Book one of the Adventures of Love, a romantic fiction series by Oyinkansola A. (The Grace Ola) | Goodreads
“The book had all the suspense, and drama and it touched on a lot of issues. I was blessed.”
“A natural page turner. It is written with a unique light-heartedness and humour that makes it very entertaining.”
Interstate Flight 122- Abuja to Lagos| January 2017|
There are certain moments in life, moments that define every other one from then on; moments of impact. This was one of them. A foreboding whistling sound came from outside the airplane and Aisha’s mouth dropped open, eyes agape as she turned to look.
Their plane was headed for a cluster of thatch-roofed houses and the pilots were doing their best to pull out of the nosedive. She exchanged frightened looks with her children, swallowing hard, Kehinde had his eyes tightly shut in quiet prayer and Laura’s arms were wrapped protectively around her bulging tummy.
They didn’t have much time and Aisha held on to the arms of her chair with stiff hands; everyone in their own space. They had already prayed together, now all they could do was wait and keep praying. With each passing second, the plane jerked left, then right and cries rang out from all over the plane.
“God!!!!!” A young man, not a day older than twenty -two screamed, his head turned heavenward. He was a footballer and he looked just about to fall off the edge of sanity. It was a disturbing sight.
Aisha blocked him out and her thoughts focused on her first son, Taiwo, whom they had been going to visit. Had; because she knew they weren’t going to make it. They had a few seconds left and she linked fingers with her children, wracking sobs shook their bodies. The news would have to come from TV or an official statement by the airline.
She had never thought this could happen, nobody really thought about things like this too deeply, it was always something for the movies or far off countries, definitely not an inter-state flight. If you didn’t think it, it wouldn’t become reality, right? No. Taiwo would be crushed and blame himself. If only he knew that they had no fear of death, just the pain it was causing and would still cause.
Taiwo…she wanted to hold him, longed to talk to him one last time, to hear his cocky voice and see his smile. She remembered the last time they’d been together. It felt so surreal now.Don’t forget what I told you, ‘Focus on what matters and not fears or doubts. Then, you’ll enjoy the feeling.’
In a split second, it hit her again like a pack of bricks that they were about to die. Soon, they’d be gone and Laura’s unborn child would never know the world; it was a bittersweet moment. She had served God wholly since she could remember and now that the end had come, she bit down the urge to question Him. Your will be done.
Another second later, she was begging God, crying and pleading for a miracle. The commotion in the plane reached a peak as the plane crashed; nose first into the cluster of houses. I love you, Taiwo … we love you.
Her eyes were shut tight. There was a deafening screech, metal scraped metal, bodies slapped against glass and hope made a hasty exit, a second earlier than all other conscious thoughts.
Lifemate Private Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria- 3:22am| October 2017|
Help! Taiwo, help me please! Please!” she screamed, before her head went under water again. He whipped around and saw his mother drowning in the ocean. She gasped for air as the waves crashed over her in currents, making her disappear from his line of sight every few seconds. His blood went cold and he tried running towards the water but his legs wouldn’t move. In fact, he couldn’t feel his feet at all anymore. It was a dark, moonless night but he could still make out two other figures drowning a bit farther from her. Next were the voices of his brother and sister screaming for help, their faces contorting in pain as they fought against the aggressive waves that tormented them.
“Taiwo! Taiwo! Taiwo!” He heard over and over again, as their voices pierced through the silence of the night, echoing over the water. He screamed in pain, hoping that somehow his screams might ease their pain, save them, anything. The guilt of not being able to save them ate at him. He just couldn’t stand being so helpless and weak as invisible forces kept him rooted to the spot.. His head was pounding and his heart was beating so fast that ragged and erratic breaths escaped him as a poor excuse for breathing. Fear gripped him even tighter when their cries began to sound fainter and they drifted farther away from the shore. Drafty air filled his eyes, mouth, ear and nostrils but still, he struggled to move.
Then, the last plea came from Laura, his pregnant elder sister. It was the lowest, almost inaudible one but it tore through his heart like a bullet that was meant to inflict excruciating pain instead of the death he so earnestly wished would take him instead of the ones he loved. For a second, he felt his eyes roll to the back of his head and waves of dizziness washed over him. He felt an urge to vomit as he looked on in horror.
“Please…” she said, going under again. His heart jumped into his mouth. She came up again barely able to breathe and crying,
“My baby! Please help! Ah!” Her face was contorted in anguish and the agony that filled her voice was almost unbearable.
The numbness in his legs finally gave way to stimulus, his feet moved and he lurched forward, diving into the water and swimming as fast as he could towards their fast disappearing bodies.
‘Mum! Kenny! Laura!’ He ignored the tremor that coursed through his entire body when he hit the ice -cold water. All along, his hysterical screams and gut-wracking sobs never stopped and his throat was hoarse from screaming. Just as he reached for his sister whose eyes were pleading with him to try harder, she slipped through his fingers like a hologram and disappeared. He looked around in panic and realized that his mother and brother were gone too; just dissolved into thin air.
“No!” He shouted continuously till a sudden wave crashed into him, setting him off balance and toppling face-first underwater. The freezing water rushing into every cavity in his body muffled his cries and they died down to mere whimpers as his sole purpose now was to push himself above the water. He was slowly losing strength and his brain was starting to feel mushy. A new fear for his own death came over him and he struggled harder, pushing against the unrelenting water.
He started feeling hands shaking him and wondered who was also under the water with him. The shaking stopped for a few seconds as he heard an unfamiliar voice at the back of his mind calling his name as if muffled by a pillow while he still struggled with the water, flailing his hands around in another futile attempt to rise above the waves.
“Taiwo?” The voice was oddly soothing but he had no idea whose it was. Again, he heard his name, but this time louder and with more impatience.
With a jolt, Taiwo woke up, sitting up on the bed, his back ramrod straight and ready to snap at any moment. He was shivering uncontrollably and his breathing was ragged. He could almost hear his heart jumping around like an over-excited puppy. The entire bed was damp from his sweat and someone was whispering calm words to him and wiping his forehead with a cool napkin as he attempted to wrap his mind around what was happening.
“It’s okay. It was just a nightmare.” The unknown person spoke again.
He turned his head towards the voice and saw that it was a nurse? From the noise outside the room, he knew he had literally woken the entire hospital but he couldn’t get the images and his utter helplessness out of his mind. This was not the first time he was having this dream, it was one of the numerous nightmares he had been experiencing for the past year, but it affected him the same way every time by leaving him feeling broken and guilty. It had started a few days after he recovered from his shock and tormented him every night after that, despite the sleeping pills he took to help his insomnia. He painstakingly made sure that no one else but Dapo knew about them because he couldn’t bear to recollect and spill the deepest recesses of his pain stowed away in his subconscious in futile attempts to purge his mind of them.
The same nurse helped him off the bed and sat him on the armchair beside the bed. She changed the damp bed sheets to fresh ones and helped him get back on the bed. She gave him a sedative and the moment she eased him back into a lying position, he was out like a candle.
Ikeja GRA, Lagos, Nigeria| TWELVE HOURS EARLIER|
Stepping out of the bathroom with slow, calculated steps, he went to bed. Only problem was, he couldn’t sleep because his mind refused to shut down for fear of the nightmares that always haunted his sleep. His eyes fluttered open on their own accord and he lay there, staring at nothing in particular, thinking about the events of his life in the past year. The soft whir of his air conditioner served as a suitable backdrop to his errant thoughts.
Just a few months after his family died in a plane crash on their way to visit him, his fiancée had left him. He was devastated; going into shock for the first month and then battling heart wrenching nightmares, hallucinations and chronic insomnia after that. The breakup worsened his depression and he started taking antidepressant pills. He kept his pain bottled up and never accepted anybody’s advice to seek help. He couldn’t even stand the thought. Why open up his already sore wound and let others pick at it with needles and pins? It only made the pain worse.
Since the plane crash, all he could think about was ending it all. Even worse, it seemed more appealing each time. What else did he have to live for anyway? His father had died a long time ago, just before he turned thirteen, his entire family was wiped out and the person he loved—or at least thought he loved– had shattered his heart into a million pieces.
He was always awake these days and it showed in his bloodshot eyes and crappy attitude. He hated the pathetic pitiful looks people gave him, like he was some psycho who needed to be saved from himself. His brother- in- law, Frank, had also caved in and moved to Canada with his 4-year old daughter, Nora, to grieve his wife. At least they had each other.
The pain coursing through him was unbearable and all he wanted was to be rid of it, to be rid of the feeling of a heated knife being passed into his heart and pulled out agonizingly slowly. Life held no attraction for him. Taking his life was so appealing at this point and he was already on the verge of doing so, when Dapo, his best friend walked in and found him slumped and unconscious on the living room couch.
“Taiwo, are you still asleep?”
Then, his eyes fell on three completely empty packets of pills on the ground, an almost empty bottle of vodka and the glass cup which Taiwo held in his hand limply. As if on cue, the glass slipped to the floor and shattered into tiny crystalline pieces, the sound piercing through the eerie silence in the house. He suddenly became extremely hot as the reality of what had happened dawned on him.
“Oh my God! Taiwo! What have you done?”
He ran to him to check his pulse and started panicking when he felt only a slight flutter. With a few quick phone calls, he arranged for an ambulance that rushed them to the hospital. Outside the emergency room, Dapo waited for news on Taiwo’s condition. He considered calling Frank and hesitated for just a minute before making his decision. He also called Kike, his fiancée to join in prayer for him. This was going to be a really long night of nail-biting worry, fear, hope and faith all wrapped in one. He couldn’t keep himself from pacing.
After confirming a while later that Taiwo’s condition was stable, relief washed over him and he left the hospital to get a change of clothes. He knew that Taiwo was suffering from acute depression but he definitely had not anticipated a suicide and when they spoke after he gained consciousness, he told him as much.
“Thanks man. I honestly don’t know what came over me. I can’t even explain how it happened.” he said, tears gathering in his eyes for the first time since his world came crashing down in quick succession.
“Don’t mention it bro. God was the one who ordered my steps to your house. Kike and I are praying for you to get well and back to your cheery self soon.” Dapo replied swallowing the lump in his own throat and trying for light sarcasm.
Taiwo snorted. ‘Cherry.’
“Of course. Don’t think you’re getting off the hook that easily. I still want you as my best man for the wedding.” Dapo teased.
“Sure thing” Taiwo replied, ignoring the pangs of pain in his heart as he remembered his own called off wedding.
At the hospital’s private ward that night, it was with a smile that Taiwo slept knowing that he still had a shot at life and making every moment count. He hadn’t really wanted to die; he’d just wanted the pain to end and although he didn’t really have a good relationship with God, he said a clumsy thank-you prayer. He couldn’t tell how, but someone was definitely listening.