“Calm down man,” Kamal said, even though he didn’t feel very calm himself. Derin was pacing up and down, pausing every few seconds, his eyes darting furtively around at each stop, as if expecting Awazi to emerge from the spot he looked at.
Derin had come to him that morning to ask him to help beg Awazi, and he had harangued Derin after hearing the story of what had happened. They had rushed back to the house together, but met it locked from outside. Once in the house, Derin dashed into the open bedroom and met it empty. They had gone through every room in the house, shouting for her, but she wasn’t there.
“Dude, calm down and let’s call her,” Kamal said again to the pacing Derin.
Derin reached for his phone and came up with empty air. It was only then it dawned on him he had left his phone in the house in his rush to get Kamal. He quickly scanned the living room, but didn’t find the phone.
“Kamal, can you flash my phone? I can’t find it,” Derin said.
Kamal attempted to dial the phone, but couldn’t get through. Derin began searching methodically in the living room and when he didn’t find it, he moved into the bedroom. There on the bed was the phone.
He picked it up but immediately saw it wasn’t his own. He had bought the phone for Awazi on their anniversary when she had kept whining about using an older BB than his own and his own was older than hers.
“She probably took your own phone, thinking it was hers,” Kamal thought out aloud, speaking what Derin himself was thinking.
Derin dialed Awazi a couple of times but the phone rang out.
“We just have to wait, man” Kamal said to Derin.
And so, they waited. Or rather, Kamal waited, while Derin paced.
Rasheed came out of the doctor’s office, with a small fireproof safe. The weight of the small item made him sweat even in the AC of the corridor. He entered the conference room, with the two women waiting, staring intently at him.
He carefully placed it on the table and then produced a strip of paper from his pocket. From it, he retrieved the safe combination and slowly dialed it. The safe opened with a crack and in it was a plain brown envelope.
By now, they were all standing, gathered around the little box. With measured movements, Rasheed extracted the document from the envelope, waved it a little and simply said “Haruna’s will”. When he unfolded the document, he was in for a shocker. “This is not the will I prepared,” he said.
“So is it genuine?” Bintu asked, raising an eyebrow.
“It is. This combination to this safe was only known to Haruna, and it was only by following specific instructions I retrieved it. The will is dated last week Thursday, the day before that ill-fated meeting. He changed it without telling even me.”
“Well, let’s get on with it now, shall we?” Bintu said.
He went through all the preliminaries mechanically until he got to the meat of the matter – the sharing.
“To Bintu Mogaji, I give my 8flat house in Bodija as well as 12.5Million Naira in a fixed deposit with Wema Bank as well as the lands in Abule Egba, Lagos.
To Hakeem, I give my 5 bedroom duplex in Agodi as well as the 4Flat house in Agungi, Lekki. A trust fund will be set up with my lawyer, Rasheed Sanda and Bintu Mogaji as the trustees. The annual yield of the fund will be paid to Hakeem for his upkeep. When he does decide to get married and have children, 20percent of the fund will be liquidated and paid out to each of his children when they reach the age of maturity.
To my friend, Rasheed Sanda, I give all of my Ibadan land. He has been a true friend and will use them better than I could ever do anyway.
Finally, to Mr. Derin Banwo, I will my hospital, Omega Clinic. From where the elders go, I would like to see how eager Mr. Banwo would be to destroy the hospital, sack all the staff that depend on it and all the patients that have years of treatment and history with it, now that it belongs to him. Maybe he will then understand the cruelty behind his seeking to destroy all that I had worked for all my life.”
The will named Rasheed and Agatha as the executors of the will.
“Wow!” Agatha said, when Rasheed was done.
“How could Haruna name this woman an executor? And give me just one house in this Ibadan? To spite me? Rasheed, are you sure this will is real?” Bintu said indignantly.
“Woman, you better watch that your tongue. If it wasn’t for that tongue, we would still have Haruna with us, instead of being here reading his will.” Rasheed thundered.
Bintu cowered and became quiet after that. Turning to Agatha, Rasheed said “now, we need to get the grant of the Probate to execute the will properly. Congratulations to your son, for now owning the hospital he wants to destroy. My chambers will formally inform him of this development, but you can do so informally.”
With that, he gathered up all that was on the table and left, with Bintu quietly following. They were gone for a full five minutes before Agatha finally got around to calling Derin.
Awazi was all dressed and racing to stop a cab. Samir had tried to talk to her, but she had just kept pushing him away. She had to get home, and fast, before Derin. If he was already at home before she got home, she would give herself away, she was sure of that.
Then Derin’s phone rang and from the ringtone, she guessed who it was – her mother in-law. Had Derin called her? What did he say to her? Was she calling to tell her to leave her son’s house? These thoughts ran through Awazi’s mind as she contemplated whether to pick the call or not. “I’d rather at home than here in the taxi,” she said out aloud to herself. The phone rang out.
Derin paused from his pacing at the sound of the gate opening. It happened every time he heard that sound. He was hoping it would be Awazi each time, and had been disappointed all the times so far. This time however, moments after the gate, they heard the burglary proof opening and Derin knew it was her.
The moment the door opened, he said with relief “where under God’s heaven have you been Awazi? I have looked everywhere for you.”
To Awazi however, Derin’s relief sounded like an accusation.
She shot back “and where did you go too Derin? I came out of the room to talk to you less than ten minutes after I’d been in there, and you were nowhere to be found. You run off every time we have an issue Derin, you always run off on me.”
“Babe, I didn’t run off. I was afraid and worried, and I thought you would listen to Kamal if you weren’t going to talk to me. So I went to get him”
“Hi Awazi,” Kamal said, and she noticed for the first time that he was also in the room.
“Oh God, I’ve been such a fool!” Awazi exclaimed.
Kamal interjected “No it’s my friend that has been foolish, but we’ve talked and he would do right now. We…”
“So it was Kamal you went to and not Ope,” Awazi said to Derin, cutting Kamal short.
“Ope? Whatever put that idea into your head that I went to her,” Derin asked.
Derin’s phone rang again in Awazi’s hand, the Sweet Mother ringtone piercing the air. She handed it over to Derin and he took the call.
The conversation was quick, and Derin’s interjections of “What!” “It cannot be!” “When did it happen?” “This morning?” “In the last twenty minutes?” and so on put both Kamal and Awazi on the edge. The moment he ended the call, Kamal asked “what was that about?”
Awazi’s mouth went dry, believing that the only reason Derin could have been exclaiming the way he did in the conversation was because Agatha had somehow found out about what she had done and told him. She blurted out “I’m sorry Derin, it was a mistake, the greatest mistake I have ever made and one that I will regret forever. But please forgive me, I beg of you. For the sake of what we’ve had, I beg you.” She went on her knees.
“Awazi, what are you talking about?” a surprised Derin asked.
“Whatever your mother told you, at least let me say my part,” Awazi began, with tears streaming down her eyes. “I thought you had left me in the room and gone to Ope when I came out of the room and met an empty house. So I went to Samir…”
“What! You didn’t even wait for one moment, no hesitation! So you went racing back into your lover’s arms, yesterday night was too sweet, you just had to go for more abi? Kamal, shay you dey hear wetin I dey hear?”
“Kamal, please help me beg him, it’s the handiwork of the devil. I don’t know how the anger came over me. Please.”
“Derin, please…” Kamal began
“Kamal, don’t let me fight you! What are we even protecting in this marriage sef? En, what? I’ve had it, look, Awazi, it is over, you understand? Go back to you Fulani boy, shebi you people will be speaking language to each other. And look, if you do not leave this house, I will leave the house for you.”
“Derin please, I beg you, don’t do this to me.” Awazi said earnestly.
“You are leaving my house, and not one moment later than now. Your guilty conscience and my God pushed you to confess. My mother only told me about the death of Doctor Ajanaku this morning and you thought she had somehow gotten to know about what you did. My mother’s head is fighting for me.”
“Kamal,” Awazi said, turning to Kamal. But Kamal turned his back. She was alone.
“Derin,” she said “you went to this woman, Ope, years ago, and lived with her for months. I took you back. In what should have been a moment of pain and consolation for both of us after we lost precious Isaac, you went right back into her arms, I didn’t leave, I tried to keep us working. You didn’t see or share my struggles, how I was nearly running mad, how lonely I felt. Derin, I have made this one mistake, and I ask that you forgive and do not leave me alone, this one time. Please.” She tried to reach out and touch him but he slapped her hand away.
“Listen to yourself Awazi! You are a woman! How can you compare? Look, there is no point flogging this horse, it is dead, decomposing and buried. Please go. Just go.”
Awazi saw that she could have been appealing to a rock, Derin’s mind was made up. She went inside, and began to pack a box. She would pack light, and hope to return soon.
She called her cab man, and left the house.
“Aunty Jamila,” Awazi said into the phone, “he threw me out”
“What!” Jamila said, surprised at the turn of events “What happened? I thought you were going out of the room to sort things out?”
Awazi explained all that had happened to her aunt amid tears.
“Awazi! How could you do such a thing! What has Lagos done to you? Let me speak with Derin. Do not go anywhere; I will call you back now.”
Awazi waited for Aunty Jamila to call her back. She had bought a ticket for Abuja on her phone. She needed time away from Lagos, from these southerners, from everyone. Irrespective of what her aunt was able to say to Derin now, she wasn’t going back to the house. She was wrong, yes, but his hypocrisy stank to the high heavens.
Fifteen minutes later, Aunty Jamila called back.
“Awazi, he is a man, he is still angry. I will still call back and talk to him, but I want you to come here to me in Abuja, until we sort this out. I’m sure if we give it a week, he will be sufficiently calm.”
She thought about it, in the light of what had been on her mind just as the call came in.
“No, aunty,” she said. “Derin has been doing this to me for years, and even as recently as last night, and I forgave him, repeatedly. One mistake, and he throws me out, him and his friend. Aunty, I will be travelling, but won’t be coming to Abuja,” she lied. She really, truly wanted to be on her own for now.
“Awazi, stop being rash. It is this your rashness that has gotten you here. And now, you are about to make an impulsive decision again. Pause and think!”
“Aunty, my mind is made up. I will keep in touch. They just announced my boarding, I have to go now,” she lied again.
“Awazi, Awazi! Where are you going, you this child?” Aunty Jamila was saying.
“Sanu, Aunty. I’m sorry.” She cut the call and turned the phone off.
“Derin, what will you do now, the hospital is yours.” Kamal asked.
“I’m confused man, I cannot lie” Derin said, running his hands over his hairless head.
“That man was just a shrewd old man. Now, will you be suing your own hospital? Won’t you just look absolutely ridiculous to the court? The two human defendants are dead, and the hospital is yours. No case, my brother.” Kamal said.
“But I can reject the hospital now. I am not compelled to take it, I’m not under any obligation.” Derin said, perplexed.
“And would you still not look stupid? It is within your power to deal with the hospital you’ve always wanted to go to court to deal with, and you refuse to. Will you now go to court to shut the hospital down after you’ve refused the hospital, when you could easily have done it? Look, any path you take, you’ll look bad. If you take it and shut it down, you’ll leave many jobless and be seen as evil, running down such a legacy. If you take it and keep it running, you’ll look like the hypocrite who always wanted to shut it down before it was yours, but now couldn’t shut it down. And if you refuse it, you’ll still look stupid, being handed the chance of a lifetime to have money and refusing it. Kai, these old people are terrible.”
“My mum said to reject it, that it would carry a curse, since the two people who owned it died because of my actions.” Derin said.
“That’s pure superstition bro, and it is not your actions that killed them. Don’t take guilt for what isn’t yours,” Kamal responded.
“So what should I do? If you were me, what would you do?
“I’d take the hospital, and keep it running. That’s the wise, pragmatic thing to do. And get an experience doctor to be the Chief Medical Officer, seeing to the day to day running. You’d retire as you are, instead of trying to get another job now.”
Derin looked up at Kamal, doubt in his eyes. “You’re sure?” he asked.
“You could pass the ownership to me and find out for sure,” Kamal said, smiling.
Derin attempted a smile and then shrugged his shoulders. “Very well, that’s what I will do.”
Throughout the conversation, there was not a single mention of Awazi.
17 Months Later.
Derin sat in the conference room of Omega Hospital. Around him was his team – the Chief Medical Officer of Omega Hospital, Dr. Omololu Bucknor, the lawyer, Professor Charles Acha and an ashen faced young doctor, Shem.
On the opposite side, a stone faced Korede Adams and his two lawyers sat. They were negotiating a settlement with him. Korede’s wife had come to the hospital to deliver a baby, and eventually, after two days in the hospital, with her blood pressure rising, the doctors had advised that they do a Cesarean Section. And Dr. Shem had performed the operation. The baby had been delivered successfully and the mother closed up, when she began to complain of tummy pains. It was a long time before they discovered that she had been closed up with a scalpel inside her and this had caused the bleeding. Now, her husband was taking the hospital to court for the matter, and asking that their license, as well as that of Dr. Shem be revoked.
Try as they had, they had been unable to convince Mr. Korede Adams to let the matter be settled out of court.
“I want justice, that is all,” he had said, eyeing Shem coldly.
His lawyer had said with some respect to the professor “see you in court sir,” and the professor had told Derin things were not looking good for them. It appeared Shem had realized the scalpel was inside her while she could still be saved, but had kept mum out of fear, and that was what the other lawyers were going to court with.
He went straight from the conference room to the car. He needed to go away from this madness, from Ibadan. He had relocated to Ibadan to run the hospital a month after he had taken it over, after Kamal had finally gone to join his family.
The driver was already running the engine when he got in from the hot sun and the AC felt like heaven. He was having a splitting headache but he just wanted to get away from the hospital, its smells of drugs, its sounds of stretchers and wheelchairs, from all of it. He unlocked his blackberry and saw that he had waiting emails and a series of waiting BBM messages. The old Derin would have checked BBM before emails, but now, he checked his email first. He opened the email. The first was from Awazi.
(I was tempted to end this episode here but you guys would probably kidnap me, so keep scrolling for the rest of it. >=) )
He had not heard from her since she left his house that day. And after the way he had spoken to Aunty Jamila, he had been unable to call her. He tried to call Awazi, but she seemed to have changed her numbers. He quickly opened the email and here’s what it said
“Dear Derin, I hope you are happy. I hear you are doing well with Omega Hospital now. The attachment should interest you. All the best in life.”
Derin opened the attachment, cursing the network for the almost one minute it took to load.
When it finally opened, it was a picture of a smiling Awazi in a definitely European background, holding a little boy to the camera, his smile revealing a toothless mouth. It took only that look for Derin to know that he was looking at his son.
Thanks for reading Broken Mirrors all the way.
Tunde Leye is the author of the blog Finding Hubby, which catalogues the escapades of the well loved Oyin Clegg. He is currently putting finishing touches to his debut novel - Golden Sands, which will be published in Nigeria in October, 2012 and will be available in select stores and on Amazon. Follow him on twitter @tundeleye