“Don’t you dare enter that rain, are you deaf or you are pretending to be…”
I immediately recognized that voice to be my mom’s. I looked left and right, I saw no one, not sure who she was really talking to, I took a step forward, almost immediately, that same voice spoke, louder and with a more terrifying pitch this time, “if that stupid leg of yours should enter that rain, just don’t come back inside this house”. I guess I just wasn’t ready to test my mom’s patience, at least not that day, I just did a reverse and went into my room quite angry but I rather not show it as I was not ready for another episode of her drama.
I just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed (more like a ban) to play with the other kids outside especially in the rain (even if the rain was as little as dew, I dared not step into it), why I wasn’t even allowed to participate in my school’s inter-house sport no matter how much interest I showed, why some teachers always omit me during a general punishment or cane ‘ceremony’, why I always had to wear cardigans to school even on hot sunny days, why I always had to mix hot water to bathe even on hot days even though I enjoyed having a cold bath on such days (or I thought I did, lol), nor why I was always ill, in which the illness almost turned into a normal routine for me all until I got ill again.
I always thought it was just another normal episode of illness not knowing all those illnesses I used to had before were just preambles in respect to what I was actually facing.
I felt totally weak, I couldn’t take two steps without kissing the ground. I was totally paralyzed and did I think I was going to die? Totally, as I was in much pain than I could imagine. As a matter of fact, I already had a lot of questions I was going to ask God if I actually died then, I mean, I was only seven. Some tests were done, I don’t know which but I can still remember that man’s face as he inserted a pin into my thumb and collected the blood that came out… What I knew next was I got admitted into a hospital and that was the first time I heard that word ‘SS’. I was not the one they were talking to obviously, I mean how can you tell a seven-years old that “his blood is sickle shaped and as a result, he’ll be experiencing a lot of pain and as a matter of fact, his chances at survival is slim” but I overheard only three words; sickle cell, blood and SS. I could never place it nor understand and I was like “okay, just heal me”, I guessed it was a normal condition. I thank God, I got discharged and one of the doctors who knew my mom and by chance, he was also SS called my mom and recommended Folic acid as the drug i was supposed to use forever, apparently.
Since then, I’ve been trying my best to find out what that condition means and I’m still trying. I mean, I need to find out why I always had to take that small weird yellow drug, why I always had to avoid anything with high iron content including tonics containing iron, it even got to a point my mom had to ban chicken in the house because someone told her it has a lot of iron, Unbelievable!. I had always imagined myself inside a court room with much confidence but when the time came for the son of man to decide what field to venture into, I had to die that dream and I somehow became a science student, “sebi they say, what a person knows no fit kill am ni, if I become a doctor, a nurse or a pharmacist, make I see how SS go kill me na”, that was always my mindset and I was ready to face it all the way.
I never knew it was going to be this hard, should I talk about how the topic being treated in class always made me feel weird or how the “mother and father-know it all” always had to put their big mouth in the topic and say weird things, one once even called SS ‘agbako omo’ lol ‘awon omo ti o ma daku, daji lojojumo, olorun ma je n ribi’ ‘who will marry them sef’ and the likes… I was always a hyper-active student but whenever this topic is being treated, I sometimes find it hard to breathe, I didn’t need unnecessary attention. Or how I felt when I first learnt in class that the lifespan for a normal RBC was 120 days but for SS is 40 days, WTF na, that’s not even up to half and I googled it but google gave me worse news telling me it was 20 days, and with that came other unbearable conditions. Or how I feel when I learn about new conditions that affect mostly the sickle celled, for wetin na, why can’t it affect everybody, one of which was ‘priapism’, I heard that word for the first time roughly two years ago and I googled it, they said it can be treated by inserting needle inside the penis. I screamed, why would anyone insert needle inside my “baba omo”, are they mad. Then google also said it can cause infertility if left untreated and worsens, but in most cases, it can go on its own, that’s good but what about others…
There have been no normal day for me, I get back ache for running in the morning in other not to be late for class, that’s quite normal for me, I develop headache in the midnight for skipping breakfast in the morning before, that’s a totally normal something for me, I catch a fever for having a cold bath in the morning, that ain’t no cause for alarm for me. The drugs are draining me and sincerely, I’m tired but I’m a warrior, I’ve been fighting and I’ll keep fighting, all men will die but I’m definitely not dying from this.
University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria