Lara was driving into her street, nodding to a soulful tone from her stereo when she heard the smashing sound of metal behind her. It hit her faster than she could imagine, vibrating her, and smashing her into a Tin-Shop.
The owner of the Shop, a petty trader, who was outside at the time, hearing the smash and seeing a car destroy her shop, started running towards it, screaming ‘Egba mi o’, lifting her hands to her head, vibrating her bulky body and drawing people towards her.
As a crowd gradually formed, the man who hit Lara slowly climbed out of his car unharmed, and began to apologise. The people rushed him, forgetting Lara who had fainted inside her very damaged car.
‘Help the woman first!’ The man managed to raise his voice amidst the yells, pointing towards Lara and momentarily pausing the confrontation.
Two men from the group quickly rushed into a nearby compound, drove out a car, and with the help of some people, they broke out Lara from her damaged vehicle, carried her into their own car with her handbag, and rushed off to the hospital.
‘Sorry, please we’re calling all the people on her call log…’ was all Seun heard from his caller without understanding a word, nor asking for clarification, or even looking at the phone to know who was calling him. He was in a meeting and didn’t want to be distracted.
He however tried to re-dial Lara’s line after the meeting, after finding out that it was her number that had dialed him, but he kept cutting the call immediately because it was a male voice he heard at her end of the line.
‘Come to Spring Field Hospital Ikeja if you want and stop flashing. It’s an emergency’ was the text that came into his phone as he walked towards his car to head home earlier than usual. He paused at the ‘stop flashing’, irritated by the sender, and took his phone to speak some sense into whoever was at the end of the message. After ringing up thrice without any success, the man at Lara’s end picked on the fourth ring and without letting Seun as much as exhale, he narrated the whole incidence, stating Lara’s accident and her new location.
Seun was running down with his car from the Island, grateful that it wasn’t the rush hour and that the roads were free, and as he neared Ikeja, he realised that he had forgotten to ask for directions to the hospital. He tried to dial the number again but his calls were ignored. He tried to search for the place via Google but his efforts were futile. He drove into a restaurant, rolled down his window, and tiredly muttered some prayers for Lara.
‘Hello sir, you’ve been merely sitting here close to an hour now…’ a security man said to him through his window, and as he looked up at the elderly but friendly looking guard, he explained that he had been searching for a hospital that he wasn’t sure existed, chipping in a bit about Lara’s incidence.
Sympathising with him, the elderly man let him stay and turned to leave, but suddenly turned back again.
‘There’s this “Sting Free Clinic” down the road, just in case’ the elderly man smiled and left again. Seun smiled back at him, amused at his sense of humour.
As he was driving home some minutes after, he approached a hospital with a water fountain in front of it, and while he wondered at the reason behind having a fountain in a hospital, he suddenly saw the sign board that read “Sting Free Clinic” and was shocked that the elderly man’s words were no joke. He drove into the driveway, and decided to check inside.
‘Please was any Lara Balogun brought in some hours ago?’ he asked a nurse, but a slender lady that looked familiar walked passed and as he looked at her, he discovered that asides the fact that she was shorter, had a different hair style, and had a quiet look, he would have mistaken her for Lara.
He caught himself staring, and turned back to the woman he was speaking to, but it was already late. She gave him the stern ‘so you’re also a womaniser look’ and he carefully replied with a gentle ‘I’m sorry, it won’t happen again smile’, and pleaded to no avail with her to let him see Lara after she affirmed that Lara was a patient in the clinic.
He slowly walked away, knowing that this woman that thought him to be a womaniser wouldn’t change her mind, and as he stepped outside, he stopped to watch Lara’s look-alike arguing with two men- arguing just like Lara would.
He heard ‘we would have left her dead to avoid this drama’ from one of the men and listened harder. They kept repeating the same things- the men describing an incidence exactly like Lara’s, adding that they had to deposit all their money, and needed it back; and the lady promising to give them all and more the next day, explaining that she just came in from another city and had nothing else apart from a few Naira Notes.
The men were gradually increasing their voice when he turned and faced them, then drew near without their notice.
As he drew closer, they gave him an unfriendly glare and he merely smiled back at them. But the lady spoke out, stating that he was not welcome into the discussion, and he was almost sure that he just heard Lara’s voice.
‘Sorry, are you related to Lara Balogun?’ was all he said and their stares grew sterner, especially the lady’s.
‘I’m Seun, Lara’s friend’ he gently continued, and got on the lady’s good side immediately. She quickly assessed him from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet, and with excitement, brought out her hand for a hand shake.
‘Seun! I’m Lara’s sister’ she exhaled warmly to the surprise of the furious men. They were angry that she had the nerve to ignore them for social purposes. And in the calmest way he could, Seun led the 3 adults to his car, and led them further to a resolution- he added some more cash to what Lara’s sister’s had, and gave the men half of what they needed, and they gladly agreed to return the next day for the balance.
‘You kept flashing’ one of the men whispered to Seun, irritating him again.
But Seun smiled and teased him, pointing at the hospital’s sign board ‘You couldn’t read and write anyway.’
The man got edgy and loudly defensive, but when he started to draw the attention of his friend and Lara’s sister, he shut up and smiled shamefully.
‘She’ll have to tell us herself to let him in’ the nurse repeated to Seun and Lara’s sister despite Lara’s sister’s vote-of-confidence for Seun. But Lara’s sister immediately ran to the office of the Doctor on duty to seek permission for Seun.
‘She needs her rest so you will not engage her in any conversation for now’ the female doctor warned Seun while permitting him to visit Lara, and they thanked her and moved on, but not without Seun winking and smiling at the stern nurse.
Lara was lying down peacefully on the hospital bed in a private ward without any pipe or tube fixed into her, and as the door opened, she opened her eyes to behold her sister leading Seun in, and coyly smiled. Seun walked towards her and gently squeezed her hand.
‘I’m fine’ she began to mutter and he encouraged her to postpone the talks and continue with her rest. He gave her hand another gentle squeeze and proceeded to sit at one end of a long sofa inside the room, with her sister at the other end.