By Kayode Taiwo Olla
[Written for the Pearls of Grace Editorial Subgroup of the Redeemed Christian Fellowship, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, for the JEANS Magazine Issue 9 Launch, themed ‘Living Water’. December 2013, written.]
* * *
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withold my heart from any pleasure.
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labour in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.
—Solomon the King, Ecclesiates II. 10, 11.
* * *
A doctor’s office setting: a desk with medical textbooks on it, and (perhaps) a sphygmomanometer. Behind the desk, an armchair, where the Doctor would sit; and, further on beside the desk an armless chair stays facing the doctor’s slightly—of course, where the patient would sit. And, of course, the latter chair sits in such a way that it does not back the audience but rather makes a 45º angle between its position beside the desk and audience’s view, thus facing slightly both the doctor and the audience at the same time.
A DOCTOR in his early forties enters wearing a shirt and trousers with a stethoscope hung over his neck. He is crosschecking a leaflet in his hand and nodding his head meditatively as he enters. He is immediately followed by a NURSE carrying a medical file containing loose sheets tacked together. DOCTOR speaks in his steps as soon as he gets onstage, while NURSE listens and attends to his questions.
DOCTOR: (Meditatively) Hmm, I see! Both urine and serum beta HCG were diagnostic of pregnancy. I see… (To NURSE.) Let me have the result of the second examination, I mean the scan report.
NURSE: Yes, Doctor. (Opens the file and leaves through the file to a particular page and then hands the whole file to the doctor for him to see the page.)
DOCTOR: (Collecting the file and sitting down in his armchair.) Hmm! Goodness gracious! I see! (Nods meditatively for a moment; and then to NURSE…) You can go. (As NURSE goes…) Erm… ask her to come in.
NURSE: All right sir. (Exit.)
(DOCTOR begins to write in the file. A knock on the door.)
DOCTOR: Yes? Come right in. (A young lady comes in, dressed rather sensually, but then looking obviously sad and demoralized already.) Have your seat. (She sits. DOCTOR sits up, clears throat and then begins…) Sharon—right?
YOUNG LADY: Yes—Sharon.
DOCTOR: Yeah, Sharon, the result of the test actually proved positive.
SHARON: Erm, you mean, I am preg—
DOCTOR: Yes, you are pregnant—
SHARON: (Cuts in.) I know. I know that already and that is actually why I am here. The point is I don’t want this baby. Not this baby, at least!
DOCTOR: Then what do you want to do? Sharon, what do you want?
SHARON: I want to get rid of this baby. I want you to get rid of this baby for me!
DOCTOR: (Takes a breath, nods meditatively and then speaks.) There is a problem, Sharon. A very, very sensitive one. And I would love you to know that. (Leaves through the file.)
SHARON: Doctor, what? Tell me.
DOCTOR: The result of the other examination we conducted on you revealed that your womb had previously been exposed to very much of chemical substances that makes an act of abortion now a very precarious thing, as a matter of fact.
SHARON: (A little bit anxious.) Doctor, please come a little bit clearer.
DOCTOR: The examination actually revealed that you’ve had a number of abortions before by use of abortion pills—
SHARON: Yes, that’s true, Doctor. Actually, it is because the last two abortion I did with pills almost resulted into some serious bleeding—
DOCTOR: Okay, some hemorrhage—okay, go on… (Doctor writes something in his notes.)
SHARON: It is because of that I decided to come to a hospital and do it neatly sir. Please help me, doctor.
DOCTOR: Okay now—the result here shows that the lining of the uterus has really been affected and seems a lot weaker. If you have another abortion, the uterus wall may actually be ruptured and the lining could also be infected, and very great chances are you could die, or at the very least lose your womb.
SHARON: (Close to tears.) Please help me, Doctor!
DOCTOR: What do you want?
SHARON: (Tearfully.) I don’t want this baby! I don’t want this baby! (Pauses a bit.) But I don’t wanna die, Doctor! I don’t wanna die!
DOCTOR: May I ask: Why don’t you want this baby?
SHARON: (She brushes her eyes with her hand. Briskly, she says…) Nothing!
DOCTOR: Oh, I’m sorry. I only…
SHARON: (Standing up.) It’s okay; it’s fine. Now, if you don’t wanna do this for me, I’ll go do it some other place! What’s the fuss about nothing! (Taking her handbag and walking out.) I thought you’re just gonna do it one time and I forget about it! Shit.
DOCTOR: Excuse me, Miss Sharon… (SHARON stops short in her steps but does not look back. She only stands there.) I am a medical personnel and I do not think I bothered you about doing it or not doing it yet. On the other hand, I think I did let you know clearly what is at stake for you, and which you will hear from any other competent medical doctor that may handle your case anywhere else you go to, if they are honest enough to tell you and are not just greedy for your money, at least. And finally, I think I did ask: What do you want?
SHARON: (Turns and runs back to the doctor again.) I don’t wanna die, Doctor! I am not prepared to die!
DOCTOR: You are not prepared to die? How do you mean? I mean, what do you mean by that? Oh… have your seat.
SHARON: (Sits.) Ah Doctor, you can’t understand! Okay, come to think of it, if I die upon aborting this pregnancy I have for somebody that doesn’t even deserve to be living, and if at the same time I am dying this death of a loser—the death of someone who never found satisfaction in all of life; then, Doctor, how is my life not the most miserable in living and in dying!
DOCTOR: Now don’t say that yet.
SHARON: I don’t even know why I am saying this, but I feel much better sharing this weight of a burden with you, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Hmm, I think I understand how you feel. My mother actually had the sort of experience, and it was with my pregnancy. She said my dad—and who didn’t eventually marry her—said he had wanted her to abort my pregnancy in her womb. Thank God she feared God enough to have kept me! I’m thankful she didn’t abort me!
SHARON: But mine is different. What do you want me to do?—I’ve been a needy girl in search of love and satisfaction. I’ve been really desperate for acceptance that I’ve gone out with five boyfriends since I came on our campus, and each of them jilting me in the end. I’ve given them my love, my money, my body—and in the end, all they do is dump me, as if I am worthless in myself. In fact, I am; if not I wouldn’t be doing all these to find them and to find myself too! I’ve even aborted for them eleven times! (Burst into tears.)
DOCTOR: Hmm, I’m sorry. I guess that is why you don’t want this baby? Because of those guys—how they treat you?
SHARON: Doctor, this baby belongs to the fifth of them, who could not possibly become my husband in fact. And that is my pain. He is actually a lecturer on campus who was in charge of a Year 1 second semester course I failed. I asked for his help, that I would offer him anything. He slept with me and gave me a D grade in that course and an F in another, a Year 2 course, and then another one, and then another. Since that time, Doctor, he has been using me! He kept me coming back with the grades he gives me. I have my grades sometimes, though; but then, I am left terribly empty inside me! I feel empty even as I sit in front of you, Doctor!
When I discovered I’ve become pregnant for him, and I’m almost done with school, I went to him—I thought I could force him to marry me cos he’s comfortable and has a PhD already. But then, I was in for a tug of war and more shame, Doctor! His wife had got to know about this and… God, (amidst tears…) she humiliated me! Ah, this bitch of a woman humiliated me like I’d never been humiliated in my life! She even vowed to fight this through if I would not back off and leave her husband alone. She doesn’t even wanna care that I carry his baby.
Ah, Doctor, I’m left with a big vacuum inside me I can’t explain what! I was looking for romance; I got plenty of it but it left me with a sting and a scar! I was looking for better grades; I got some but I’m empty right inside me! If I die now, my life would be the most miserable on earth and in death?
DOCTOR: Probably in death too, Miss Sharon. Because you might die to go face the Just God unprepared!
SHARON: Doctor, I perceive you are a Jesus-follower.
DOCTOR: Yes, my sister. That is in whom I have found the fulfillment, essence and satisfaction I have today. He is all that made the difference. I sought it in academics and medical studies, but knowledge wearies the mind. I once sought it in girls and cars, but they left me empty. Until I found Him, my burning thirst was insatiable! But then, Sharon, what do you want?
SHARON: (Sighs.) I want satisfaction; I want this satisfaction I couldn’t get with more and more sex, or with drugs or even with all these grades, Doctor! (Bursts into tears.) None of these were able to quench this burning thirst in me! None of these could fill this vacuum inside me! I want something real, Doctor! I’m tired of chasing the wind; I’m tired!
DOCTOR: Jesus is the living water that can quench your thirst, Miss Sharon. With anything apart from Him, your thirst is still insatiable! Jesus is the Breath of life that can fill that vacuum you’ve got. That vacuum is something I often refer to as a ‘God-shaped void’ because anything apart from Him will just not fill the emptiness. Jesus Christ is what you desperately need, my sister—not another abortion, which of course may terminate your life. Jesus Christ is what you desperately need to change your story. And He can more than take care of this baby, too, and make him a precious gift to you and one of your greatest source of joy in life. He can make him great to the glory of the Father and the shame of the devil.
SHARON: Give me this living water, Doctor, so that I won’t be this thirsty again! Give me this Jesus that so gives you peace and confidence, so I can find true essence, too!
DOCTOR: Now, I’ll pray for you… Give me your hands.
SHARON: (Bows her head a bit, deep in thoughts.) But… Ah, Dr. Kilanko! That man is son of a bitch! Ah, he made a mess of me! Ah, he abused me, dumped me! Kilanko you will regret this! You will regret this, I swear! God will not forgive you; you will rot in hell! Ha, I wish I can just see him and break his neck! Ah sorry me!
DOCTOR: (Trying to wake her out of her thoughts.) Miss Sharon!
SHARON: (Still bows her head and shaking it.) Kilanko! Shameless man! I wish I can see him and I’ll break his head into two, I swear! (DR KILANKO enters in quick steps, dressed in a polo T-shirt on top a rich-fabric blue jeans and with a well-polished suit coat. He is quite a comfortable PhD-holder lecturer and in his middle age. Here he is only seen and heard by SHARON; DOCTOR does not see or hear him. KILANKO is apparently an apparition in SHARON’s perception.)
DOCTOR: Miss Sharon! Miss…
KILANKO: (Shouting at the same time with DOCTOR) Sharon!
(SHARON jerks backwards to look towards KILANKO’s side. She jumps to her feet in fear when she sees KILANKO.)
SHARON: What do you want?!
KILANKO: I should ask you that: What do you want?
DOCTOR: On no… who are you speaking with; talking to space or something? Miss Sharon!
SHARON: I’ve come to terminate your baby! Isn’t that what you want? Uh?!
KILANKO: I should ask you that: Isn’t that what you want?
DOCTOR: Goodness gracious, what’s going on? Miss Sharon! Oh she’s beginning to have hallucinations! But then, why? She wasn’t induced… or the traumatic experience is beginning to induce… Oh, Nurse… Nurse Tomi!
NURSE: (from backstage.) Yes, Doctor!
SHARON: Look at your guts! You even have the guts to… Look—Dr Kilanko or what is your name? If you provoke me any further, I swear…
KILANKO: (Cuts in. Speaks with calm composure.) You didn’t answer the question!
DOCTOR: Hurry here, Tomi!
NURSE: (from backstage.) Yes, Doctor.
SHARON: What question do I have to answer you, irresponsible man?! Do I have anything to answer you? Do I?!
KILANKO: (Again, with calm composure.) My question is: Isn’t that what you want?
(DOCTOR stands up. SHARON has become confused, walking up and down and drumming her head with her fingers as if thinking and trying to make an important decision in haste. She would pause to open her mouth to talk but would not be able to make up her mind as to give an answer.)
KILANKO: Hurry up…
DOCTOR: Now, I see! The weapons of our warfare are not carnal…
KILANKO: (With pretty much anxiety; calm composure lost now.) Hurry! What do you actually want?
DOCTOR: (To the apparition.) Now, Satan, the Lord rebuke you! Even the Lord rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? (KILANKO cries out and runs offstage. SHARON just stares into space, with mouth agape. And then DOCTOR calls her…) Sharon… (SHARON turns around dreamily, as if she just wakes up from a nightmare.)
(NURSE enters with haste.)
NURSE: Yes, Doctor.
DOCTOR: (Speaks to himself.) Really, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal…!
NURSE: (Cuts in.) Sir? You said what sir?
DOCTOR: I’m not talking to you. You may go.
NURSE: Sir? You called me sir.
DOCTOR: Yes, I did. But there’s no point in calling you. You may go.
NURSE: All—All right sir. (Exits, looking back; a bit confused.)
SHARON: (Still dreamily.) My answer is: That is what I wanted. But that is not what I want anymore!
DOCTOR: (A bit lost.) Uh? What is it you’re saying?
SHARON: … My answer is: I want to live! I want to find the Living Water!
DOCTOR: Wow, wow! Praise the Lord!
[Soft music and mime action: DOCTOR leads SHARON to Christ by praying for her; and then he counsels her briefly and gives her a kind of new Bible after. She exits the stage putting on a buoyant smile and clamping her Bible to her bosom, while he guides her out of the door.]