Cigarette smoke curls in the cold air blasting from the split air-conditioner. Temiloluwa is sitting with her back against the couch, a crumpled piece of paper on the floor beside her, a glass of wine and an ashtray heavily burdened not too far away. Sitting comfortably on the tiled floor a little distance from the dustbin, are several empty packs of cigarettes. Like someone tried to throw them in, missed and couldn’t be bothered to put them in properly.
Earlier this week, she got to Dr Quadri’s for the usual medical checkup. To be fair, she hadn’t gone for one in a while. Five years to be precise. Business was booming. She was finally a multi-billionaire. She breezed into the good doctor’s office and took a seat. Even though she hadn’t been there in a while, she kept in touch, and a strong friendship had developed between them.
“Good afternoon sir. I want to do a complete set of tests.” She was about to retire from the “work” she was doing and wanted to leave with a clean slate. She wanted to get married, get pregnant, raise her own kids with a loving husband. Just like her mother did before her. And she had enough money to keep the family in comfort, even if her husband couldn’t. Despite all she had seen and done, she was still Temiloluwa at heart, the village girl with simple dreams. Just in a more sophisticated package.
Dr Quadri took the necessary blood and urine samples, passed her through the xray machine and CAT scanner and asked her to return sometime in the next four days. As usual, he admonished her to give up her randy lifestyle and settle down.
As usual, she promised to do so in a while.
EXACTLY FOUR DAYS LATER
She breezed into the doctor’s office as usual. Dr Quadri looked up and saw his visitor. He cleared his throat and shifted a bit in his chair. He had never done that before. That was the first sign that there was something wrong. He took a deep breath and spoke.
“Temiloluwa, I have some bad news. Really bad news. Your blood tests came in yesterday. You tested positive to full blown HIV, and your scan results also show you have VVF and cervical cancer. Also your constant abuse of alcohol and hard drugs has corroded your liver. Your lungs are black and shriveled.”
He took off his glasses and massaged his temple before continuing.
With the way things are, at best you only have few months to live. I’m sorry. Too much damage has been done.”
He took out a folder and removed a single slip of paper. It had her test results printed on it. He flipped it over and slid it across.
“This is a list of drugs. If you take them constantly, perhaps we can slow the damage and buy you a year or two. At most.”
Stunned, she collected the paper and nodded. She dropped the check to pay her bills and walked out, quickly putting on Armani sunglasses to hide the tears that were threatening to fall.
At home as she takes a drag from the cigarette, bitter tears roll down her cheeks and fall unheeded to the carpet. She has it all. Yet she has nothing.
A WHILE LATER.
Her mother and siblings cry softly as the coffin is lowered into the grave. They are rich, as she left all she had to them in her will. If they invest properly, they would never need to raise a finger to work again… But each of them would gladly give it all up to have Temiloluwa back again.
Swantha, as she is known by some, sits not too far away in her car watching. Watching and crying too. She also has limited time, as she is living with HIV. But it hurts, seeing her friend permanently interred six feet below. Temiloluwa was a bright girl, a brilliant one with a bright future. All gone and for what?
” For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” -Mark 8 : 36
The post CONSEQUENCES is the final chapter of the short series, DEFIANCE.
If you missed defiance, you can read it here
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