A short story
Su’eddie Vershima Agema
Oche had been in this position before, but he
was a very confident man and was therefore
prepared. He had faced several similar
circumstances so though this was new in its own
right, he remained calm. He even thought that
being in control was very normal. Then, he
looked at the three men beside him in the
waiting room. They were sweating profusely
despite the heavy air conditioning. Okay, so he
was different. He wondered why they were so
tense. The final hearing in any case was
inevitable. It was either you were discharged
and acquitted or convicted. So, what was the
fuss? Anyway, they were first timers so he could
understand them. With two girls behind, he was
already a pro in the league. He smiled as he
engaged them in conversation and lightened the
atmosphere. The tension reduced considerably but
he could still notice the sweat. And to think
that it was said men never cared or felt
ruffled. The doctor entered the room as all the
men rushed “Na my own!” Each one said claiming
the smile on the doctor’s face for his personal
“Mr. Bernard Agera!” The smallish young man ran
forward smiling, tears in his eyes: “Bouncing
“Jesus!” He shouted as he hugged everyone
around. He started telling jokes and Oche had to
wonder if this was the same man who had looked
so sullen a few minutes ago. He danced around
and then, remembering something, turned to the
doctor whom he had forgotten in his ecstasy; “My
wife, how is she?”
“She is very fine, Sir. She is sleeping and so
is the baby.”
Without asking, Agera rushed to go and see his
angels. “But Mr. Agera! Mr. Age…” but the
energetic young man was long gone in the
direction of the ward. After a while, he came
“Where are they?”
“I was about to tell you where they were when
you ran out.” The doctor said as he laughed and
led Agera to his wife and child.
Oche smiled. Then, the waiting started all over
again. He looked at his watch. The time was two
in the afternoon. He had been here for six hours
already. He turned to two of the three other
remaining men who shivered. “Calm down, my
brothers.” He tried to ease them. They looked at
him from their seat as he smiled reassuringly at
“Thank you.” They muttered in turns, stretching
a bit to reduce their continuing worry. One of
the other two men who was a little less
disturbed stole the interest of the men; talking
about literature and politics. Why was the
doctor taking so long? Three hours had now
passed since they saw him last. Then, he entered
with that beacon on his face.
“Na my own!”
The four men each shouted as they rushed to the
“Mr. Mas Udibago.” The tall bespectacled man who
had been entertaining stepped forward.
“Yes! Shebi, I told you people.” He shook
the three other men confidently as he accepted
their congratulations and followed the doctor to
see his wife and new child. A few minutes later,
the Doctor came again and took another two men
with him. Oche sat there watching as slowly
sweat began to form on his body. What was
happening? He looked at the remaining man beside
him, questions in his eyes. The high rate of
maternal deaths and infant mortality was
something that no one could overlook. Most of
the hospitals needed upgrading, and the staff
better training. He had always wondered why this
issue was on the Millennium Development Goals
list. The money could be diverted into something
more worthwhile, he had always argued.
“Even in those days before the white man, the
rate had been low. With all the hospitals now,
there is no need for such” he would be heard
saying often to anyone who cared to listen.
However, as he waited for his wife, his stance
changed. It was seven o’clock when he stepped
out to visit the toilet.
Oche came back to meet an empty room. The
sweating now became intense accompanied with a
level of tension that he had never thought
possible. The praying started without any
deliberate effort. All the prayers and special
devotions that had long been unused came
flooding out in torrents. Though two nurses
came at different times to encourage him, he
kept wondering what was happening within. He
asked every single person who wore a uniform.
The latest person he asked, a security officer,
looked at him in confusion. The officer tried to
calm him for a while before disappearing. It was
three o’clock. He said his Divine Mercy prayers
which he had hitherto totally lost faith in. His
eyes were wide and bloodshot but he had no clue
of this – neither did he care. His mind was
fixed on more important issues. Then, by four
thirty on the dot as his watch proclaimed, the
Doctor came in. Oche heaved a sigh of relief as
he rushed to him.
“Doctor” That single word, sentence and
question, in itself, holding all the expectation
and suspense that had welled up in his body.
“We tried our best, Sir…”
“No!” Oche shouted, his entire world going dark
and crashing all around him.
“Cool it, Sir. We tried at normal delivery but
your wife is going to need a CS. We want you to
sign some papers and we would also need some
blood.” Oche experienced some relief and
finished siging the forms quickly. His blood
didn’t match his wife’s. He quickly gave a
nurse, who had just come in, some money for the
blood that would be bought from the blood bank
for the transfusion. It had gone worse than he
had ever imagined it would. Oche cried,, he
remembered how he had often argued with his wife
on the sex of the baby. She had said girl number
three to which he had always vehemently refused,
“Opposed!” He had even bought all the clothes
for the baby boy and now... It was looking as if
none of them would make it. He cried to himself.
In his tears, a little slumber came. A hand
tapped him as he woke up with a start. It was a
doctor, though a different one from yesterday.
“We could not operate your on wife again.” The
tension started mounting again as Oche opened
his mouth about to scream. Then, he noticed the
smile on the doctor’s face. “She delivered
naturally, a beautiful baby boy.” Oche stood
speechless as he looked at the Doctor in shock.
The tears became of warmth and happiness as he
shook the doctor’s hand vehemently. “Please,
Sir, I still need my hand if I am to continue in
“Oh, I am so sorry.” Oche said as he smiled his
thanks. God! God! God! He opened his mouth to
ask the doctor if he could see them when the
doctor’s beeper came on.
“Sorry, Sir, there is an emergency. I have to
run.” He rushed off.
“But… but… but…”
A nurse rushed to Oche after a while and
explained everything. The wife of the last man
who had been with Oche was having a shortage of
blood. Unfortunately, her husband’s blood did
not match hers too and to make matters worse,
the blood bank was empty. She concluded that the
blood he had earlier purchased was the only
remedy to the pregnant woman’s life. Oche was
irritated that they were wasting so much time.
He did not need to think twice as he gave his
permission for the blood to be used.
“It is little wonder there is a high level of
maternal deaths.” What if he had been absent?
That might have spelt another mother and child.
He shuddered at the thought as he imagined the
several mothers and might-have-been mothers who
had lost their lives to such negligence and
absence. So many children too! His mind went to
the MDG item again and mentally noted that he
ought to get involved as soon as possible. The
operation proved successful as the woman was
successfully delivered, too. Her husband came in
and knelt before Oche;
“God bless you, Sir. This is your child, Sir.
His name is yours. God bless you!”
Oche answered and charged him to be a bit quiet.
Soon the doctor came in for the last time to
take the two men to their respective loves. It
was just then that Oche remembered that he
hadn’t called to find out how his children at
home were doing. Anything might have happened to
them. And yes, how could he have forgotten how
excruciatingly hungry he was? He yawned as he
moved forward, and fell.