Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Her Last Breath (Episode Twenty-Four)



Khayrah

My gaze shifted momentarily from the window to the doorway. I swallowed painfully and tried to remember what had led me to the hospital. I could spot Taofeek wearing a forlorn look as he folded his hands across his chest and lowered his head. My mother cried on my father’s arms and Fadilah rested her back to the wall, bawling her eyes out.

No way! It couldn’t be what I was thinking…well, what else could it be? What else would land me in a hospital and make my loved ones look despondent in front of the room?

I tried to sit upright and patiently remember all that had happened…but I couldn’t. There were a series of pipes connected to my nostrils and my back felt like they were paralysed. No! This couldn’t be happening! I couldn’t be here, fighting for my life!

I furrowed my brows as I gazed at my family members. They all wore hopeless faces, which made it obvious that something bad had happened. But what could have happened? Was I counting my last breath?

My head throbbed in pain as I willed myself to remember what had happened before I fell unconscious. I remembered reading Mama Kawthar’s message and preparing to pay her a visit. I remembered discussing with Aliyah and sharing my life story. Then, I had felt dizzy…and…

“Khayrah is awake!” Taofeek’s resounding voice filled the room as he hurried inside, along with others.

Taofeek was a shadow of himself. His damp shirt reeked of bad perspiration and his eyes looked red and swollen. I wondered how long I had been in the hospital and how he had fared when I was away.

“AlhamduliLlaah. You’re awake,” he muttered as he held my right hand and started to shed tears.
My mom placed a hand on my forehead as she wailed loudly. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“You shouldn’t say negative words in front of Khayrah. She will be fine, in sha ALlaah,” My dad, who rested his back to the wall, stated. He had said such with a confident tone but his face depicted the opposite.

He lowered his head and it was obvious that he hadn’t meant what he said.

I trailed my eyes around and spotted Fadilah and Aliyah standing beside the door. Their eyes were red and puffy and it was evident that they had also been crying.

Tears filled my eyes to the brim as I screamed in despair. “What happened? Why am I here?”
They all lowered their eyes as I gazed at them, searching for answers.

“Why am I here?” I bellowed at them, snatching the bedsheet away from my body in fury and attempting to pull the needle away.

“Please, calm down Khayrah. You fell unconscious. You were rushed to the hospital. Everything is fine, my love.” Taofeek remarked as he tried to hold my hand.

“No. Everything isn’t fine. You can’t tell me everything is fine while you all look this way. What happened?!” I yelled at them.

A petite-looking nurse who wore a red wig came in that second with a nervous face. She flung the red-coloured file on the shelf and hurried to the bed stand.

“How are you doing?”

“I need to know what really happened!” I screamed in fury.

The fair-complexioned nurse widened her eyes in shock as she stared at me. She glanced at others and instructed them to leave the room.

“I’ll call you in a few minutes.” She stated as she shut the door behind them.

“I’m glad you’re awake, Khayrah. How are you feeling?”

The petite nurse, whom I would later know as Nurse Eniola, was a pretty nurse who had a large scar on my forehead. I studied her and wondered about the kind of life she was living. Well, she was lucky. Really lucky. She didn’t have to count her last days.

“I feel like someone who knows that she will be dying soon,” I said, turning my head sideways and shifting my gaze reflectively to nothing in particular.

I recalled my childhood and how I had envisioned my life when I grow up. I wanted to become a TV presenter and radio host. I wanted to get married to the love of my life. I wanted to have at least five children. I wanted to live for a hundred and five years. I never imagined that I would be striving hard to survive while still in my twenties. I never thought I would face any challenge while growing up.

My wealthy parents could provide me with all I needed. Who could have thought that I would be battling with a sickness that money couldn’t solve?

“I want you to remain strong and determined. You have a loving husband and a caring family. They are here to support you while you fight for your life…”

“I have remained strong for long. I am tired of remaining strong. For how long will I keep managing this? I’m so tired,” I said as I sobbed on the pillow. Tears stung my eyes as I felt the wetness of the pillow.

Why does the hospital have to be my second home? Why can’t I be like Fadilah or Aliyah…or Mama Kawthar…or other healthy people who strive for other things in life- good job, money, successful marriage, righteous children… All I wished was just to be healthy and alive. That was all I wished for!

“I’m sorry, Khayrah. Should I place you on sedative? Maybe you need to sleep…”

“I don’t need to sleep. I need to leave this antiseptic-ridden hospital and go home. I need to be in the arms of my husband and listen to him praise me with loving words. I need to be strong and healthy to take care of my unborn child. I just need to leave here.”

“I …” the nurse was saying when I cut her off.

“What happened? What is my fate?”

“I’ll call your husband to break the news. Just a minute, Khayrah.” She said and walked out of the room.

Footsteps approached the bed some seconds later and I was certain that it was Taofeek. He kissed my left cheek and took a seat beside me, holding my hand and staring at me with a look of concern.
“I acted like a beast. I know that. I’m sorry.”

Taofeek chuckled as his gaze travelled over my face. “No, you didn’t. We all understand why you acted that way. I would do worse if I were in your shoes. You’ve tried, my love. You’ve fought hard for years. You are the strongest woman I’ve ever met.”

I smiled as I stared at him lovingly. “You look horrible. When last did you have a bath?”

Taofeek laughed. “It doesn’t matter, does it? The person I try to look handsome and ravishing for was lying unconscious? Why did I have to bath?”

I rolled my eyes. “Now, I’m awake. You should go home and shower. And eat too. I know you haven’t been eating.”

I searched his eyes and noticed that I was right. “My love, you have to be fine for me. I mean, we can’t both look horrible. If I look horrible and you do, we’ll be tagged as the horrible couple,” I said, laughing.

Taofeek’s face flickered with a smile as he stared at me. “Gosh! I love you, Khayrah. I wish all these weren’t happening.”

“What is my fate? Am I going to die soon? Our baby…can we still have it?”

Taofeek lowered his face and I noticed a teardrop from his eyes. “Tell me. You said I’m the strongest woman right? Tell me, Taofeek. There is nothing I can’t handle.”

“We lost the baby,” he sobbed as he held my hand tighter.

My mind was a whirl of confusion. I could feel my heart juddering in my chest. My child…my baby…my hope…

I tried to utter some words but my lips only shivered. Tears filled my eyes as I tried to fight away the picture of the fetus that I had imagined. It felt like my world was over and I was on a different planet, trying to find my way around. My hands trembled as I thought about everything- my dream of holding my child and watching her grow. I had imagined wearing a blue and black lace blouse and wrapper just like Ridwan’s wife, greeting the guests with a cheerful face as they storm into my naming ceremony. It was all over. Everything was over.

“That’s not all,” Taofeek said, blowing his nose.
I glared at him and wondered what could be worse than knowing my child was gone. What could be worse than knowing that you’ve lost someone you’ve spent all your life dreaming about?

“You have…you…” he cleared his throat. “You have just a few months to live.”

***
What could be worse than knowing that you are counting your last breaths? How do you think you’ll feel if someone told you that you have just a few weeks to live?

I had just woken up from my ten-hour sleep- as Taofeek revealed- and I wondered how I had reacted when he broke the news. I had been placed on sedative as the doctor believed that was the best way to calm me down.

I had just completed my zuhr prayer when my family members stormed into the room. Taofeek had earlier informed me that he would be leaving for home with Aliyah so that they could eat and have a change of cloth.

My mom had not been able to act composed when she came into the room this morning. She bawled her eyes out and had to leave the room in tears. Now, as I watched my family members enter the room, I was grateful that she looked more composed.

“My lovely daughter,” My dad sang as he smiled at me.

I smiled in return. “You remember the promise you made some years back?”

My dad’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. “What promise?”

“You made the promise when I was diagnosed with cancer. You said ‘Don’t worry, Khayrah. I will ensure that you survive this and get better…even if it means buying you the whole world. I have the money. I will take you to the best hospitals and ensure that you get the best of treatments. I promise you this, Khayrah.”’ I said, laughing.

“What I’ve come to learn is that one of ALlaah’s blessings, good health, is a great gift that money cannot buy or replace. This trial has taught me to appreciate every single second and to thank ALlaah for his numerous blessings that we take for granted. I have learnt to see this world as being ephemeral because our time here is limited. I have learnt to choose happiness over material things.

To love and cherish my family and appreciate every moment I share with them. To work towards my akhira and seek the favour of ALlaah. Dad, mom, Fadilah, this life is worthless, so utilise every single moment in making a mark and impacting on the lives of people.”

Fadilah cleaned her eyes with the sleeve of her blouse as she smiled at me. “My sister is brilliant. Wow! Such powerful words.”

“We love you,” My mom cried as she pulled me into a hug.

“I know that. I’ll never forget that.” I muttered as I smiled in relief.

***
“You broke up with Moshood? Why?” I gasped in surprise as I searched Fadilah’s face to be sure that she wasn’t joking.

Our parents had taken an excuse to meet the doctor and Fadilah had decided to fill me in with the latest updates.

“Things weren’t just working out. He has travelled for his Ph.D. It seems that he found another lady there.”

I rolled my eyes. “What if you’re just assuming?”

“He posted their pictures on his Instagram page. He called her butterfly. That’s my pet name. Look, Khayrah. I’ve done my findings. I’m following the lady’s account. She posts his pictures on a daily basis. Her captions are always love emojis. I further confirmed from Moshood’s friend, Yinka. He told me they are always together.”

“This is unbelievable. Have you confronted Moshood about it?”

“Of course! He denied it. We hardly talk, sis. Sometimes, twice a week. The connection was no longer there.”

“I’m sorry about that. You’ll find someone better, in sha ALlaah.”

“Like Taofeek.” Fadilah grinned as Taofeek entered the room, holding a large bag.
“I have great news,” his face loomed above me.

“What?”

“You’ll be discharged tomorrow. I also got a hold of your phone. You have loads of missed calls. Janet called to inform me that she’s on her way….and the estate women filled the compound immediately I arrived. I don’t know how they noticed me in just a few minutes,” Taofeek laughed.
“They’re expecting to see you tomorrow.”

I laughed. “How can we enter that estate without being noticed? Maybe we’ll hire an uber with tinted glasses.”

“Perfect solution!” Taofeek laughed as he sat beside me.

“I was just telling Khayrah that I want a husband like you.” Fadilah said as she got up from the chair.

“Ah, don’t wish for someone like me. Khayrah knows I’m a case.” Taofeek chuckled.

“Whatever. I’ll leave you two lovebirds alone because I know you want to kiss,” Fadilah winked at us as she closed the door.

“How did she know that? Gosh…I’ve missed your lips.” Taofeek smiled as kissed me deeply. “We’ll get through this. You and I. We will, my love.”

“By spending just a few months together?”

“We’ll make it our best. We’ll make it months that will be never forgotten in the history of time. We’ll spend every second showing each other love and affection. And I know for sure that you’ll stay longer than that,” he grinned as he pulled me into another passionate kiss.

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