Those Awkward Moments (Episode 21)

Those Awkward Moments (Episode 21)

WRITER’S NOTE: This episode of Those Awkward Moments is dedicated to Sarah Hyland of ‘Modern Family’ whose birthday is today, November 24! 😀

*

“Honestly, Mrs. Achike, you and the baby couldn’t be any better right now,” said Doctor Echezona, as he fiddled with the sonogram’s probe on my mother’s bare and gelled belly while staring at the monitor before him. He was a kindly-looking, elderly man, with slightly-gaunt features and salt-and-pepper hair shorn close to his head. He seemed like the kind of doctor who could take his patients’ minds off their problems and unto his perfect jaw line.

Mother and I let out sighs of relief at the exact same time. I took her hand in mind and shook it slightly, smiling at her when she turned her grateful look from the doctor to me. Between my false arrest, dealing with the police, and hanging out with a rapper’s crew, I hadn’t had much time to spend with her. And that was why I’d readily agreed to accompany her for this second ultrasound.

“So, there’s nothing to worry about, right?” I asked the doctor.

“Nothing at all,” he replied with a smile. But the smile was not directed at me, but at Mother, who seemed to be basking under the warmth of it.

Suddenly, something clicked in place. I remembered how she’d seemed overdressed to me the last ill-fated time we’d been about to come for the ultrasound. And why she was now clad in another delectable get-up that I’d thought was better suited for a dinner party than a hospital appointment. Mother liked her doctor.

“Everything looks good,” Doctor Echezona added, “especially for someone eighteen weeks gone.”

“My,” Mother said, before clasping a hand to her mouth like she was fifteen and not fifty-something. “It’s been eighteen weeks already?”

I gave her a look, one she didn’t notice.

“Yes, Mrs. Achike, exactly eighteen weeks. So if you were planning on finding out the sex of the baby, there’s nothing stopping you.”

Mother and I exchanged a look.

“Seriously, we can know the baby’s sex like right now?” I asked.

“Sure,” the doctor answered, again focused on my mother with a smile, as though she’d been the one who’d asked the question. “That’s if you want to.”

“Of course she wants to,” I said.

The doctor laughed, gave Mother a ‘Should I?’ look, to which she replied with a ‘Like I have a choice’ look.

Really, they are now communicating with looks? I thought with an arch expression divided between doctor and patient.

The man placed the probe back on Mother’s gelled belly, and all eyes were turned to the monitor again. There was a brief silence as the doctor peered at the screen, seeing things Mother and I couldn’t see.

“Well?” Mother urged.

“It’s a boy,” the doctor said.

Mother gave a small squeal. I gave a look that was half beam, half grimace. What I felt was the same ambiguous feeling I had when I found out she was pregnant.

So, a brother, huh?

“Are you sure?” Mother was saying as she leaned sideways, closer to the screen, as though to ascertain exactly what the doctor had seen to verify that she’d be having another son.

“I’m positive,” he answered. “See that thing peeking out there” – he pointed at some indistinguishable point on the screen – “it’s the penis sticking out from behind the testicles. We call it the turtle sign. And considering this is a 3D ultrasound machine we are using, you can be very certain it’s a boy.”

“Oh wow,” I said.

“I can’t believe it!” Mother added smiling. And then, a small frown etched its way on her brow as she said, “Now I have two of them.”

I scowled at her remark, as Doctor Echezona let out a small laugh.

Mother continued, addressing him while looking askance at me, “I mean one is enough, right?”

“You telling me,” he said, chuckling. “I raised three of them myself.”

The two of them shared a laugh.

“Oh you can laugh,” I said. “I’ll be sure to let my brother know that this is how you reacted to the news of his birth.”

Just then, a nurse walked into the room. Her brows lifted fractionally in slight bewilderment when she took in the easy camaraderie going on in the room, before her face ironed itself out back into a poised look.

“Sir?” she called out.

Doctor Echezona turned from my mother. “Oh Becky, is there a problem?”

“It’s Doctor Adeboye, sir. He says he needs you in Mrs. Bose’s room right away.”

“Okay. Tell him I’ll be right there.”

As the nurse started back out of the room, Doctor Echezona began rounding up the ultrasound equipments.

“I’m really sorry, but I have to go now,” he said, almost sounding saddened by it. “And it might take a while.”

“Of course,” Mother said. “Duty calls, we get it.”

“Yes,” he said, snapping off his gloves. “In case there’s anything else you need, just page one of the nurses with that over there, okay?” He pointed at the telephone contraption on the table next to the bed.

We both nodded. Then he left the room.

“Can you believe it?” Mother said to me. “After over twenty years, you’ll finally have a brother!”

“Tell me about it.”

As she began to sit up, while adjusting her clothing over her torso, I cleared my throat dramatically, while wearing a coy smile.

She sighed. “You want to go home? Very well, you can.”

“So I’ll miss whatever it is you and Doctor Hot-Face will get on to? No way.”

“What are you talking about?” she returned, trying futilely to hide the flustered look that came on her face at my observation. “And don’t be ridiculous. His name is Felix – I mean, Doctor Echezona.”

“Oh-ho, Felix, is it? You guys are now on first name basis, huh?”

“He’s my obstetrician. Of course there’s bound to be some informality.”

“Right,” I said, dumping oodles of disbelief on the word.

“Look, stop being ridiculous,” she said defensively. “I don’t know what you think you saw –”

“Oh I saw plenty, mum, starting from how you were looking at him.”

“Well, you must have really terrible eyesight.”

“Actually, I’ve got twenty-twenty vision,” I disagreed with a chuckle. “And I know what I saw. You were practically flirting with him and lost in his bedside-manner eyes.”

I could tell Mother was now frustrated. Clearly, this wasn’t an issue she was comfortable talking about with her son.

Then she snapped, “With the way you’re talking, how am I sure you’re not the one admiring him?”

I gave a hearty laugh at that. “Oh trust me, mum. Older men are so not my thing.” When she made a face, I said, “What? You should be relieved that I won’t one day bring daddy’s age-mate to the house as my boyfriend.”

She chuckled. I laughed. And the irony of the moment was not lost on me. Years ago, I would never have been comfortable bantering about my sexuality with my mother. And now, here we were.

Our mirth rapidly died down as an elephant trumpeted its way into the room, in the wake of what I’d just said. I’d mentioned my father, and I could see Mother’s shoulders beginning to tense.

“You know,” I said, “I still hope you and dad will settle whatever it is that’s going on between you. I mean, whatever it is can’t be worse than all that you’ve had to deal with in the past, right?”

Predictably, she didn’t answer. She merely maintained a resolute silence, staring at her fingers that were now intertwined on her lap.

I sighed. “Mum, what is going on?”

“Chukwuemeka–” she began.

“Look, we deserve to know something about this.”

“We?”

“Yes, me, Amaka, Esther and Nkechi – you remember us, your children, right?”

“Chukwuemeka–”

“No, Mum! Don’t Chukwuemeka me! I just want the truth, is that too much for me to ask of you? For chrissakes, this is his child we’re here for. He should be here, doing this with you. But no, you’re here by yourself, flirting up a storm with your doctor, like dad’s not even in the picture.”

“Emeka, you don’t understand.”

“Clearly!” I cut in sharply. “How am I to understand what I know nothing about? Just tell me already!”

“I can’t!”

“You can’t or you won’t?” She gave me an emotion-laden look at that, but I refused to be moved by it. I said persistently, “After all the hell you’ve put me through in the past. I think you at least owe me this, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you to say it.”

She flinched, betraying how much the words had stung her. I’d intended them to. I was exasperated with and tired of being in the dark over the state of my parents’ marriage. At this stage, I’d resort to saying anything to get my mother to crack.

She let out a soft sigh. “I left him,” she said softly, so softly I had to lean closer to catch the words.

“What?”

“I said I left him.”

“But you said… Amaka said –”

“I know what I said. I lied. The truth is your father did something. Something terrible, and I wasn’t sure it was fixable, so I left him.”

“What did he do?”

“That’s one thing you’ll have to ask your father. No amount of persuasion will make me say it.”

I blew out a breath. Just great! What is this sef, mother-father confidentiality? However, my exasperation gave way to compassion when I saw the hurt she was battling with on her face. It was obvious she was yet to come to terms with whatever ugly turn her marriage had taken.

I reached out my hand to hold hers. “I’m sorry, mum. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I just didn’t like being kept in the dark.”

She contemplated me for a short moment before saying, “It’s a two-way street, you know.”

“What do you mean?”

“You think I haven’t noticed how weird you’ve been acting ever since you and Timothy came out of that police station? I know something upsetting happened in there. You shut me out when I asked. And I understood that you’ll need time to get around to telling me. And since then, you don’t see me pressuring you to talk, do you?”

“It’s not the same thing!” I protested.

“How is it not the same thing?”

For one, you’re not being subtly blackmailed by police detectives to spy on your boss who they believe is a criminal, I thought. Aloud, I replied, “I got arrested for murder, mum! Excuse me if I’m not eager to join hands with you and sing kumbaya!”

“You know that’s not what I mean. Something else is bothering you. I’ve been monitoring you for the past week, and you haven’t been yourself. You’ve being trying to put up a happy front, but I know you well, Emeka! I’m your mother!”

I hated it when this connection we have between us played in her favour. A moment passed during which I began contemplating opening up to her. Then I remembered the police, and then Timothy emphatically telling me not to let any other person in on the investigation.

I sighed, feeling the proverbial weight of the world on my shoulders.

She stared at me for a moment, before saying, “Look, you don’t have to tell me anything. I just –”

“I met someone!” I blurted.

I couldn’t tell if it was the guilt of keeping something from her or the need to let her in more into my life as her gay son, or perhaps a mixture of the two, but there I was, confessing something to her that I never thought I’d say to her ever.

Her eyes widened. “Excuse me?” she said with a widening smile.

I stood from my chair and moved to the window next to the bed. “I met a guy.”

“Oh wow. Who is he?”

“His name is Kuddus. He’s a writer.”

“That’s good for you, Emeka. But I don’t get what that has to do with –”

“I ruined it, mum,” I interrupted. “I sabotaged something good I could have had, and all because I just can’t stop thinking about…” My voice choked to a stop. I couldn’t finish. I didn’t want to. For some reason, I felt as though saying Jude’s name would trigger something.

“Oh, my sweet, sweet boy,” Mother said as she got up from the hospital bed and walked over to me. She took my hand and turned me from the window to face her. “My dear boy, whatever happened to Jude is not your fault.”

“I feel like it is…”

“Well, it’s not. See, I’m not blaming him or anything, but he came to your house out of his own volition. You didn’t ask him to. He challenged the robbers out of his own volition. You didn’t ask him to do that either. You can’t keep beating yourself up over that, okay? It’s not healthy.”

“Yeah, I guess. But the least I can do is wait for him till he gets his memory back before –”

“Before living your life? Emeka, don’t do this to yourself. Jude is in a coma for chrissakes! And you heard the report on his condition – even if he wakes up, the chances of him getting his memory back are extremely low. You can’t place your life on hold for that kind of disappointment. You just can’t!”

“But –”

“Look, I am not saying you should go about and start sleeping with all the men in Nigeria. God knows I could never say that. I just think you should move on from this whole Jude thing. Not only has it gotten old, but you’re setting yourself up for more heartbreak.”

As she talked, I listened, feeling a prick of tears at the back of my eyes. Times really had changed. To think this was the same woman who condemned me for being who I was. My eyes began to fill rapidly and I blinked quickly to stem the flow of tears. I smiled at her, and said, “You realise you just gave me relationship advice, right?

She chuckled. “It may shock you to know, but I’ve come to realise that none of my reservations are more important than my child’s happiness. She released my hands and pulled me into an embrace. And then she whispered into my ear, “You have to move on sometime. Call the guy.”

After what felt like a five-minute hug, we pulled apart.

Then I quipped, “Maybe I should tease you more about Doctor Hot-Face to get us to have moments like this.”

“Doctor Echezona, Kevin,” she admonished with a laugh. “His name is Doctor Echezona.”

“Five seconds ago, it was Felix.”

We laughed as we picked up our things and started for the door. I opened it and we came out into the antiseptic-smelling corridor. Mother turned toward the right, in the direction of the reception. But I stopped her with a touch on her arm. She looked at me with raised brows.

“I have to go somewhere,” I said.

“Where? What is it?”

I turned to the left and began hurrying down the corridor. “I’ll be right back,” I called at her over my shoulder. “I just need to do something real quick!”

***

Janet was not around, so all it cost me was some Oscar-worthy acting and a few tears for the nurse to let me into Jude’s new room. This nurse clearly hadn’t been instructed to look out for the faggot and make sure he didn’t come anywhere near the comatose patient.

She gestured me to the door. I walked to it and stopped when I took the door knob in my hand. I took in a deep breath and let it out, all the while mining my inside for some fortitude. Then I turned the handle and stepped into the room.

It was barely the Jude that I fell in love with on the bed. And yet, it was him. He looked so frail, surrounded as he was my hospital equipment, contraptions that were monitoring his transient presence in this world. There was a lot more facial hair on his face, which seemed quite appealing, and a fleeting thought came through my mind that I should tell him to stop being clean-shaven when he wakes up.

If he wakes up, a voice said inside me.

I blinked back my tears as I approached the bed, noting how absolutely still he lay. Nothing on him stirred, not even his eyelids. It was such a heartbreaking sight.

I sat on the chair beside his bed, imagining that Janet must have sat on it a thousand times, saying the same prayer I was saying at the moment, urging Jude to wake up, and wishing he would open his eyes so I could look into them as I spoke.

“Hey, Jude…” I started in a husky voice. “It’s me, Kevin. Just in case you still don’t remember. We used to be best friends. Until this happened. Anyway, I just wanted to come see how you’re holding up. The nurses say there’s now brain activity, and that’s good considering.”

I paused for a moment, as I felt my heart constrict some more. I swallowed hard and then continued, “I guess you’re wondering why I decided to see you today of all days. If I’m being honest, I don’t know either. But what I do know is that I can’t move on from loving you. Believe me, I’ve tried. But everything keeps coming back to you, to what we had. What we still have…I hope. Everyone is saying I should forget it and get on with my life. They think it’s that easy. You probably don’t know this, but I’ve being in love with you since the first time we met, and then when we had that falling out… Those were the worst six months of my life. But then you kissed me in that cinema and it was as if all was right with the world again. There was just so much magic in that kiss…”

My lips were trembling now and I strived to control myself.

“I don’t want to forget that, Jude. I don’t want to believe it was all just an insignificant part of my life. Some sick joke God played on me. No.” I paused, and then reached forward to take his hand in mine. It felt so cold, that I almost dropped it back on the bed. “But Jude… I also cannot keep doing this. I’m hurting myself and everyone around me. And these days, I don’t know if I’m letting happiness slip away from me by waiting for you or waiting on it to come to me by waiting for you. So all I’m asking for right now is a sign, no matter how small. I just need a sign from you, telling me that this – me waiting for you is not in vain. A sign to let me know that everyone else has no idea what they’re talking about, a sign to let me know that I should stick around, that you’ll come back to me. I just need a sign, Jude… Something! Anything!”

I sat there, by the bed, Jude’s hand in mine, waiting for something, maybe a hand squeeze or a flicker of his finger or a blink or a leg jerk – anything. I waited for what felt like an eternity. And I got nothing. He remained deathly still; I felt like that was the stillest he had ever been.

The pain I felt settled on me like a shroud as I placed his hand back on the bed. My mouth felt dry as I released the words I never thought I’d ever say: “Goodbye Jude. I’ll always love you.”

I stood, kissed him on the forehead, and walked out of the room. As I closed the door behind me, it felt like I was closing him out of my life. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel bad either. A ray of feeble optimism started shining inside me, sifting through the dark shawl of pain.

It’s going to be fine. You’re going to be fine, I admitted to myself.

And right there, beside the door I’d just shut, I took out my phone and swiped through my contact list, until I came upon his name – Kuddus.

My index finger hovered over the name for a moment, and then I tapped it. The line rang all the way the first time. No answer! I swallowed hard and dialed a second time. This time, he answered.

“What do you want, Kevin?” he said without preamble.

“Well, you still have my number,” I said with fledgling cheer. “So that must count for something, right?”

He didn’t say anything to that.

I sighed. “Kuddus, I’m calling to say I’m sorry.”

“You’ve called to say that before.”

“Yes, and while I meant it then, I mean it even more now. I am truly sorry for what I did. I messed up really bad, and I’m sorry. Please, forgive me. You have to forgive me.”

“I know you’re sorry, Kevin. And I appreciate that. But it still doesn’t change what you did, and how complicated your life supposedly is.”

“Yes! But I’m willing to move past all that and give another shot to whatever it is that might have happened between us. Just give me a second chance please. Let me make it up to you.”

“I don’t think I can. I’m a gay man in Nigeria. I’ve got my own butt-load of demons to deal with. I can’t add yours to the list too.”

“I’m not asking you to. A second chance at that date, that’s all I’m asking for. After that, if you still want to go, it’ll be up to you. Even though I’d want you to stay.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. I’m serious. You asked the last time we talked if I actually wanted to go out with you. Well now, I’m saying I do. And I’m not taking no for an answer.”

I could hear the smile in his voice when he said, “And you won’t blow me off like you did the last time and then not pick my calls?”

“That was the shitty, old Kevin. He’s not in the building anymore.”

He chuckled, and then stayed silent.

“So, what do you say? You ready to give this another shot?”

There was some more silence from his end. He was clearly contemplating my proposal. And I found myself fiercely – with all my heart – wanting him to say yes. I didn’t know when it happened, but I suddenly really wanted to be with Kuddus.

“Well?” I urged.

“Okay, fine!” he said, causing relief and nascent joy to surge in my heart. “One more chance, that’s all you get o.”

“That’s all I need, mister,” I said with a grin.

He laughed. “But I get to pick the place this time.”

“Sure. Anywhere’s fine by me.”

“Cool! I’ll text you the –”

Just then, Kuddus’ words faded out of my subconscious as a sudden rapid beeping began coming from the room behind me, through the door I’d just closed. I turned slowly to stare with mounting disbelief at the door, feeling my heart begin to pound.

I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to.

The nurses at the station beside the room heard the sound, and instantly sprang into action. I watched the two of them dart into the room, and frantic words were thrown about. One of them ran out, only to stop in her flight when she saw a doctor racing toward the room. The two of them rushed back inside, and the words tumbled out of the room to my hearing.

“He’s awake!”

“Doctor, the patient is awake!”

“Mr. Walters, are you okay!”

I stood there, feeling hot and cold all at once, my hand still holding my phone to my ear.

“Kevin? Kevin? Are you there!” Kuddus’ voice kept resonating from the device.

Shock kept me completely speechless and motionless. And then my hand slowly dropped to my side, and my nerveless fingers let go of the phone. It clattered to the floor, but I didn’t care. All that resounded in my head were the words: He’s awake… He’s awake… He’s awake…

This cannot be happening! I told myself.

Written by Reverend Hot

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19 Comments

  1. Mandy
    November 24, 06:58 Reply

    Gobe! Just when he had managed to convince Kuddus that he is all in for a second chance, those wicked sisters of Fate decided to wake Jude up. Talk about giving a sign several minutes too late. Whatever is about to happen, Kuddus is the one I feel so much sympathy for.

  2. ambivalentone
    November 24, 08:12 Reply

    He chose the perfect moment to wake. Jeeez!!! Some ppl can cock-block from the depths of oblivion and do it so effortlessly without even thinking it. Pele Kuddus. This arse is not thine to slay

  3. Sinnex
    November 24, 10:16 Reply

    Eeeeyah…Mr W.A.L.T.E.R.S. is awake.

    #okbye

    • posh6666
      November 24, 14:41 Reply

      Tobi Macaulay?please are you in anyway related to the famous Mr Dennis Macaulay in here?☺☺☺

  4. Ruby
    November 24, 12:11 Reply

    In the words of one of those Nickelodeon kids…
    *what Sorcery is this*
    Can’t you pipo just give Kevin and Kuddus a Break???
    Haba!!!!

  5. Bryce
    November 24, 13:57 Reply

    Talk about Fate.
    Those sisters work overtime

  6. Deola
    November 24, 14:09 Reply

    Sigh. Dude just can’t catch a break.

  7. Dubem
    November 24, 15:56 Reply

    ‘a BUTT-load of demons…’ Hehehee. Mr. Kuddus, was that pun intended?

  8. iamcoy
    November 24, 18:13 Reply

    All i can say is thank you hot cleric for telling us what the cause of the beeping and commotion was because if you ended it abruptly then, it would have been a hell of a cliffhanger. Whew!
    Let me reiterate my suspicion, i think Kevin’s dad and mum’s break up may be homosexuality related which caused Kev’s mum to reevaluate things and be more accepting of her son.

  9. jephtah
    November 25, 02:20 Reply

    Wow…. @reverend hot, it’s a pity Nigeria’s naivety and national hypocrisy has kept a talent like u and a brilliant work such as this series to the confines of a the LGBT family here….. I bet if given the chance u can mix it up well with the likes of chinua achebe ( similar choice of plotting) and chimamanda ngozi

  10. Kester
    November 25, 09:41 Reply

    You are just a witch! Haba! Even I had given up on jude. What’s with the sudden resurrection?
    Sweet episode sha
    OAN I also agree :I think Kevins dad is dl gay

  11. Wealth
    November 25, 23:03 Reply

    Wow,this episode is really so cool. Looking forward to read the next episode. great write-up

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