Nina (12)

Its 5.30am. Dr Paul O., the consultant psychiatrist on duty
today at Yaba psychiatric hospital is awake. Sleep has been
difficult this night, the same way as it has been for the past
four nights. His thoughts wander near and far but always tend
to come to focus around her; Bisi Washington, the girl of his
dreams. How does he convince her that she is what keeps him
awake at night, that she is his reason for behaving so
irrationally at times, that she is… his soul-mate? Their last
meeting had ended badly, with them shouting at each other
over a small matter, causing a scene at the restaurant they
had gone to have lunch. Neither of them had called since then,
both playing the waiting game, both waiting to see who would
cave in first. It was crazy! Normally if it were any other girl he
would have ignored her and moved on, but Bisi wasn’t any
other girl…
The alarm clock begins its pre-programmed song to remind
him of the time. Dr Paul reluctantly gets up from the bed and
switches on the lights. He has to have an early start if he
wants to beat the busy Lagos traffic. He goes to the bathroom
and brushes his mouth, has a cold shower and towels his lean
body dry. At six feet 2 inches he is a fairly tall fellow, light in
complexion, with facial features that are easy on the eyes. His
well kept crew-cut hair fits his round head in such a way as to
give him a boyish appearance even though a scattering of grey
hair on his beard and mustache betray his real age to be in his
middle thirties. His naturally bright eyes which used to add
credence to the illusion of his eternal youth are now dulled by
the thought of that singular damsel. He sighs and goes to his
wardrobe where he picks up an already ironed blue T.M Lewin
long sleeved shirt and a pair of jet black trousers. He wears
this sluggishly and brings down his ward coat from the hanger
on his door. He has no appetite so he doesn’t eat. He looks
around his one room apartment one more time, checking to
see if he has missed anything, then locks the door shut. A few
minutes later he is back, cursing under his breath and picking
up his car keys from under the bed before going out again.
The time is 6am.
The drive down to Yaba Psychiatric hospital is a tortuous one
for him. Apart from the fact that his mind is still distracted
from thinking about Bisi, he has to contend with other people
on the road who have decided to try and beat the traffic as
well. By six o clock, Dr Paul is close to the hospital and has
been yelled at, insulted, and nearly run into on at least one
occasion by other motorists on the road. Just as he is about
to turn his Toyota Camry 2008 model into the hospital
premises, he hits another car, a jeep on the fender. The
woman driver comes out angrily and screams at him. She had
right of way, she says, why won’t he put “Learner” on his car
bumper she says. He aoplogises and introduces himself, tries
to give the woman his card, says he will pay for the damage.
The woman stares at him for a while and softens. Without a
word she enters into her jeep and zooms off. It is only when
he is about entering back into his car that he notices his
trafficator light is broken. He loses his temper and kicks at the
car headlight, completely disengaging it from its socket and
tearing his shoe. Exasperated, he enters back into his car,
ignoring the small traffic he has caused behind him and drives
through the hospital gates.
He gets to his office and is relieved to find that it is nurse
becky that is on duty today. Nurse becky understands him,
understands the way he works. On many occasions their
colleagues have commended them on being a good team
since they do so well together. At the back of his mind comes
the thought that Nurse becky might have a crush on him but he
pushes that thought away. He likes her but his heart belongs
to Bisi. At the thought of her he grimaces again. Is love
supposed to hurt so much? What were they even arguing
about anyway? Why did he always have to engage in an
intellectual argument with her? Why was she so, so…
stubborn? He reasons that, had it not been for the fact that she
was so beautiful and sophisticated he would have left her by
He is so deep in thought that he doesn’t realize Nurse Becky
has entered the office and is staring at him as if he is some
kind of greek god. She is much shorter than him, being a little
above five feet, and fatter, voluptuous, she likes to call it and
though her beauty isn’t going to win her any facial contests
anytime soon, her dark features and smooth skin all added to
an amazing smile makes her very easy on the eyes. If only Dr
Paul would notice this, she sighs dreamily.
She coughs gently and he almost jumps out of his skin. What
can he be thinking about? Well whatever it is, it is enough to
have dampened his features and deprived him of sleep as
evidenced by the dark circles around his oh so lovely brown
eyes. He has a glazed look in his eyes for a moment but then
they focus in on her and he smiles that smile that always
leaves her weak at the knees. She hesistates for a while before
saying hello. He answers her formally, though still smiling, and
asks if he has any appointments today.
“Yes,” she says, “A case of drug induced psychosis. He has
been on admission for three days now, went into a catatonic
state for two hours yesterday after which he claimed he was
alright and would like to see you.”
He nods at her, impressed at her resourcefulness and he lets
her know it. She blushes although from the darkness of her
skin it is impossible to tell. He asks her to bring him in from
the ward, that he will see him in his office. Nurse Betty smiles
and leaves the office. Dr Paul watches her go and for a while
he ponders on why he has never gotten closer to her. But then
again she isn’t as sophisticated or as beautiful as Bisi. And
besides all the magazines he has read on the topic always put
a big no-no on office relationships.
He walks around the big desk to his seat which is a swivel
action affair with very soft, light blue cushions. On the right
side of the desk is the patient’s case file which he picks up
and inspects. On his left is a tray with a ceramic coffee teapot
with intricately drawn chinese figures written in bold red
lettering at the side and a matching designer mug. He lifts up
the teapot and is pleased to see that it is full. He makes a
mental note to thank Nurse Betty and pours himself a cup of
coffee, no milk, no sugar, just as he prefers it. He likes to be
relaxed both physically and emotionally when doing his job.
Seeing psychiatric patients can be tasking and he doesn’t want
to end up with a mental breakdown of his own.
He takes another sip of coffee and settles down to read the
case before the patient arrives, the name of the patient is
Chukwudi B-, a 29years old male who hails from the east, said
to have gone into a manic state in his apartment here in Lagos
after smoking some marijuana. Symptoms include irrational
talk, hallucinations, delusions and a recent state of catatonia
after which the patient appeared rational and denied any form
of marijuana use. Dr Paul smiles to himself as he reads this. It
wouldn’t be the first time a drug user would deny substance
abuse, but it would be interesting watching the patient trying to
behave sane.
Ten minutes later and there is a knock on the door. Nurse
Betty walks in with two men, one of them a burly male nurse
who usually escorts patients that are deemed “violent” and the
second is a young man of average height, wearing a designer
T-shirt with “I am Teaser” written bolder on the front and deep
blue denim jeans. The man’s face is rugged and handsome
despite the stubbles of hair on his chin, probably as a result of
having not shaved in three days and his eyes twinkle, like
someone who knows something but will never tell. He walks in
confidently with the nurses behind him and sits down without
being asked. He meets Dr Paul’s stare with a friendly smile
and, for a fraction of a second, Dr Paul feels there is going to
be a role reversal, like he is going to be the patient and this
mysterious looking man, his doctor.

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