“I will explain,” Jidenna said. “We will talk later.”
“What about now? Who is she?”
When he noticed Sandy Fayemi was getting closer to them, he quickly whispered.
“Please Lola, let’s talk later.” He began to move forward.
Lola kept looking at him without moving an inch. She was obviously bothered and confused. She asked herself who the woman could be. The name Fayemi sounded very familiar and she kept on thinking with her eyes on Jidenna, Sandy and the little boy she held in her arms.
“What are you doing here?” Jidenna asked her in a very low tone.
“What are you doing here?” Jidenna asked her in a very low tone.
The woman had a stiff look on her face. With the way she fixed her eyes on him, it became glaring, she wasn’t there to smile or play.
“I can’t continue like this,” She said with her voice raised. Lola could hear her. “He needs you in his life.”
Jidenna turned back and noticed Lola was still there. He glanced at Sandy and pointed at a direction. “We need to talk somewhere else.”
“I think my mother should join us in our discussion.”
“Don’t bring your mother into this.” He said in an angered tone. This time he didn’t caution the tone of his voice. “Let’s talk alone.”
Jidenna started to walk away without making sure Sandy was behind him. Sandy glared at Lola for a while, that Lola seemed to be uncomfortable with it. Lola gave her an uncertain look when she didn’t take her eyes off her. Sandy eyed her and decided to follow the route Jidenna followed.
Lola looked around her and noticed most of the nurses, workers were staring at her. She saw Oliver and he quickly looked at a document, pretending to be reading it. She moved towards him, and closed the document.
“Who is she?”
Oliver looked at her as if he is just seeing her at that particular time. “What did you just say?”
“Who is Sandy Fayemi and don’t you ever lie to me. Who is she?”
“She is someone we used to know around here.”
“Someone we used to know? That means most people who work here know her.”
He only nodded. She dimmed her eyes, thinking and then, she could remember why the surname of the woman sounded familiar.
“Is she related to Wendy Fayemi?”
Oliver nodded again.
“I need you to talk.”
“Yes, she is related to her. See, Dr. Lola. I am not the right person you should ask. In fact, why are you concerned about her? Do you have anything to do with Dr. Jidenna?” He smiled at her. “Is he your boyfriend?”
Lola gave him a sarcastic look and before she could utter a word, Melvin grabbed her arm. She looked at him surprised.
“I need to borrow her from you,” He said to Oliver.
“I think our conversation is over.” Oliver speedily marched away.
Lola removed his hand from her. “What is it?”
“I need to talk to you now.”
She didn’t have a choice. She followed him.
“Why are you asking me this question?” Duke asked Dr. Wole Bello as he sat across him in his large office. Bello requested to see him before going home.
“I need an answer and not a question.”
“That’s because your question is inappropriate. This is not how we do things here.”
“Dr. Duke! Must you always portray to be perfect? Must you always follow the rules? Can’t you bend it for once?”
“I am not perfect Dr. Wole and I know why you said that. I always follow protocol and I learnt that from you. I am surprised you are eager to know whom I will vote for as my top my two. It is not only going to be my decision.”
“I know but your decision matters.” He rose on his feet and moved towards the window. “As your boss, I am demanding to know your top two now.”
Duke heaved a long sigh. He didn’t want to disrespect the man he deeply respected. He spoke. “I won’t deny the fact that Dr. Lola has been terrific and effective. She has proven to be versatile. She has gone beyond doing her job for some of her patients, in fact, all of them. She always tries to make an impact and that is why she is first person on my list for the top two.”
Even when Wole was staring directly outside the window, Duke saw a smile. A quick smile but sunny and genuine.
“And your second?”
Duke shrugged. “I’m still trying to make a choice between Dr. Zara and Dr. Melvin.”
Wole looked at him. “What about Dr. Ahmed? He is in your field. Are you not impressed with him work?”
“I am. He is good but sometimes he seems distracted.”
He walked to his desk but didn’t sit. “Have you asked him why?”
“I am sure it is personal. If it was work related, he should have told me.”
“Dr. Duke, you see why I said you should break the rules sometimes. Break your rule.”
Gerald Duke smiled lightly and bowed his head. He put his hand on top of his upper lip and shook his head.
Wole added. “I am serious. Learn to be thoughtful when it comes to the people working with you. Show you care. Don’t hide it. You might appear to be insensitive but you have a delicate heart. I know I have not asked how you have been doing ever since you broke up your last relationship. I hope you are happy.”
Duke stared at him for a split second. He wanted to tell him how he felt about Lola but he had to know the truth if he was her father. He felt he was but he desired to hear it from his own mouth.
“I am happy sir.” He said. “People might not want to discuss what they are going through.”
“I doubt. Why don’t you ask before you conclude?”
“Sir, I just want to work and do my job but that does not mean I won’t show concern when I am being asked for help. If I can, I will offer my help, advice or solve their problems as long as I am capable of solving it.”
Wole wore a thick smile. “I will always say this. I admire you. I admire the man you have become. If only most of my wishes could come true, I really want you to be my son in law.”
His left eyebrow rose. “Do you have a daughter somewhere?”
“Duke,” he called his name, sat down and rested his back on the chair. He gazed up for a while and made eye contact with him. “I can’t answer that question for now. I’m sorry.”
“If you have made any mistake in the past, you can correct it now.”
“What makes you think I made a mistake?”
“It is obvious you have a daughter and you regret not being in her life.”
“You don’t know my story. You don’t know what I regret.”
“Then tell me your story.” Duke rose on his feet. “Talk to me. I can help. You are the one that just told me to be thoughtful and always ask if I feel someone might be going through something.”
Wole didn’t say anything. Duke sighed and questioned him without making eye contact. “Is Lola your daughter?”
Wole’s eyes widened and he stood. “What makes you think she is my daughter?”
“You know why. I have asked you your relationship with her mother but you bluffed me off. I know you care about Dr. Lola.”
“Why are you so concerned about Lola?”
“Yes. Why do you want to know if she is my daughter? You wouldn’t ask if you didn’t care about her. Do you care about Lola?”
Duke pointed at him. “You are trying to change the subject. You are trying to avoid answering me.”
“I will answer you if you answer me. Are you in love with her?”
“What! How can you ask me such a question?”
“Then it seems our conversation is over.” He glanced at his wristwatch. “I have a meeting with the new surgeon I am employing soon.”
Duke shook his head and attempted to speak but changed his mind. He just kept his eyes on him.
“Do you need anything?” Wole asked. “I have to prepare before I leave.”
“I don’t need anything,” he said walking towards the door. “I will see you tomorrow. Drive safe sir.”
“And you too.”
Duke walked out of the office.
Lola just couldn’t take her eyes off Melvin with her mouth widely opened. He has narrated what he wanted to tell her.
“Please say something,” he said to her. “You can’t just look at me.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“Do you think I should agree?”
The expression on her face revealed she was astonished. “A patient is asking you to be the sperm donor and you want to say yes because of money?”
“One million naira is good money.”
“This is not about money. This is about a child. Remember, you won’t be in this child’s life and it’s not right. It is unprofessional if you say yes to her offer.”
“I know but it will be done in secrecy. No one has to know. I won’t involve the hospital and besides, I don’t want to be a father. I don’t want a child.”
“You heard me. I don’t want a child. Not being in the child’s life is the best for me. I’m only going to be a sperm donor.”
“This is new to you. You haven’t done it before. What makes you think when the child comes, you won’t want to be in his or her life. What if the surrogate gives birth to a child you fall in love with?” She gives him a look. “What kind of surgeon are you. You are an obstetrics and gynecology surgeon. You work with pregnant women and help them give birth to several babies. Sometimes you even operate on them if there is a problem. How can you not want children?”
Melvin rolled his eyes. “Does it really matter? It’s my job. I am only doing my job Dr. Lola. This is my life we are talking about.”
“If I had a brother and you happened to be him, I would advise you think about it thoroughly. Don’t think about the money. Think about the outcome when you decide to say yes and bring a child into this world without being part of that child’s life.”
“You are talking as if people don’t do it.”
“I am not talking about people.” Lola said. “I am talking you, Dr. Melvin.”
She placed her hand on his shoulder. “Think about it, please.”
Lola approached the ward to check on some patients. On her way there, she saw Duke being friendly with Sandy. They were smiling and chatting. Sandy wasn’t with the little boy and Jidenna was not there either.
Where was he? She silently asked herself. She continued to look at them and this time around, with a frown on her face. Why was she with Duke? She noticed he was holding his bag. She knew he was planning to leave.
Why wouldn’t she leave him alone? Must she talk with him for long? What were they talking about? These questions paraded her mind.
She turned back. Jidenna was standing behind her.
“Are you ready to talk now?” She asked him.
“Not at the hospital. I want to check on a patient first before we leave.”
She wasn’t smiling at all. “I will check on some patients too.”
“Meet me at the car in fifteen minutes.”
Lola didn’t know when Duke passed them until she sighted him walking out of the entrance. Jidenna went away and she rotated but couldn’t find Sandy.
Ahmed and Zara continued to work professionally. They were with a group of other surgeons talking about the critical condition of a patient. An argument almost ensured but Ahmed tried to calm it down. After the debate, they went their way. Ahmed received a text message and read it. The moment he stopped focusing on his phone he saw Zara pointing at him.
“You can’t continue to ignore me.” She told him.
“I have not been ignoring you. We have been working together.”
“Cut the bullshit. We have to talk about what transpired between us in my house.”
“What is there to talk about? If we talk about it, will it result to anything meaningful?”
Zara gave him a look. “What do you take me for?”
“What do you take me for, Dr. Zara? What do you want?”
She looked around them before she offered him a response. “I could use some company, your company.”
He appeared surprised. “So that what occurred will happen again?”
“I don’t see anything wrong in it? We could do it again and again.” She bit her lower lip, peered directly into his mused eyes.
Ahmed gave a side faint smile. “I will not be cajoled. I am not a dice you can toss around anytime you like.”
“You are supposed to be happy. I am Zara.”
“And I am Ahmed. I will not be used for only pleasure.” Ahmed started to walk away.
“Ahmed.” he doesn’t answer. She clutched her hands tightly and uttered. “Ahmed!”
He gazed at her. “What?”
Two nurses and a doc passing by briefly gazed at her and sauntered away.
“Think about my offer.” Zara told him.
“There is nothing to think about, Dr. Zara.” Ahmed marched out of her sight.
“I don’t why we can’t discuss it here.” Lola said to Jidenna as he drove away. “Must we go to your house?”
“I just want us to discuss it in a quiet place. The hospital or here is not conducive.”
“Let’s go to my place instead.”
“What about your mom?” He asked while he stared at her and paid attention on the road.
“Maybe she’s at home. I don’t want to call her.”
“Please, my house is better. Let’s go there.”
Lola didn’t say anything but looked away from him. As they got to a certain point, Lola recognized the man standing beside his car at the right side of the road. She jagged a finger at his direction.
“That is Dr. Duke!”
Jidenna eyes travelled there. “He’s the one. What happened? Please, I have to park.”
Jidenna alighted and both of them came out from the vehicle. Jidenna was in front and as he approached Duke, Duke saw him. He was surprised to see the two of them.
“What are you doing here?” Duke asked with his eyes on Jidenna.
“I was on my way home with Lola when we saw you.”
With the look on her face, she didn’t like his answer. Duke stared at her.
“Dr. Lola, how are you?”
She forced a smile. She had to smile at him even if she wasn’t in the mood. “I’m fine. Is something wrong with your car?”
“Yes. This is the first time it is behaving like this. I think the engine has a fault. My mechanic is on his way.”
“Would you wait for him to repair it?” Jidenna asked him.
“No. I want him to take it to his workshop. I will take a taxi home.”
“I can take you home.”
Duke briefly looked at Lola and back at Jidenna. “I wouldn’t want to bother both of you.”
“It’s okay.” Lola said. “We are not in a hurry.”
Jidenna spoke. “Duke, I will take you home.”
“Thanks.” Duke said.
“You are welcome.”
They waited for only two minutes when his mechanic came to take the car. Duke took his belongings, sat at the backseat and even when Lola insisted he sat at the front, he courteously refused. On their way to drop him, he didn’t say a word to them except when Jidenna spoke to him. Duke received a long call.
Lola brought out her phone and began to press it. They finally reached his residence. Duke came out and thanked him.
“If it wasn’t getting late, I would have invited both of you for a drink.”
“I know.” Jidenna said. “Next time, we will come early.”
Duke raised his hand to waive at them. They waived back. The gateman opened the smaller gate and Duke walked in without looking at the car as Jidenna drove away.
“How do you even reason?” Michel asked Melvin over the phone. “I never knew you don’t want children.”
“That is not the main issue. Should I say yes?”
“You had better listen to your colleague. Don’t let mum know about this. She will poison you.”
Melvin laughed for a long time that he began to cough.
“No use laugh kill me. But the money is tempting.”
“Money that you will spend and finish before two months.”
“I’m no longer a baby. I’m not in the university anymore. I am a man now and I rely only on my salary now.”
“I know you still have some savings but don’t do it. She should look for someone else instead.”
“I pity that woman. She can never have a child.”
“Then she should adopt. There are so many helpless children out there. After all, the child the surrogate would give birth too isn’t really hers. Advise her to adopt.”
“I will think about it.” Melvin said.
“This woman appears to be rich.” Michel said in a playful tone. “Tell her to come and adopt me. I’m available.”
“You dey craze.”
Melvin and his brother burst into laughter.
Jidenna tried to offer Lola a drink but she declined.
“I am not ready for that. Tell me who Sandy is.”
“Sandy is Dr. Wendy Fayemi’s daughter.”
“Okay. I am listening.”
“Can we sit down?”
“If that will make you talk, fine.”
Lola sat and Jidenna did too, beside her.
He spoke. “Sandy and I had an affair. We were engaged to be married but I called it off.”
She looked at him shocked and thought for few seconds. “Was that why Dr. Wendy always had issues with you?”
“Yes because she blamed me.”
“She is pissed at you. You called off the engagement. What would you have expected her to do? Always hug you when she sees you?”
“It’s not really about the engagement she is pissed about.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I love you Lola. Please don’t be upset with me. Please.”
“What is it?”
“I called off the engagement because Sandy became pregnant.”
Lola rose up on her feet stunned. “You did what!”
Jidenna stood. “You won’t blame me. I caught her with another man. She cheated on me before the engagement. I forgave her but when she became pregnant, I knew it wasn’t for me.”
“Did she say it’s for you?”
“Yes but I don’t believe her. The baby isn’t mine. She is lying.”
Lola placed her right hand on her forehead. “Oh my God. I can’t believe this.”
“Lola, that child isn’t mine. Sandy cheated on me.”
“But she said he is yours! How could you? Even if you don’t believe he is yours, you should have asked for a paternity test.”
“That is why she is here. She requested for it.”
“What if she didn’t come? You wouldn’t even have told me about this. I asked you several times why Dr. Wendy was like that towards you but you told me it was nothing.”
“I was going to tell you.”
“When? God! I can’t believe this is happening!”
Jidenna moved towards her to hold but she stepped backwards.
“Please don’t touch me. I have to go.”
“You can’t leave. We have to talk.”
“There is nothing to talk about Jidenna. I am highly disappointed in you!” Lola gestured towards the door. Jidenna ran over there.
“You can’t leave like this. We have to talk.”
Her eye turned red. “Jidenna, get out of my way. You don’t ever want to see me get angry.”
“Please, listen to me.”
“I don’t want to listen to you! You could be the father of that child and you never cared to find out about his wellbeing.”
“Please don’t say that.”
“I want to leave now!”
Okay… Okay, I will take you home.”
“I don’t need you to take me home. I just need to be alone. I don’t want to see or talk to you right now. Just leave the way and let me leave.”
Jidenna peered into her eyes with tears almost coming out. “Please.”
“I am begging you to let me leave on my own! Get out of my way!”
Jidenna didn’t have a choice. He stepped away and Lola stormed out.
Duke’s gateman came out of his mini-flat when he heard someone banging at the gate. He went to check and saw Lola. He didn’t know her. She appeared to be upset but managed to answer the man when he asked her questions. He opened the gate for her and they walked towards the entrance. He pressed the doorbell.
“Who is that?”
They heard Duke.
“It’s me sir. Dr. Lola is here to see you.”
The door immediately opened and Lola saw Duke with an astounded look on his face. He told his gateman to go and asked her to come inside, which she did and he closed the door.
“Lola, what are you doing here? Where is Jidenna?”
Lola put her arms around her body. She felt warm as her eyes surveyed the beautiful living room. He was waiting for an answer. She looked at him and asked.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“About Sandy and Jidenna. I’m sure you knew what happened. You know Sandy.”
“Of course I know her. She’s Wendy Fayemi’s daughter and we attended the same secondary school.”
He motioned to a sofa and sat down. “It was not in my place to tell you about Jidenna and her. I don’t even know the whole story. I am sure Jidenna must have explained to you.”
“Yes he has and I expected you to have given me a hint about it. I thought you were my friend.”
She gazed at him surprised when she heard the sound of his voice.
He added. “What makes you think we are friends?”
“If you don’t consider me a friend, then why do you want to help me find my father?”
Duke didn’t answer her and tears began to swell around her eyeballs. She shook her head and tried not to cry in front of him. “Why am I even here? What am I even doing here? I’m so stupid.”
Lola started to walk towards the door and Duke hastily stood and hiked towards her.
“I’m sorry Duke, I shouldn’t have come here.”
Before Duke could stop her from leaving, she opened the door and ran out. He ran after her and halted in front of her.
“I shouldn’t have come,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
“There is nothing to be sorry about. Please, let me take you home. I can't let you leave on your own. Please wait here and let me get the key of my other car.”
Lola only stared at him. Duke ran inside, searched for the key, saw it and went outside. Duke didn't see her. Lola had gone.
To be continued… on Thursday.