Ify slipped in and out of consciousness. Beatrice nursed her faithfully, making sure she was comfortable. But as the days progressed and Ify seemed not to recover, Beatrice was worried. She had done everything she could. As a doctor, she had run some tests in her small lab and found nothing. Nothing. Apart from a few cuts and bruises which Beatrice had taken care of, the girl was fine. Perhaps, that was the girl’s own way of dealing with her trauma. Getting almost drowned in the river was very traumatizing. Beatrice had reason to know. Poor girl.
At first, she had contemplated taking her to the hospital. But she changed her mind. Since her retirement, she had never stepped feet in a hospital. And she had no wish to do so now. She would watch the girl for a few more days and if there was no improvement, she would take her to the hospital.
But she didn’t have to wait. The next day, Ify woke up, panting heavily from an obvious nightmare. Beatrice held her down gently.
“It’s okay. It’s okay. You are in safe hands now.” She said in a cooing voice.
The soothing voice helped Ify relaxed a little. It was then she looked around her strange environment.
Seeing her beginning to panic again, Beatrice quickly said, “I found you lying on the beach. So I brought you here. You are in my house. You’ve been slipping in and out of consciousness for almost seven days.”
Ify’s eyes widened at that. But before she could speak, Beatrice asked, “I am Beatrice. What is your name?”
Ify opened her mouth to reply but no sound came out. She tried to clear her throat and speak. No way.
She was dumb.
Beatrice grimaced in embarrassment. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. I didn’t know you were…”
She trailed off. Ify shook her head frantically, trying to tell the kind woman before her that she wasn’t dumb as she obviously concluded. Beatrice was too embarrassed to understand.
“Let me get you something to eat.” She said and quickly left.
Ify tried to call her back to no avail. She simply couldn’t speak. Mortified, she watched the woman leave the room. It dawned on her she was likely going to spend the rest of her life, dumb. The queen had won.
Beatrice came back a few minutes later with some food. But Ify couldn’t eat. She could only stare into the distance with sad eyes. That became a routine for days. Beatrice would cook delicious meals to entice her, but Ify couldn’t eat. She would only stare into space. Beatrice didn’t know what to do. Her visitor was emaciating before her eyes. Ify looked like a skeleton. Beatrice couldn’t take it.
“Look, I know you are troubled.” She said one day. “But you can’t stay like this forever. Maybe you experienced something a young lady like you should not experience. But you can’t give up. You are very young and you have life ahead of you.”
Ify didn’t even twitch to show that she heard her. Beatrice sighed.
“I was once young like you. Came from a good family. I was the first child, the prettiest and most brilliant of all my siblings. Came top of my class. I studied Medicine in University of Oxford, practiced in London. And then I got engaged. My fiance was the son of one of the richest men in Nigeria. He managed one of his father’s companies. And so, I had to resign my job and relocated to Nigeria to get married. That was a big mistake because it turned out my so called fiance was too possessive and abusive. I got out the toxic relationship and started all over again. I took up an appointment in a Federal Teaching Hospital as a Neurosurgeon. Life was good. I was the golden girl.”
“But my love life since then was sadly the opposite. After getting my heart broken several times by other men I dated, I decided I wasn’t going into any relationship. I wasn’t ever going to get married. But on my 35th birthday, I met my husband.”
She could vividly remember that day. She had gone to the beach to celebrate with her friends. He had walked up to her in the beach bar where she was partying and wished her a happy birthday. That was it. They became friends. And that friendship led to the most beautiful romance she had ever had. They were married a year later and had a daughter. And then they settled to live happily ever after.
“Two years later, he ran off with another woman. I haven’t heard from him since then. My heart was shattered but I survived. I had my daughter. She was everything to me. So, I raised her alone. Her name was Nene. Three years ago, she went to the beach with her friends and never returned.”
Beach again? Ify thought. That place must be cursed.
According to her friends, Beatrice’ daughter had gone to swim and never came back. At first, they thought she playing pranks on them. After all, everyone knew she a great swimmer. But after a few minutes and yet there was no sign o her, they knew something was wrong. They tried to look for her to no avail. Beatrice was called and the frantic mother elicited the help of professional divers who applied all their professional skills to find the girl. They combed every nooks and crannies of the beach.
“Her body was never found till date. My daughter had simply disappeared. So every year, I take some flowers to the beach to remember her. When I saw you, I thought you were my daughter. She would have been your age if she lived. Both of you are so alike. You would have been friends.”
By now, hot tears were flowing down Beatrice cheeks.
“I’m saying this to let you know you’re not alone in your misery. Look at me. I have no husband, no child and no job. I retired early when my daughter died. But you my dear, you’re young. It’s not too late. You can start again.”
Ify’s eyes were filled with sympathetic tears. She wanted to tell this kind hearted woman that she understood. That she didn’t think it was too late for her either. But she couldn’t speak. So she settled for gently holding Beatrice hands. Beatrice held her gratefully as she wept.
Then she wiped her tears and smiled, a little embarrassed. “Thank you, my dear. Let me get you some food. This time, you must eat whether you like it or not.”
She rose and left. Ify smiled, feeling a little better at Beatrice’ authoritative tone. Besides, the woman was right. If someone like her could lose everything and still be able to function, then who was she, Ify? Dumb or not, she had to move on.
Ify resolutely swung her feet to the floor and pressed her fists on the bed, trying to get up. Then she stopped as she felt something on her finger. She raised her finger to look.
It was her engagement ring. In her misery, she had completely forgotten all about it. She stared at the ring, her face bright with glee.
“My ring.” She whispered “My ri–”
Wait a minute, she could speak! She had her voice back! She ran out of the room excitedly.
“Auntie Beatrice! Auntie Beatrice!” She called.
Beatrice ran out of the kitchen, surprised. “What?” The her eyes widened in shock when she saw Ify. “Wait, you can talk?”
“Yes, I can. I always have been able to talk. I don’t know why I couldn’t these last few days.”
“Oh good. That’s good.”
“My name is Ifenyinwa. Everyone calls me Ify. My family is here. I have been going through some troubles. It’s a long story. Thank you so much for everything.”
“You are welcome, Ify. Glad to know you are not dumb after all.”
Ify laughed. “Thank you, Auntie. Can I ask a favor?”
“Can I use your phone? I need to make a quick call.”
“It’s on the table in my room. My room is on the left.”
“Thank you so much.” Ify said gratefully and ran to Beatrice room.
She picked the phone and quickly dialed a number. It rang.
“Hello?” Tony’s voice answered on the other end.
Episode 11 is coming out next week. Thanks for reading. Please like, comment and share.