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  • missing. FEARED ALIVE. by Dr. Wilson Orhiunu a.k.a Babawilly

    October 15th, 2009EdoheartContributors


    By Dr Wilson Orhiunu



    ‘In the abundance of water the fool is thirsty’ said Peter. He said that anytime he heard of a fuel shortage in Nigeria, African’s largest oil exporter.

    ‘Look, I didn’t ring you with my precious credit to hear Majek Fashek quotations you hear’ said Mama.

    ‘Bob Marley Mama’ said Peter.

    ‘I don’t care. Do you know I have walked into the street for a better reception? This phone cannot pick signals in the house. Now answer me. What are we going to do about Uncle T?’ said Mama.

    Peter looked at his watch. Something had told him not to answer the phone. He wished he hadn’t. ‘Have you been to the police?’ he asked.

    ‘You have been abroad too long my dear. I say people have been burnt to death like Suya forgotten on the grill, totally unrecognisable and you are talking of Majek Fashek  and police. Ehen, before I forget. I heard Uncle T’s small wife has gone to see the lawyer early this morning’ said Mama.

    ‘Why now?’ asked Peter.

    ‘Why now he asks. The Will of course’ replied Mama.

    ‘Mama, we never see dead bodi and she don dey find Will?’ asked Peter.

    ‘Search me’ said Mama.

    ‘Mama, I really must go. Surgery starts in 15 minutes’

    ‘You have operation to do?’

    ‘No, a clinic session’

    ‘If na clinic call am clinic. Which one be Surgery again’

    ‘Mama, I will call you later. I must go. Love you’ said Peter

    ‘If you love me, marry and give me grandchildren before I die’ replied Mama.

    Peter switched off the phone and resumed his car journey to work.

    The first patient was Jim. He smelt of alcohol. Peter recognised stains on his jacket from last month’s consultation.

    ‘It’s the knee Doctor Makara. Killing me’ said Jim. He pulled up the right trouser leg to reveal what looked like a snakes and ladders board game without the ladders.

    ‘Those varicose veins look bigger today. You really should have them treated’

    ‘No Doctor. I will take them to my grave. Can’t have no Surgeon messing with my legs. Not unless she’s a pretty blonde’. He laughed heartily and Peter slowly leant back in his chair to dodge the foul stream of alcoholic breath mixed with last night’s curry. Jim never failed to mention his grave at each consultation. He came almost very month since his wife died two years ago. Peter felt Jim was actually trying to commit suicide using protracted means. The frequent visits to the psychiatrist had changed nothing.

    In the end they settled on pain -killers for the knee and a pair of compression stockings for the leg veins. By now the room stank. Jim taking off his shoes always had that effect on any room.

    At the door Jim reached for the knob smiled and pulled it open. His face lit up. ‘Dr Mukaro, why do your country men not use petrol stations like everyone else?’. He winked as he spoke.

    ‘The same reason you don’t use soap’ thought Peter.

    ‘You heard then?’ Peter spoke out loud.

    ‘Some one turned the channel over to CNN last night at the pub’. ‘Didn’t touch a drop though. Of alcohol I mean’.

    ‘Oil pipeline vandalization they call it’ said Peter

    ‘I can understand stealing petrol but why smoke cigarettes at the scene?’

    Peter knew where he was going. ‘What do you expect from dumb Africans?’ said Peter.

    ‘I didn’t mean it that way’ said Jim apologetically.

    ‘Only pulling your leg. Just don’t drink any Cider with those Co-codamol tablets’.

    ‘No problem. I will wash them down with Whiskey. See you’ joked Jim before finally leaving.

    Peter rushed to open the windows and propped the door open with a chair. He didn’t so much as mind the smell as he did the next patient thinking the aroma was all down to him.

    Jim always had something to say. Last month he had gone on about an e –mail from Nigeria he had received. His bank account was soon to be graced with two million Dollars, that is if he helped off set some administrative charges with a tidy sum of twenty thousand Dollars.

    ‘I am not a financial adviser’ was Peter’s reply to Jim. They got on well however.

    Next in the black chair was Tom looking very happy with himself.

    ‘She loves me’ he announced.

    ‘I see’

    ‘Oh yes. I have got love off the NHS. Could you now prescribe me some money?’

    ‘The National Health Service is strapped for cash as it is. What do you need money for anyway?’

    ‘We are doing what lovers do. Going out every night. All down to the pipes being open again. I think the inventor of Viagra should be knighted’ said Tom.

    Pipes. That word triggered thoughts in Peter’s head. Pipelines, arteries and veins. Conveying goodies from one point to another. Then they leak or maybe get blocked. Then bang!

    Tom left with his repeat prescription waving in his left hand.

    Thanks Dr Mokori’ said Tom. Peter had long since given up on correcting his name. There were so many versions.

    The morning Surgery continued uneventfully till the last patient. Fiona. She walked in with a face like thunder and sat down heavily. The last patient had scabies. He imagined them climbing into Fiona’s clothes. He hated that black chair. He once suggested that all patients stood during consultations to reduce cross infections. All his partners thought the idea was a good joke.

    ‘Are you trying to kill me or what?’ asked Fiona.

    ‘Fiona, what are you talking about?’

    ‘You have turned Tom into a brute. I have not slept in ages. I demand you stop poisoning him right away’

    ‘Ah. Does he know how you feel?’


    ‘Then I suggest you discuss this with him. Patient confidentially exists and I cannot go into his medical treatment with you’ Peter said picking his words slowly.

    Fiona walked out looking dissatisfied.

    The practice nurse put her head through the door.

    ‘Sign this script please. Fiona complained to me in the corridor. Something about the Viagra you gave to her husband

    ‘People are dying all over the world and she worries about four little pills’ Peter remonstrated.

    The mail was brought in along with some little tasks needing to be done that morning. Among them was a request for time off work for Mrs Richmond. A post-it attached to her notes read –2 weeks for bereavement please. ‘So Mr Richmond has finally died’ thought Peter. He remember what his grand father always said when he got to the obituary pages of his Daily Times; where there is life there is death.

    Three home visits later he decided to ring his mother. He dialled the pin number on his international calling card and was told by a distant voice that he had 4 minutes remaining.

    ‘Mum, how are things?’

    ‘The family is getting hysterical. Your Uncle T is dead. When are you coming home?’

    ‘How do you know?’ asked Peter

    ‘You better come home o! You know your father has died and left me with all this trouble. Now his younger brother has decided to go’. He could hear his mum crying.

    ‘Mama calm down. Have you seen a body?’ asked Peter

    ‘No. But many have confirmed they saw him scooping fuel from the vandalised pipelines. Hold on’

    Peter fixed his eyes on his watch. Two minutes later his mum spoke.

    ‘I had to leave there. You know his wife. She has already been to the life insurance people o! Uncle T’s life was insured for 20 million Naira. All going to her. A friend rang to tell me she was smiling when she walked out of the place. Now she is in the house rolling on floor and shedding crocodile tears.’

    ‘And what of the Will’

    ‘All  the houses to her. She has really hit Bonanza. We are due to set out for the hospitals and mortuaries now’

    ‘Alright mama. We will talk later’.

    ‘Is that all you will say? I thought you were close to your Uncle. Has your heart grown cold?’

    ‘Mama, I cannot start crying at work now. Remember, no body has been found’.

    Peter struggled to shake the image off his mind. Petrol haemorrhaging from pipes which had been forcibly violated. It had happened so many times before. In search of quick profit they go in the early hours with tankers and steal.

    ‘No burglar repairs the broken window on his way out’. Those were the exact words used by Tony in defence of the oil pipeline vampires. It was two years ago and that statement left an indelible mark on Peter’s memory. At the time Tony made no secret of his second job in the illegal fuel business. Tony called it the redistribution of wealth.

    ‘A hungry man cannot sit and starve. He will do what must be done. By whatever means. Those pipelines have run through the communities for years without any problems. Why now? Hunger is the answer. Not greed. Not the devil despite the 666 kilometres of crude oil pipelines. Not lawlessness. It is pure hunger’. Tony was in fine form that day. His wife was celebrating her forty second birthday with a lavish party at their Lekki ‘high brow’ residence. Wine glass in one hand and a cigar in the other Tony went around boasting. He did not spare Peter who was then on a two week holiday in Lagos.

    ‘Peter, when will you come home and help build the nation? Are you not tired of that your fish and chips existence?’

    Peter had mumbled something and walked off. Tony was shot dead four months later. A deal gone wrong.

    Back at home that night he rang his mum for an update. This time he was fully armed with a new international calling card promising fifty minutes of talk time.

    ‘What your mother has seen today eh!’ she exclaimed.

    ‘Mama calm down’

    ‘I went from mortuary to mortuary. Hospital to hospital’ Mama lamented.

    ‘Doh Mama’

    ‘In the end, that Uncle T’s wife choose a burnt out skull as her husband. I almost slapped her. She is so desperate for a body’

    ‘Mama, are you not being a bit harsh?’

    ‘Peter, call back in 20 minutes. Our Pastor just walked in’

    As soon as she hung up Peter dialed a familiar number.

    ‘Uncle T. Been trying you all day’

    Accra sweet o. My phone has been off’

    ‘Big trouble! Lagos is hot’

    ‘What this time?’

    ‘Explosion at the leaking pipeline near your house’

    ‘I was there. Na God save me. A narrow escape.  Not had the TV on since I arrived here with this babe’

    ‘Na woman go kill you o. Where is your car?’

    ‘After I scooped fuel, I dropped it for servicing and went straight to the airport with Uche’ replied Uncle T.

    ‘Your wife thinks you died in the explosion’

    ‘But I told her I was coming to Accra for a course. Leaking brain. Na so dem be for their family. Hope you didn’t tell them anything’. There was a bit of apprehension in Uncle T’s voice.

    ‘You owe me. But tell me, a big shot like you scooping fuel. Why?’

    ‘Fuel scarcity my brother. I couldn’t resist free fuel’

    ‘Please ring home and let the crying stop’ replied Peter.

    After the call Peter sat staring into space for a few minutes then sighed heavily.

    ‘In the abundance of water the fool is thirsty’ he said out loud. He sat staring for a while before the thought hit him. There are no thirsty fools there. Just victims. Victims of circumstance.


    Dr Wilson Orhiunu is a GP who works and lives in Birmingham, UK and his book- Love Letters is available at Amazon OR AuthorHouse

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