Bankole was sweating profusely. The weather couldn’t really be blamed, after all, he was in a bank building with adequate air conditioning. He was going to be an uncle, if he hurried. The life of his new cousin and his very pregnant sister rested on how fast the bank would produce his money. He had withdrawn his daily limit at the ATM for other medical supplies, which was in support of his brother-in-law’s insufficient funds, so queuing at the withdrawal counter seemed the only logical choice.
He hurried up to the head of the queue when it seemed the already long line was not moving at all. Or maybe it was his muddled thoughts. That was the least of his concerns really, as he wondered how he would present his case to the person at the counter. He wouldn’t blame the stout-looking hard-faced middle-aged man if he didn’t believe his story, he had a hard time believing it himself. Really, what hospital demands cash payment and refuses to attend to the patient until payment in the face of a delivery?
The shouts accusing him of cheating by jumping the queue went over his head as he explained his plight to Mr Johnson, that was what his name tag read, hoping to see the softening of the hard planes of his face. It was not to be, as Mr Johnson told him to return to the queue and try again when he’d cooked up a better story.
Try again, kini?
It was time to do away with the normal, proper societal approach. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Chukwuka’s safe arrival to the world rested on his shoulders. He slowly went on his knees and started wailing. It wasn’t easy to weep, being a person not given to expressing emotions, but he forced himself to imagine his school fees going in flames, and his tear glands happily supplied fluid. He refused to imagine losing Chukwuka, for fear some bolts would come loose.
He was wailing softly initially, and as pities and sympathies flitted over to his side, he intensified his cries and pleaded for his pregnant sister. The woman at the head of the line was moved as well as others on the queue. Encouraged by those behind her, she empathetically let him take her place, and so he was attended to. He silently made a promise to himself to give up his space for any pregnant woman he sees on a bank queue as repayment for the favour. With a grateful heart, he cashed out and shouted his thanks as he flew out the bank, public conduct be damned.
He flagged down a bike at the bank’s entrance and jumped on it with a force that almost sent them both to the ground, but the rider deftly maintained their vertical positions. Bankole’s sense of urgency had the biker worried if he was a thief, to which he kept looking for signs of pursuit by lawmen. Bankole couldn’t explain and even if he could, the wind was bound to ferry his voice away. Soon the hospital was in sight and the dashed into the hospital, barely remembering to pay his fare.
The antiseptic smell was a little sickening, but his eyes found his sister and her husband, Emeka. Sister Bodunde was on a couch, in obvious pains, but he found it surprising that no one was attending to her even with her heart-rending moans. In fact, the nurses at the desk were in a hearty discussion over a magazine one of them held and their white-capped heads were bobbing with vigour. While his sister was in pains.
Why wasn’t anybody doing anything? How could they bear to watch?
He got to where his family sat and told his brother-in-law he had the money they needed so they should attend to her promptly. Emeka replied that the doctor had examined her and said it wasn’t time yet, so he had gone for a quick walk to refresh himself. Bolanle wanted to hit something at the report, but he held himself, barely.
The tick of the clock on the wall near them was unsettling as they waited for the doctor to arrive. When he did, he walked over to them directly and told them to pay to the nurses, that it was time. Then he summoned Nurse Titi and Nurse Dayo from their chat to help Bodunde in. Emeka escorted them, murmuring words of comfort.
The task of payment fell to Bolanle and he headed to the nurses’ desk. He gave the wad of notes to the nurse and watched as she counted it. Each flip signified a gradual erosion of his dreams of furthering his education that year, for the last of his inheritance which he was to use for a quick business to generate more money before paying his school fees was rapidly running through the nurses’ fingers.
Well, there goes. It was a choice between forfeiting his education for a school year at the very least, versus his Chukwuka Omowale’s safe delivery. It wasn’t a hard choice, and he’d happily do it again if the situation repeated itself.
It was going to be worth it in the end. All he had to do was await Chukwuka’s arrival.
I hoped you enjoyed the story. It’s the first of a series, of my very first series. Kindly cheer me on.
What are your experiences of ‘customer care’ in hospitals? What would you have done if you were in Bolanle’s shoes at the bank?
Let me know what you think in the comment section. Do like and share too. Thank you!