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We arrived at the private hospital. Soon enough, doctors and nurses flustered around Abena and her baby, determined to give them the care they so much needed. I paced in the lounge, my earlier sense of discomfort giving way to mild agitation with nothing to do but wait.
Minutes later –it felt like hours- Ebo came to meet me in the lounge. He didn’t look too happy with what he was about to say.
“Abena wants you.”
The surprise must have shown on my face for he continued, “She trusts you more than all the doctors and nurses in there. Don’t ask me why.”
“Okay then, I’ll go to her,” I replied, feeling very grateful for something else to do than just pace.
“You’ll go to her?” Ebo’s doubtful voice said before I could walk away. “She has AIDS. I’m sure you know what that is. AIDS,” he said emphatically, like he was talking to an inane person.
“Yes, I do understand what that is.” Surprised at his outburst which somehow bordered on hostility, I paused to study his face. He looked wearier, compared to when I’d met him for the first time that morning. Something I’d not felt in a long time – compassion, built up in my heart for him. Before I could stop myself, I saw my right arm extend…saw my fingers splaying out to pat him ever so softly on his back. Was I bothered by my action? Yes. But what bothered me more was the tautness I felt to his back, a solidness that was all muscle, speaking of a male that was very fit, more fit than all the men I’d ever bedded.
If he was affected by my touch, it came out in the form of a puzzled frown that darkened his brown eyes, which he rested on me.
“You know,” he said slowly, “for a woman who is famously known as the Black witch of Kumasi, you are surprisingly kind.”
I couldn’t respond to that…not when those darned eyes of his searched mine like they were trying to discover some mysterious secret I kept lodged in the depth of my soul.
“What’s your story, Femi Adams?” Suspicion filled his tone, just like mine when I prosecuted defendants in court. “Why are you being so kind when the whole world knows that you are not? Is this a ploy… your sinister way to drag me and my sister or Dr. Amankwaa to court? Huh?”
I felt the stinging sensation of tears at the corner of my eyes. In his wariness of me, Ebo had asked for my life story and I found myself thinking that me too, like him, was just as perplexed at all of the decisions I’d made so far on my 33rd birthday -decisions haunted by memories of my past. But I couldn’t tell Ebo that. Yes, he’d asked for my story, but he barely knew me, save for the fact that I was Kumasi’s state attorney.
I took a deep breath to bank the tears that begged to be shed. Feeling adequately controlled, I turned away from him, taking one step after another in the direction of the long hospital corridor that housed Abena’s room, all the while feeling the scorching gaze of Ebo on my tensed back.
To be continued…
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