Lizzy opened her eyes slowly. Her eyelids felt like a heavy load had been placed on them. She could faintly hear voices around her. She shut her eyes firmly and made another attempt to open them, this time a little more slowly than the first time.
“Doctor, she is opening her eyes”, a voice very close to her exclaimed in excitement.
She had heard that voice before but could not immediately tell who it belonged to. She tried to speak and ask questions but her voice did not accompany her slightly open mouth.
“Hi, Madam Lizzy, this is Dr. Mwinibuobu. Give my hand a squeeze if you can hear me.”
It was then that she realized someone was holding her hand. Like an obedient child she gave the Doctor’s hand a little squeeze.
“Great!” The Doctor said.
“The anesthesia is now wearing off, so we expect her to be like this for a while. She is doing well, no need to worry.”
‘Hospital?’ Estelle thought. What could she possibly be doing here? The more she tried to find answers to the questions in her mind, the more she felt her head ache terribly. She drifted off into a deep sleep.
“She is still asleep.” came a voice much later. Lizzy opened her eyes once again and this time with less difficulty.
“Mama, thank God you are up.” An excited voice said.
“Where am I?” Estelle asked faintly.
“In hospital, mama. A car hit you this morning on your way to work.”
Then she remembered. She left home that morning, very frustrated as her car had refused to start. In exasperation, she stood at the junction to her house , looking for a taxi that would take her to her office as fast as possible. She was scheduled to meet some investors who had expressed interest in the company she worked for. Her Chief Executive had fixed the important meeting for 8:00a.m., but had asked her to come in thirty minutes earlier so they could go through their presentation. Lizzy’s husband had left home much earlier since he had to drop off their last daughter school before going to work.
As she searched through her bag for her cell phone to call Bob her mechanic, she did not see an oncoming car. She could only remember big hit hard, being lifted of the ground, falling to the ground, the excruciating pain the run through her every nerve voices screaming, and then she passed out.
“Are you ok, mama?” Asibi, Lizzy’s daughter asked.
This brought her mind back to the hospital. Before she could answer, the door swang open and in waked the doctor who had performed her surgery, accompanied by a nurse.
“There you are. Very wide awake. How are you feeling?” she asked while examining her.
“I…. I…. think I am okay. What was the surgery for?” Estelle asked.
The doctor responded, “you had a hip fracture and we had to operate on it to correct it as soon as possible. It will take some time to heal but you are doing well so far. We thank God the car did not run over you.”
There was something familiar about the Doctor’s voice and mannerisms that Lizzy could not place. She looked like someone she had met before but she could not immediately tell where. She seemed a very pleasant young woman.
Over the next few days, Lizzy recovered well. She received so much love and care from the young female doctor, and wondered if that was how much attention she paid to all her patients. She would check up on her early in the morning, at lunch time and before she closed for the day.
Lizzy mastered courage a few days later and said, “Doctor, thank you very much for all your love and care. This has helped greatly in my recovery. I wanted to know more about you. You look very familiar. You look like someone I have met before, but I cannot tell where we met”.
Dr. Mwinebuobu smiled in her usual sweet manner and said.
“Madam Lizzy, there is nothing special about me. God has been very good to me over the years. My story is a very interesting one. My parents died when I was very young. I therefore had to live with my auntie who was a trader. I was told my late father was our village Cathechist, so the parish opted to pay my school fees. My auntie was a very busy woman and used to travel from Wa to Kumasi to buy different kinds of goods for sale; clothing, utensils and cloth. One day she informed me that a stranger wanted to take me to Accra to work as a house help and that they had decided to sponsor me through school.”
She continued, “I left Wa to my new family, not knowing what to expect. I had heard many stories about Accra and at age 12, I did not know what to expect. My new family treated me very badly from the start. I was given very hard work to do, given little food and punished severely for every little mistake I made. There were days I could not go to school because I could not finish my cleaning or washing on time.”
Dr. Mwinibuobu paused. She turned to look at Lizzy, who had her head bent.
“One day, the man of the house announced that he had lost some money. I was falsely accused of taking that money. I was locked up in the storeroom of the kitchen for half of the day, to make me confess to the crime. I did not understand why I should confess to something I did not do. I was beaten up and my fingers were burnt with a hot iron….”
“Stop!” Lizzy screamed. “We are really sorry” she said in tears. “My husband and I were ignorant at the time. Over the years we have not been able to forgive ourselves. We searched for you but were unsuccessful at finding you, just to apologize.”
At this point tears were rolling down Lizzy’s cheeks uncontrollably. There was no doubt, that this was the 12 year old house help they had treated badly over twenty years ago.
“When I run out of the house that evening, with my burnt fingers, I wanted to kill myself. I had endured so much in my young life and did not want to live anymore. I got hit by a car and was rushed to the hospital. The driver who hit me never showed up to check up on me or pay my bills. I lied to everyone that I was homeless, for fear of being taken back to the house of pain. Then I met Dr. Naah, the owner of this hospital. She took me in, cared for me and my life changed completely from that time onwards.”
“Please, forgive us.” Lizzy pleaded. “We truly regret our actions”.
“I forgave you long ago , only it has been hard to forget that part of my life, especially when I look at this scar”. The doctor said as she showed Lizzy the ugly scar on her right hand. “I had the opportunity of having plastic surgery but I insisted I wanted my hand to remain this way. Anytime I look at it, it reminds me of how far God has brought me. I recognized you the very day you were brought in here. I was not on duty but I opted to take care of you”.
She rose up from the chair at Lizzy’s bedside and said, “I have to go attend to other patients. I will see you later”.
As Dr. Mwininbuobu walked out of the room, Lizzy wanted to say something. She opened her mouth but no words came out. She and her husband had over the years regretted the treatment they meted out to Mwinibuobu, badly. They had gone to confession about it and their parish priest had counseled them on ways to deal with the guilt. Seeing Mwinibuobo again had made her feel guilty all over again.
When her family visited her later that day, she narrated the entire discussion she had with the Doctor. Mr. Taabasung, Lizzy’s husband felt very sad. They were amazed, that this same girl had willingly treated Lizzy even though she knew who she was.
When the nurse came in to administer her evening medication Mr. Taabasung requested to meet Dr. Mwinibuobo.
“I am sorry sir, Dr. Mwinibuobu started her leave today.” The nurse said. “She only came in this morning to see your wife before traveling outside the country.”
Lizzy could not believe this. “How long will she be away?” She asked the nurse.
“About a month, Madam. A new doctor will be seeing you till you are discharged.” The Nurse responded.
This had been a great lesson for the Taabasung’s. The weeks that followed were very humbling for the family. They prayed fervently, that Dr. Mwinibuobu would forgive them completely, when they met her on her return to the country. They had visited her foster mother Dr. Naah, who had promised to assist them reconcile with her. They also volunteered share the experience with other families in their Parish on how they should treat househelps and children who were not their own, but under their care.