The Tragedy of Veronica

26th May 2018, 6 a.m.

Everything about that day was extraordinary. For the obvious, the sun was too masculine for its rising. At 6 a.m., the rays had already beamed its furious glory on the infant day. It spelt unusual brightness and compelled the birds to begin what will later be understood as an elegy. Everyone noticed what a bright day it would be. But, many never knew what the day had in stock for them, not even the fair, beautiful Veronica.

Veronica tried to perform her usual rituals that morning. She knelt beside her bed to say a few words of thanksgiving to God, but her mind sped off. She fumbled on few words; she never remembered saying ‘thank you, Jesus.’ Her being wanted to say the prayers, but the thoughts she woke up with never gave her the opportunity to say anything different. What clouded her mind was the day’s date: 26th May 2018.

She stood up apprehensively and walked briskly towards the bathroom, down the long corridor that divided the two apartments. The corridor, the staircase and the entire hostel seemed like a foreign land to her. Many never understood what was wrong with her. Even to respond to greetings from her roommates was a problem. She could not even notice the usual morning uproar that was customary in the hostel. Rather, what she could hear, steadily, was the constant strikes on her forehead and the ferocious beats of her heart.

She pushed open the bathroom doors; stole a look behind to see if anyone was following her; moved swiftly into the room and locked the doors. She looked up to the shower rose, but it seemed to be spinning. She held the tiled wall of the bathroom to maintain balance, but the walls seemed to be moving too. She held the hanger above her head and closed her eyes. It was not a useful remedy at all. Her eyes actually began to spin. Veronica bowed her head and vomited!

The date reappeared in her mind – 26th May 2018. As she remembered the date again, her heart beats raced faster. The pace was so intimidating. It was as if her heart will break out of her body. She could hear the strikes, very loud and terrifying. She reached out and massaged her chest to assuage the strikes, but that only made her feel the strong beats with her hands. Sweats now came on profusely and her eyes turned red.

The vomiting resumed. But now, she consciously added more pressure to it. Psychologically, it seemed she believed she could vomit it out from her mouth. She put her right index finger down her throat and tickled her velar. The result was an outpour of what she ate last night. Much had been digested over the night, leaving the vomit to be filled with dark-coloured water. The whole floor was messy. She opened the shower regulator and the water splattered on the floor. Under the high current, she used her legs to guide the mess into the flush tunnel.

The whip of fear was still very strong on her. She had not vomited ‘anything’ and of course, ‘nothing’ could be vomited! What she actually needed was a strong confirmation: if there was a problem or not. But right then, in that bathroom, Veronica wished she could turn back the hands of time. The decision she would have taken would have been different, at least.

Her mind flamed out as she unbuttoned her lingerie. She so wished what she expected was there. Though she did not feel anything as it were in the past years, in the anxiety, she had no time to consider all those. She shoved her lingerie aside. With the tip of her fingers, she held the edge of her pant, opened it, stood at ease, reached out for the sanitary pad she placed on herself the last night and pulled it out. It was white!

“Veronica!”

The voice was piercingly familiar. In the fright and in the familiarity that accompanied the voice, she yelled back her response, ferociously.

“What?”

“It’s Peace. Open the door!”

“I’m coming!”

“What is wrong with you, sweetheart!” The tone sounded suspicious and very accusatory.

“Nothing!” The word came faster than necessary. The annoyance that shrouded the word compelled Peace to drop her inquisitions with speed.

“Ok. I’m waiting at your corner; remember, today is Literature. We have a presentation to make.”

Veronica got back herself. She listened to the footsteps, as Peace walked back from the bathroom. Her ordeal bounced back. She looked back on the sanitary pad on her right hand. Her eyes screened the pad for bloodstains. She looked at it, so intense as if the stains were supposed to come from her eyes. But none came. She dropped it into the water closet and flushed the handle.

                              *  *  *
“Jesus Christ!”

“What?”

“What are you doing with your phone? The class presentation is at 10 a.m., for Christ’s sake!”

“Don’t worry. I just need to check something. I will join you, shortly. Continue!”

Veronica opened her phone’s browser. She navigated to the only website that had been her companion for the past days. For the last few days, she had been reading through pregcare.com over and over; asking the robot all the questions her mind would rack out – all the questions that would satisfy her curiosity. This time, she needed to go through it once more, to check out what she might have missed the past days or just to reassure herself that all was well.  

How do I know I am pregnant? She typed it into the question bar. The answer made the phone slip off her hand. Lucky enough, it landed on her bed. Your menstruation will stop. That was the greatest confirmation she needed. Her racing heartbeats increased; her eyes began to colour again. She looked at her friend. Peace was busy memorising what she would say in the Literature presentation. At that moment, Veronica thought she had made a different choice one month ago.

She picked up her phone and went further. Swollen and sensitive breasts. She turned on her bed and backed her friend. Veronica opened her nightgown again, lifted her bra and brought out her right breast. There is nothing sensitive or swollen about this breast na? She released her left breast, weighed it on her palm and rubbed her right index finger over the nipple. Nothing, so why is this other symptom absent?

She stocked back her breasts, stole a look at Peace and went back to her phone. Shortly after you become pregnant, hormonal changes prompt a chain of events that raise the rate of blood flow through your kidneys. This causes your bladder to fill more quickly, so you need to pee more often. She placed her right hand between her legs and ran back her mind. This too is absent ooo, ok I urinated this morning, but only once na?

She went back to the phone. Dizziness. Her heart skipped. Yeah, I felt that this morning. Could it be it? But am not dizzy now. Jesus! Her eyes went back on the phone again. Vomiting. Her heart beats began to sprint again. I vomited, but I forced it na. Her fingers kept scrolling down. Nauseating. She paused. No, I’m not feeling this, in fact, I’m hungry…

“Veronica!” The voice shocked her out of her medical examination. Her phone dropped off her hand, again.

“What? You scared me!”

“No dear, what is wrong with you? You have been talking to yourself for a long time now. Is it not up to an hour or more?”

“Ok. What is the time, now?”

“Fifteen minutes past seven”

“Ok.”

“What do you mean by ‘ok’?”

Veronica stood up from her bed and pulled off her nightgown. She walked down to her wardrobe, pulled the doors open, unhung her gown and put it on.

“Veronica, you have not taken your bath na? What is actually the problem.”

“Don’t worry. I will not take long…”

“What is wrong?”

“I want to see somebody…”

“Who…?”

“I’m coming na, wait.”

With that, Veronica slammed the door and zoomed out.

                                     *  *  *
                      
As she stepped down from the motorcycle and handed out a Hundred Naira note to the cyclist, the anxiety and the dizziness of the early morning returned. She looked at the signpost as if to confirm something new, but the writings were the same as it has been for the past years: Life Care Medical Centre.

She walked in. Her steps were bold and confident. Obviously, she was inspired by the fact that what she was undergoing was the only option. Her mind began to explore the possibilities of abortion. No, I will take injections. Only that in reality, she did not know which injection she would actually take. But she could remember vividly that her friend had taken an injection for three days and her pregnancy vanished.

As she ran down memory lane, she remembered her Aunty, Margaret, who took all the tablets and injections medicine could prescribe, drank all the herbs that Pa Jackson could concoct but still, the pregnancy was alive and active. Those poisons seemed to act like multi-vitamins to the wonderful baby. When the pregnancy began to protrude, and someone first dictated it from the church choir, Margaret went to the bridge at Igbawa and jumped into the river.

Veronica’s eyes turned red again. She remembered her friends talked often about stubborn babies that could not be aborted. If you insist, you die with the baby. She could only have confirmed that Margaret’s case was a case of a stubborn baby. But what if mine turns out to be a stubborn baby...

“Good morning dear! How may I help you?” The young beautiful nurse, who just resumed her shift, interrupted her thoughts.

“Pregnancy Test.” The words came out as miserable as anyone could observe.

“Ok, sit down.” She pulled out a seat and beaconed on her to sit. “Give me a minute.” The nurse walked away.

Within minutes, the nurse returned with a small stainless tray. A needle, a syringe, a piece of cotton wool and a small bottle of methylated spirit, neatly arranged inside.

“Please, be steady. It will hurt a little.” The jovial smile of the nurse was a little reassuring. She set up the needle on the syringe; stretched out Veronica’s inside arm; tied an elastic, a little above her elbow; reached out for her tray; picked the cotton wool; dipped it into the methylated spirit and cleaned veronica’s arm. Her vein became conspicuous. The nurse dropped the wool and picked up the syringe. “Sweetheart, please don’t shake?” She pinned the needle and veronica’s blood sprout into the syringe. “That was brave, dear!” She pulled out the syringe. “Hold this and press it. Just give me fifteen minutes.” The nurse walked away.
The worst anxiety of the final moments sets in. She felt her stomach turning violently like the intestines wanted to spiral out. She felt pressed. The washroom was in front of her, but she could not move. She sat on the receptionist’s desk, expressionlessly, counting the seconds and robing her arm more than necessary.

Few minutes to the time frame she gave herself, the nurse open the lab door and stepped on the corridor. Veronica turned. The nurse appeared to be walking ‘in slow motion.’ Veronica wanted to stand up, get to the nurse and snatch that piece of paper from her hand and open it. But she could not stand. She could not even feel her feet anymore. She remembered her boyfriend, then her friend, Peace, then her family, then her dad specifically, then her course mates, and then, Aunty Margaret. The dizziness returned!

“Dear, your result is ready!”

She could not open her mouth. Veronica looked at the nurse with red, watery eyes. Those words sounded like claps of thunder. She dropped her head to the right and supported it on her shoulder. The tears began to drip on her face.

“Don’t cry dear; the result is nega...”

“Jesus!”  The energy came up from nowhere. The dizziness stopped. Unimaginable power swelled up on her veins. She shouted again. This time, like the actual claps of thunder. “Jesussssssss...!”

“Shuuuuu. You are disturbing other patients…”

“I’m sorry...”

“No problem, Sweetheart.” The nurse put forth the result sheet towards her. “See the result; it's negative, you are not pregnant at all!”

“Jesus, I love you! Oh, Jesus!”

“But…”

“But what? Nurse?”

“You have to calm down…”

“What?” Veronica’s voice became hysterical.

“You are HIV…”

Veronica collapsed on the floor. Before the frightened nurse could do anything, Veronica’s head was already on the tiled floor. Immediately, the nurse fell on her knees, held her up and shook her violently. There was no response. She felt her purse and listened to her heartbeats. She heard nothing! She tried a CPR, but instead, blood dripped from Veronica’s mouth and nostrils.

“Orderly! Orderly!! Orderly!!!”

26th May 2018, 8 a.m.

IDIONGO EBONG

8 comments:

  1. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally,
    it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.

    You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you
    could be giving us something enlightening to read?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah. Thank you. But i don't post videos on my site,except for my TVs.

      Delete
  2. Wooooooooooow... Nice story. Pls I'll like to share dis. I'll give u d credit.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A nice piece sir but u've not attached PDF for easy downlond

    ReplyDelete