At 30 years of age, my main ambition was to get married. I know that some progressive women will say, ‘how can that be your ambition? What kind of ambition is that?’ Well, I do not really care about all of this. I am a nurse at the Hampton Harvey Teaching Hospital. I work at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Clinic. I completed my postgraduate degree in reproductive health at 28 and I attended a couple of O&G- related courses. I am currently a Senior Nursing officer and I think I have done pretty well for myself. The only degree I need to get now is PhD in marriage. At least my mother thinks so and I have a strong motivation to do this: I need to get out of my parent’s house totally. For me, this would be a statement that I have grown and left the cocoon. Why do I not rent a house? My Dad is a professor of Epidemiology and a cardiothoracic surgeon at Hampton Harvey and my mother is a physiotherapist at the same hospital. We live in the doctors’ quarters although my parents have built a house in Ikeja in preparation for retirement. So you see, free boarding in my workplace is one of the pecks I enjoy and it would be difficult to just go get another apartment somewhere else.
I love Hampton Harvey. It has the best work experience of all the teaching Hospitals in Nigeria. The only annoying news that is circulating is that President Mahmud Burutai (PMB) wants to rename it Chief Arisekola Akala Teaching Hospital. Imagine! I cannot love Arisekola Akala. It is Hampton Harvey I love and I pray that the administration would fight it and the medical students would organise a massive protest to Abuja and back.
Anyway, one of my major attractions of Hampton Harvey is the crop of young and single male doctors who flood the whole place like Goat meat in a pot of stew at White House restaurant. They stand out like goat meat in the stew also. The thing is, there is just one of these guys that I desperately want. That is, Dr Fola Atofarati.
Dr Fola Atofarati is known as Dr Fine Art because he is so fine and it rhymes with his name. He is the Mc Dreamy of Hampton Harvey. He is a senior registrar on his way to becoming the youngest consultant in the O&G. Dr Fine Art is well known because of his looks and his bedside manner with patients. He is Dr Extraordinaire. Patients like his persona, we, the nurses like him a lot because he is very respectful, considerate, and fine of course and the bosses like him because he knows his onions so he really does have it easy at Hampton Harvey. Since I am an O&G nurse, I work closely with Dr Art.
Every day is a crazy day here at the O&G clinic of Hampton Harvey let me tell you. We all go home exhausted; mentally, emotionally and physically. There isn’t much time for fraternizing. Thank God for rotations. On some of the crazy days, I am too busy to watch Dr Fine Art do his thing. There are some slow days though when we all – doctors, nurses, and other staff – get a few hours to breathe because of a declining number of patients. On those days, myself and other nurses in the clinic get to stare at him and gossip about him. He is one of the few Doctors that do not display the God complex. All the rest, including the grumpy oldest consultant we have, Dr Job, have that superiority complex thing going on. I do not know why they all cannot take a cue from Dr Art.
I am so crazy about Dr Art but unlike the rest of the nurses, I do not show it. I am cool and calm about my attraction towards him and I wait for him to come to me for anything. Dr Art and I connect on some levels. We have been friends for so long and being in the same work place makes us all the closer. I used to think that eventually he would come round to ask me out. He did once but he had to cancel because one of our patients needed emergency attention but since then, he has been silent. Sometimes though, I catch him staring at me. We still talk a lot on a personal level but somehow I got stuck in the friendship zone with him.
On one of those slow days, my colleagues, Nancy and Gifty, were having a small chat when I joined them. Before Gifty came on board at Hampton Harvey, I had heard so much about her from Nancy and I was not surprised at her high-spirited behaviour when we finally met the first time. What surprised me though was how beautiful and fair in complexion the lady was yet she had this naiveté about her. She drew so much attention to herself by the way she spoke and pranced about that before long one or two registrars would ask us when passing by to introduce him to her. While Nancy and I are both Senior Nursing Officers, Gifty is a Nursing officer 1. She was a quick learner and always asked questions. She also made a comment once that the hospital was a good place for finding a husband. This is the only thing that I think we both agree on. Our personalities are just opposites.
“So, when are you all getting married?” Gifty asked.
I smirked, “it is when we find husband na. Are we going to marry ourselves?”
Gifty rolled her eyes at me, “at this rate, we would all be hanging on a shelf from old age if you are waiting to find husband.” Nancy laughed looking at me with a knowing smile as if to say, ‘meet the real Gifty.’ “Seriously,” Gifty continued, “we have to go out there and take it by force. Use everything we have and get the gold,” She finished, demonstrating her usual manner.
“Yeah, right! And be labelled ‘Desperate’? No thank you.” I said.
Nancy looked at me, “maybe we should even try what Gifty is saying because we dey ripe for here o!”
I hissed, “With the workload we have, chasing after a husband is not an option.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Tandi. I am not saying that we should go out of our way. What I am saying is that right here in our midst is a goldmine. I am personally going to tap it.” Gifty responded using her index finger to tap the desk.
Nancy and I laughed. It was hard not to be amused at Gifty. She is young, a dreamer and a just believed in things around her happening just because it’s her. Just at the time we were laughing, Mc Dreamy, AKA Dr Fine Art passed by. Suddenly, Gifty’s laughter joined ours and it was louder and suddenly sonorous. I could see her head calculating because she was looking at Dr Art.
“Ladies, I see that you are having fun.” He said coming into our station.
Gifty adjusted herself and went to stand right in front of him, “I was just sharing my experiences with them. I have not met you personally. My name is Gifty, what is yours?”
Dr Art stopped smiling. He was taken aback obviously by her full frontal approach but it was equally obvious that Gifty was not ready to back down. “I am Dr Atofarati. I see that you are new here. Well, welcome on board Hampton Harvey. Tandi, Nancy, I will be in consultation room 3 if I am needed.” He walked away.
“Yes! That guy is mine.” Gifty crooned.
“You and the rest of all the female population here. Everyone loves Dr Fine Art.” I told her.
“Everyone loves me too. That makes us a perfect match. You guys must help me.” She begged.
“Gifty, I love you but you see this idea of yours would fail. You are too high spirited for that guy. What he needs is someone calm and collected. Like Tandi.” Nancy said. She knew I had a real crush on him since forever.
“fail? Never. I really want him and I will get him. Let us bet.” Gifty bragged.
“5,000 Naira.” Nancy said.
“Done.” Gifty responded. I looked at them in amusement.
The next day, Gifty came into the hospital and was on top of her game. She made sure that whenever Dr Art showed up, she was around him. One day, she came to the private room in one of the wards, which is where Nancy and I hibernate once in a while.
“Guys, I noticed that Dr Art always laughs with Nurse Bukky. I tried to listen to their conversation and I realize that she talks with a certain drawl. It is not phonetics per say but I think he likes the sound of it.” Gifty said.
Nancy and I looked at each other, “so, how does this help your case?”
Gifty smiled, “Never mind.”
The following day, Dr Art was passing by with Dr Job and everyone was moving around quickly, either to greet Dr Job or to avoid him. His regal and puffy presence always causes a stir at the clinic. Gifty who had never met Dr Job, muttered a short greeting to him and focused on Dr Art talking to him in a Nasal accent I have never heard before. Dr Art looked at her puzzled but it was Dr Job’s comment, “Young woman, is there something wrong with your voice? Perhaps you can have it checked here. This is a teaching hospital after all,” that made all of us giggle from our corners. Dr Art covered his mouth with his hand, obviously trying to hide a grin. Gifty excused herself and came to where we stood, “Gosh. I was so mortified. Dis Kain embarrassment no get part 2,” she said in Pidgin English.
Of course, the story spread a bit thanks to me. I thought this would make her back down and leave my Mc Dreamy alone. I was wrong. She tried everything possible to get his attention. Once she swooned in front of him and Dr Art had to catch her before she hit the ground. It was only when she told him to give her a CPR before he realized that he was being conned again. Soon her antics became comic relief for everyone, yet she persisted. She just had no shame.
One day, Dr Art called me to his office, “Tandi, this new girl, Gifty is getting out of hand. I know she is very young and I really don’t want this to be a situation where I have to report her to the matron or something. I need you to help me get her to stop all these antics.” He begged.
I smiled, “No problem. Consider it done.” I gave him a quick hug trying to hold him a little longer just to feel him more but he moved quickly to leave.
Every day, Gifty would do something new that got us all cracking up. In fact, we started expecting it; Dr Art included. She would cook and bake for him and be quick to put patients who seemed interested in him in their places. She would flirt with him openly and sometimes open up her uniform to appear provocative. I recall once when the matron saw her and embarrassed her right in front of Dr Art. We laughed of course. There was the time she also employed one of the registrars to act as if he was interested in her and it was showcased in front of Dr Art. The show was too much for everyone. It was the worst case of acting ever. Dr Art quickly congratulated her on getting a new boyfriend. That one upset her so much.
Another time, I met her reading a research article, “Gifty, what are you doing?”
She beamed, “getting conversation material.” I laughed. The girl never gave up. I saw how she put it to use. Dr Art was passing buy to deliver a package for someone around the clinic when she accosted him and was asking about the new research she read. He looked blank at her. It was hilarious. She just went on to tell him about it. The man was obviously exhausted and just walked away from her while she looked at the article trying to quote a statement from the pages.
Two things happened that finally broke her. The first one was when Dr Art was close to the outpatient’s lounge when she ran up to him and tried to be overtly friendly. The chief matron was passing by and saw her.
To be Continued!