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Thursday, July 25, 2024


I was determined to do everything it took to get on that flight, even if it meant hijacking the plane. I dragged Nonso’s hand and pulled him to the front of the queue before he could even object and informed the airline staff that check-in for our flight would be closing soon, and we couldn’t afford to miss it. To cut a long story short, we were allowed to check in and proceed for security checks, much to the dismay of the other passengers still standing in the queue. An hour later, we were on board our flight to Calabar; I bullied Nonso into sitting in the middle chair so that I could sit by the window. I wanted to be the first to catch a glimpse of the beautiful city of Calabar from a bird’s eye view as we landed.

As usual, the air hostesses started their safety demonstrations as the plane taxied to the runway. I had seen them do it many times without paying close attention.I hated taking off and landing because they always gave me goosebumps. I always imagined a strong wind might just blow the plane down. Or the pilot might fall asleep and stop pressing the button to make the aircraft go up; forgive my ignorance, I’ve never flown a plane before. Somehow, the pilot on this flight had managed to win my trust and calm my nerves with his smooth take-off.

I was so relaxed that I had time to focus on other things— like the air hostesses in their short skirts who wouldn’t stop wiggling their waists while walking up and down the aisle. I don’t understand why they have to wear skirts that are so short; you’d think they were on a husband-snatching mission. I’m pretty sure there must be an unwritten rule stating that shorter and tighter skirts bring more customers for the airline. That’s the only reasonable explanation for the short skirt syndrome. I kept looking through the corner of my eyes to make sure Nonso wasn’t staring at any of them, and luckily for him, he wasn’t.

When I felt it was safe to stop monitoring him, I looked out the window to watch the vast buildings and landmarks surrounding the airport become miniature figures as we lifted into the clouds. I bid Lagos a silent goodbye as we went higher and higher till it was almost difficult to see anything below us.I allowed my mind to drift. Expectedly, I didn’t have any pleasant thoughts in my subconscious; I kept thinking about Mum and the hurt she must be going through. I couldn’t help but think of how heartless Dad was by bringing another woman into their home. It brought tears to my eyes whenever I remembered how Dad’s lustful desires ruined our once happy home. No one who knew what was going on between them would ever believe that Dad was currently surviving on Mum’s kidney. I’m sure I mentioned how Mum sacrificed so much for Dad in the past. But I never said this before because it’s not something I like to remember.

Dad had developed an end-stage renal disease, commonly known as kidney failure, due to his long-standing, poorly controlled hypertension. Being the stubborn man that he was, he had refused to take the anti-hypertensive drugs prescribed to him by the doctor to control his high blood pressure. Despite everything, Mum had to make him adhere to the prescription. On the other hand, Mum always took her drugs, so her high blood pressure was well controlled. Unfortunately for Dad, his two kidneys eventually failed, and he had to go for regular dialysis sessions to filter out the waste products that his kidneys had been unable to remove.

The kidneys are organs in your body that filter out waste products and extra fluid from the body. When kidney failure occurs, the kidneys can no longer filter out these waste products. So, dialysis is required using a machine to filter out these waste products before a kidney transplant to replace the damaged organs.Someone who receives kidneys from a donor will need to be on drugs for life to prevent his body from rejecting the transplanted organs. Hypertension is one of the causes of kidney failure. Others include diabetes, recurrent kidney infections, and conditions such as kidney stones or enlarged prostate gland in men, causing prolonged urinary tract obstruction.

The kidney failure phase happened at a time when we were barely comfortable. I had just started my career in movie producing & directing and wasn’t making much money at the time. My brother hadn’t started his business, and Mum provided most of the finances with contract jobs that she was getting to supply various goods to different government organisations. Finally, after numerous dialysis sessions, the doctor advised that the best thing was for Dad to get a kidney transplant.After all the necessary tests were carried out, Mum was found to be a perfect match. She didn’t think twice about volunteering to donate her kidneys to her husband despite numerous pleas from her siblings and family members not to do so. They feared she might not make it out of the surgery. I had to admit that I shared their fears. I wasn’t ready to lose both my parents.

If I had to pick the one who was to live, it’d be my mum. She loved Dad so much that all pleas from her siblings to make her reconsider her decision fell on deaf ears; she donated her kidney, and it took a while to recover from the surgery. In fact, she almost lost her life after she developed a severe infection following the surgery. Thankfully, she survived. Many years later, the man she sacrificed for abandoned her even though she gave him a second chance to live. My heart wept for my mother. I knew that the only thing that could make her happy again was to have her husband back. She loved him very much. But evidently, more than he loved her; I think that was her major mistake.

No wonder she would always say to me, “Sonia, when choosing a husband, make sure you marry someone that loves you much more than you love him because men can be very funny.” I wonder how true that statement is. I’d heard many women say it in the past, but I never thought much of it till I heard it from Mum. Suddenly I was jolted out of my thoughts by screaming from the other passengers. The plane had started shaking vigorously. I felt my stomach sink as strong winds began to blow the plane in all directions making it bob up and down and from side to side like a yo-yo.

My earlier fears suddenly became a reality; it seemed like we were encountering significant turbulence. The only problem was that the pilot seemed to have lost control of the plane. I turned to look at Nonso when the plane suddenly dropped again, he struggled to remain calm, but I could see the fear in his eyes.”What’s happening?” I asked, squeezing his hands as tightly as possible as if it would stop the plane from dropping further. “I’m not sure what’s going on,” he said, “but I know we’ll be okay—” The plane dropped again. Everyone on board was panicking by this time, including the air hostesses. They had initially been trying to calm us down, but by now, they had run for cover and were sitting with their seat belts fastened.

Luggage began to drop out of the overhead compartments, almost falling on innocent passengers as the plane dropped further. Finally, there was an announcement from the pilot, who had been silent since the turbulence started. “Ladies and gentlemen,” his voice sounded through the speakers amidst screams from frightened passengers, “this aircraft is making an emergency landing. You’re advised to take the brace position NOW!” he shouted into the speakers. Brace position? I thought to myself. I didn’t know how because I had never watched any safety demonstrations. I was beginning to regret not paying attention when I had the chance as I watched people assume all sorts of awkward positions that they considered to be the brace position.

Some were putting heads between their knees, others putting hands on their heads and even crouching between their chairs. One woman in front of me looked like she was attempting to shrink herself to fit under her chair. Had I not also been about to crash along with the plane, I would have laughed while watching her make a fool of herself.

With his head between his knees, Nonso turned to face me and began his ‘last goodbye’ speech.

“Sonia, you know I love you with all my heart,” he began with tears in his eyes. “I’m sorry for everything I’ve ever done to hurt you, and I promise to change if we ever make it out of this alive.”

If we ever make it out alive? I thought to myself, hearing those words made me realise that I was about to die. I’d always known I would die one day but never knew the day would come so soon. I looked around at everyone still screaming and shouting. Some were even crying as the plane continued to drop further with unimaginable speed. My head began to feel light like it was floating, while my ears were blocked entirely. So this was it? This was how my life was going to end? My mind immediately flashed back to when I pulled Nonso and made him jump the queue with me, and I realised I had made a terrible mistake.

None of this would have happened if I had just gone to the back of the queue and allowed us to miss our flight. God, if you give me one more chance, I promise never to jump another queue in my life. I prayed silently. Then, shutting my eyes tight, I whispered, “Please, just one more chance.”

Find out what happens next in Episode 11

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