THE SECOND SIGHT
The policeman’s face was more than puzzled now.
“What? What did you say, sir?” he asked, his voice almost belligerent.
“All of you going out,” the stranger said with another long-drawn sigh. “Just don’t go out now. Wait a bit.”
“And why is that, sir?” said the man with the baby girl, his face puzzled.
The stranger, looking very agitated now, turned back towards Esi, who had finished tallying his shopping and was looking at him with a puzzled expression like everyone else.
“That would be three hundred and ninety cedis,” she said carefully. “But you had a change of ten cedis last week, so you’ll pay three hundred and eighty cedis.”
The policeman was approaching the stranger now, his face almost angry.
Esi, now getting scared, began bagging the stranger’s provisions as he took out his wallet and began counting out his money calmly.
“I was speaking to you, sir!” the policeman said, reaching out to hold the shoulder of the man and turn him around.
“Believe me, you don’t want to touch me,” the stranger said softly without turning around, and calmly put eight shiny fifty cedi notes on the counter in front of Esi.
Esi gasped then at the coldness in the man’s voice, and then she saw the policeman’s eyes flashing with sudden fury.
“Are you high, sir?” the policeman said nastily, taking a step back and dropping his hand to the butt of his pistol. “Turn around, sir, and keep your hands in plain sight, and step this way carefully, no sudden moves!”
The couple with the baby spoke to each other, and then they turned quickly to head towards the main entrance again.
The stranger turned his head suddenly and fixed them with a sizzling stare, his eyes no longer friendly but filled with hardness and a subtle threat that could not be ignored or disobeyed.
“Stay where you are!” he grated out coldly, and the couple came to a sudden stop, their faces suddenly filled with fear. The woman bent down quickly and lifted up her daughter.
“Please, sir, you’re scaring us!” she said frantically. “What’s this? Why are you doing this?”
The handsome young man’s expression did not soften. He looked at the woman coldly.
“Wait five minutes, and then you can leave,” he said calmly, and then he pointed his finger at one of the security details who had opened the main door and was stepping out. “And you, get back inside now.”
“You shut the fuck up!” the policeman yelled at the stranger and drew out his gun, pointing it at the man. “Step this way this instant, sir! I’m not going to repeat it!”
The stranger did not even bother to look at the policeman.
Esi saw that the security man who was going out had stopped, and he had indeed moved into the store.
The handsome young man then turned toward Esi again and calmly reached for one of the two bags she had put his shopping into.
“Turn around now, sir!” the police officer yelled. “This is your final warning!”
The young man put his wallet back in his back pocket without turning around but spoke in the same cold, voice.
“Go ahead and shoot, you fucking bastard!”
Esi gasped, suddenly confused at the strange turn of events and wondering if this man was quite sane. His behaviour was absolutely frightening, to say the least, and she could see that almost everyone was quite uneasy now.
She looked anxiously at the policeman and saw that his face was filled with fury and confusion at the same time, and his hands were not quite steady.
“Sir, please, can you stop pointing that gun here?” Esi said with fear.
She reached for the man’s money, and then, suddenly, there was the terrible squealing of tyres outside, and the blaring sounds of the giant horns of a truck shattered the momentary silence in the store!
They all turned and looked through the glass front of the store, and then they saw it!
A huge truck laden with timber had lost control on the main street, and its trailer was turning rather alarmingly toward the storefront!
Suddenly, the trailer overturned, and one of the chains lashing the timbers in place ripped off with a terrible metallic twang!
A huge log of timber came free and shot up straight into the air, coming down at an acute angle and slanting towards the front of the supermarket!
Everybody was screaming now, and the security men were fleeing from the main entrance.
But the log didn’t reach the entrance!
It slammed down on the tarmac and swung savagely in an arc, smashing full length on the policeman’s sedan and the sleek car of the couple with the baby, totally crushing both cars flat through their middle!
Esi screamed and stared at the handsome young man with her eyes almost bulging out of their sockets! She was numb with horror and she could feel her body shaking from the horrible realization of what had just happened.
If the couple with the baby and the policeman and his pregnant wife had gone out, all of them would be dead this very instant!
That was when all eyes in the store, without exception, turned towards the stranger!
Esi noticed that he was breathing evenly now, and there was no sweat on his forehead anymore. His savage eyes and explosive expression a moment ago had returned to hooded normal, and without a word he picked up the two huge bags with his shopping.
He turned and began to walk away.
“Pl-please!” Esi said as she held out a twenty-cedi note with a hand that shook badly. “Y-your ch-change!”
He ignored her and continued walking.
“Sir, please, please…wait, sir!” the policeman said, trembling so badly that the gun almost dropped from his hand as he was putting it back into its holster, his eyes looking at the stranger with a mixture of fear, shame and acute confusion.
“Fuck off,” the stranger said without pausing.
The woman with the baby girl was weeping uncontrollably now as her husband looked at the handsome young man with terror in the depths of his eyes.
The woman reached out blindly and grabbed the stranger’s arm.
“Oh, thank you, thank you, sir, whoever you are!” she cried. “Thank you for saving us! Thank you so much…oh, thank you!”
The stranger jerked away from her hand.
He took quick strides, almost as if he was in a hurry to leave the store.
No one made any attempt to move or stop him.
They just stared at this man who had predicted a terrible accident so accurately before it happened!
He shouldered the glass doors open and went out.
Esi Eduafo stared at the door even minutes after he was gone.
Her heart, which had been fighting a strange battle, was now lost forever!
“Who are you?” she whispered tightly. “Who are you, Yaw, whoever you are?”
The following day was a Saturday, and the Apaso Government Hospital was bursting with people when Esi Eduafo went with her family to see her mother.
Her father, Joe Eduafo, had told them in the morning that the doctor wanted to see all of them on a very important issue. Esi had been filled with sudden dread, but she had tried to show a happy face for her father’s sake and held on tenaciously to her deeply ingrained faith that her mother would be well, and would come back home healed.
Her brother, Kobina Eduafo, was waiting with his wife Josephine when Esi got to the hospital with her father.
They took the stairs to the third floor where the Female Wards were located.
They looked in on their mother, Sisi Eduafo.
She was fifty-six years old, but lying on the hospital bed, she looked so much older! She looked emaciated and her figure was almost skeletal. Her face was gaunt and shadowed, twisted almost as if she felt some deep inner pain.
Her hair had been shaved off, and she was lying in a coma, dressed in a hospital-issued green gown. The life-support machine attached to her was blowing oxygen through the valve covering her face.
As usual the sight of her, so lifeless and forlorn, so different from the vibrant woman they knew and cherished, filled Esi with pain, and her tears dropped slowly and silently.
Her father held her tightly, and they cried together.
“I miss you so much, Mama,” Esi Eduafo whispered.
“She’s going to be alright, my dear,” her father said.
His words, however, proved to be far from the truth when they entered the doctor’s consulting room some minutes later.
Doctor Akwasi Beretuo sat behind his huge desk and laced his fingers across his stomach. He sighed heavily, and then he adjusted the steel-rimmed glasses perched precariously on his nose and sat forward.
“It’s always been awkward at these moments,” he said softly. “I thank you first for coming over. Well, the only way to put it is to put it as it is. I just wanted to suggest to you that your wife should be taken off the life-support system, Mr. Eduafo.”
Esi’s father stared at the doctor with sudden terror.
“No…why should you even think of such a thing?” Mr. Eduafo asked in a quite unsteady voice as instant tears came to his eyes.
“No!” Esi cried, tears spilling down her cheeks instantly. “No, Dad, please don’t let him!”
Josephine, tears shimmering in her own eyes, reached out and put her arms around Esi.
The doctor held up his hands, and he smiled gently at them.
“I do understand your pain, yes, I really do. But today is the third week she’s been on life support system,” he said kindly. “I’m sorry but she’s now completely brain-dead, and the number of patients who have come out from a brain-dead coma after three weeks on life support is negligible. It just doesn’t happen. You’ll be running into a lot of costs keeping her on life support. My professional view is that you should let her go and rest in peace.”
“Keep your professional view!” Joe Eduafo cried, his eyes wild. “I’m paying, not you!”
“Dad, Dad, please calm down!” Kobina said, his face sad. “I agree with the doctor. Mom’s suffering, Dad! I can’t bear to see her like that each day! Please, let’s just say goodbye and allow her to have some peace!”
“No!” Esi screamed and stood up, her body shaking with the depths of her pain and emotions. “No, please don’t! She’s going to be okay, I know it, and I feel it, please, please! There are miracles, doctor! Just keep her on…at least for another week, please!”
“Young lady, your mother is completely brain-dead, excuse my language, I’m very sorry!” the doctor said gently. “She’s only having a semblance of existence because of the support system. I know it’s hard and difficult, but she’s not with us anymore, please. This is the time the family should be strong and let her go peacefully.”
“No, no, no!” Esi said, weeping uncontrollably, and then she stood up and staggered blindly to the door.
“Esi!” Kobina cried in anguish. “Come back here! Get a grip on yourself! It is difficult for all of us!”
Esi did not stop.
She opened the door and fled blindly into the corridor, weeping uncontrollably, knocking people out of the way. They shouted in alarm as she pushed them aside blindly.
She was in so much pain and her heart was breaking.
No, not her mother!
Not her dear, dear mother!
She would not allow it…no one would take her off the life support!
Over her dead body!
She was going to stay in that room and make sure that her mother was not unplugged from the life support system.
Eventually, she got to the Female Ward section and ran unsteadily down the corridor. She was two doors from her mother’s ward when another door to her left opened and a man stepped out.
Esi crashed into him, and they would have both fallen if the man had not stood still, as hard as a rock, holding Esi to steady her. Esi’s arms were around him, and her face was pressing into his hard chest.
His perfume, sweet and strong but so very pleasant, filled her nostrils.
A man’s perfume…
A perfume she could sometimes smell in her dreams ever since she came to Apaso and saw him, on just three occasions!
Esi raised her beautiful tear-drenched face to his, and stared into the hooded eyes of the incredibly handsome stranger who lived in the hills, and whom people only knew as Yaw.
This man who, only a day before, had saved two families from imminent death with just a few words.
He stepped back slowly.
“Sorry,” Esi said in a soft voice.
“That’s okay,” he said in his gentle voice. “Hope I didn’t hurt you.”
“No, no, I’m fine,” she said tremulously.
There were two nurses in the corridor now, and they smiled and walked on, leaving Esi and the stranger called Yaw alone on the corridor.
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