"What do you think happened?" asked her husband as he joined her on the balcony to watch the coming procession.
"I don't know," she replied, "but it cant be good for 7 people to be carrying our daughter home."
"She's alive isnt she?" the father mused. "Then it can't be that bad. Just calm down."
Thirty minutes later he wasn't sure of his conclusion anymore. The crowd had arrived and were taking up the space in his living room. When he asked what the problem was, they all tried to explain at once.
"Silence!" bellowed Daddy Eko. "Only one person should talk."
"She has a bead stuck in her nose." the sunday school teacher said.
"Is that all?" her mother asked, sighing in releif. "She didn't beat anybody? Didnt steal anything?"
"No Ma." replied the man. "She's a good girl. That's why we're all so concerned."
"I hope there are other teachers with the remaining kids, seeing as many of you as this." Daddy Eko said.
"Yes there are sir." replied the teacher as he realized that only the instructor on the stage didnt follow them to Ajibike's house.
"We will be taking our leave now." he added. "Are you taking her to the hospital?"
"Something stuck in her nose you say?" repeated Daddy Eko as he stroked his thick moustache in thought. "That should be easy to pull out."
"Madam can I get a hairpin?" he asked the mother, who promptly ran into the rooms to get one. She was back seconds later with a black thin piece.
"Thank you." he muttered, as he collected it from her shaking fingers. "Ajibike, come here."
the girl ran to him gaily, smiling.
"Now I want you to do something for me." he said in a softer voice. He waited until her distracted eyes focused on him again before adding, “Stay still. I am going to try to bring out the bead in your nose with this pin. I wont hurt you, but you must stay still so that I can do it properly, ok?”
Little Ajibike nodded in understanding. She looked around again, wondering what the problem was. Her mother looked ready to burst into tears, while her father face held a grim expression. If she didn’t know better she would have thought he wanted to beat her, but she didn’t know what her crime was this time. Surely the bead stuck in her nose was not going to kill her. Couldn’t they all see that she could still smile and talk?
After thirty minutes of gentle rummaging, Daddy Eko raised his eyes to her father and shook his head slightly. Then he asked Ajibike for a favor.
“Breath out like this” And he breathed out.
Ajibike savored the attention she was getting from her Daddy Eko as usual, and obeyed. She breathed in, then she breathed out. Her mother raised her hands to her head and began a silent wail. Her father rubbed her mother’s back and whispered calming noises that Ajibike could barely hear above the din the Sunday school teachers raised at her actions.
Ajibike looked confused. Why did they start shouting? Didn’t they see that she was trying to emulate the deep breath her Daddy Eko just breathed out?
As always, Daddy Eko understood her young mind.
“Don’t try to do it as deep as I did,” he said. “Just breath out with force, you understand?”
She nodded vigorously.
“Now breath out.” He ordered.
She breathed out.
“Harder, Ajibike” he added.
Since there was not enough to breath harder, she breathed in, then out. Her mother started crying seriously.
Daddy Eko pulled Ajibike into a hug then rose from his seat. He and her father thanked the teachers profusely and ushered them to the door. When they were gone, he turned to his friend.
“We have to go to the hospital.” He said. “The bead is round and her nostril is too tiny. They might have to do an operation to get it out though.”
At the word ‘operation’ her mother’s cries grew louder.
“Daddy Eko,” Ajibike said for the first time since she was brought home. “What is wrong with my mummy?”
“She has plenty water in her eyes,” her father replied. “Where is your shoe?”
“It cut.” She replied.
“Go and get another one and lets go.” He ordered.
By the time she had found a complete pair, her mother’s crying had stopped. She came out and handed them to her mother.
“Mummy please help me wear my shoes,” she said. The mother quietly complied.
They entered the hospital through the emergency entrance. When the nurses saw what the emergency was, they began to rush.
THREE HOURS LATER
“Has she woken up yet?” the British doctor interrupted his assistant’s explanation of the procedure they had almost performed on Ajibike.
“She’s stirring sir” the assistant replied, glancing at the girl in her arms, before continuing, “We were supposed to make the incision just above where the bead was stuck, then cut downwards until it could drop freely, but something happened. We could not find the knife to make the incision. This was not possible as I had supervised the cleaning of the tools myself, we were wondering what to do as we had already applied anesthesia and everything, when Dr. Graham interrupted us and asked, “Why not make her sneeze?””
“That was it! By the second sneeze the bead had popped out of her nose, just like that!”
Ajibike’s mother was so relieved that her baby’s nose had not been cut open, she was smiling and praying in Yoruba in short bursts. She prayed for Dr. Graham’s great-grandchildren and Dr. Ogochuckwu’s great great grand children.
Dr. Graham’s attention was more focused on the child that was awakening in Dr. Ogochukwu’s arms. He waited for Ajibike to raise herself and glance around at the people standing over her before he spoke again.
“Little lady,” he said. “If you ever get anything stuck in your nose again, you will meet me in the theatre.”
Then he motioned with his fingers, “I’ll snip snip your nose to get it out.” He didn’t smile as Ajibike shuddered in fear.
To this day, those hairy fingers, making the scissors motion are still vivid in Ajibike’s mind, and she never ever touches her nose with anything, not even a flower.