Tag Archives: bedside story

DUTY OF CANDOUR

IMG_2721People often talk about Monday blues, the feeling you get on Monday after you’ve had and enjoyed a work-free weekend. You feel lazy, tired, having no interest, zeal or enthusiasm to do anything. Monday depresses people more than any other day of the week. No wonder, studies have shown that people are more likely to commit suicides on Mondays than any other weekday or weekend. Studies have also shown that most sick- leaves are taken on Mondays. That is the nature of this special day, the first day of the week.

All the nurses on ward 19 knew what Monday was like, as it was the main operation day. If it were the Monday blues alone, Lucy Davies would not be bothered. She knew what to expect, and she always prepared her body and soul for this busy day. But, when you have a boss who not only looks over your shoulders but also into your throat, you feel more blues. Lucy’s cup was full, or to be more precise, over full. That was how she felt, as Sister Bella Simpson followed her round and criticised whatever she did.

Lucy had always wanted to be a nurse since the age of three, after surviving a severe infection with meningococcal meningitis. She would like to care for patients the way nurses had cared for her. Now, a qualified nurse, she faced a murder charge. Her patient had died from a deliberate injection of a toxic chemical. She denied ever doing anything to harm her patient, but no one believed her. Even her colleagues would not rescue her. As for her boss, she could not wait to see her locked away for life.

The police had charged her on the basis that everyone had testified that she was the last person to see Mark Calder alive. How could she kill her patient when, as she claimed, she left the room straightaway? Someone else must have committed the murder. But who was that person? Unless she could produce an alibi, she faced a life imprisonment. Even as she was locked away in solitary confinement, Lucy maintained her innocence,

“I left straightaway, when Sister Simpson asked me to leave,” she informed the police.

“That wasn’t what they told us,” the police officer said. “You remained in the room whilst they left. Yes, staff saw you going to the non-acute bay. But that was several minutes later. That was what all your colleagues said.” And then he stared into Lucy’s soul. And after drawing a long breath, he drew his face closer to hers. “You see, your only alibi, Miss Davies, is Mark Calder. Only him can tell who injected the drug that has killed him. But he’s no more  with us. His young life has been terminated by her nurse, the very nurse that he had trusted,” the officer concluded.

Lucy knew then that there was nothing else she could say. And when the officer finally formally charged her, she knew that her only chance of acquittal hung on the reasoning of the jury. She would argue her case and prove her innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lucy remained locked up in the high security prison. As the police left, and she was left on her own, she wondered if there was anyone, one honest person among her colleagues, who would see it as a duty owned to Mark to report who had murdered him.

DUTY OF CANDOUR available now for download HERE

Mr Sluggard

imageThe Lazy Man’s Life

The cock crows, announcing the dawn of a new day. Mr Sluggard tucks himself further into his blanket. “It can’t be dawn so soon,” he murmurs. He has been in bed since seven the previous night, yet he wants to sleep for one more hour. Mr Sluggard’s friends knock at his door. “It’s time to go to the farm,” they announce. As the door handle turns, Mr Sluggard turns in his bed and yawns, “Oh, how I wished it could rain so I could sleep more.”

In my place they say, “The lazy man calls for it to rain.” When it rains it really pours. It’s like bullets have hit you, and the footpaths are impassable. So, much as farmers need water for their plants to grow, too much rain is bad for them. One can understand, therefore, how the saying walked into our everyday communication. Mr Sluggard knows this and he prays that it rains heavily.

“We can’t wait any longer,” his friends warn him. “We will leave you if you don’t get up.” He drags himself to the window. He yawns gain, and after scratching his head, turns to his friends. “There was a prowling lion on the road to the farm the other day. It’s a fierce lion. It nearly got me.”

“Ha ha ha,” his friends laugh. Unable to persuade him, Mr Sluggard’s friends leave him to slumber. Now it’s midday. He yawns as he looks through the window. “Why has it not rained?” he asks. Then he hobbles into his kitchen. Nothing to eat. He can’t cook. The sink is full of unwashed utensils. “This will do,” he says to himself, as he takes a bite on the previous day’s left over cocoyam.

Weeks have passed. It is a beautiful day. Mr Sluggard trudges to his farm with a stomach full of cassava. He can’t find the entrance to his farm. Weeds have overtaken the small farm, forcing life out of the crops. “I will need a very sharp cutlass,” he says to himself, as he turns back to return home.

He stands before the coconut tree and pleads, “Please drop a coconut, for I like the sweat taste of the coconut.” Nothing happens. He hisses and finds a group of people playing Ayo game. He joins them, hoping someone will bring a keg of palmwine. That’s how he spends his day.

Now it’s harvest time. His friends bring home loads of maize, cassava and yams, produce of their hard work. Their barns are full of yams. Mr Sluggard stands outside his friend’s house, his mouth watering, as they pound the yam. He knows exactly when to visit his friend. After clearing his throat, he remarks, “These yams are really matured. I’m sure they will be really tasty.” He knows his friend will always welcome him to dinner. After stuffing himself, and now looking like a python that has swallowed an elephant, he packs all the leftovers so he may have something to eat the following day.

He turns himself into a beggar, living at the mercy of his friends. He becomes the visitor who always turns up at dinner time, and the friend who doesn’t ever have, burrowing money here and there. He watches his children growing up to become servants and his whole family becomes a laughing stock.

That’s the life of a lazy person. The person who is unwilling to work or do something will always find an excuse. The time is never right for the sluggard. But laziness goes farther and more dangerous than the prowling lion. The body is wonderful. It does whatever you want it to do. The less you do, the less you want to do and the more useless you end up.

No one is born with laziness. It’s simply a habit we pick up as we grow up. But it’s a habit that can sometimes be deadlier than a disease. To overcome laziness, you need to make conscious efforts to change your habit. It is not an incurable disease. After all, it’s only a habit. Start by taking small steps towards change. Don’t yield to bodily comfort when you should be up on your feet to face what life throws at you. Don’t be like Mr Sluggard who keeps making excuses that render him useless. If only Mr Sluggard would realise that nothing comes easy. Don’t frighten yourself from the chances of success by imagined difficulties. There’s no excuse for failure. It takes courage and determination to ignore our physical comfort. Sometimes all it takes is just a little push and you are up and going. Try it and you will be a winner.

What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

IMG_1204What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

I accepted the invitation to visit the Bravers with mixed feelings. On one hand, I could not imagine that a person who I perceived to hate me so much could invite me for a meal. I thought he was looking for an opportunity to humiliate me. He had done that in the front of patients, nurses, his secretary and medical staff. Now, he needed to ridicule me before his family. My other mind was telling me to give him a chance. Maybe he had a different side to his character. A normal aspect outside of work. Other doctors and nurses had been talking about the Bravers’ party for days. All the people that I mentioned it to indicated they would attend.

I was the last guest to arrive. At first, I was hesitant to join the guests. I stood on the front corridor hoping that someone would pop outside to have a smoke or something or a late arrival would turn up and we could go in together. There was a lot of talking and giggling going on. I could hear the chink of glasses amidst the chatter and laughter. Everyone seemed to be in full gear.

“My African friend!” Dr Braver exclaimed with his usual shallow smile, holding a large half empty bottle of Vodka in one hand.

“Good evening,” I said to Dr Braver and his wife. “Thank you for inviting me.”

“Oh, it’s always a pleasure,” Mrs Braver replied. Mrs Braver stood by her husband, smiling warmly as she welcomed me into the lavishly decorated banquet hall. She wore an Indian Satin with a matching heavy gold necklace. Dr Braver was looking really posh in his navy blue dinner suit, I almost did not recognise him.

We had expected to have Chinese take-away for the Christmas party, as Dr Braver had said earlier, because his wife could not cook! In truth, I could not say for sure if Mrs Braver actually did the cooking or someone else did. To be honest, I cared less who cooked the food and whether it was Chinese take-away or Cantonese sit down to eat. All I knew was that it looked good and there was a lot of it. The three long tables had all sorts of food displayed and this jumbo was capped with a large whole roasted pock that stood strategically in the middle of all the other food. I had never seen so much food displayed, even back home in Africa.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I cannot say, ‘feel at home,’ as you are already at home. The only thing to say, is that no one leaves until all the food is gone,” Dr Braver said, as we took our seats according to our names on the table.

I wanted to quickly eat my food and get out of this place. But that would look uncivilised. Besides, many of the food items on the table were strange to me. I didn’t have any problem with the pork and rice but I couldn’t figure out how to combine the various items.

“Here you go,” Mrs Braver said, as she placed the plate full of rice, roast potatoes, diced carrots, sprouts and the shin of pork in front of me. She must have thought that I needed a tonne of food to support my one hundred and twenty kilograms body. And she seemed to know my weakness. Meat. I could eat a whole cow.

“Thank you, mam,” I said. She didn’t seem to mind me referring to her as “mam,” which made me feel really relaxed.

I was struggling with the bone of the pork when Dr Braver stood up. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I have no doubt you are all enjoying yourselves. Everybody seems happy. I am glad. When you are happy I am happy.”

We all clapped. Not really because of what he had said but there had been a lot of ethanol in our brains.

“And my African friend, you don’t have to crack your canines. There is enough flesh. Makes me wonder what you give your dogs in Africa,” he said and sipped from his bottle of Vodka.

“Oh, we give them plenty of chocolate,” I replied.

And everyone broke into laughter. Initially some people did not understand the joke but as the meaning became clear the laughter was truly unending.

“That’s a good one,” he said, after sipping again at his Vodka.

After the meal, we all dispersed into small gatherings. Dr Braver had undone his tie. He was no more wearing his jacket. His trouser was partly unbuttoned. He sat down in one of the settees, humming a tune with his pipe at the corner of his mouth and a newly opened bottle of Vodka beside him. Completely pissed off, he responded, “Yes,” to every question his wife asked him.

I got back to my flat just before midnight, feeling like I had swallowed an elephant. And as I lay in bed, massaging my stomach, I could not stop wondering what to make of Dr Braver. One thing was certain, the food was tasty and I had a lot of it.

Bullies Are Wimps

imageBullies are wimps

I recently watched the video of a four-year old boy whose family’s cat rescued from being savaged by a dog. The little boy was riding his bike in front of their house when the unprovoked dog attacked him. The surveillance video showed the dog biting and attempting to drag the boy down the sidewalk. The cat saw the incident on their surveillance video in the living room. Within seconds, the cat leaped out of the house, jumped in front of the dog and chased it away.

The hero cat was not up to a quarter of the dog in size. In fact, based on size alone, the dog could quite easily throw its weight on it and crush it to death. And, of course, it could snap its neck between its powerful jaws. But the monstrous dog was gripped with fear. It couldn’t even bark. Instead, it ran as fast as it could.

One could analyse this event in several plausible ways. Could it be that the dog thought other members of the family were after it? Could it be a sense of guilt and it had to run away to save its face. Perhaps the dog was not as strong as it looked. I concur with the last plausible explanation as I believe the dog simply behaved in a typical way.

Typical way? Yes, I say, “Typical way.” This is typical of bullies. They shout and create fear. Look at gang leaders, for example. They often don’t carry weapons but are surrounded by tougher gang members. He controls them by shouting and intimidating them even though they are stronger than him.

The truth is, BULLIES ARE WIMPS. He may be larger than a mountain gorilla. That doesn’t mean he is strong. After all, the adder may be small but no one dares to step on its tail. The needle may be small but it’s not for the cock to swallow. Dr Chuks should have realised this the first time he met Dr Braver. See what happened when Dr Braver’s son had acute appendicitis and they suggested to him that Dr Bigfellow should do Oliver’s appendicectomy. He melted like a scoop of ice cream in the Sahara Desert. “Oh no. Not him,” Dr Braver replied, like a little child who has met his phobia. “My God. Look at those big hands! Those hands are too big to perform an appendicectomy on a tiny creature like Oliver. Gosh! He will slash him from chin to shin.”

There are bullies everywhere. And there are life situations that act as bullies as well. You may have a boss who is so intimidating that you can’t even find the courage to ask for a pay rise. May be you have been diagnosed with cancer or other serious medical conditions. Or you have a phobia that is robbing you of your quality of life. Don’t allow bullies to put you down. Stand up to them and you will discover the truth – they are not as tough as they look. They are wimps!

If you want to read more about the life of a wimp, CLICK

I Can’t Pronounce This

imageI Can’t Pronounce This

I don’t like visiting doctors. Not that I don’t like the medical profession. Of course, my own doctor is excellent in every way. She is caring and trustworthy. But maybe it’s just because I am a man. Men don’t like to complain about their health and so tend to delay going to see their doctors. Women, on the other hand, generally seek help early.

As expected, the waiting room was packed full with women and elderly people. I quietly went in, avoiding any eye contact and settled in one of the chairs at the far end of the room, hoping that I wouldn’t have to stay long before they called me in for my health check.

As I sat down, one nurse came to the door with a piece of paper in her hand. She looked at the paper and murmured something. All the people in the room turned their faces to my side. I didn’t know what to make of it. I felt uncomfortable, and almost asked the receptionist if there was something that I was supposed to do that I hadn’t done. I brought out my phone and started playing one of my favourite games. I just needed something to take my attention.

The nurse appeared again through the door. After clearing her throat, she scratched her head and murmured something again. This time I thought I heard, “Mr O … I can’t pronounce this.” She went back in as the people in the waiting room turned their faces to my side. Then the old woman who sat next to me, asked, “Is that you?” Not knowing what she meant, I replied, “Sorry?”

“Oh, I thought the nurse was calling you.” The old woman said.

“I didn’t hear her call my name.”

“I think she is finding it difficult to call your name.

I didn’t want to be rude to this woman. But I couldn’t help asking her, “How did you know that she can’t pronounce my name?”

“We don’t hear many names like that here.” She replied.

“Oh, I see.” I said.

Just then, the nurse appeared at the door, and after looking at the piece of paper in her hand, walked towards me. I pretended to be busy playing my game and avoided her eye contact.

“Mr, em, I can’t pronounce your name. You’re next.” She said, as she tapped my shoulder.

I looked up. Of course, my name is not “Mr I can’t pronounce your name.” Trying not to be rude to the nurse or create a scene, I politely informed her, “The name is Olusegun Popoola. All the alphabets are English, my dear.”

“Oh!” She said, but she never tried to master the pronunciation of my name.

As I followed this nurse into her room for my health check, I wondered how Dr Chukwuemeka Azuibike would have felt when Dr Braver asked him what his name meant in English.

If you want to make someone welcomed, call his name and if you can say a word or two in their language, the better. Try this and your client will not feel alienated.

If you want to befriend a people, learn to speak their language, call them by their names, respect their beliefs and values, understand and respect their differences and they will in return bestow their trust on you.

imageStick out your neck

The tortoise can quite rightly be described as an ugly animal. But there are many things about it that I admire. With a lifespan of 150-200 years, it is one of the longest living vertebrae, and certainly lives longer than humans. It is cunning, shrewd and a bit like Dr Braver.

There are so many African tales about the tortoise. One of the tales is about why the tortoise has no hair on its head. It is said, one day, the tortoise visited his in-laws. His mother in-law prepared a delicious meal consisting of yam pottage. The tortoise enjoyed the meal but instead of asking his in-law to give him some of it to take home, he decided to pilfer. He and his wife had got ready to leave but he told her he needed to use the loo before setting off. Whilst they were all waiting for him in front of the house, he sneaked to the kitchen, filled his hat with the hot pottage and put his pottage-filled hat back on his head. He returned to join his family and they set off on their return journey. As they were going, he could not bear the pain on his head. He had to confess to his wife what he had done. He took off his hat but it was too late, as the heat from the hot pottage had badly burnt his scalp leaving no single hair on his head. Since that day, the tortoise has remained bald.

What I really like about the tortoise is that it has to stick out its neck in order to move. Whenever I watch this reptile as it goes about its daily needs, it makes me aware of our life as humans. Life throws so many obstacles and challenges at us. The tortoise sometimes hides within its shell for protection. Like the tortoise, there are times when we have to retreat to do some thinking. We may even sometimes hide away from danger.

There will be times in your life when you will have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges but instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go and face them. Stand up to your challenges. That was exactly what Dr Chuks did to survive the almighty Dr Braver.

Men Are Wimps!

divinehopeMrs. Pearson had finished her shower and had got into her pyjamas when Angela got back home.

“Have you heard from Mark?” Her mother was direct. Angela had been hoping that it would be a brief check on her mother and a quick good night kiss. Her heart quickened as her brain struggled to find the right answer. In the end, she decided to be truthful. That was how she had brought her up. To tell the truth without mincing words.

“I phoned him just before coming here.”

“And?”

“Didn’t talk much. Only told him that I’m having my operation in the morning.”

“And what did he think?”

“Don’t know.” Angela scratched her head and stared into the blank. “It doesn’t matter anyway.”

“I’m sure he’s scared.” Her mother tried to make her understand.

“But he’s not acting like a man. Not a brave one anyway.” She brushed her hair backwards with her hand. “You see, Mama, when I got married to Mark I thought I got married to a real man. One with a heart big enough to harbour all my troubles and heavy shoulders to carry my burden. But sadly, all I’ve got now is a wimpish lamb.”

“Your husband loves you…”

“How can you say that after what he’s done?”

Her mother smiled and shook her head. “I know he loves you and I can assure you that he’s probably somewhere out there among his mates drinking his life out.”

“If he loved me he wouldn’t do that. You don’t hurt the person that you love,” she retorted.

“Sometimes your treasured possession has a stain but you still treasure it anyway. That’s exactly what love is. It is unconditional.”

“That’s my point. If he loved me it should be unconditional. That’s the point I am making. He doesn’t love the children either.”

“Don’t say things like that. Of course he loves you all. Think of the times that you have shared together. If you count the number of breeze and storms in your relationship as a family, it would surprise you how much love you have for one another.”

“Mama, I can’t believe that you’re supporting Mark’s reckless behaviour.”

“I am not supporting the way he has acted. Of course not.” She put her arm over her daughter’s shoulder. “But darling you are not living in the real world. Everything cannot be perfect. And don’t expect people to reason or behave in your own way. Sometimes someone that we love can disappoint us. Call them stupid, insensitive, lazy, or whatever. You see, people are different, but love is the same.”

Angela’s heart started to melt as she listened to her mother. She could now see the point her mother was making and she didn’t want to argue anymore. She lay down beside her mother and listened to her like a baby listening to her mother read a bedside storybook. She knew that her mother was always objective in her appraisal of things and she was always practical. Angela always counted herself lucky for having a mother like her.

“I don’t want you to be too disturbed. You see, it may look to you like he doesn’t care. I am sure he does. And he loves you. But he is a man. That’s the problem.”

“I don’t understand that, Ma’am.” Angela’s eyes opened like an oyster.

Her mother cleared her throat. “You see, men are not as tough as they look. You go to the labour room and look at the faces of those husbands when their wives are having babies. If God was to change his mind and make men have babies, the midwives would have no jobs.” Both women laughed hysterically. “That, my dear, is what men are. Wimps.” She mopped the tears from the corner of Angela’s eyes.

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