He was reading one of his fat medical books and didn’t notice the woman bearing down on him. Giggles and stifled laughter followed her as she walked down the corridor to the open door of the doctor’s lounge.
“Charles” she said as she got to the door. He looked at her and suddenly felt tired, she had been stalking him for weeks.
“Folake, I have told you that he refuses to discuss anything about you. If I bring up your name, he changes the topic”
“But Charles” she began
“Don’t Charles me! Madu has banned me from mentioning your name near him and I don’t blame him, not when he gave up so much for you and got shame as his reward”
“But I love him!” she cried.
“If that’s how you treat the people you love then what happens when you hate someone? You will even be worse than the devil, I swear!”.
She took two steps into the room before changing her mind and walking away, she ensured that she kept a straight face even though her palms ached to slap the people laughing at her secretly. Everyone had rightly guessed that she was no longer with Madu and even knew the reason behind the separation, MacGregor had not helped matters by taking up with another young nurse who strutted like she owned the whole hospital.
The memories of Madu seemed to bubble just under of her mind, always waiting for any opportunity to spurt hurt and anger into her heart. She remembered how he’d tried to resist her and how she had pursued him relentlessly, it had been love at first sight for her but he had tried to be steadfast to the promise he had made his village girlfriend. Unfortunately for their relationship, Folake had always gotten everything she wanted. Her father was a first class Oba and she was his only daughter out of over fifty children, he also believed that she was the reincarnation of his dead mother and therefore believed that the girl should never lack for anything.
It made her cringe with shame when she remembered just how easy it had been for her to go after MacGregor even though she knew it wasn’t love but just a desire to have something different and the fact that he was the head doctor only made things more interesting. Regret rose in a strong wave and threatened to choke her.
Just as she stroked her face to surreptitiously wipe the cold trail of tears on her right cheek, she noticed a back that could only have been Madu’s. He was between a man and a woman who seemed to be much older, could they be his parents she wondered.
“Madu!” she shouted, hoping that the presence of those people would make him finally talk to her. He kept walking.
“Dr Madu” and the woman tapped Madu’s shoulder and turned her neck to look at her. She walked faster with her heart beating with the rhythm of drums for the Egungun masquerade in her village.
She couldn’t find any resemblance between Madu and the couple, they weren’t his parents because this couple looked nothing the one in his picture. The woman was definitely too tall to be his mother. They didn’t seem to be parents of any of the patients, he seemed too at ease with them.
“Good afternoon Sir and Ma, I am sorry to interrupt you but I just want to ask Dr Madu an important matter”
“Good evening my daughter” the man said pleasantly, the woman didn’t respond.
“Biko this won’t take a minute” Madu said to them and grabbed her wrist with such force that she nearly cried out from the pain. She noticed the intent look that the woman trained on them even as they walked to other side of the lawn.
“Madu please I am sorry” she said simply.
“I am sorry too” he replied, “Sorry for giving up the love of an innocent girl, for loving you and treating you like a queen while you gave yourself to Macgregor, I am sorry that my love was not enough for you, you wanted things I could not give you”.
“Please let’s not rake up the past” she begged.
“Sadly that’s all we have left, that’s all we are now- the past”
“But Madu we shared something beautiful”
“And you had to ruin it!” he exploded but he didn’t raise his voice.
“Everyone in this hospital knew that you and Macgregor spent every night together, everyone Folake! I never even tried to touch you, I was a gentleman with you but I guess you preferred to be treated like a harlot”.
“Madu who is this girl” The woman’s voice made them jump, they hadn’t even heard her footsteps.
“My name is Folake ma” The woman’s eyes darkened instantly and Folake instinctively knew who she was.
“So you’re the one who made this big head abandon my daughter and their premature love” she looked at Folake from the top of her threaded hair to the tips of her black Cortina shoes.
“Nma it’s not like that”
“Madu don’t cut my words off, I am your mothers age mate and not yours”
“I’m sorry ma” he said with a contrite expression on his face.
Matilda looked at them for thirty seconds before calling for her husband to join them.
“Go and change that gown so that you can follow us to the market, as you are Yoruba nobody will cheat us today”.
“They came to buy dried cocoa seeds, they buy here and sell to the white man in produce control at Ala Owerri” Madu explained
“Is it a lucrative business” she asked.
“Will you go and change so we can go and come back early instead of standing here and asking stupid questions” Matilda cut in with a voice that brooked no arguments.
Folake ran to the nurses office to change her clothes, as she ran she thanked God and her ancestors for this chance (however slim) of reconciliation between them. As she walked back, it occurred to her that Madu might be trying to restore his relationship with his village girlfriend who was now a doctor in London. She silently prayed that it wasn’t true and promised to give God all her children for his service if he could help through this mess.
Matilda inspected her thoroughly when she came back while Madu and her husband prayed that she wouldn’t be characteristic harsh self.
“Let’s go to the market Nwa Yoruba” she said with a brittle smile, “When we come back, I have a lot of questions to ask you”.