(The Adventures Of Jobless Doctors)
The Call . The adventures of jobless doctors (1) http://www.nigerianmedinterns.com/2016/05/the-call-adventures-of-jobless-doctors.html
Doctor John (2)
It is said that the darkest hour is just before dawn. This statement couldn’t be any truer for Evelyn and I. We prayed for daybreak as we both lay quietly on the bed, our heartbeats quite palpable in the darkness that enveloped us. The gun battle was over for the second time and a dreadful kind of quiet hovered over us daring us to make a sound.
We didn’t. Arrow had called twice since then and even though his last call gave us hope that the military was on its way, we couldn’t dare to hope much. Evelyn was curled up again and soon I could hear her deep breathing as she slept. For a moment, I envied her that she could sleep through all these but then she had shouted and cried herself to sleep. Something I couldn’t get myself to do, not because I felt braver, rather I was afraid that going to sleep may make matters worse. How? I couldn’t figure that out but it was this fear that kept me awake, praying for sunrise.
The sun would eventually rise without my knowledge. It would be well high up in the sky before I became aware of it. Exhausted, I had fallen asleep before it did. It was only the urgent knocking on the door that made me wake with a start.
I turned to see Evelyn staring wide eyed at the door unable to utter a word.
“Who is that?” I asked trying to make my voice sound as forceful as I could.
“John, it’s me. Arrow”
I didn’t need to confirm, there was no mistaking my friend’s baritone voice.
“I’m coming” I called out, literally dragging myself to the door.
He didn’t come alone. Joshua, the handyman at the hospital we worked in, was with him. I was quite relieved to see two other familiar faces since the beginning of this crises and I guess Evelyn was too, judging by the way her face lit up. She didn’t even mind that she was looking a bit disheveled. No one did actually. We all were looking haggard and it was the least of our worries.
I would soon find out from Arrow that the military was around already. They came in quite early this morning and had some brief skirmishes with the boys who soon fled to the creeks. It was the only reason Arrow and Joshua dared leaving the hospital premises. They had come to take their bath and for a change of clothes and also to check on us. Joshua was able to buy a loaf of bread from a reluctant neighbor and with ravenous appetite, we devoured a breakfast of bread, sardines and tea.
It was after the meal that we gradually regained the energy and nerve to share our sides of the story. For Arrow and Joshua who were at the hospital, it was a different ordeal, as they also had calm the nerves of patients, their relatives and nurses that were pretty much shaken up. I could only imagine how tough it must have been for them though the different reactions of people at the hospital turned out to be funny on the retrospect, especially that of the son of the woman who was hysterical last night. It was discovered that he didn’t leave the hospital when he was assumed to have left. It was by chance a nurse discovered him dozing off in the nurses’ toilet where he had taken refuge. It was comical even to his mother, when he came out, smelly and wet from the waist below. At this we all laughed, even Evelyn who had barely said much and I was much relieved by this. When it was safe enough, I would take her home, I thought, out of sympathy for her.
It took a couple of days before the news of what happened in Yteghe got to my mothers ears. She wouldnt have known if it weren’t for my uncle Mike that had paid her a visit only to gloat. I was infuriated at his actions. It wasn’t enough that he didnt care to call me to know if I was safe but he was making my mother upset just so he could gloat about how he turned out to be right. Now, mother was shouting and crying over the phone asking me to come back while I was trying to convince her that it was peaceful again over here.
This was on my way back from the market if one could call it such, with the empty stalls and few people present. Life was yet to return to normal for the people of Yteghe, it was a tense kind of peace that had returned amidst rumors of the creek boys returning with better ammunition. No one felt safe yet and if you had to go out, it had to be for something very important. It was in this cautious state that I boarded a bike heading for the house while I mulled over the conversation I just had with mother. It wasnt that I didnt feel the urge to pack up and go home but I dreaded returning home just to sit and fold my arms while waiting for the housemanship program I was supposed to be on. It was with the excuse of half bread being better than none that I had convinced myself to come down to Yteghe in the first place for this job. I could no longer bear to use the excuse of waiting for a house job appointment to be idle. Mother was already finding it difficult catering for my siblings and I wasnt going to add to her burden.
I decided I was going to remain here until I secured a house job appointment. I would have to call mother when I got back and reassure her. I looked ahead at the path the bike man was now taking. It wasnt usual, as we were trying to avoid the numerous checkpoints set up by the military and the police. It was most ways, a bush path with rough bumps that made sure you kept bouncing uncomfortably on the seat of the bike. I could smell human feces and decaying garbage along the path and tried hard to breath.
It was when we got to the point where the bush path joined the road just behind the old transformer that I got a call from Arrow. He sounded harried. It had something to do with Evelyn or Joshua, I wasnt sure who but he wanted me to leave whatever I was doing and come immediately to the hospital. I quickly redirected the cyclist to Lifeline Clinics, wondering what emergency that Doctor Jireh, the medical director, and Doctor Enem, Arrow, couldnt handle between them and also how it came to involve Evelyn and Joshua. It was with these thoughts that I literally leaped off the bike as soon as we arrived the hospital almost forgetting to pay the cyclist.
There was pandemonium in the hospital. I saw two police officers trying to restore calm and order. This made my heart skip as I rushed past the waiting lounge straight to the doctors room where I grabbed a coat and headed for the ward. The scene that confronted me was something that I was unprepared for despite three months of rotation at the accident and emergency unit back in medical school. Someone was lying in a pool of blood on a bed, stripped bare. From far I could see it was a woman and it was only when I got near enough that the image of Evelyns face hit me like a blow from an iron fist. I reeled backwards just as Arrow came up from behind to break my stagger while whispering into my ears to put myself together. Doctor Jireh and two nurses were by Evelyns bedside trying to resuscitate her and it was only when he looked up to ask how Joshua was coming around, that I realized who the other bloodied patient Arrow was attending to was. I steeled myself to deal with the issue at hand as we fought to stop the bleeding and stabilize our staffs turned patients. They had been in the middle of a sudden crossfire between the creek boys and the military at Bori, another community in Yteghe. The story was that the creek boys were back and their reprisal attack started at Bori where they opened fire on the military officers who didnt hesitate to counter. Evelyn and Joshua had gone pick up drug supplies for the clinic at a pharmacy store at Bori right where this attack had taken place. They were among the five civilian casualties, two of whom had died on the spot.
That night was horrible as we all kept vigil over our patients. Blood has been transfused severally to both of them. Joshua was showing favorably signs of improvement and stability bur Evelyn was not. She was hit severally and despite the little we could do for her, we knew we would have to transfer her to a better equipped hospital in Port Harcourt city. Our prayer was for her to be stable enough to make the transfer. It wouldnt happen. We lost Evelyn that night. It was Arrow who came to tell me in the consulting room where I was trying to catch some sleep. I felt a lump rise in my throat unable to say a word. Soon, I found myself out in the dark, drifting without a thought to where I was going. I could hear Arrows voice from a distance but I wasnt going to stop. I didnt want to stop. I wanted to keep walking but I would eventually stop out of fatigue. I would sit on the ground, in the middle of the road and break down in tears. I would let Arrow guide me to his house where I would pack my clothes because I would leave here tomorrow. I would sit and cry some more as I wait for a new day to come.
Eleonu Uchechukwu N