By Obika Chidiebele
What is life without oxygen?. It’s everywhere, yet no where when mostly needed.
So, there I was, sitting out with wonderful friends that fateful Friday morning. I could remember sipping away a half-full glass of lemon juice. Actually, I was playing host to a friend Mac who is visiting from London. He had arrived the night before, but we could not meet for obvious reasons.
There, my phone rang; I sluggishly pulled out the “troublemaker” from my breast pocket and “killed it”. I had no intention whatsoever of answering any call.
For once I could spend some few hours with my old friend whom I have not seen since “74. I was sure I only needed some gist and exchange of banters, but the persistent caller would not let me.
Well, it was getting to mid-day and I should be meeting a visiting investor later in the day. Again, I took out the “chipping bird”, sighed, looked at the bold-screened phone. Damn! It was home. Home? Oh, not again.
The day before, I had spent a couple of hours trying to pacify some nagging natives. God, I dont need this. At least, not now. Like Jesus during his trials when he rhetorically enquired “could this cup pass?”. That was all I needed.
But because it’s home, one must answer. Helloooo, dianyi… there was silence… I could faintly hear from the other side, ‘check her’, IJ, please check her. Who? I interjected. Nwankwo, who is that? What is happening? Who is she?
Agu, mama is dying ooooo. We are losing her. She slumped some minutes ago. Hiaa. Damn. Where is she, I inquired?
When I visited yesterday, mama was healthy. Even at 88years of age Mama was still doing a lot of things by her self. I could picture her smiles when I was about leaving. She waved at me and said, ‘Bekee, jee nke oma. Kenee umum” (loosely translated, go well, my regards to your children).
What could be wrong with her? Thoughts were running “haywire” over my head. Was she hiding something from me that yesterday? Could I be missing some signs or codes from my conversation with her?
… then i continued, Nwankwo; please look after her, I will be there in a jiffy.
As I hung off, I slammed the desk. Paaaam! Ogini, Odogwu? My friends inquired… My Mother, she slumped.
Where is Jioke? I quizzed, rhetorically. Ple, ple, please gentlemen… I’m leaving you immediately for Enyimba.
Oh, I tried running, my shoes could not avail me. I struggled and dashed off the premises with Jioke and others.
For the first time, I felt traffic on all routes leading to my town. Gush! Could this “devil” vanish from my way? Luckily, it was cleared and we made our way straight to Enyimba. When we arrived, Mama was lying on the cold floor, gasping for air. Oh no!
I could hear IJ saying, she needs air! We need oxygen mask. Oh no, ordinary oxygen? With the aid of my Aides, we moved Mama to Uzu Town. Thank God, for that call from Dianyi Nwankwo.
Few minutes after we arrived the Hospital, Mama’s condition stabilized. Hmmmmmm. I heaved a sigh of relief. At least, now, I could take a glass of “cold water”.
Time check, it was 2:48 in the afternoon. Oh Dear… I’m supposed to have a meeting with the CEO of Rice? Oh ooo. God, I need this. I waved at Nnia, and wishpered to him, “Can i still meet with the CEO”? Boss, let me make calls, he replied.
Few minutes later, he emerged with a gleeful face. Yes Sir, the investor obliged us. He’s waiting for us Sir, he added. We dashed off the Hospital and headed for the Hotel while trusting the nurses with the health of my dear mother.
There in the meeting, rivulets of thoughts kept streaming in my head. All I know is that the Doc. is a good physician. The hospital being a reputable institution will surely manage Mama’s case. If something had gone wrong or the health deteriorated, they could have called.
For a second, I regained composure while detailing Nnia to keep tab on Mama.
My meeting with the foreign investor lasted for about fourty-five minutes. Yes! I won this and I know that stabilizing mama’s health too would have greatly impacted my day positively.
Fiaam, we were back at the hospital. As I opened the cubicle door, I saw mama sitting on her bed, chatting with my younger sister. Wow. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’m I dreaming? Is this not Mama that almost died while making our way to this place? What happened? I could not believe it. Mama, I called, she looked at me and smiled. Then called me, “Bekee”. Geezzz! Thats the name she calls me. Mama, we thank God ooo. What could I have told the people? That would have been a reckless death. Thank God oooo.
Immediately, I made my way into the CMD’s office, bia Doctor Kama, what happened?
Kama is a personal friend of mine and was two classes below me when we were at the CKC, Onitsha. But now, he is my employee.
Onyisi, your mother is ok now, he replied.
But what happened? I queried further.
Well, she is having hypoxemia and needed OXYGEN.
Just Oxygen? Yes, he answered.
So Doc, you are telling me I could have lost my Mother for a mere oxygen?
He was affirmative in response. Who knows the number of lives we lose daily because of the lack of Oxygen? I asked rather rhetorically.
And Bekee made a vow. He swore to build the biggest Oxygen plant in SouthEast. That plant is now complete and has the capacity of supplying at least two cannisters to each of the 525Primary Health Centres in Anambra state(free of charge) and the Teaching and General Hospitals. Its located at the premises of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Amaku Awka.
That was the idea behind Governor Willie Obiano’s building of the biggest Oxygen Plant in the entire SouthEast, Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen, Gov. Willie Obiano is the Bekee in the story.