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C1 P R O L O G U E

"You're going to have to brace yourself, madam -- your husband's a schizophrenic."

"Schizo - what?" She tasted it on her lips. It was very foreign to her. She sat up straighter, scared to hear what he was going to say.

Beads of sweat popped up on her forehead and she absentmindedly tapped her fingers against the wooden frame of the chair she was sitting on.

She focused on the the hum of the airconditioner, capturing and enhancing it till it became a recurrent loop in her mind.

"A schizophrenic is someone

who can take up different personalities and looses touch with his environment, communicating with only people he can see. That's the layman's term." There was a pause, in which he looked at her directly and then continued speaking. "The scientific term is a bit more technical. It is one of several brain diseases whose symptoms may include loss of personality, agitation, catatonia, confusion, psychosis, unusual behavior, and social withdrawal. When you brought him in earlier, I was able to diagnose same symptoms I mentioned."

"Oh my God, this is terrible!" There were unshed tears in her eyes. Agitation was clear in her voice and she began wringing her fingers together. "Doctor, will he be okay? I mean, is there a cure and is he dangerous?"

"Not really, I mean most schizophrenics can be curtailed with drugs and become harmless with constant care." He looked at her, compassion lacing his eyes.

"That's fine then so ---"

"I'm afraid it's not. You see when you brought him in yesterday, he kept murmuring unintelligible words, but I was able to make out one word." This was the part he hated -- being the bearer of bad news.

He shook his left leg nervously, wondering how she was going to take it.

Osagiede waited with bated breath as the doctor leaned forward, hands laced together on his desk. "He mentioned the word -- kill."

"What's all this hogwash about killing, doctor?" Huge furrows appeared on her forehead and her voice rose in panic as her heart beat accelerated.

"I'm sorry, but your husband probably fancies himself as an executioner!"

"A what?" Her voice squeaked with fear.

"An executioner is ---"

"I know who an executioner is doctor, but my husband has never been violent, why, I'm even the one who kills the chicken during festive periods."

"Madam, this is not the time for jokes. Your husband needs serious medical attention and immediately too."

"Doctor, is he, can he . . . What I mean to ask is, can he be cured?"

"In most cases, no, we will do our best and leave the rest to God, but the earlier you bring him in, the faster his healing will take place." He interlaced his fingers for emphasis, leaning towards her.

He felt sorry for the woman whose husband was in the early stages of the mental disease. What could he say to comfort her? He only wished she could act fast and bring him in to start the treatment as delay was very dangerous.

Osagiede staggered up from the high backed chair and with some effort, lifted her stricken face to the doctor.

"I'm not ready for stark white walls, constricting spaces, the smell of sickness and death, neither am I ready for life being turned upside down. No doctor, I'm not bringing him in. . . yet."

The doctor was aghast with shock, his mouth fell open and he said with a shake of his head "This portends danger madam, how --- "

"I'm finished here and don't expect me back in a hurry."

With those words, she got up and rushed to open the door of his office and closed it quickly behind her, just incase she changed her mind.

Sagging against the door, a sob caught in her throat. No! She told herself, I can't give up easily, I have to be strong for him.

With that last thought, she walked briskly down the hospital corridor, later breaking into a run.

On the drive back home, she recalled the doctor's words.

Your husband fancies himself an executioner.

She had to get home soon, for earlier on, she had left Eyare murmuring to himself. Only God knew what he could do as she had left Eseosa with him.

With that last thought, she increased her speed, a niggling fear at the back of her mind.

Libre Baskerville
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