A Dying Man’s Bucket List

The day that everything went to hell, started like every other day, except that it was Nosa’s thirty second birthday. The birthday party which was attended by the crème de la crème of the society, held in one of the chandelier lit halls, at the Eko Hotel, Lagos. That evening, Nosa walked into the hall, wearing a dazzling smile, dressed in a well tailored tuxedo, and his hands encased in his trademark dark, leather gloves. He was the epitome of male deliciousness, with skin like rich mocha, eyes like dark orbs that could make a woman go weak in the knees, and his lips, oh his lips were full and promised kisses.

With music deals both home and abroad, Nosa was having the time of his life, and seeing this caliber of people at his party told him how much of a success he had quickly become, since the singing competition which shot him to limelight. If only he knew, that he had just seven days to live.

I deserve all these, Nosa thought as he walked towards his table, where Nigeria’s beauty queen, Yvonne, was seated, waiting for him. Aside his successful career, Nosa was the most eligible bachelor in the city of Lagos. He could have any woman he wanted, and he had many. When he got to his seat, he kissed Yvonne, while he winked at another girlfriend sitting in the next table. With Nosa, women didn’t care about being side chicks; all they wanted, was to be Nosa’s woman.

“Happy birthday to the man with the voice that rivals Darey Art Alade” his manager tapped him on the shoulder. They slapped palms and hit shoulders in greeting.

“Thanks boss, it was you who made me” Nosa replied, not looking at his manager, but at a woman across the hall, who was winking at him. “Excuse me boss” Nosa began to walk towards the woman, but stopped suddenly. He bent over and held his head in his hands, as he screamed for help.

“Nosa, what is wrong?” his manager panicked; his mind went to the show which was going down the next day, and on which millions of dollars was hinged. “I hope you have not been drinking and smoking that garbage”

“I am fine, man” Nosa pulled himself up, and straightened his jacket. But he couldn’t let go of the fear in the pit of his stomach, that something was wrong with him. The pain didn’t start today, it had been incessant, but for fear of discovering he was sick, he had stayed away from the hospital.

But as he made to move, the pain shot through his head again. This time, it came with more intensity that Nosa fell to the ground and became unconscious. Everyone went berserk, including the artists that were on stage performing.

“Call the doctor” his manager barked out the order, while he tried to slap Nosa into consciousness. With every second that ticked with Nosa lying on the floor, his manger saw his millions slipping away. The concert in New York had sold out, and if Nosa was unable to perform, they would have to refund the money.

***

It was 11pm that same night, when Nosa regained consciousness. He looked around the white room which smelled of drugs and bleach. Then He set his eyes on his manager who was sitting with his head in his hands. Fear gripped Nosa as he wondered what the doctor had told his manager about his health.

    I cannot be sick

“I should be on my way to New York now. Tell the doctor to discharge me” Nosa pulled himself up, even as the numbing pain hit

The manager raised his head when he heard Nosa’s voice, and rushed to his bedside. As he came closer, Nosa saw that it was not fear that was in his eyes, but anger.   “Idiot, Why did you hide this from me?” the manger gripped the side of Nosa’s bed and peered into Nosa’s .

“Hide what?” Nosa looked confused, and uncomfortable.

The manger took his hand and shoved it in his face. Nosa looked away as he realized that his secret was out. He started wearing a dark leather hand glove when he first noticed his fingers, but people thought it was part of his trademark, like the trademark upsweep that Yemi Alade is known for. But he had been hiding his fingers, even as he did not understand why they were like engorged.

“I was afraid that something was wrong with me” he said in an uncertain voice.

“You should have told me” the manager flung his hand away in frustration.

Just then the door opened, and a team of doctors walked in with grim faces.  The head doctor walked up to Nosa and checked his vital signs on the machine.

“I have bad news, but you have to be strong” the doctor adjusted his coat, like he was getting shielding himself from the force of the news he had to share. “At first, we suspected a head trauma, perhaps from a previous accident. But when we looked into your brain, we saw worse” the doctor heaved a loud sigh, and became quiet, staring at Nosa with sad eyes.

“Be out with it already” Nosa’s manager walked up to stand in front of the head doctor. “What is wrong with my boy?”

“We found metastases in his brain cavity, and although we have not come to a conclusion, we suspect something. We need to do a more specific testing on you though” the doctor said and beckoned to one of the doctors, who came in with him. “This is an oncologist, he is going to take you through the steps” the doctor said and moved backward for the oncologist to take center stage.

Nosa squeezed his clubbed fingers in anxiety, as sweat beads broke out on his fore-head, even though the hospital room was air conditioned.

“We have two processes available in this hospital for testing. We have the bronchoscopy, which is an invasive form of testing. It is quite painful, but we will sedate you, so you do not have to worry about the pain” the doctor looked at his note and continued. “We can also do a liquid biopsy which is a non-invasive form of testing”

“I don’t understand anything you are saying, doctor. What is wrong with me?” Nosa hit the bed in frustration. A cold feeling had settled in the pit of his stomach, and somehow he knew, that his life was about to be changed forever.

“Please, take it easy. We cannot say until we are done with our testing. In the meantime, get comfortable” the doctor smiled weakly at Nosa and excused himself. The other doctors also left, leaving Nosa with his manager, each preoccupied with thoughts of what the future held for them.

***

The young woman with the narrow face and the curviest set of hips in the hospital walked down the hospital hall, and past Nosa’s room, to her office on the other side of the in-patient block. Every morning she stepped into the office, she prayed a silent prayer in her heart, that she would use her psychological skills in bringing somebody back from the brink of despair. Lucy had not set out to be a psychologist; she had always wanted to be a surgeon. Her father had been a renowned surgeon in the country and she had wanted to follow in his steps. But life happened and she was given psychology to study in the university, instead of the medicine and surgery she had opted for. Lucy decided to do the four years of psychology, so she could have a better chance getting into medical school. But she fell in love with how much power she had to help people’s mind.

“Doctor Lucy” the loud voice broke through her thoughts. Lucy turned and saw the nurse that assisted her in the office.

“I have been calling you for like forever. Your friend, who has skinny legs, is at the reception. Should I send her in?” the nurse asked.

Lucy chewed her lips in deep thoughts because she didn’t have the emotional strength for Adanna’s endless query about her love life. But she didn’t have any patients yet, and so decided to accommodate her. “Send her in, but if she is not out in thirty minutes, bring the Calvary”

She had a good rapport with her assistant nurse, who though, was older than her, related with her like a sister. They always had an arrangement when Lucy had an unpleasant guest or patient. The nurse would come in, and pretend that Lucy’s attention was needed urgently.

“Thirty minutes” the nurse said and went away.

In a few minutes, the door opened again, and Lucy looked up with a smile for her friend, but it was not her friend who came in. It was the oncologist, and he had a panic stricken face.

“Doctor Lucy, I need you to work some magic with a patient who is hysterical” the doctor said.

“What happened with the patient?” Lucy closed the patient record she was perusing, and gave the Oncologist her full attention.

“He was brought in yesterday. We ran liquid biopsy on the lungs and…” the doctor stopped and removed his spectacles. It was disheartening for him to say. Even though he had seen many cases, the young ones always hit him hard. To have someone’s dream cut off so abruptly, was not something he could not wish, even on his worst enemy.

“Doctor, what stage is it in?” Lucy questioned.

“Stage four lung cancer” the doctor said in a somber voice. He has just seven days to live. It is beyond chemotherapy now” the doctor said, and turned to hide the stray tear drop from his eye.

“Let me see him” Lucy followed the doctor out of her office.

As they approached the in-patient ward, Lucy heard screaming, and the voices of nurses trying to restrain someone. Lucy quickened her footstep, and rushed into Nosa’s room.

“Now, look…did you bring the broad to restrain me?” Nosa scoffed.  “She looks fragile and sweet. She could have been in my bed like the other beautiful women I have had. But I can’t have her, because I am dying in seven days” he gave out a bitter laughter and it chilled Lucy to her bones.

Lucy had not expected that the patient would be a young man, so good looking, and whose only physical sign of the disease eating up at him, were the clubbed fingers. Lucy walked closer to the bed, and took Nosa’s hand in hers.

“Nosa” she spied the name on his patient tag.

“Don’t you dare patronize me…I don’t want anyone’s pity… I just want to die” he began to cough profusely, coughing out rust coloured sputum.

“We need to sedate him now, everyone out” a nurse ordered.

Lucy looked on sadly, wriggling her fingers nervously. Since she swore to help people’s mind, she had never met anyone who had just seven days to live. Lucy hoped that she could save Nosa, but she had no idea and was not prepared for what followed.

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