The nurse ushered the shell shocked girl out of the room. Anike couldn’t believe her ears. Her grandmother didn’t know her anymore. She wiped the tears running down her face with the back of her hand. As soon as she stepped out of the room, she was met by the doctor in charge of mama’s case. He had been attracted by the commotion. He asked the nurse what the problem was and she explained. The doctor then beckoned Anike to follow him to his office where he offered her a seat before he spoke.
‘What is your name?’ he asked her.
She replied, barely succeeding in keeping fresh tears at bay.
‘I’m sorry for what happened but your grandmother has developed selective amnesia. She remembers things and people in her life sometimes but most of the time, she is like a blank canvas. At times like this, even if her husband, God rest his soul, were standing right before her, she wouldn’t know who he was.’ The doctor explained.
Anike stared at him. She wondered what kind of condition would play with someone’s brain like that. She didn’t know what to do. Maybe they’d let her stay until mama regained her lost memory.
‘Please sir, can I stay around until she remembers me?’ Anike saw that the man was already shaking his head but she pressed on, ‘I can sit outside her door all day. I wouldn’t disturb anyone.’
‘I’m sorry young lady but I can’t do that. Hospital policy. In fact, I’m not supposed to tell you what her condition is since it hasn’t been confirmed that you’re a relative.’ He told her with a sad smile.
Anike couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. She fell on her knees and amidst sniffles explained that her mama was all she had left in the world. The doctor looked embarrassed.
‘This is the best I can do,’ he said after a while, ‘why don’t you come in to see her every day? We’ll just hope she remembers you eventually.’
Anike got up and thanked the man. She knew mama would remember her. She had to. She shuffled out of the doctor’s office thinking about her plight. She wondered if she wouldn’t have been better off back in Lagos. If only she had stayed to write her JAMB and gained admission. The university would have been her escape. She rued the fact that she didn’t think about it better before she left. Going back, she knew, was out of the question. How would she explain her absence? Aunty Chioma would kill her, she thought, and that would be the end of the girl known as Anike Adeoye. She smiled to herself despite her predicament. When Anike got outside the hospital, she realized that she had an urgent problem, shelter. It was dusk already and she had nowhere to pass the night.
Anike rushed back to her grandparent’s house. Surely, the gateman wouldn’t turn her back. She knocked on the gate and the man came out. He smiled at her as he remembered her.
‘Did you see her?’ he asked in his heavily accented Yoruba.
‘What did she say?’
‘That I should come and stay at home until she’s discharged.’ Anike replied, surprising herself. She hadn’t intended to lie. It just came automatically. She felt in her subconscious that the man might have refused her entry if she hadn’t told the lie. He just wouldn’t understand the selective amnesia condition.
The gateman grinned and threw the gate wide open.
Anike walked into the compound and headed for the chairs under the mango tree.
‘Why don’t you go into the house?’ the man asked, handing her a ring of keys, ‘It’s your house, you know.’
Anike turned and stared at the man. She had only hoped that she would be allowed to sleep in his little gatehouse but this exceeded her expectations. She nodded, collected the keys and made for the main house. Anike opened the main door and stepped into the house she was so familiar with. Memories came flooding back, of a blissful childhood with her parents who loved her and her grandparents who adored and spoiled her. She went through the rooms one by one, reliving each of the sweet memories she had there. After exploring the whole house, she flopped on the bed in the master bedroom and went to sleep immediately. She was that tired. She dreamt that her parents and grandparents were with her in the house and she wept for joy. Little did she know that she was actually crying in her sleep.
When Anike woke up in the morning, she could hear voices from the front yard. She stretched her slim body and moved closer to the window.
‘…she said what?’ a man in a suit was asking the gateman.
‘She said she is mama’s granddaughter.’
‘And not only did you believe a stranger, you also let her into the house. Only God knows what her plans are. She could be a thief, for heaven’s sake.’
‘Oga lawyer, she went to the hospital to see mama and mama told her to come back here to await her arrival.’ The gateman said indignantly.
The lawyer shook his head. The level of stupidity present in this world is astonishing, he thought. ‘Mama said that, didn’t she?’ he asked sarcastically.
The gateman nodded again. ‘Keep the girl here, I’ll be right back.’ The lawyer said. He jumped into his car and drove off.
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Anike knew he was going to the hospital to confirm her story and she panicked. The man could get her arrested. She regretted her lie but she quickly realized that regret wouldn’t get her out of this situation. Only action could. She looked out of the window again and saw the gateman walking towards the back yard with a watering can. Quick as a fox, she ran out of the house through the front door and out of the compound. She made straight for the hospital as she said a quick prayer. Once mama recognized her, the lawyer wouldn’t be able to do anything. Anike quickened her pace and started daydreaming. In her daydream, mama remembered her immediately she got the hospital and declared that they were going home together to live happily ever after. The long hoot of a car horn brought her back to her senses. She jumped aside to prevent the car hitting her head on. It was the lawyer’s car and he was driving fast in the opposite direction. Anike blinked. The cat was out of the bag!
At the hospital, she ran to the nurses’ station and asked to see mama. The elderly nurse that was sat there told her that mama wasn’t allowed any visitors.
‘Her lawyer just left here. He said she was in danger of some kind so we shouldn’t let anybody into her room. He talked about getting a policeman stationed at her door but I really cannot understand it. What kind of danger could an old woman like that…’
Anike was no more listening, though, because she had fainted.
To the continued…