Previously on TWO LIVES AND A SOUL…
The woman who called me son must have been very convincing, because against the doctor’s wish, she made sure I didn’t spend another day in this hospital. Not that the room I was in looked like a hospital room, but to these people who showed me so much attention, it was a confinement that they believed I shouldn’t be in any minute longer.
I had barely said more than a few words, which by the way didn’t seem to come out well. They made me sit up by inclining my bed. No, not that exactly. Actually, with a little remote control used by the one of the nurses who had first come in with the doctor, my entire bed was transformed into a comfortable, stretched seat with arm rests, right there as I lay on it. My heart thumped away at the transformation, but outwardly, I remained deadpan. I couldn’t respond like I thought I should.
The doctor had earlier watched my vitals on a large screen that had replaced a part of the wall only a few minutes ago. I must be in some hi-tech facility. Now he was nodding his head as he monitored a gadget in his hands.
“Blood sugar still low, but by the end of the week, it should be good.”
He wasn’t addressing anyone in particular, but the oldest woman in the room responded immediately, “Don’t worry, Dr. Smith, by the end of today, his blood sugar would regain its balance.”
I turned to look at her, and she only smiled at me. “Do you like the music?” she asked me.
For the first time, I paid attention to the music that was playing in the background. It was a strange kind of hum, and the soloist had a hoarse voice, as though he was forcing the lyrics out through a damaged larynx. It was as though he was whispering; either trying not to speak, or trying not to be heard. Was I supposed to like the song?
“We got your favorite artistes’ X3 hits,” the young white woman said. Someone had mentioned her name a few times earlier, but I hadn’t been able to pick up the name. I wasn’t sure if it was Joko or Jojo. She was invading my space, often sitting next to me, touching my arm fleetingly, and feeding me when a tray was brought in. Her invasion unsettled me, but I did not let this on. I kept my expression carefully neutral and a thin smile up. My smile seemed to make them happy.
So my smile must have meant I liked the song. I didn’t understand what the whispering in the song was about; I also wondered why the instrumental sounded like a nearing train. I just smiled.
“His brain activity is also still very low, which for us is great news, considering the accident. Let’s just watch how he gets back to shape. Apart from monitoring his vitals within the next one week, I should come by at the house at least once in two days to monitor his physical improvement. Remember, for no reason whatsoever should he be stressed.”
Mum smiled. As long as I was going to be leaving here with them, I supposed she was pleased.
The nurse strapped a green rubber monitor on my left wrist, and it came to life, showing three pairs of luminous digits: the first two were blue, the middle digits were yellow, and last two were red. I watched the device for a few seconds, all the while wondering and uncertain about asking my question.
I knew this had to be a dream, but I couldn’t understand why everything felt and seemed so real.
“Sam… Sam… Saaaa’aaam!”
A little tap on my shoulder made me look to my right. Someone was trying to get my attention. Hey, my name isn’t Sam, I wanted to say. But again, I only smiled.
My doppelganger, the man with the cornrows, stood before me with tank top in one hand and a baseball jersey in the other. “Yo, buddie, which would you like to put on?”
I didn’t respond immediately, but I slowly shook my head. I didn’t fancy wearing either items of clothing. They looked several sizes too big for me. “I’d prefer a polo shirt, please,” I rasped, mildly startled by the sound of my own voice. Those were my first words since I woke up to this nightmare.
A slight frown narrowed the furrow on his forehead. “What’s a polo shirt?” he asked. He looked over my back to ascertain if he was the only one who didn’t understand me. Then he took in a small inhalation and grinned. “Okay, just a minute.”
I watched him go over to the wardrobe carved into the corner of the room. He pulled out a large valise and dragged it over to where I sat in my transformer bed-chair. “Zanta zanta…” Cornrow bro gestured before me like a genie. “Make ya’ choice, buddie.”
There was an assortment of clothing. Eventually, I decided on something which was close to what I had planned to wear to work this morning. It was a dark blue, slim fitting, long sleeved shirt. It looked new and starched crisp. It looked mature for a respectable HOD of a Sales Department that I would become some day.
As I changed from my hospital garb into the proffered clothes, I discovered that my skin seemed a little lighter in complexion. It was like my skin had been drained of more than half of its melanin pigment. My veins were more visible, and a little coloured. A shadow of perplexity drifted over my mind. This is just a dream. It had to be! As I stared at the startlingly light complexion of my body, I felt a sluggishness throb through my system, like the adrenaline in my blood had been frozen. Where was I? I couldn’t stop asking.
The woman who called me son instructed for me to put a jacket on over the shirt. The jacket looked well cut and expensive, and when I put it on, the fabric felt divine. I’d only ever seen this kind of pricey clothing while window-shopping at the ultramodern malls in town. I had promised more than a few times that I would give myself a good treat when I got that big commission from my sales.
“C’mon, Danny, help your big brother into his jacket,” Mum said.
Before the other man could, the white woman was at my side, helping with the lapel. They were done in seconds but didn’t give me space immediately. I took the chance to look closely at them. The white woman was really beautiful, with glossy hair that fell to her shoulders in soft curls, framing a narrow, lovely face, brought alive by dark, glittering eyes.
Danny, my look-alike-with-the-cornrows, had something else that distinguished him from me: his smile. Every time he flashed his dentition when he smiled, I was dazzled by how white his teeth were.
“Okay now, let me have a look at you, handsome,” Mum said. “Hmm…” She nodded her head a few times. “Your father should see you in this. You should dress like this more often, instead of your jersey and jeans. This is the new you.” She beamed at me.
“Thank you, mum,” I said, slightly bowing my head.
“Mum?” she exclaimed, looking startled. “I can’t remember anytime you or anyone else called me that.”
Oh, Lord. I wasn’t supposed to call her mum?
“Well, not that I can’t get used to it,” she continued, “but, I think I’m just used to y’all calling me Suss.”
Suss… that was her name?
“Now you’ve a new pet name, Suss,” Danny said as he ambled over to her to put an arm around her shoulder. “Mum sounds medieval, but I like it, mum.” There was a teasing smile on his face.
“Oh you, get away from me!” Suss admonished gently, while batting his hand off her shoulder. Then she turned and started toward me, her arms spreading wide as she approached. She pulled me into a hug, and my face was momentarily buried inside the rich smells of her chignon. Then she pulled back and stared at me; there was something in her expression, something shrewd and penetrating, like she was seeking her way into my mind. I wanted to tell her I didn’t know who she was, or who anyone here was for that matter. Had she seen it in my eyes? I couldn’t tell. She just rubbed my shoulders like she was bracing me up for what was ahead.
“You are a fighter. Right from the day I gave birth to you,” she said softly, “I knew you were a fighter.” She suddenly had misty eyes, and opted to concentrate on the tiny weave of my jacket, flicking away at nonexistent lint. “You look good, Sam.” She led me towards the full length mirror that stood at the far end of the room. “Have a look at yourself, handsome.”
Side by side, we stood before the mirror, and I found myself staring at my reflection. What I saw chilled my blood. The man staring back at me was a good looking stranger. He was me…and, he wasn’t!
Written by Ojay Aito