One of the striking things I could tell anyone about coma is that all you will see is darkness. It was more like one is sleeping. Well, that was what I saw before I felt a vibration then heard my name. Another significant fact is that when your name is called, you might see a tiny ray of light drawing you back to life. Mine looked more like a window but the closer I crept to it, it farther it became. It was an unending journey back to light. Soon, I did not hear my name and soon, my ray diminished.
It seemed like an eternity later when I heard my name called again and this time, I ran like my life depended on it, shouting in response. Of course, my life depended on this call. The darkness was too overwhelming. Suddenly, I was lifted up and looking down at my feet, I saw I was propelled faster by a flood. Well, that flood happened to be the wet cloth a man was holding as I opened my eyes back to life.
The third significant fact is that no matter how fast you came back to reality, things begin slowly down here. My eyes were back to life but my lips were strolling behind as I tried to shout in pain but all that came out was a grunt. I tried once more but the grunt was barely audible. All I could see was a stranger’s face smiling sadly at me like he hoped but not really hoped I would come back to life. He took his face slightly away and I could capture a bit of where I was. If my mouth was still struggling to come back to life, how much more my limbs which had long forgotten their use. I could not move yet. I decided to feed my eyes before knowing what next to do. I might be kidnapped for goodness sake.
The room looked more like a reading room than a sitting room. My ears could hear sounds of resting birds so I knew I was not in the city. The surrounding was too serene except I was hidden in a basement. The room was painted blue with drawings of birds which made me wonder if the man still mopping my body with wet cloth was a zoologist or a painter. The more I tried thinking and capturing my present state, the more my head roared. A migraine was fast approaching. My heads touched my head as if to keep it from swelling which made the stranger stop his work and ask me if I wanted water. I replied and he brought a glass and straw with a tablet that looked like a pain killer. I blessed him from my heart, yet I was careful enough to be suspicious. Kidnappers were known to be nice too until they struck. He must have read my facial distrust as he sat down on a stool and began asking me questions.
His first question was where I knew something was amiss. Of course, he must have known my name which he called earlier but asking me where I stay and what I do, which is a simple question, revealed my current state of mind. I could not remember. I stopped his next line of questions by raising my right hand and took some minutes to remember where exactly I lived.
The more I thought, the more my head banged and I suspect, swelled. He tapped my shoulder to let me relax and tried asking another question. I could not even remember where I was going to nor the name of the organisation I worked with. The more he probed, the more we realized that I had lost my memory. This was worse than the groping darkness I saw earlier.
I could not control the tears, which is another striking fact. The body acts alone while the brain acts on its own too. There is no automatic connection between the two when you just come out of a coma. The stranger was at loss for words to which I understood as it was not what he expected.
He stood and told me he was coming back. I nodded, glad I was left alone to wallow in self-pity. I had lost my memory in an unknown location. Perfect kidnapped individual. My self-pity was however short-lived when I noticed a tiny but steady throb coming from my right leg. My body was slowly responding to my brain as I shifted slightly to confirm what I felt. However, the more I turned, the more painful the throb became. I slightly moved to a sitting position and saw the source of my pain which was a gaping hole, big enough to fit a bullet. Two bullets, on a closer inspection and my blood trickling down the bed to the floor. This was slowly becoming a nightmare. I began shouting for help but no one answered. I did not want to die yet. My assessment of the room was my next line of action. An escape route, a weapon for self-defense, an access to the outside world or anything that would give me another chance on earth. I saw a bible beside my head and I picked it. If I could not remember anything yet, I could remember the One who protects. I need a backup. I muttered prayers, dropped the Holy book and looked around again.
There was a television not switched on, a book shelf stood beside it with a lot of books on birds, a portrait of a beautiful parrot, a mini home theatre and some fliers for a conference. I was right after all. There was no weapon in sight save the wet cloth the stranger had used on me. I got up to get it but my right leg gave away and the pain multiplied ten times. I screamed in agony which brought the stranger rushing back into the room with a bag. He met me on the floor, the bucket of water poured out on the rug, forming a patch and the wet cloth, thrown somewhere across the room. So much for my weapon hunt.
As he helped me settle back into the bed, I asked who he was, where I was, how we met and what I was doing in this room. I was more frustrated and scared than angry though. My tirade of questions was answered with patience while he picked up what I had scattered.
He, Daniel Robert-King, was a veterinary doctor out on a vacation with his family. He was lying because I did not see or hear another soul since I woke up but I did not mention that. I looked around to confirm my suspicion but saw nothing. The cabin I was in indeed looked like that for a vacation though. I asked how we met to which he shrugged and explained that he heard a gunshot while on a forest trail to capture some real life birds. He ran to hide with a thought to avoid being hit by a stray bullet. Soon, he heard footsteps of people running and some screaming confirming his suspicion of danger. The shooting was too sporadic. He heard two more shots and saw me fall close to his hiding spot. Making sure everything had died down several minutes later and he was safe, he came closer to confirm if I was still breathing before carrying me home. He also did not know who I was save the tag I wore while running. To confirm his words, he lifted the tag and asked if I recognized it. I only saw my face and name; every other identifier was bleak to my memory. By this time, I was too tired to ask questions any more though I still had a few like where is family where, if he saw any other person shot and all but I closed my eyes, wished the headache and leg pain away and slept off. I would ask about later but first, I needed to wake up from this nightmare.
My eyes opened close to midnight. Everywhere was dark and quiet and all I could hear this time was the night owl and crickets probably dancing to the rhythm they created. The headache had subsided but my leg was still on fire. The next voice I heard was that of Mr. Daniel telling me to hold still. Something that was difficult to do with a burning sensation tearing up my right leg. I felt every single thread he passed through my skin. I tried using pillow to silence my screams and held still while he worked with a fishing line which I discovered later. How I got myself into this mess was a mystery that plagued my mind and how I would get myself out was another. By the time he was done, I could not feel my right leg anymore. Then I understood why patients were given anesthesia during surgery. The pain was paralyzing.
As I thought on that, a memory flashed through my mind. I remembered entering the organization’s bus with one of my friends who was a medical doctor. His face came rushing too but I could not remember his name. Mr. Daniel handed me some tablets which I recognized as painkillers again. He promised it would dull the pains of caused by the stitches. I nodded, took the tablets and popped them into my mouth, drowning down a glass of water next. Mr. Daniel took this time to walk towards the television set, switching it on and decreasing its volume before getting himself a seat. I could not care less of the current news yet till I verified issues on my mind. I asked him of his family and where we were exactly. His family left the same day he brought me into his cabin somewhere beside Wildlife Sanctuary in Cross River State. The name of the State gave me a pause and memories flashed across me yet I could not grab them all. Cross River State was not our destination. That, I remember. We were passing by but something brought us close to the forest. I shook my head as if to ward off the imaginary cobwebs in my head. We came to the forest because someone had suggested it. Jane had. I let myself calm down and relax. If I was going to get my memory back, I needed to let my body and brain quit worrying. I must have called out Jane’s name aloud as it drew Mr. Daniel’s attention from the images displayed back to me. He waited a bit as if to encourage me to remember more but as I could not, he faced the television again. I took that time let my eyes rest. The painkillers had begun their magic. The pains in my right leg and head were becoming a dulling one and the voices from the television were almost like a lullaby. I drifted off for the second time.
I heard my name again and a gentle tap. I ignored it and turned my head to the left, trying to go back to my wonderful dream but the tap became consistent. I opened my eyes to Mr. Daniel’s smiling face. He must have said some words after but I heard none. I was still groggy from my sleep. I followed his hands that pointed to the television set and finally understood what his agitation was all about. It was a news cast of a robbery around the Wildlife Sanctuary. Currently, the station showed the bus I remembered entering at the start of our trip. The doors were opened and some luggage scattered on the road. As I watched and listened, I tried to remember something else but I could not. I gave up and told Mr. Daniel which he shrugged about. To him, would remember soon and should not worry about it. He was just happy I could be traced back to the incident with my company tag as a confirmation. As we changed channels in bid to know more, I moved to a sitting position again and took the plate of food beside me. my appetite was finally revived. The news cast must have made Mr. Daniel open up on what his initial plans for me were. After ensuring his family left the Sanctuary, he contemplated taking me to the nearest hospital but feared I would bleed to death. All he was left to do was hope and pray I would make it. I guess I am stubborn in a good way, after all. With his expertise in veterinary medicine which fell short as he dealt with a human and not an animal, he tried removing the bullets in my right leg and that was when I started getting a temperature. He had to remove the bullets, stop the bleeding but could not stitch yet.
He began a routine of mopping my body with a wet cloth for 2 hours consecutively which ushered me back to life. Mr. Daniel had however called the police and his wife was coming with an emergency dispatch from the hospital. They could arrive anytime soon. I smiled. I could not thank him enough for saving my life.
A moment of silence passed between us and we turned to watch the news. Some of my colleagues had been found. Sad enough, 2 had been shot dead and others injured. I was the only one reported missing with the robbers who had taken money and valuable goods from us. It was said that we were heading for a conference with a day to spare and so we stopped at the Wildlife Sanctuary into the waiting hands of robbers. The room suddenly went dark as we heard the sirens of a car which threw me into a panic attack. I screamed when I felt a hand hold me and struggled. Mr. Daniel was saying something but I could care to listen. I was ready to fight to the end. He shouted as I bit his hand and withdrew. From afar, he shouted at me that his solar tripped off and he was just trying to calm me down. It was as if cold water was poured on me. I apologized loudly too but he had walked out already. Soon, the light came on and I saw another doctor and some paramedics come in. Soon, I was lifted and carried into the emergency van. Soon, I was on my way to the hospital.
Mr. Daniel was supportive all the way though I had not recovered my memory. I could not resume at the company any longer but reunited with my family though I had little or no knowledge who they were at present. Selective amnesia was the diagnosis. With time, they said, I would remember. I am anxiously ticking the clock.
About the Writer
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com