‘I have just received a very sad call’, I told my mum as I dropped my phone on the dining table where we had been having our meal and chatting away.
‘From who? ‘My mother asked.
‘Its Chioma, mummy. Chioma’s mum is in a terrible condition. According to Chioma she has got a swollen leg’.
‘What?’ my mum shouted. ‘How?’
Chioma and I have been childhood friends. We not only grew up in the same neighborhood before they relocated to their own apartment at the other side of town, we went to the same primary and secondary school. We would have even gone to the same university, if my dad had not insisted I went to Unilag because of my field of study. Despite the separation, our friendship blossomed. We were like sisters and her mother was like a mother to me.
So you can understand why the news about her mum’s condition didn’t sit well with us. We immediately suspended our meal, cleared the table and headed straight to my mum’s car. We were going to their house right away to find out what happened and what we could do to help. I didn’t know what to expect. Chioma had mentioned over the phone that it began two days back when her mum was about to go visit a friend. She had tried to kick her bike. She got a slight injury in the process which she ignored. About an hour later she and her bike were brought back in her friend’s car because she had fallen and couldn’t get back on her feet. How mysterious. I thought, looking out the window as each rolling of the wheel got us close to our destination.
When we arrived at Chioma’s place, we met what I least expected. Chioma’s mum laid on the bed with a leg swollen largely from the lap region and it oozed of a foul smell. We couldn’t find any words to speak. We just sat down and wept uncontrollably. It was a terrible sight.
After a while, my mum quietly asked Chioma’s eldest brother what they had been able to deduce as the cause of the problem. He began to tell her that the doctor said it was a liver problem, but his Uncles had been insisting that it was their Father’s relatives who were jealous of their success thus far, that were responsible. As they discussed, I turned my eyes on Chioma’s mum, who all the while since we arrived, had her face against the wall. She had not looked in our direction but we heard her whimper. I began to ask myself all manner of questions. This was a woman very committed to Church work. She hardly missed services and her life was really an example of Christianity. So where did this come from? As I sat lost in thought, I saw Chioma come to where I was and whispered in my ears to follow her. She looked calm and was not as dishelved as I thought she would be. Thank God, because I was already wondering how I would console her when I could barely think properly.
When we got outside, under the shade of the mango tree, we sat on the long bench and Chioma spoke. ‘I know you are confused right now about this incident. Believe me, I’m more confused. I have cried, prayed and questioned God these past two days. I’m still praying and somehow in the midst of my confusion I have been able to grasp some things about life. I believe strongly that my mum will be well again and as unreasonably as this sounds, I see that God has a hand in this. How he should think of us to bring forth such testimony, is a huge thing.’ She paused and looked at me more closely, then she continued. ‘Elizabeth, Its not only when good things happen that we should ask, like Job in the bible did when he said “what is man that you think too much of him?”. Today, I had wished that my mother just die as I watched her scream in unbearable pain. But you know what?
‘No’, I quietly replied.
‘Things don’t work that way. God had a plan before this happened, and that is what must be. That is what I pray should be. My mum will make it and with understanding she will say, ‘who am I that God should bring forth such great testimony from me’. This will end soon’.
I was so amazed as Chioma spoke. Her words really uplifted my spirit. I dried the tears off my eyes. As she took my hands and ushered me back into the house, I had hope again that things would turn out well.