Hello, people! This week’s continuation of the Heartbreak Series is a long one, but I assure you it’s the best so far!
So Chris went through one rough heartbreak and was in the doldrums until he went for a wedding, and met an exceptional young woman – Eduwa. Today, you’ll be reading her own story as we build up this piece to its unexpected climax… It’s a long one, so make sure you’ve gotten a comfortable seat and drink at least first – you’ll love this one!
If nothing at all, Chris was cautious at this sudden new interest he seemed to have developed in Eduwa, but first of all, it was taking all of his effort to avoid focusing on the elephant in the room – that wheelchair. What was up with that?
He’d been thinking of her and what her story was right from the moment he’d sat in the taxi that drove him home a week ago. It was, however, obviously not the best of topics to be running through his mind as he sat outside her office at Akorful, Gyemibi and Associates before his first interview of the day.
Apparently, there was a series of 3 interview appointments set up for shortlisted associates in one day here, but the twist was that failing to make it through one automatically disqualified you from the subsequent interview. He’d already counted 5 young lawyers step in in the past hour, and he was still amongst the 8 remaining…all 5 had exited with grim looks on their faces that didn’t need a psychic to interpret as failure.
Ei this woman too, her head tron like so? He mentally mused as he adjusted his tie once more. She couldn’t be so bad after all…could she? At this point now, the last thing on his mind was her backstory.
“Mr. Christopher Asumeng? The Administrator will see you now.”
That was Ms. Akorful’s secretary, Erica, from her desk. She smiled at him coyly as she depressed a button on her workstation to automatically open the crafted oak door.
Taking a deep breath, he adjusted his better suit’s jacket before entering the office.
The first thing that struck him was exactly how much bigger it seemed to be than his apartment! He surreptitiously scoped out the office, taking in the black, white, and overall silver theme of the furnishings.
“Good morning, Chris. Do have a seat so we can start.” Eduwa’s voice welcomed him from the other end of the room where she sat at a wide glass/steel desk.
He took his seat in response, smiling nervously. “I’m really grateful for this opportunity, Ms. Akorful. Thanks for considering me.”
“Oh, it’s just an interview. And we want the best for ourselves too – if Sammy’s continuous hyping is anything to go by.” She smiled, and they began.
After the initial 5 minutes or so of awkwardness, Chris warmed up to her style of questioning and they began to interact quite smoothly. 45 minutes later, they were done and Christopher was on to the next interview!
Everything did go on well, ending with a firm handshake from Lawyer Akorful before noon…which made the email he received the next day even more surprising.
Thank you for taking the time to meet with our team about the Junior Associate position at Akorful, Gyemibi and Associates. It was a pleasure to learn about your skills and accomplishments.
Unfortunately, our team did not select you for further consideration for that position…”
His eyes blurred at that point and he bowed his head at his sitting desk. Back to the drawing board I guess…he smiled wryly.
Eduwa was on her way to meet up with her fiancé, Minister Gerald Fofie, for a late dinner at a new restaurant – the Royal Hills Restaurant – nestled at the foot of the mountains just outside the city.
It always surprised her friends, old and new, whenever they would find out that she was currently going out with a pastor. Maybe it was the fact that she’d actively danced salsa since her undergrad days and even went on to compete in a few national competitions – winning the last one she attended with her dance partner and then boyfriend, Rick Hamza, a few years back. Or the fact that she’d been seen at almost every red carpet event of the past few years in blazing fashions that tended to skirt ever so closely to the boundary between decent and revealing…
No matter what it was, she’d take their surprise in good stride, reminding herself that they were entitled to their opinions. She didn’t feel it necessary to explain to them that she’d had enough of the fast life to last her a lifetime and besides, there was always a time for everything – even dragging the young Minister to a salsa event from time to time!
She admitted they made an interesting couple – the calm, pragmatic, young, Evangelical pastor juxtaposed with the bright, bubbly, young lady filled to the brim with an excess of joie de vivre. They’d, however, managed to forge a unique relationship over the past 11 months that suited them just fine.
A sudden flash of lightning split the sky to the east out of the dry sky, seconds before the thunder boomed. Thunder and lightning out of a dry sky? Interesting…
She’d just rounded a particularly tortuous series of bends in the road when a large haulage truck barrelled off one of the connecting roads, virtually out of nowhere, directly into the main road! Then, it seemed just like they described in the novels and those near-death stories. Time slowed to a crawl for those few seconds as she took in the slumped figure of the driver at the wheel, the foghorn blaring out one loud blast as she slammed the brakes an eternity too late before the behemoth plowed into her Ford Fusion!
She blacked out almost instantly, mercifully being spared the terrifying sight from within the car as it flipped over once before coming to rest on the shoulder of the road, right at an empty bus stop as if by warped design.
It was almost half an hour before she regained some semblance of consciousness again. A ticking noise had gradually increased in intensity until it broke through the weight of darkness around her, causing her to wince as she gradually opened her eyes.
She was so confused right then. The annoying ticking sound was from her hazard lights going at it, but she didn’t remember flipping them on. She reached for the knob in the centre of her dashboard but…it wasn’t there. The next thing to puzzle her was the feeling of something wet on her face. But I was driving just now, wasn’t I?
Lifting her right hand to wipe her face, it came away with water. She then noticed the staccato of raindrops on the roof of the car, closely seconded by the absence of her windscreen! To be more exact, the remains of the glass were in a multitude of shards all over the dashboard and front seats of the car. That was what convinced her finally that she had just been in a car crash.
Surprisingly, she took the news relatively well – the shock, probably. A single thought, however, seized her at this moment – I’ve got to call for help.
Gingerly, she reached for her bag still miraculously strapped into the passenger seat, feeling around within it for her phone. Bringing the display up to her face, she lightly tapped on it to activate it before dialing Gerald’s number. His number rang for 3 times before she gave up trying to reach him.
I’ve warned him so many times about not answering his calls – of all times to make my case for me…
Another thought suddenly occurred to her. How come I’m not in any sort of pain?
Almost as if she’d been heard, a sharp pain suddenly lanced through her lower back, radiating tendrils toward her feet along her legs. She stifled the scream that came out halfway, turning it into a long moan.
Gotta call Daddy…
She’d just started to dial her father’s number when the darkness started creeping in from the edges of her vision – she was slowly passing out again. Luckily he picked the call on the very first ring with a jolly, “Hello Number One!” That happened to be his running Dad Joke about her being his first child.
Even now, Dad?
“Daddy, help! I’m in a crash at-” The sudden loud beeping of her phone signaled its automatic shutdown due to the full drainage of its battery.
“No…” she whimpered as the phone screen went dark in her hand, shortly followed by her vision as she passed out once more.
It would be over a week before she managed to piece the details of that night together from different sources.
A diabetic driver off his meds…a brutal car crash that rendered the car unrecognizable and unsalvageable after 2 somersaults and a miraculous landing less than 5 feet from a sheer drop into a ravine…the mad dash Lawyer Akorful and 3 of his aides made in 2 separate cars towards the Royal Hills Restaurant, arriving there scant minutes before the ambulance…the harrowing trip as she lapsed in and out of consciousness in the ambulance with him sitting by her…to her finally regaining full consciousness 3 days later at the state-of-the-art Specialist Hospital ICU.
Lawyer Akorful would always add at this point whenever recounting this story, the “disheartening and soul-crushing thoughts that were running through [his] head” at that moment.
“I thought of my wife and how it felt when she passed away just before Eduwa graduated from Secondary School. I knew I couldn’t stand to lose her, or any of my other children. That was when I promised God I would go back to church again and quit smoking and drinking alcohol if He returned my firstborn back to me. And He answered my prayer 3 days later!” He would always end with a grin at this point. If the person asking were to, however, question why he still seemed to have a soft spot for the occasional Montoya Cabernet his answer would always be the same, delivered with a boyish smile.
“I am a work in progress, and my Saviour still has more work to perfect in me.”
From the moment she woke up, however, Eduwa knew something was wrong – from her father, to her sisters, to Gerald. They wouldn’t look her directly in the face – it was as if there was something they feared she would see in their eyes.
She’d almost vainly asked for a mirror first within the hour after she regained consciousness (just before food, though) and was relieved that the only mark on her face was a fading bruise on her right temple. No horrific disfigurement there, whew! They did seem to be avoiding something though.
She only managed to talk for a short while that day before getting too tired to continue. She did manage to note the apparent relief with which they piled out of the room, save for her father who almost reluctantly left the room.
“I’m in a suite on this same floor, Eduwa. Buzz for me with that switch by your bedside and I’ll be here in a second, okay?”
She planned to sleep till the next morning, but apparently her system was fed up with all that sleep because her eyes popped open from a dreamless sleep just past 1:00am by the clock on her bed stand. Taking a deep breath to summon courage, she hesitated a brief minute before buzzing for her father.
True to his word, within 5 seconds there was a light tap on the door before he stepped into the room.
“Is everything okay, Eduwa?” He had a worried look on his face matched by an equally concerned voice.
“I’m okay, Daddy. Just woke up and can’t sleep again. I wanted to talk to you a bit…”
“Okay dear, I’m here now.” He pulled a seat closer to her bedside, clasping her smaller hand in both of his large hands as he sat.
“Daddy, I can tell there’s something you’re not telling me. What is it? I promise, I can take it.” Her voice was calm and controlled, save a small tremble at the end that nearly gave away the inner apprehension she was bravely keeping in check.
The warring emotions were visible in his face for a second before he smoothed his face once more. He took a deep breath after a minute-long period of silence before he spoke up.
“The doctor called it ‘Anterior Cord Syndrome’. It occurred when one of your vertebrae was temporarily knocked out of alignment during the accident, affecting the blood supply of your spinal cord…he said you still feel touch and position sense in your legs but no pain or temperature sensation there…and barring any miracle, you may never walk again.”
A solitary tear rolled down his face as he bowed his head, clasping her hands tightly as he tried not to break down in front of her. None of his opponents at the bench would have recognised the tough lion of a lawyer just then. He couldn’t keep the tears back any longer the moment she wrapped her hands around him, trying to comfort him!
“I’m fine now Daddy, let’s just focus on that.” Her brave words were only betrayed by the persistent wobble in her voice now. She was terrified to say the least, and could only hold on to him too even as he hugged her back. Somehow, repeating those words over and over again seemed to calm her down.
“I guess you’re right, Eduwa. You’re alive and you have all of us around you to love you and care for you until you get better. You’ll be fine.” He sniffed a few times before sitting up to envelope her in a large hug this time.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you. I really am. But I’m here now. I promised your mom I’d take care of you girls, and I failed you that night. It won’t happen again.”
His mentioning her mother was the last straw as the pent-up emotions gave way to a flood of tears. This time, he held her tight and kept repeating over and over again, “It’s okay, it is well,” as he rubbed her back just like he used to do whenever she fell down or scraped a knee as a child, a lifetime ago it seemed.
She slept off in his arms, waking up to the first colours of dawn lying on his chest as he softly snored next to her. He’d apparently climbed into bed after she’d fallen asleep. It was honestly pretty difficult deciding who was the closest to their father of his 3 daughters. She was his first child, Kuukuwa was his last, and Kwegirba was the sweetest. This wasn’t special treatment – he really did have a heart big enough for all three of them, and having him there was the first indication that she could get past this tragedy….that, and the Minister.
She fought to still her fear that threatened to rise once more.
I’m alive. I have my family and my fiancé. It will be well. God is on my side.
Shortly after being discharged home 3 weeks later, it appeared she had vastly overestimated a major part of her support system.
The first indication of what would come after occurred the week she started Physiotherapy. The hospital had provided her first wheelchair and she was getting used to the feel of it and how to manoeuvre it around the facility. It was hard work, and the daily workout was exhausting. 3 days of it and she was ready to throw in the towel one evening, all her frustrations focused on that damned chair.
Gerald had just arrived for his daily visit shortly after her session ended, but this time he was not alone.
“Edda, this is Apostle Bishop Jericho. I’ve prayed about it, and I think God wants him to heal you.”
The furtive manner with which the short man who looked to be at least in his 40s following him looked around the room before smiling suddenly when he noticed her staring at him immediately put her off!
“Don’t worry my daughter – you can just call me Bra Jericho. I am here because my junior brother here called me to come to his aid. Kyia me kakra eh?” He extended a hand which she reluctantly shook. Something else about him didn’t seem right. Maybe it was the long red robe bound with a large white sash…or the scruffy facial hair he seemed to be desperately trying to cultivate. Either way, she was not cool with this.
What is Gerald of all people trying to pull here? Her confusion at all this was heightened by the regard (or its lack thereof) she knew he happened to hold these ‘Spiritualist Pastors’ in and couldn’t believe that he would go in for one of them under any circumstance.
Perhaps noticing the quizzical expression on her face he forged ahead bravely.
“You see, I don’t like to blow my own trumpet-,” Horn!, she corrected him mentally.
“ – but I have helped a lot of unfortunate peoples like you. In fact, I just left one of the Ministers’ house yesterday. He wanted some protection before going out to campaign and I just told him one or two things to do. Just like I warned him pɛɛ, he call me back this evening to tell me that someone put poison in his food to kill him, but it didn’t work!”
At this, she cast a deadpan look at Gerald, who was deliberately looking at nothing outside through the large windows. Just to get it over and done with, she quietly listened to first Bra Jericho’s story about relatives on her mother’s side of the family wanting to destroy her destiny, then a complex number of things to do with his special brand of olive oil to overcome the ‘spirit of paralyse’.
They had their first bitter argument after Jericho left that evening. The next one was when he came to the house a-visiting the week after she left the hospital to find the expensive bottle of oil unopened.
“You think we’re all made of money like your dad, eh?! When somebody is trying to help you, can’t you see it? Don’t you want to help yourself?! Do you want to be like this forever?!” He railed at the top of his voice, so mad he didn’t see the effect each word was having on her as she flinched away from each barbed word.
Then the visits dwindled. Excuses were said, then texted, over missed appointments.
“Church stuff,” was the favourite excuse. Then one day, it became a deafening silence – her birthday.
She took a deep breath before blowing out her candles that evening, accepting the obvious truth at last – Minister Gerald Fofie had succeeded in surreptitiously deleting himself from her life…and she would be fine regardless.
(to be continued/concluded)
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