He carried her and ran down the stairs. He did not know where he got the energy. As soon as he got out he called out to his neighbour, ‘Mr Balogun!’ He did not get a response. He shouted louder, ‘Mr Balogun, please I need help.’
The middle-aged man rushed out in his short and T-shirt. Immediately he saw what was happening, he called out to his wife, ‘Mummy Dara, run, bring the car keys and my wallet.’
She brought them immediately. Mr Balogun opened his car doors and they entered; Gabriel sat at the back and laid Sharon down with her head on his lap while Mr Balogun sat at the driver’s seat.
‘Just stay back with the children and pray along. It will be well in Jesus name’, he told his wife.
‘Alright dear’, the concerned woman who wore a blouse and a hurriedly tied wrapper on her chest said, ‘God go with you in Jesus name.’
‘Amen’, Mr Balogun said as he put the car in the reverse, out of the gate and drove off.
At the hospital, two nurses brought a stretcher to receive her. They placed her on it and wheeled it into the accident and emergency unit.
‘You cannot go beyond this point’, the nurses told him politely. ‘We will do all we can to ensure she is fine.’
‘Oh Jesus, my wife must not die’, he put his hand on his head. Mr Balogun was right beside him trying to pacify him while praying under his breath, ‘it will be well in Jesus name.’
Gabriel could not take it anymore. He kept pacing frantically up and down the corridor. The mere sight of the hospital was making him almost run crazy; he desperately needed to step out. ‘Mr Balogun, please give me some minutes.’ He came out of the building into the cool breeze of the night and walked to a quiet spot.
‘Lord, I know I have been far from you. I am the last person that deserves your audience right now but please, he went on his knees, do not let my wife die.’ ‘I lost my son, do not let me lose my wife too’, he cried.
After some minutes, he got up and went back into the emergency unit. ‘Have they said anything?’ he asked Mr Balogun.
‘No, nothing yet.’
They were there for another two hours without knowing what was going on. Finally, a man in scrubs came out and asked for Mr Okafor. Gabriel and Mr Balogun stood up immediately. Gabriel answered, ‘That is me; I am Mr Okafor.’
‘Ok please come with me’, the doctor said and entered a door different from the one he came out of.
Gabriel turned to Mr Balogun, ‘Please sit, while I go and speak with the doctor.’
In the office, the doctor asked Gabriel to take a seat.
‘Doctor, please how is my wife?’ He asked as he sat at the tip of the chair.
‘She is in the recovery room. She lost a lot of blood and was very close to death.’ He explained.
‘Lord, have mercy!’ Gabriel exclaimed and covered his mouth with his hand.
‘Doctor what exactly happened? What caused all this?’ He wanted to know.
‘Your wife was eight weeks pregnant but she had what we call a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. The foetus was not growing inside the womb but in the fallopian tube; it could not accommodate it so it ruptured, he explained in the most basic way, that was what resulted in the bleeding. We took her in for an emergency surgery and were able to stop the bleeding; she was also transfused with blood. However, all things being equal, she will be fine.’
‘Thank you very much doctor. Thank you so much’ he couldn’t have been more grateful. ‘But doctor, will she ever be able to get pregnant again?’
‘Yes, she will.’
‘Ah! Thank God. I had no idea she was pregnant.’ He told the doctor then paused, ‘Doctor, please did you say eight weeks?’
‘Well, the features of the scan were in keeping with eight weeks. Also when she regained consciousness, she told us her last menstrual period was about eight weeks ago.’
‘Eight weeks!’ Gabriel had not had sex with his wife in the past eight weeks. She did not give him the chance even if he wanted to. He did not want to believe what his instinct was telling him. He shook his head. ‘No, it cannot be’, he said as he stood up and walked out of the doctor’s office.
He got to the waiting area where Mr Balogun was eagerly waiting. He was still shaking his head, lost in thoughts.
Mr Balogun saw him approaching and shaking his head. He jumped to his feet. ‘No it cannot be; tell me your wife is okay,’ he said with so much concern.
It was at that point that Gabriel realized that his countenance was a total contrast to what it should have been. He brightened up a bit, ‘The doctor said she would be fine.’ He forced himself to smile.
‘Oh, praise God. God is faithful’, he started worshipping God.
‘Mr Balogun, please let me release you. It is already late. You should get going. I will stay back in case my wife needs anything. My regards and appreciation to your wife.’
Mr Balogun agreed with his suggestion and left.
Gabriel was allowed to check on his wife in the recovery room but was not allowed to stay for long. He was asked to go back to the waiting area till they send for him. As he sat in there, he kept thinking about what the doctor said. ‘Sharon could not have been having an affair’, he tried to convince himself. He knew things were bad between them, but he did not in his wildest dream think Sharon would do such an unbelievable thing. ‘Maybe there was a mistake with the date’, he told himself. ‘Maybe they meant 12 weeks’, he counted his fingers trying to recollect the last time he had had sex with his wife.The last two years had been rough for them. Sharon had not been able to conceive since they lost Chidi, their son.
They initially thought it was due to the psychological stress that resulted from their loss but they began to get worried when after a year of trying, she did not conceive. Suddenly, their worry was turned to joy when Sharon realized she was pregnant but unfortunately it resulted in a miscarriage. This happened on two occasions. Gradually, the pleasant and loving Sharon became a nagging, perpetually complaining and insulting wife. Things went from bad to worse and it got so terrible that the only reason they made love was that they wanted children and no longer because they derived pleasure in it.
As Gabriel sat there lost in thought, he gradually drifted off to sleep. At about 2am, a nurse tapped him and informed him that his wife was asking for him. He got up and followed her to where she was. She had been moved from the recovery room into a private room.
As he entered her room, she opened her eyes. She was looking much better than she was in the recovery room where she had so many tubes and wires connected to her. He was so glad to see his wife alive after what had just happened. He walked to her bed and held her hand ‘I was so scared I was going to lose you. I was foolish to have ignored your calls when you needed me. I would not have forgiven myself if anything happened to you’, he told her.
‘What did the doctor say happened?’ She was clueless as to what happened to her.
Gabriel narrated everything the doctor had earlier explained. ‘He said you were eight weeks pregnant.’ He waited to hear what she had to say about that.
She turned her face to the other side.
‘So it is true?’ Gabriel could not believe it. He was hurt and disappointed. He, however, knew then was not the best time to discuss such sensitive matters.’ Get some rest, I will be outside if you need me.’
Sharon did not say a word. She waited for him to leave before she turned her face back. She knew her secret was no longer a secret but she did not feel any remorse about it. As far as she was concerned her marriage was as good as over.
Gabriel went back to the waiting area and sat down. He was lost in thought. Everything that was happening to him seemed like a dream. ‘If this is a dream, please let someone wake me up’, he thought. He bent forward and rested his forehead on his hand. He recalled the genesis of their relationship. They met at a friend’s wedding. The bride was Sharon’s very good friend and course mate back in school while the groom was Gabriel’s colleague at his place of work when he was still with the Nigerian Breweries.
Gabriel spotted this young pretty lady out from among all the friends of the bride who wore the champagne gold and teal green aso ebi (traditional uniform). She stood out like a firefly in the dark night. Her beauty could not be concealed. Gabriel was determined to get to know more about the mystery damsel that was all over the place helping her friend, the bride, ensure things were in order. He initially did not plan to wait till the end of the wedding but his plans changed the moment he saw her. He did not mind waiting till midnight if that was the sacrifice he had to make to get to speak to her.
At the end of the wedding, he noticed her jumping from one end of the hall to another had reduced and so he patiently waited for her to take her seat. He walked up to her and introduced himself.
‘Hi! I am Gabriel.’
The chic, who by that time was so tired and exhausted, looked at him and to his great surprise said, ‘Can you pass me the drink over there?’
The bottles of drink on that table were empty. The people that ate at the table had finished all the drinks that were served on the table save the small bottle of juice that was right beside where Gabriel stood.
‘Sorry?’ he asked. He did not expect such a response. Perhaps, she could have waited awhile before sending him on an errand. She did not even say ‘please’.
‘The drink beside you’, she pointed ‘pass it.’
He gave her the drink and continued speaking. ‘I am a friend of the groom. I guess you are a friend of the bride?’ he hoped that would be an avenue for her to say something about herself.
The lady, at this point, had brought out her phone from her bag and was checking out posts on Instagram. ‘Sorry did you say something?’ she asked.
‘Yeah, I was just wondering if it was the bride or the groom you knew’, he was already getting repelled by her attitude.
‘The bride’, she answered still looking at her phone.
At that point, Gabriel was ready to end the conversation and leave. It was one thing to be beautiful and attractive on the outside but who you are on the inside mattered as much and perhaps even more. He could not stand snobs. Just as he was about to turn and leave, another lady in aso ebi walked up to him and said, ‘Excuse, the groom said I should call you.’ She sounded so pleasant. Gabriel wondered why he had not noticed her all along. Perhaps, because his eyes were focused on someone else.
‘Alright, thank you very much’, he said and then left to meet the groom. After he returned from speaking with the groom, he checked around for her but she was gone. He wished he could have another encounter with her. He decided to hang around a little more hoping, she will show up but after waiting awhile, he concluded that she had gone. Just as he was about driving out, he saw her outside the gate talking with another lady. She had removed her heels and head tie; she wore a pair of slippers and carried a bag which contained her shoes and other stuff. She still looked pretty despite the day’s stress and the removal of her makeup which had been light.
Gabriel parked his car and came down to talk to her. He approached her and politely asked her to give him a minute.
‘Hi! My name is Gabriel. I know this may sound weird but I have spent the last 30 minutes looking for you’
‘Interesting, do you need me for something?’ she asked politely.
‘For starters, please may I know your name?’
‘That is a lovely name you have.’
‘Thank you’, she smiled. ‘So why were you looking for me?’ She still did not get it.
‘Let me just go straight to the point. The moment I saw you, I had a longing to know you more’, he paused and went on ‘trust me, I do not usually do this but please I will really appreciate it if you will give me your phone number and, perhaps grant me the privilege of getting to know you’
Sharon smiled, ‘I do not also do this but I will give you.’ She called out her number and he typed it on his phone and that was the beginning of it all.
She had just finished national youth service corp and was applying for jobs. Gabriel helped connect her with someone he knew in a research firm. They got closer and after two months, they started dating.
Gabriel was a nominal Christian; he attended Sunday services but was too busy to go during the week. His work would not allow him even if he wanted to go. He was brought up in a Christian home. His father was a Deacon and his mother, a committed church member. They made sure he and his three younger sisters never missed church.
Did they really have a one on one relationship with God? One could not really tell. He grew up believing that being regular at church was all that mattered so he was satisfied with his spiritual state. More so, like most people think, he has a good job, a house, a car and things were working pretty well for him, why then did he need to fast or do all those things Christians do?
Sharon was not so much different. Although she had really high moral standards, she did not exactly have a relationship with God. She attended an Anglican church and was the typical ‘good girl’. She did not party, sleep around or do any of those things ‘bad girls’ did.
Their dating period went pretty smoothly. They were compatible and agreed on so many things including no premarital sex. They had the fear of God and from their childhood and Sunday school days knew God frowned at sex before marriage.
One day, about one and a half years after they started dating, she went to visit him at his place. He had had a long day at work and came back exhausted. She had the key to his apartment and so was there much earlier than him. She prepared chicken stew, Ogbonno soup and eba. He was so thankful to meet such a well-prepared homely delicacy. After eating, he felt so tired to drive her to the bus stop from which she was to take a Taxi home.
‘Tomorrow is Saturday; neither of us is going to work. Why don’t you sleep in the guest room and leave in the morning?’ he suggested.
Sharon had never spent the night in a man’s house before. She knew it was risky staying over but she also knew, walking alone in the dark lonely streets of his neighbourhood was equally dangerous. She was torn between the devil and the deep blue sea.
‘First thing tomorrow morning’, she emphasized. It is not safe to be here at this time, you know?’ She tried to explain the gravity of what was at stake to Gabriel who was already dozing off on the couch.
She tapped him to go in and sleep while she went into the guest room and retired for the night.
Around 3am, she felt someone touch her. She jumped up and saw it was Gabriel. He was putting on a singlet and his boxers.
‘Shhhh’, he hushed her placing his index finger on her lips. ‘I woke up about an hour ago and I have not been able sleep since then’, he explained.
‘But Gabriel, coming here at this time is asking for trouble.’ They both knew she was right.
‘Do not worry; we will be fine.’ He slipped under the duvet and moved closer to her.
‘Gabriel, stop it! Go back to your room.’ She told him as she tried to push him away.
‘Shhhh’, he hushed her again and kissed her.
Her defenses immediately became weak. She could not resist him anymore. All the feelings and emotions she
had bottled up broke out like a wild animal that escaped from its cage.
They made love that night and slept off afterwards. The next morning, when she remembered what happened, she felt terrible. She saw Gabriel lying beside her fast asleep; his presence disgusted her. She got up and left without waking him up. She hated herself for what had happened; she prayed to God to forgive her but still felt guilty and condemned every time the thought came to her mind. She had always wanted to get married a virgin but alas, things had changed.
Gabriel called her severally but she ignored his calls. Then, he came to check up on her. He also felt bad about what happened but unlike her, he was quick to put it behind him and moved on. He begged her and asked her to forgive him and explained to her that he had told God to forgive them. After much persuasion and plea, she forgave him.
Unfortunately for them, they didn’t learn from their mistake. She still went visiting on another occasion and this time around, they did not even wait till midnight before they ended up wrapped in each other’s arms. Sharon initially tried resisting but when she remembered it was not their first time, there was almost no point. After all, whether they did it once or they did it a thousand times, the fact remains that they had had sex before marriage. That was the lie the devil kept feeding her mind with until she succumbed again and again and then it became a norm.
One day, she discovered she was pregnant. Apparently, on one occasion, they did not use protection.
‘What are we going to do?’ She asked Gabriel as tears rolled down her face. ‘I am doomed. What will people say?’
Gabriel was silent, lost in thought.
‘We have to get married and do it fast’, she suggested.
‘That seems like the only option we have gotten’, he agreed reluctantly. Terminating the pregnancy was not even an option; it was both against their beliefs and very dangerous. Sharon was not ready to risk her life.
They informed their parents who were greatly disappointed in them and reluctantly went ahead with the wedding preparations which took place a month after. On many occasions, Gabriel found himself thinking that perhaps if the pregnancy had not happened, they would not have gotten married and found themselves in such a mess. He also fought with the thought that because Chidi was conceived out of wedlock, God decided to punish them by taking him.
‘Sir….Sir’, Gabriel felt someone tap him. He lifted up his head from his deep thought and saw a nurse standing in front of him. ‘The alarm on your phone has been making a noise for the past 10 minutes.
He snoozed the alarm and checked the time; it was 4:10 am. He had been so lost in thought; he did not know time had gone. He was tired and exhausted. There was no way he was going to able to go to work in that state not with his wife in the hospital.
He sent a text to his boss, Ms Funke Adetayo, “Good morning ma, my wife had a medical emergency which necessitated an operation. I am presently with her at the hospital. I would not be able to make it to work today. Sorry for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your understanding.” A few minutes after he sent the text, he got a reply “Being a committed and responsible man that you are, it is totally understandable. You may be exempted. Do know, however, that your absence will be greatly felt.” He saw the response and dropped his phone. He did not see a need to reply again.
He waited till it was morning then went home to get a few things for Sharon. He was told that because of the surgery, she could not eat anything yet so he helped get her toiletries and a few clothes.
As he got into the compound, he met Mr Balogun and his family about going out. Their two sons were dressed in their uniform while Mr Balogun and his wife were ready for work. He worked as an accountant for a private firm while his wife was a teacher in a private secondary school.
As soon as they saw him walked into the compound, they rushed at him.
‘Mr Okafor, how is she?’ Mrs Balogun had not stopped praying since they left for the hospital the previous day.
‘She is getting better now’, he said. ‘I came to get somethings for her.’
‘Oh, praise God. God is faithful.’ Mrs Balogun waved her arm in the air.
‘We will check on her in the evening by God’s grace’, Mr Balogun said.
‘Thank you very much. I am so grateful.’ Gabriel shook his hand.
He went in and freshened up. He saw the pool of blood he met his wife in and was so grateful he did not lose her.
He took the mopping stick, made a little soapy solution and started cleaning every blood stain. He was a neat person by nature and so knew that leaving the house in that state was not even an option.
Around 11am, he returned to the hospital.
He entered her room and met her asleep. The nurse told him she had been sleeping for a while so it was okay if he woke her. He moved closer to her and gently tapped her on the shoulder. ‘Sharon’, he said trying to wake her up.
‘Ben, where have you been?’ She asked from sleep.
‘Who is Ben, Sharon?’ he asked, wondering where that came from.
Her eyes immediately widened. She realized it was Gabriel standing beside her. ‘Benedict is the name of the nurse taking care of me’, she lied.
Gabriel didn’t believe her but chose to let the sleeping dog lie. ‘I brought some things for you. I just want you to know that I am here if you need anything.’
‘Thank you’, she said.
‘Oh, that reminds me.’ He reached into his pocket, ‘I brought your phone too, I was not sure if you needed it.’ As he brought it out and was about to hand it over to her, it rang. They both looked at the caller ID.
It was Ben.
To be Continued…
What do you think happens next?
Watch Out For Behind Closed Doors Part 3 next week Sunday. Don’t miss it.
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