Lilian hummed as she walked to the HR department. The past week had been one of the easiest she had experienced since she started working in the hospital four years ago. While she enjoyed her work, it was a relief to be away from the epicenter of it—naughty children that littered their wards with wraps that they had picked outside, stubborn men that insisted on going home even when they were barely cleared by the doctor and came back worse for wear, critically ill people that moved her heart when she saw them staring into space on their beds and the helplessness she had towards their plight. The past week, her work had been restricted to the VIP room with the young Mrs. Ijeoma. She mostly had to keep the young woman company in the absence of her husband. She giggled when she thought of Ijeoma’s husband. Would she ever get a husband like that? He had come rushing as soon as his wife had called him. Her cheeks felt warm as she recalled the sight that had met her when she went to the ward that morning. The couple had been entangled in each other’s arms, deeply asleep. She tiptoed out of the ward so she would not disturb their private moment. Later that morning, she had watched from her table as he fed her breakfast, watched as Ijeoma reciprocated telling him, “Honey, ah!” opening her mouth to show how wide she wanted him to open it. It was the perfect scene. One that she had been tempted to take a picture of and post on social media, but held back because of the rules concerning the privacy of patients, especially VIP patients.
She knocked on the brown door that held the words Human Resource Department and held her breath. She rarely came to this part of the hospital, located on the east corner of the hospital, two blocks away from where she worked. The last time she was here, it was to request for a leave. The woman who sat behind the desk had made her go through a lot before she signed the paper.
“Come in.” An exasperated tone laced the words. Lilian had not listened the first time the voice told her to come in. She probably imagines that I was waiting for her to open the door, Lilian mused as she opened the door and went in.
“Good afternoon ma,” she greeted the older woman seating behind the desk. The woman was staring intently into the laptop in front of her. She barely looked up at Lilian and humphed, then she raised her head.
“Oh, it’s you again.” It was hard to judge whether it was said in mockery or annoyance.
Lilian nodded. “I got a message saying I should come to the HR department before 12pm.” She sounded defensive, in case the woman decided to waste her time.
“Lilian?” The woman inquired.
“It is a few minutes to 12, why are you just coming now?” The woman cast stern eyes at her.
Of course she would look for something wrong, Lilian thought, saying, “I was taking care of a patient and I had to work with the doctor a few minutes ago as he checked her.”
“Hmm.” The woman still looked doubtful. She reached into the drawers of her desk and brought out an envelope and opened it. “You are going to be a personal nurse for the patient you are taking care of until further notice.”
Lilian gaped at her. “Excuse me ma.”
The woman continued as though Lilian didn’t say anything. She stamped the paper that she had removed from the envelope and wrote on it. “Come and sign here.” She held out the paper to Lilian and reached for another file.
Lilian reached for the paper in disbelief. She skimmed through it. Mrs. Ijeoma was being discharged from the hospital but she still needed a nurse for a while.
“But ma-” she wanted to ask why she hadn’t been informed before the job had been given to her when she saw a part that her salary would be doubled with a bonus if she did her work well. She shut her mouth and without reading on, she reached for a pen from her pocket and scribbled her signature at the bottom of the paper.
“Sign here too.” She handed her a thick hardback book. Lilian remembered signing in the book when she asked for a leave. Only that time, the woman had made her run in circles before allowing her to sign. She noted that the reason for the leave this time was Official Reason. She sighed with satisfaction as she handed the woman the book.
“Anything else, ma?”
“You can go.” The woman was back to facing her computer.
Lilian went out of the office and hurried to the ward. She had wondered why Ijeoma’s husband had sent one of the guards to get him a luggage bag.
When she entered the ward, she was surprised to see an empty, rumpled bed. She widened her eyes. Had they gone without her? How was she to do her work? Without thinking, she packed up her things from the table that had been her workspace since she began taking care of Ijeoma. She would miss the room, she thought with a sad smile as she left the ward shutting the door behind her.
She was almost to the elevator when she heard her name. She turned to see one of the bodyguards.
“Hello,” she gave him a wide smile. “Has your boss left already?”
He maintained a professional look as he said, “My boss asked me to escort you to your home to pack a few things. You would be flying with them to Abuja this evening.”
At first, Lilian didn’t understand what he was saying. It took a while before she finally processed what he said. “Wait, you said what?”
The guard repeated his words, adding, “We have to leave immediately if we want to meet up with them.”
“Who is going to Abuja?” she quizzed. “I wasn’t told anything about going to Abuja.” Just then her phone rang. It was Mr. Apham. She picked it up immediately, words already at the tip of her tongue. “Sir-” she got in before he said in a resolute voice, “We don’t have any time to waste. If you don’t want the job, I can find someone else. But my wife specially requested for you.”
“But sir-” she was still saying, he cut her again.
“A simple yes or no would suffice.” The impatience in that tone made Lilian swallow her words.
“Okay sir. I will do it.”
“Good,” he said shortly and the call went off with a beep,
She turned to the bodyguard, “You said Abuja? How many days?”
“I don’t know. Can we be on our way now?”
Lilian shrugged. She pressed a button on the wall and when the elevator opened with a ding, she entered, her chest in her mouth. The words Abuja, Abuja kept ringing in her head.