‘Step Back, Dad!’ (22)
It is episode 22 today. Thanks for following all the way. Cheers!
I took his frail hands in mine. He was asleep and under intensive care. It had been two days and there had been some improvement. Prayers were ongoing in the church and even in the hospital as we received many visitors from other denominations. Many ‘top’ men of God came in to encourage us and phone calls were so many, we had to switch off our phones at some point. Never knew my father was this loved.
Deaconess Folarin proved herself a worthy lover and attendant. I watched as she fluttered around my father and how warmly she received guests. My heart warmed towards her. My father needed someone urgently and if he wanted her, I would give them all the support I had. No more reservations.
Bro Tunde was also fantastic. He was more like the ‘errand boy’… always available, never complaining. I wondered how a highly-placed man like that would stoop so low and offer himself to do petty things like fetching clean clothing for my dad. My respect and admiration for him escalated.
Segun, too, was in and out. As soon as he had a break at work, he would rush down to the hospital and he always brought some flowers. Then he would sit by my side and try to encourage me.
The least person I expected a visit from my Managing Director, Chief Adekunle. I had called him and explained why I needed some break from the office. The next day, he called back to say he was downstairs at the lounge and needed to see my father. It was a pleasant surprise and I thanked him profusely for his time. He simply waved his hands and muttered it was nothing. I was simply amazed at how both men conversed like they had known each other for years.
Now as my dad was asleep, I watched as the doctor observed him carefully and wrote down some things. Then he looked at me and smiled. “You should get something to eat. It’s been two days and I do not want another casualty in my hands.”
I smiled back. “I will. I just want him to be okay.”
“He will be. You take care of yourself too.”
Just then, my father woke up with a little cough. The doctor patted his back. “Welcome back to the world. Hope you enjoyed your sleep?”
Dad cleared his throat. “Yes, Yes, I did. Can I take this bed home with me?”
Everyone laughed. My dad still had his sense of humour even on hospital bed.
“My baby”, he turned to me. “You are still here?”
“Yes, dad. Where else would I be?”
“You should be with your man.” He teased with a wink. “My fiancé can take good care of me.”
I chuckled. “I don’t have a man, dad. I have just you. You are the only man in my life right now.”
The doctor excused himself, leaving my dad and I alone in the room.
“Can you please raise this bed for me?”
I pressed a button and soon, he was in a sitting position.
“I have learnt so many lessons through my short time here and I thank God for everything that has happened to me. I see I am greatly loved and even after you leave, I will never lack love. I know that now. Which is why I am scared for you.”
“Scared for me? Why?” I asked out of curiosity.
“I know I have not been a supportive father. If I had been, by this time you should have married or should be in the process, but because of me, you are single. I do not want to die and leave you unloved.”
Now I was scared. “Please, don’t even speak about dying. The doctor said you are fine and when we follow his advice faithfully, you always will be. You will live long enough to see my children. About love, that will come at the right time.”
“But what if I don’t? I should tell you something I should have told you long ago. This isn’t the first time, my dear. Those years you were at school, I strictly instructed that no one should let you know anything. I was not about to let my daughter leave school work because of her ailing father.”
“But, that isn’t fair, dad. I should know everything about you.”
He grabbed my hands tightly. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I just felt since I would be okay, there was no need to worry you. I just want you to be happy, though I have been doing a bad job of that lately.”
“My happiness lies in you being hale and hearty.”
“Right now, mine lies in you being married. If tomorrow, I have a worse attack, God forbid, I will blame myself over you. I have seen how Segun behaves around you and I am sorry I was an obstacle, but if you still want to go ahead with him, you have my full approval.”
“Segun?” It came out as a whisper. “You now want me to marry Segun?”
“Yes, I want you to marry him if you love him.”
“But you had some reservations about him before.”
“Well, the reservations of a doting father. I just want the best for you.”
“And what if the best isn’t him?”
There was a brief silence.
“You have another man? Is he igbo?” There was a sparkle in his eyes.
I smiled. “Dad, you will never change.”
“Don’t mind me. I just want a God-fearing man for you.”
There was a knock on the door and Bro Tunde breezed in. He was dressed formally and appeared to have come from work. He carried two bags.
“Good afternoon, sir. Good to see you are much better.”
My father beamed. “Yes, all thanks to God and to you. You have been as supportive as ever.”
I stood up to collect the bags. “Good afternoon, sir. You brought fresh clothes?”
Our eyes locked for a while before he spoke. “Yes and some food for you.” He smiled and I felt the usual butterflies in my stomach.
“Thank you.” I smiled back. How thoughtful of him! Our hands brushed as he passed the bags over to me and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Quickly I rushed to the nearest table and tried to regain control. I glanced briefly at my dad and he was staring at me in a weird way.
After some minutes of conversation between the men and I pretending to be ‘busy’, Bro Tunde took his leave. Immediately, he shut the door, my dad turned to me.
“What was that about?”
“That thing between you and Tunde”
“I see. Or is he the ‘best’ you referred to earlier?”
“And if he is not?”
“Well, I just don’t want you to be in a wild goose chase.”
“What do you mean?”
“He once told me he was interested in a sister in the church, though he never mentioned the name.”
Really??? My heart suddenly melted. Another sister? Now who could that be? My mind did a thorough scan. Nike? Kemi? Blessing? Nkem? Sarah? Or even Tayo? And to think he was hitting at me at some point when he had interest in another sister… What kind of game was this? I was really angry. If he thought he could ‘play’ me, then he would be sorry he did.
My phone rang and it was the M.D. He wanted me to be at work urgently tomorrow. I wondered what it was for since he had given me the week off. I had lost track of office updates since Dad’s ailment. I prayed it would be something good.
There was another knock and Segun walked in with another set of flowers. I wondered who the flowers were really meant for. For dad or me?
Dad was very happy to see him and they chatted for a while. Sometimes, dad tried to bring me into the conversation but my heart was far, far away with another man who had just hurt me deeply.
“Chi?” Segun broke through my thought.
“I just asked if you would like to step out for lunch.”
“Of course, she will.” Dad answered before I could gather myself together. “She has had enough of me. Needs a better company. Don’t worry , I will be fine.”
Deaconess Folarin took that moment to walk in with food in her hands and my dad was happy to see her. “Ha! My own better company has arrived.”
I had no other choice than to take up Segun’s offer. I picked my purse and reluctantly walked out of the ward.
“I look terrible.”
Segun laughed. “Maybe a little, but I have seen you in worse, so no need to feel uncomfortable around me.”
As I walked beside him to the nearest restaurant, I wished I were with someone else, a man who would tell me that he loved me just the way I looked, whether I was gorgeously dressed or was on a dress I had been wearing for two days.