Now it was week three and word was out that some of the staff in the First Consultant were infected. The WHO had said that the survival rate was 20% and the mortality rate 80% so Nigerians were scared stiff.
Nigerians and churches were praying, officials and ministers were on the move working to minimise damage. In light of the happenings, he smiled at the woman who was refusing to collect the 100 naira from the hand of the scrawny Sudanese looking lady. This had been going on for the last three weeks.
Everyone was scared of the foreigners because people were escaping from the affected African countries to hide in Nigeria, in hotels and motels and any place that could be a hide-out.
One of the things that was affecting the Nigerians currently was fear. It was flowing in the minds, hearts and all over Nigeria. The fear was so potent against human beings, or so his pastor said.
Many Nigerians reacted by bathing with salt because a bbm message had made the rounds that if you bathed with salt daily, you would be protected against the virus. Someone died from that rumour until the appropriate authorities went on TV and strongly advised people to desist from drinking salt.
He kind of understood her because in the last three weeks he had felt one symptom or the other to magnify his fear and unease at what he perceived was in the . He had been working for about four months now and it was quite challenging but he was glad to be providing solutions and not just occupying space.
He was glad to be adding value to the world. He was happy to be putting a smile on his mother's face just simply because she could now tell her friends that her son was working 'on the island'. To be deigned important enough to be working on the island earned you superstar status by those who hadn't yet gotten the opportunity.
'This was what I was born for'. He thought to himself.
He was distracted again by the pretty lady who wrapped herself in a scarf. She was afraid of Ebola plain and simple. Everyone was avoiding body contact in the bus.
The TV, Newspapers and the internet were buzzing with how it spreads. They were also buzzing with death even doing a count. The minister of Information had even gone on TV to warn the media on how they were causing fear amongst the populace that would be counterproductive.i
The news said over and over again that some crazy American-Liberian sneaked into the Nigeria on an Asky flight and the health workers, doctors and nurses of a certain hospital in Obalende got infected because they initially suspected malaria or HIV and conducted tests which the man cleared in flying colours. The consultant on duty would be famous in a couple of weeks if he survived quarantine. There were almost 200 people with either primary or secondary contact. No one was eating ‘suya’ again apart from the die-hard drug addicts who did not believe that Ebola existed. Bright sighed and closed his eye to catch some shut eye before tomorrow’s hustle began. Catching sleep in the bus was a past time he had recently adopted when he knew the sleep wasn't enough.
News was hot cake on the island, last week, it was the Muri Okunola palaver that saw W.H.O shutting down the NNPC hospital since a case with Ebola had been found there. All and sundry kept asking, 'how far, what's the latest gist, has anyone died?'
Bright shook his head in pity, everyone was eager to hear bad news so long as it wasn't in their vicinity. Why wasn't everyone as eager to hear good news? There was glad tidings to be heard and few were committed to paying attention.
The last two weeks he had been in terror of all that he touched, the frenzy to wash his hands constantly was eating at his soul. He almost considered calling in sick and staying home where he would be safe for at least two weeks. Enough time for those quarantined to be let go.
Going to church was his saving grace. When he heard his pastor preaching on how Ebola was one of the curses and how that the cure for the curse was the cross. He berated himself quietly wondering how his focus had shifted so easily to the corruption in the world and how he had forgotten that he wasn't an earthly sibling stupid as it may sound, he had found it to be true in his life.
After hearing the message, the peace of God filled his heart and his heart was now steady and confident. As he went home, he collected some hand wash from the usher and sanitised his hands. He walked home with confidence in his heart.
"I will not be afraid of the terror of the night or the pestilence that wastes at noonday" he chanted to himself believing that it would get into his heart. He smiled to himself. He was experiencing the blessing and it felt good. He was particularly glad that he was able to give money towards the furtherance of the kingdom in church.
He didn't have to hide his frustration in public complaints of colleagues, his fellow bus riders or vendors about pastors and how they spent money, he personally chose to leave them to God. He knew that as much as it was human beings who physically handed him an employment letter, God had a hand in his getting this job.
The favour of God his pastor talked about, and told him that he had the right to because of the covenant he had with God was working in and for him. He felt so humbled that God would be so good to him. He smiled and thought of how he would be in church the next day. All he wanted to do was hear his pastor preach. This word of God was liberating and he was eager to experience freedom in all the areas of his life.
Tanya Williams sat up in bed crying. She was wearing a blue tank top and blue shorts and her socks. She had called her partner to report that she was under the weather and couldn't make it to work. Her friend teased her lightly. 'I hope it’s not D'ebola o'.
She glanced up at the TV set and saw the face of the devilish Sawyer-man who had allowed the devil to use him to bring Ebola into Nigeria and cause a panic in some of the most wonderful 170 million people in the world. She should be afraid of Ebola or worried about getting it. She wasn't even interested. All she could think about was that Mukhtah from NYSC was getting married and he had the guts to invite her and he expected her to come. She smiled through the tears that were falling down her eyes.
'No' she sniffed. 'I have not touched anyone, I'm safe'. She responded to her sister-in-law.
She was so spaced out, all she wanted to do was drop the phone and sleep. She wasn't interested in everything she liked this moment. Her dear doctor friend would tell her she was exhibiting signs of clinical depression. She was Christian enough to know that clinical depression was of the devil. Even though her friends from other quarters would disagree.
'Okay, take care of you, love. I'll call you later today'.
She sniffed and blew her nose not ready to stop crying. She was upset at Mukhtar. He had sent her a text that he was getting married. His mother was uncomfortable with him marrying a southerner and other crazy stuff like wanting to see her grandchild before she dies.
Mukhtar was granite black and totally nondescript, she had followed her around camp like a puppy dog and she treated him as such. She was sweet and nice to him in the way girls are sweet and nice to guys whom they could never marry. It was a trap though and she never knew when she became fond of him.
She didn't know when the puppy love had changed into something that she would even consider. She hoped this was not desperation smelling through. She felt like Mukhtah was even gloating somewhat. Drats! Stupid boy, she’s sure he was hurt and wanted to show her he had finally fond someone.
Her reputation was taking a hit and some measure of her heart. She wasn’t in love with him, she had inadvertently let him in.
"Stupid, stupid guy, you are nothing to me. I don't even have the energy to prove it to you that I don't give a hoot"
Tanya felt like burrowing into a magical hole and disappearing into the hole never to be seen again. But that was not to be. She was an adult and it was preposterous for her to think that she could lie in bed all day when other adults were working and making a life.
She had to do her part even though it felt like her world was falling apart. She couldn't call her mom and her best friend was in the UK, she had just delivered a daughter.
'Selfish friend, you' she muttered. You haven't even gone to see your bestie, the ones who are important to you, here you are crying over a guy who doesn't accord you the respect you deserve. 'O ga o!'
That acted like an elixir that restores self-esteem, she sat up in bed and started laughing hysterically.
"You sha like to take unserious things serious, I am not going for the wedding sha. He is not important enough for me to spend valuable resources travelling to Abuja to attend the wedding of a stranger and someone who she thought was her puppy".
She wasn't a feminist at all even though you might interpret her actions to be that of a feminist. She was just practical. Her cousin and siblings had advised her over and over that marrying a Muslim was out of the question. She was catholic and didn't see what could go wrong. Getting born again in college didn’t count. She knew right from wrong but she couldn’t say that she was categorically committed to God.
After all everyone was worshipping God in their own different way. When the world is over, God would decide whose good deeds outweighed the bad deeds and let them into heaven. Although she had never read it in the bible, she knew the basic doctrines by hearsay*.
Mahmoud sat down with Gbolahan Dada for a drink. He was a big man effortlessly. He was one of those people who never had to do 'fake it till you make it' because he was born into money. It smelled all over him. He came from wealth and it showed.
"Thank you for the intro, I am indebted to you"
Mahmoud laughed it off and waved his hand but he didn't forgive the debt. They had just concluded a business meeting that yielded a couple of millions and they were excited at it. Mahmoud looked at him suddenly with that faraway look in his eyes.
'You know I wouldn't normally ask but we are as good as brothers. Did you say you saw... that you saw Ada at the Abuja Airport?'
"You know I did?" Gbolahan laughed knowing "the firewood is still burning eh?" He looked at him sympathetically "Did I tell you that she is now born again also?"
"It couldn't go off just like that. I'm sure all I have to do is see her for the fire to start burning in her" Mahmoud said.
"I knew Ada from the age of 16-21 years, I can assure you that born again or not, I can still have her. Her body would not have forgotten about me".
"I'm sorry about everything that happened. Life sometimes happens that way”
Mahmoud sighed and sat down, reminiscing, “It is possible the stars weren't aligned or whatever it is those damned astrologists say, twisted people. My mom would always say, the heart wants what it wants but sometimes it’s not meant to be and she is usually right".
Gbolahan apologised to his friend.
He could have told him that lust was the issue but it was more than that. It was first love for both of them and it had left the both of them deeply wounded. Love, properly defined as a love-attraction, when not properly managed can damage the souls of the ones involved. Ada, being the woman had faced the challenges she would have being the wife of a Hausa man squarely and decided she couldn't go ahead with it.
Whether her parents or Aunts strong armed her, no one knew. All they both knew, Mahmoud and he, was that Ada did her traditional wedding without informing anyone of her best friends at college.
When she returned to college, the day Ada came to inform Mahmoud of her traditional marriage, Mahmoud strong armed her and they had sex. Ada left there crying, sex or no sex, she was still married and it couldn't be annulled because of course she had slept with her husband after the Ngba Ukwu.
Ada had probably gotten over it but Mahmoud never had.
Everything had seemed to be going on fine with their relationship or so Mahmoud said. She had visited home for holidays, and came back married. Her parents apparently took advantage of Mahmoud's naivety. They had done the Igba nkwu and she was married in the eyes of all her family even though the white wedding wasn't done until 6 months later.
She gave birth three months after the wedding. Gbolahan didn't tell Mahmoud about it immediately. Gbolahan became Mahmoud's bodyguard because for that period of 6 months leading to her white wedding, he was lost. He was drunk every night. It was a nightmare for Gbolahan because he had to stay sober and get them back to their apartment every night.
He was afraid Mahmoud would die.
Ironically, when he returned, he switched off from relationships and threw himself into managing his father's company and after a suitable time had passed, he asked his mother to find him a beautiful wife, he got married and that was that.
They had three beautiful boys and he had a resemblance of a life if you couldn't call it happy. Gbolahan worked with him the first six years then he cut him loose and started his own company.
'Will you throw a party and invite her?' Mahmoud looked at him, a carnivorous glint in his eye.
"You must be nuts. No. I won't do that to both of you".
'Her daughter is what, 16 years? I'm not planning mischief. We are close enough to be family'
'Do you think I'm stupid? She’s no family of yours. Even if you suddenly became her husband's best friend, I won't believe you. You guys were too close. The attraction was the stuff that everyone dreams off’
'She won't come to my party, but she will come to yours' Mahmoud continued as if he hadn't heard Gbolahan's answer.
'I am so sorry' he breathed. 'I have a conscience. I won't help you break up anyone's marriage. My mother taught me how to respect covenant'
Mahmoud snorted ' You that breaks covenant with your wife from time to time. Please stop that rubbish and start planning the party"
'I have enough fear for God to not be blatant about it. I am not proud of it. We won't speak of this again'
"No problem. I'll find another way. You know how creative I can be"
He smiled in a sinister way and Gbolahan found himself praying for mercy to sort everything out. He was not even sure he believed in God anymore but as soon as he clashed with something that was more than him, he automatically turned to God. That was weird right? He smiled at Mahmoud and said, "You throw a party, I will come with my family".
Mahmoud looked at him and laughed.