The ventilator made out one last beep before Dr Ogbe trepidly powered it down. It was a single power off button, but it meant the life of a man was off the balance, extinguished by a simple button on a touch screen. The hollowed private hospital room was filled with desperate breaths, apprehension and melancholy.
“Note the time of death.” The doctor managed to say as he proceeded to disconnect the machine from the power socket.
What followed was an uncanny and devastating silence. Peculiar but still surprisingly strange. Death was expected, yet everyone was dumbfounded and gusted in flabbergast at how it could simply be triggered by an off button. A button on a machine.
Mrs Ajewole stood at the head of the bed and watched as the nurse covered up the lifeless body of her husband. She wanted to scream but couldn’t manage it. Her throat seemed to be dry and glued. Beside her was fifteen year old Oluwole who particularly seemed to be inconsolable, wiping tears from his eyes on ends. At the other side of the bed were Mr Ajewole’s younger brother and his older sister. They surprisingly did not necessarily look sad. One could even say they had a straight and impatient look in their eyes- the ‘can we just be done here’ look.
It was an open secret that Mr Ajewole didn’t quite relate well with his siblings because of, but not limited to their continuous display of greediness and lust for money. They had a big fight some years back when the younger brother colluded with their big sister to sell the extended family’s parcel of land in the village without informing him. The fight lasted for a very long time before they resolved to settle their differences just the last year. Even though they still didn’t give him his share of the money from the sale of the land, he opted to let the sleeping dog lie. It’s not like he really needed the money anyway.
So there they were, sometimes seemingly daring him to rise from the dead with an uncanny jeer and occasional smirk. One could almost hear relief in their minds at his demise.
Dr Ogbe drew Mrs Ajewole into an unusually deep hug as he made to leave the room. She sung into his embrace and eventually let the agony take over her. Tears rolled freely and heavily down her swollen eyes and in that brief moment, she succeeded in soaking the doctor’s shoulder wet. Freeing himself from her, he pulled Oluwole to the side and spoke softly and silently to him. He nodded occasionally and seemed to be consoled by the doctor’s words. He returned to his mum afterwards and wrapped warmly around her. The doctor and nurse left the room and closed the door gently behind them. Mr Ajewole’s sister warmly consoled Oluwole and proceeded towards the exit, followed closely by her brother. Mrs Ajewole barely lifted a finger from whence she sat beside her late husband as the duo left the room. She had only informed them of the situation out of courtesy, they weren’t really there all along. Alone with her son, she felt renewed in her melancholy. All the while, thinking about her daughter and how the news would break her.
Meanwhile, some three hours away in another state, Adeola sat legs akimbo on the bed, staring tentatively at her mobile phone. She was contemplating whether or not to call Bello to give him the inside scoop on what he had deposited inside her, unaware of the events unfolding back home.
Her mum had decided to keep her out of the loop and wait till she got back home to break the unsettling news. That way, she thought, would be easier for her to deal with the mishap. Adeola eventually summoned the courage and dialed Bello’s number. It was some minutes to twelve on a Sunday morning and there was no answer on the other end. She dialed again and still no response. Agitated, she sent him a venomous test message, tears rolling down her eyes as she typed each word.