You can run from your problems but just know that they, in turn, are chasing you and it’s only a matter of time before you get tired and they catch up with you.
‘Good evening Mr. Ogbonna.’
‘Good evening Dr. Audu.’
Kosi stood awkwardly at Dr. Audu’s door. The last time he saw the Doctor was at the hospital before Eva was discharged and Ebuka was trying to steal Eva away from him. He recounted the last conversation he had with the Doctor and shook his head.
‘Can I come in?’
The way Doctor Audu stared at Kosi made him feel like he was in a hospital getting a check up. He combed his hair with his hand and averted his gaze. Doctor Audu seemed to understand how Kosi felt and quickly replied.
‘I’m sorry. Come in.’
Then he opened the door wider for Kosi to enter.
Kosi slowly walked into Doctor Audu’s home not knowing what to expect. It seemed very cozy. The house was painted a dull yellow and the furniture was a mixture of various shades of brown. Family pictures littered the walls. Wedding pictures of Doctor Audu and his wife, a picture of a little boy on the shoulders of Doctor Audu by the beach, another of a teenager donning a graduation gown with a backdrop of Cambridge University sign.
‘My wife died in a car accident five years ago.’
Kosi immediately turned to face Doctor Audu. There was a wry smile on his face as he looked at him.
‘I’m so sorry. I… I never knew.’ Kosi replied apologetically. He immediately remembered how he had screamed at Doctor Audu in Chapter 26 when he assumed he didn’t understand the pain he felt. ‘If I had known…’
Doctor Audu waved him off. ‘There’s nothing that you could have done and there’s no way you could have known.’ He said walking closer to Kosi. ‘Losing my wife was one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced in my life.’ He continued. His eyes drifted to his wedding picture hanging on the wall. ‘Medical school exposes you to so many things; accidents, loss, pain, humanity, death. But all those things it exposes you to, are for someone else. You become numb to certain sights and feelings when you see them in others but not the ones you feel for yourself or your own family or someone you love dearly.’
Kosi just stood there, unable to say anything.
‘My wife… the day before her accident we had a huge fight, she wanted more children but I thought having Ben was enough. I couldn’t take care of another child with my crazy schedule but she really wanted a girl.’
Doctor Audu paused and bent head slightly. Kosi waited patiently as he watched him wipe his eyes.
‘She screamed and I screamed and she slept in the guest house that night.’ He let out a deep sigh filled with regret and pain. ‘The next day, I went to the guest house to make up with her but she left a note on the door saying she had gone to get lemon cake.’ He laughed suddenly.
‘Whenever we want to apologise after a fight we get cake.’ He explained. ‘Lemon cake for me because it’s my favourite and for her butterscotch. I laughed and decided to go get a cake too. I noticed a terrible accident not far from the cake shop but I didn’t think much of it. Two, three, four hours pass by and I hear nothing from her. I panic and call her parents, her friends, no one has heard from her. Then I remember the accident and ask around… my darling wife…’ Doctor Audu’s voice breaks.
Kosi places a comforting hand on his shoulder.
‘And I got a text message from her gynecologist congratulating us.’ He sniffed. ‘Turns out the reason why Adora got so upset that night was because she was already pregnant. She was trying to see how I would feel about it since we didn’t plan to have more kids.’
Kosi slowly guided Doctor Audu to the couch as he sobbed. After he had calmed down a bit, Doctor Audu continued. ‘I’m telling you all this because I understand. I know how it feels to lose someone you love.’
Kosi nodded his head in sadness.
‘Eva knows you’re coming. I can…’
‘Don’t worry dad, I don’t think Kosi needs an escort.’
Kosi and Doctor Audu turned to see Benjamin walking down the stairs.
‘Good afternoon, you must be Kosi.’ Benjamin said, taking Kosi’s hands in his. ‘I’m Benjamin, Doctor Audu’s son.’
‘Nice to meet you.’
‘Eva is at the guest house. It’s at the back of the house. You can just knock since she’s already expecting you.’
‘Thank you.’ Kosi said and turned to leave but he stopped before he got to the door. He looked at Doctor Audu, smiled and gave a small nod. Doctor Audu returned the same and then he was out the door.
‘You never told me that story dad.’ Benjamin said after Doctor Audu seemed calm enough to talk.
He sighed, ‘Talking about your mum and her death is so painful for me.’
‘I could have had a little brother or sister?’
Doctor Audu had a sad look in his eyes as he looked at his son.
‘Yeah and to this day, I still regret that fight I had with your mum and I keep wondering what could have been…’
‘Hey dad, don’t worry about it. You need to stop blaming yourself, it won’t make a difference. Mum’s gone.’ Although Benjamin said it with a straight face his eyes were slightly red. Doctor Audu noticed and hugged his son tightly.
‘But I’m still here and we have each other.’
Benjamin smiled and hugged his dad back. ‘Yes we do.’
Kosi stood at the door of the guest house for several minutes before he took up the courage to knock at the front door.
‘Who is it?’
‘Ermmm… it’s me.’
There was silence on the other side of the door and Kosi wondered whether Eva would open the door or not. A little while later, he heard the door open a crack and Eva’s face peep through.
They remained that way for a few more seconds before Kosi spoke, ‘Will you let me in or do you intend for us to communicate like this?’
Eva responded by opening the door properly and stepping back so that Kosi could enter inside. Once he was inside, she closed the door behind him and stood with her back by it, refusing to join Kosi in the parlour, her head bent. Kosi noticed how uncomfortable Eva was and spoke first.
She looked up to see Kosi standing in front of the couch. She didn’t reply, just kept looking at him.
‘I’m sorry that I hurt you. I’m sorry I lied to you, that I blamed you for my insecurities, for not trusting you and for cheating on you.’
Eva turned her head away but before she did that, Kosi noticed the look of pain in her eyes. He took a step closer to Eva.
‘I’m sorry that I allowed jealousy to blind me to what was going on with you. I’m sorry for being petty when you needed me to stand by you.’
Kosi stood just a step away from Eva. He held her gaze as he spoke but didn’t come any closer.
‘I’m sorry for adding to your burden when you felt confused and lost. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you when you needed me to be.’
Kosi watched as tears began streaming down Eva’s eyes.
‘I’m sorry that I made you cry sad and painful tears, that I hurt you so much that you couldn’t confide in me and even when you tried to, I flared up and got angry with you.’
The tears were flowing faster now as Kosi kept apologising.
‘I’m sorry that I hurt you so much Eva, that you felt the best thing you had to do, that you needed to do, was be away from me. I’m so sorry Eva.’
Eva slid down to the floor, her face in her hands as she kept crying.
‘I don’t deserve you. After everything I put you through, I don’t deserve you Eva…’ Kosi continued, tears were threatening to fall from his eyes. ‘… but I miss you so damn much Eva. I miss you and I would do anything. Anything to have you back in my life.’
He bent down till he was face level with Eva but he didn’t touch her. Their bodies were close but not touching.
‘And I am well aware that that is extremely selfish of me Eva but I’m begging you to permit me this selfish act. Please.’
He stretched out his hand towards Eva’s face.