The Birthing Co

It was a normal day. I’d just woken up, heading downstairs to begin my morning rituals featuring a hot cup of ginger tea and some meditation. I left my phone on the kitchen counter and walked into the garden to enjoy the smell of a new day; birds chirping and wind softly rubbing against my skin. With the type of tight schedule I keep, it’s no surprise why I don’t joke with my morning rituals; they give a fair reflection of how my entire day goes. Ginger Tea is my perfect refreshing medicine. On this particular day, I took every sip with a smile on my face, as I thought to myself what a wonderful day it was going to be.

Amongst the many hats I wear, one of them is that of a practicing Counsellor. I love my job, it gives me so much joy and satisfaction; ask a goldsmith, she or he can relate. Take something broken or sometimes almost useless and watch it glow into a precious stone — back to this day. I got dressed up, all ready to begin the day when I heard my phone ring. I decided not to take the call until I was seated in the car, hands-free and comfortable. The caller was a very good friend, and so the shock on my face when I returned the call and she picked up sobbing intensely was terrifying. Still in that state, I asked “Are you okay?…Banke, please take a deep breath. I need to understand what you are saying so I can help you through this… I got you girl.” She continued crying for a couple of minutes, without saying a word, neither of us did. She settled softly after a while and said “Foluke! My cousin just lost 3 of her 4 kids on the same day!” My heart raced faster than it’s ever done and I knew it was time to park the car. I couldn’t utter a word, my tongue was numb like it’d been cut. All I could think about were my lovely kids in school and a flush of empathy went through my mind.

As a counsellor, you have to harness the skills of managing your emotions, I have found myself in many situations and I did well professionally. But on this day I cried unashamedly, the thought of losing my own 3 children in a day pierced my heart and I could only imagine what was happening to Foluke’s cousin. I cried longer than my friend. My friend suddenly became the counsellor, consoling me until I was able to get myself together. Banke went on to explain what had happened in detail. They were in a car accident: mother was driving 3 of the kids to school while the little one was home with the nanny.

A bus driver had lost control of his brakes and drove right into their car, turning the car upside down. In minutes, as people were trying to pull them out, the car burst into flames. The nearby Fire Station was immediately called yet they did not arrive until 2 hours later with the excuse of “no water”! The fire was eventually put out, but it was too late for the family: all the kids were dead and the mother was severely burnt. The bus driver was severely wounded and unconscious. Now, the mother is out of coma and they needed a counsellor beside her when they broke the news. I cried even more after Banke’s explanation. I was furious. I know people will say it could be fate or destiny, or give an insensitive religious response. All I could do was reflect on my country (Nigeria), the system, and the people. How negligence, carelessness, and ultimately selfishness has cost us so much, spanning across many decades. I had several scenarios:

● A bus driver who’d previously told his boss or company that the brake needed to be checked but was constantly ignored.

● A bus driver who was given money to get the bus fixed; went dodgy and used the money for himself.

● A mechanic who did a crappy work with the bus.

● A fire station who has complained to the government about the lack of water and has been constantly ignored.

● A fire station the government provided funds to ensure there was enough water but the workers or bosses chose to pocket it.

● The firefighters might have lied. Perhaps the people on duty didn’t show up to work.

There are avoidable deaths, this here is a good example. When are we all going to learn as a people that our actions and inactions ultimately have its consequences? This is a lack of value and ethics of ‘doing our jobs well’ in integrity and care for human life. On this day I cried for a mother, I cried for a bus driver, I cried for the fire station, I cried for the government, I cried for the people, I cried for all the many scenarios running through my mind. This could have been me, you, or anyone else. If we continue to be silent about the lack of ethics and values thinking we are immune to its consequences, one day it will pierce through our so-called immunity and hit us hard. I know you might be asking: ‘what did you do eventually? ’Truthfully, I couldn’t be a counselor on this day, I just couldn’t, my heart failed me. I spoke to a colleague to handle the case and be there for this mother. The life of this mother has changed forever, I pray and hope she finds the strength to look after the one child she has left and find a glimpse of light.


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