Pain hit Ijeoma as soon as she opened her eyes, most of the pain coming from her abdomen. She groaned, and a nurse rushed to her side. 

“Mrs. Agba? Can you hear me? Are you okay?” She looked at Ijeoma, then proceeded to check the I.V drip on her hand, as well as her eyes, and carried out other medical procedures. Ijeoma’s eyes followed her as she went through her procedures, reflecting the confusion and questions that were running through her head. She opened her mouth to speak, her throat seemed clogged. She tried to clear her voice, but could only choke out a cough.

 The nurse looked at her with soft brown eyes. “Ma, you have been in an accident. You are just waking up after being unconscious for four days.”

“M…my…. husband?” Getting the words out was a painful task.

The nurse flashed a kind smile at her. “He has been waiting at your side for the whole night. He went home for a change of clothes.”

Ijeoma blinked rapidly. The nurse made to leave but her groan stopped her.

“Anything else, ma?” 

Ijeoma lifted her hand slowly and placed it on her abdomen. The nurse immediately understood what she meant. A sad look clouded her face. From her look, Ijeoma could tell that she had lost the pregnancy. The nurse left, closing the door softly behind her. Ijeoma closed her eyes, tears rolled down to the white pillow that held her bandaged head. Her body trembled, her mouth opened slightly as she cried voicelessly. This was the fourth time she was losing a baby and the third time she was losing her baby through an accident. Was she cursed? It was always the same scenario, always in her second trimester. She recalled the pastor’s words about three months ago when it had been confirmed that she was pregnant. Nothing shall happen to the child in your womb. Those who seek to destroy thy fruit will fall to their disgrace. But look at her, nursing yet another loss. 

The door opened and her husband, Apham entered the ward. His musky cologne filled the room downing out the sickening smell of disinfectant and medicine. She inhaled deeply, feeling comforted by his presence.

“Baby, you’re awake.” He rushed to her side when he noticed that she had woken up. He kept the bag he had brought in with him on the white cupboard beside the bed and took her hand. “Sweetie, are you okay?”

His soft words only increased the tears running down her eyes. Apham used his thumb to catch them in their trail, whispering, “Baby, it’s okay. I’m here. Don’t cry.” He pecked her around the face, his lips lingered on her forehead. “Shhh.” He patted her shoulders softly until she slipped back to unconsciousness. 

Apham released a tired sigh as he looked down at his wife. She seemed shrunken and defeated. He wondered if she would ever go back to normal. The things she had gone through since she fell in love with him… he rubbed his bald head in distress. He whipped out his phone from his pocket and dialed a number.

“Book a flight for me to Abuja tomorrow,” he said. When he hung up the call, he tucked the sheet around Ijeoma, kissed her forehead then left the ward. The nurse was sitting on a chair beside the door. She stood up as soon as Apham came out of the ward.

“Good afternoon sir,” she greeted politely.

Apham nodded. “Are there VIP rooms available now? I want to move her to one.”

“Yes sir. One of the VIP patients was discharged earlier today. You can come with me and complete the procedures for transfer.”

Apham stayed until Ijeoma was settled into the bigger and more furnished room. He set a bouquet of Ijeoma’s favorite flowers on the table near her bed, spraying the room with a lemon air freshener. Ijeoma had complained countless times how the smell of hospitals made her feel uncomfortable. He requested the nurse, Lilian to take special care of his wife. Two muscled men in black took their place in front of the door once he left.

Lilian peeked through the window and watched as two black cars drove out of the premises. She breathed out in relief. The more time she spent with the patient’s husband, the more she lost the use of her brain. He was a powerful man. Her eyes glazed over as the picture of his not-so-tall form clouded her eyes. She sighed dreamily. A knock on the door brought her out of her reverie.

She rushed to open the door. It was one of the bodyguards. A woman who looked to be in her fifties stood in front of the room. 

“I’m the patient’s mother. I need to see her.” The woman was saying to the guards. Lilian looked at her in surprise. She had a little look of distress as she spoke. Her carefully made-up face was blank, the look in her eyes gave her the chills. She seemed a little detached from the fact that her daughter was lying on a hospital bed. The bodyguards gave her a warning look as they let the woman into the room. Lilian crept behind her, conscious to make herself unnoticeable in the room.

The woman stood by the bed and cast a conflicting look at the figure on the bed. She set her leather bag carefully on the chair beside the bed. “We warned you, didn’t we?” she said suddenly. Her voice was low, breaking at the end. “I told you that you were making the wrong choice, but why didn’t you listen to me? Why did you have to marry him of all men?” She laughed bitterly. “Love? You said you loved him. You threatened to kill yourself if we didn’t let you marry him, now look what you’ve gotten yourself into.” She sniffed into the white handkerchief clasped in her hand. “You have refused to come back home, eh? Don’t worry. We will keep waiting until you come to your senses.” She leaned forward and cupped Ijeoma’s cheek. “My angel, take care of yourself,” she said softly.

She handed Lilian a cheque and wrote her number on a piece of paper before she left. “I need you to take really good care of her. Call me in case anything urgent comes up, but don’t tell her or her husband that I was here. This is a little tip for you, it’s not a bribe. Just keep me updated on her conditions.”

Lilian stared at the cheque that she held between her fingertips. “One… two… three… four… five!” Her eyes widened as she confirmed the digits on the cheque. Two hundred thousand naira. She was tempted to dance around the ward, but the beep of the monitor reminded her that there was a patient in the room. She folded the cheque neatly and slipped it into her breast pocket. “It’s just to shut up my mouth and do my job, easy as ABC.” She smacked her lips in delight as she went to check Ijeoma’s vitals.