll have to run some cognitive tests.’
‘How long will it last? Why doesn’t she remember me? When will she be able to get back her memories?’
‘Mr Ogbonna, I understand your fears and worries. Please, have a sit.’
Doctor Audu gestured at the seat Kosi had vacated. Reluctantly, Kosi resumed his seat and waited for Doctor Audu to join him. Once Kosi was calm enough to listen, Doctor Audu sat down beside him and continued.
‘The problem with Amnesia is the uncertainty of it. We can’t say for sure how many years, months or weeks of her life she has lost but… you said she doesn’t remember you. If I may ask, how long have you been married to your wife?’
‘For 2 and half years.’
‘How long did you know her before you both got married?’
‘Uhmm… we met and dated for about a year before we got married.’
‘Hmmm… I see.’
Doctor Audu seemed to look through Kosi, his brows furrowed, deep in thought.
‘Can you explain to me why you’re asking all these questions? How will they help Eva recover her memories?’
‘Mr Ogbonna, as to recovering your wife’s memories, that’s beyond my expertise. The mind is a complex thing but I do want to know the extent of her amnesia.’
Kosi was visibly distressed.
Weeks, months, years? What was he supposed to do?
‘It’s safe to assume, from what you’ve said, that she can’t remember the previous four years of her life.’
The Doctor turned to look at Ebuka.
‘If I may ask, Sir, you’ve been here since the day Mrs Ogbonna was brought to the hospital. If I recall correctly, you were also in the ambulance that brought her in. What’s your relationship with her?’
Ebuka, who had been sitting quietly with his legs crossed, uncrossed them and released a deep sigh.
‘We went to the same secondary school. You could say we are very close friends.’
If Doctor Audu noticed Ebuka’s tone, he chose to ignore it.
‘Have you discussed with Mrs Ogbonna since she woke up?’
‘No. I haven’t.’
Kosi was fidgeting.
‘What would happen if Eva did remember Ebuka?‘ He thought to himself.
He was unable to erase from his memory, the knowing smirk that he saw on Ebuka’s face the previous night or the way he taunted him…
‘Wow. She doesn’t remember you, her husband. You must have hurt her real bad for her subconscious to forget you. I wonder if she’ll remember me.’
Damn it! Kosi cursed under his breath. He shook his head as if to clear the memory from his mind but it was no use. It was stamped there. Together with everything Ebuka had said to him and done since the very day they met.
‘There’s no guarantee that Eva will remember Ebuka. Maybe her memory loss will actually go as far back as her secondary school days.’
Kosi thought to himself and then frowned.
Do I really want that?
Doctor Audu calmly watched Kosi, unaware of the reason behind his inner struggle.
‘Mr Ogbonna, I believe the mere fact that Eva is awake is enough reason to be thankful. Some people spend years in a coma and their families are forced to pull the plug when they are unable to keep up with their hospital bills.’
Kosi visibly cringed. Dr Audu smiled at Kosi before continuing, ‘One step at a time. Let us determine how far her amnesia goes.’
Then he turned to face Ebuka.
‘If you don’t mind, I would like to know if Mrs Ogbonna remembers you.’
‘Doc,’ Ebuka started, his hands on his knees as he pushed himself up. ‘I’m just as curious to find out as well.’
Ebuka followed Doctor Audu inside Eva’s room. Kosi following closely behind.
Eva looked around, confusion etched on her face before it softened into a smile.
‘I’m sorry Doctor but I’m a single lady. I’m not yet married.’ She replied smiling shyly.
Doctor Audu paused for a few seconds before continuing, ‘I apologise for that.’
He picked up Eva’s chart that he had left on the table at the foot of her bed and glanced through it.
‘There’s someone here to meet you.’
Immediately, Eva’s eyes lit up in surprise and happiness.
‘Ebukaaaa! Chukwuebuka!!! Oh wow!’
Ebuka’s face lit up as well and Kosi’s fell in contrast.
‘What are you doing here?! It’s been years! I’m sorry, I would have hugged you but with all these tubes running in and out of me, I’m literally trapped.’
‘It’s fine, mi amor. I’ve missed you too.’
Ebuka moved around the bed to hug and give Eva a soft kiss on her cheeks. Eva giggled in response.
‘Which one is mi amor again eh? This boy. Speak English abeg let someone understand you.’
Ebuka laughed heartily as he moved the seat closer to Eva’s bed, his hands clasped in hers as he sat down.
Kosi was barely able to control the emotions boiling inside of him.
‘That’s my wife you’re hugging and kissing.’
It came out as a growl.
Confused, Eva leaned closer to Ebuka and asked, ‘Is he your friend?’
‘Kosi, now is not the time for your petty jealousy.’
‘Petty jealousy? Are you kidding me?! I…’
‘Ah hem.’ Doctor Audu interrupted, clearing his throat. ‘Miss Chukwu is obviously overwhelmed by everything. It’ll be best if we give her some time to understand the situation.’
Kosi’s eyes moved from Ebuka to Eva and then to Doctor Audu.
‘Fine!’ He said, barely able to contain his anger as he turned to leave but stopped when he noticed Ebuka wasn’t moving either.
‘I think it’ll be best for Eva if someone she knows explain what’s going on to her.’
Kosi’s eyes became like slits. He turned and started marching back towards Ebuka and Eva but Doctor Audu stood in front of him, blocking them from his view.
‘Mr Ogbonna, can I speak with you outside?’
Kosi tilted his head a bit to see Ebuka and Eva and his face softened when he registered the fear in her eyes. He closed his eyes, defeated.
‘OK, Doctor. I’ll… I’ll be waiting outside.’
Without waiting for his reply, Kosi turned and walked dejectedly out of Eva’s hospital room.