‘Wow, I’m now a proud father of a baby boy!’ the shrill voice of the excited father resonated around the hospital ward the moment he received the joyful news of his wife’s delivery.
‘What’s so special in a male child?’ the nurse furrowed her brow.
‘Nurse, you don’t know how long I’d waited to hold my first baby boy in my arms,’ the man continued, as he kissed his baby passionately, ‘according to my philosophy, any marriage without a male child is a fruitless one…’
The nurse was speechless and suddenly, her attention shifted in the direction of the unconscious mother.
Men can be so callous! She pondered.
‘Nurse, don’t worry about her,’ the man added as though reading her mind, ‘there’s nothing wrong with my wife; that weakness is as a result of the baby boy. No one gives birth to a lion without feeling the impact.’
Without much ado, the nurse carried the baby and bathed and returned him subsequently.
Having concluded her duty for the day, she paced towards the lobby on her way home, but was accosted by one of the doctors.
‘Nurse, do I look very insignificant that you didn’t even notice me?’
‘Should I then prostrate before you?’ she answered.
‘Courtesy demands you greet your colleagues; that’s all.’
‘Dr. Fasanya, or what do you call yourself. You’re not more superior to me just because you’re a man. I have more working experience than you.’
‘Okay, age aside, can’t we just relate as colleagues?’
‘Then, you’d have to accord me my due respect as the oldest member of staff,’ she insisted. ‘when next time you must address me, call me Aunty Emily, ‘ she emphasized.
The waiting room at IBUKUN GENERAL HOSPITAL was crowded as usual with sick and injured people sitting in plastic chairs in the OPD. Although a large TV screen blares out, yet it seems to get little or no attention from many of the patients.
‘The nurses look immaculate in their uniforms!’ one of the patients remarked as the nurses paced to and fro the place.
‘Yes they are,’ another responded, ‘but beyond the white uniforms, some of them are actually horrible…’ he paused, directing his attention at Emily, who was busy filing out some forms.
‘Aunty Emily, it has happened again!’ one lady cried out as she waved a tiny piece of paper before the busy nurse.
‘So what’s the matter?’ Emily probed without looking up at her.
‘The test revealed that I’m pregnant again!’ she blurted out almost in tears.
‘What?’ the bewildered nurse stared at the lady through her pair of eyeglasses. ‘But I thought I advised you on a family planning?’ she asked in quick succession.
‘Yes, you did, nurse,’ the pregnant lady responded, ‘but…my husband…he wants a male child desperately…’
‘What’s all this fuss about having a male child?’ the nurse frowned, ‘anyway for your information, the sex of any child is determined by the man, and not the woman.’
‘How do you mean ma?’
‘This is all it works,’ the nurse explained, ‘during fertilization, the man’s sperm fertilizes the woman’s egg; if during that period, he produces an X chromosome, then the baby would be a girl, but if it is Y chromosome, the baby becomes a boy. You can bring your husband for counseling one of these days.’
‘Thanks, nurse…oh, I mean, Aunty Emily!’
As the lady was about to leave, she bumped into one of the doctors.
‘Excuse me Dr. Fasanya,’ she began, ‘is it true that it is the man that determines the sex of the child?’
‘But I’ve explained this to you already?’ Emily cut in.
‘Please, let her seek a second opinion,’ Dr. Fasanya replied with an air of superiority.
‘And back to your question,’ he continued facing the lady, ‘yes, it is the man that determines the sex of the child. The type of chromosomes your husband releases during fertilization determines the sex of your baby. Why not bring him one of these days for proper counseling?’ he smiled.
Immediately the doctor left, Emily descended angrily on the lady.
‘Don’t ever come to me for advice again,’ she blurted, ‘I’m equal to the task. The fact that I’m a woman does not make me inferior. I’m going to teach that man a lesson one of these days…’
‘Aunty Emily, please it’s okay,’ a handful of other nurses intervened.
‘Sir, please what’s the meaning of this?’ Dr. Fasanya displayed the letter of his transfer before the Chief Medical Director.
‘I’m afraid, Dr. Fasanya, I’m equally as shocked as you are.’
‘But this is unfair; I’ve spent barely a month here and I’m already being transferred,’ laments Dr Fasanya.
‘It’s a pity; the authority came from above,’ the Chief Medical Director remarked, ‘don’t worry, I would personally see to this.’
‘Thank you, sir,’ said Dr. Fasanya.
Two nurses along the corridor who noticed the unhappy countenance of the doctor as he walked passed them, shook their heads.
‘I feel so sorry for him,’ one of the nurses began, ‘but who could have done such wicked act to him?’
‘I don’t know…’ the other nurse responded but my mind tells me it could be…’
She paused and whispers to her colleague.’
‘Ah! Please be careful how you peddle that information; the walls have ears…’
Meanwhile, Aunty Emily went about her duty that day with a unique sparkle.
‘Take this medicine, two in the morning, afternoon and night, for three days,’ she explains to one elderly patient, ‘and sir, please make sure you have enough sleep…’
‘Oh, thank you, nurse,’ the patient replied, ‘although this is my first time here, but I must confess that you’re the most cheerful of all the nurses I’ve encountered today. God bless you my child.’
‘Thank you sir. Next patient!’
And so the day wore on. Two days after the transfer of Dr Fasanya, another doctor took his place.
‘This is Dr. Grace Awe,’ the Chief Medical Director, introduced.
All the member of staff apart from Emily received Dr. Grace warmly.
‘I might look like an ordinary nurse in your eyes,’ she told the Dr. Grace one day, ‘but I’ve several years of experience and could do practically all that a doctor can do.’
‘Wow, that’s impressive,’ Dr. Grace replied with a smile.
‘If you must address me,‘ Emily continued, ‘call me Aunty Emily.’
‘I don’t have a problem with that.’
The way Dr. Grace relates with people somehow endeared her to both the other staff members as well as most of the patients.
Who does she think she is anyway? Emily pondered as she observed the young lady making some vital suggestions in most of their meetings.
Two days later one of the doctors Dr. Kolade summoned Emily to his office.
‘Why did you send that man away?’ he furrowed his brow.
‘The ward was already full then and I could not have possibly chased out the existing patients.’
‘And what stops you from informing me? Look here nurse Emily, I’m fed up with all your excesses; who do you think you are, anyway?’
‘A qualified nurse with several years of experience,’ she responded, ‘the fact that I’m a woman does not make me inferior to anyone.
‘You don’t shout at your superior, Aunty Emily,’ Dr Grace said as she walked in and met the face off between Emily and Dr Kolade.
‘But who does he think he is?’ Emily fumed, ‘a woman is equally as important as a man.’
‘You are right; ma, Dr Grace affirmed, ‘that is the more reason why we have to talk; woman to woman. Can we talk about this tomorrow?’
The two ladies met at the cafeteria the following day.
‘I had long been craving for an opportunity to talk to you about this,’ Dr Grace began, ‘I’ve noticed that you have this gender partiality. Why?’
The Nurse sighed and shook her head. ‘It’s indeed a long and bitter story but I will summarise it.’
‘I was the only female out of the family of six,’ she began solemnly, ‘but unfortunately, my father preferred my brothers over me. He believes that I’m a minus in the family and education is meant only for the boys. Although, I was more intelligent than any of them, yet he denied me basic education…’ she gulped back the tears.
‘I had to struggle my way through school all by myself…’ she sniffed.
‘And since then, my hatred for the male folk grew. I hate them with a passion…I always feel intimidated anywhere I see them trying to outshine me…’
‘That is going to the extreme Aunty Emily,’ the doctor frowned, ‘I now appreciate your point of view but truth be told, two wrongs can never make a right. Your father acted based on his inadequate understanding back then. But the only way to move on in life is to forget the past because bitterness will ultimately lead to your destruction…’
‘It’s very easy for you to speak that way because of your privileged background,’ Emily interjected.
‘You’re wrong, I also share a similar experience with you, but my doggedness propelled me to move on; however fortunately for me, somewhere along the line, I got a scholarship. But the common border we share was that we were both victims of gender discrimination.’
‘Aunty Emily, please, you just have to forgive your father. Let go, and move on. Life is too short to dwell on bitterness…’
‘No, I won’t!’ and with that she walked away from her.
Days gave way to weeks and weeks in turn rolled into a year and yet, Emily’s stance remained undaunted.
The hospital community was thrown into shock one morning when the news of the death of Dr Grace came in.
‘Impossible!’ Emily and some of the member of staff shook their heads in disbelief. However, as her obituary dotted over all the notice board in the hospital’s vicinity, every form of doubts gave way to deep sadness.
The news, however, had an overwhelming effect on Emily. Snippets of the late doctors words kept churning on her mind: ‘let go, and move on…life is too short…’
She cried bitterly as though mourning the death of a family member. Every form of the seemingly high wall of resistance suddenly began to cave in. And for the first time in twenty years, Emily decided to visit her father.
The now bedridden septuagenarian could barely recognise his daughter when she walked in.
‘Pa Chukwuma, this is Emily,’ a neighbour began the introduction.
‘No…impossible,’ he quaked, ‘the Emily I know would never come to see me. I practically chased her out of my house.’
‘Papa, it’s me, Emily, Adanna…’
The ailing man quaked the more and began to weep like a baby.’
‘Don’t cry, papa, I’ve come to take care of you now…’
‘Oh, God who am I to deserve your mercy despite my harsh treatment on this…’
‘It’s okay, papa, I’ve forgiven you…’
‘Just like that?’ he turned his head away in shame, ‘I’m very sorry…very sorry, Emily.’
‘That’s okay papa.’
‘Now I know the relevance of the girl child,’ he lamented, ‘you won’t believe that it’s really been a long while since I saw any of your brothers since they got married…and I was of the opinion that they will be the one to lift the family out of poverty and take care of me in old age.’
‘Not so, papa. Both genders have equal opportunities to become great. It all depends on the orientation given by the parents in children’s upbringing. I learnt this the hard way too. I also learnt that the only way to move on is to let go…’
Final Remarks: Life is too short to invest in bitterness and hurt. Let go and move on. Until I come your way again next week, KEEP MOVING!