“…I’ll course continuously
The best way I can
Till the bus, ‘corrupted me’ in which I commute
Stops and ushers me out
When I lie down to sleep…forever”
Seyade shobby (1988- )
It has always impressed me how life is like a repeating sequence of some basic element that’s hard to place a hand on, how atoms are like a microcosm of the universe with numerous bodies rotating round a dense central core as in a dance of veneration. It has always incited my imagination to think that someone somewhere is thinking just what I’m thinking and may even look like me. And I’m definitely not alone in this regard or else Robert Louis Stevenson would not have written ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ in 1885 (A book that inspired two characters in the movie ‘LXG’ about a century later.) The issue therefore is this, that whether the story that follows was an actual event or just some farfetched allegory from the recesses of my abysmal mind, you should stop reading and start listening, lose your eyes and gain a third eye- imagination, for that’s all you need in the paragraphs that follow.
The story starts in a bus, a typical yellow bus with two black stripes on the streets of Lagos with 15 passengers; 7 women, 6 men, a 6 year old boy and a 25 week old neonate in the womb of Rose. It is with her that I begin my story.
Rose heard she had ‘gotten it’ when she started her antenatal clinic. Then everything turned sour. First, Dayo who had placed ‘this thing’ in her belly and professed that his love was the size of heaven left her faster that the time it takes to put on a pair of bathroom slippers; their well planned marriage scheduled for next month suddenly became a blur as even her own mother would tell her that it takes two to marry. Suddenly her life became filled with words she never thought she’ll have to say; nevirapine, HAART, CD4 count and survival rates yet the thing that really brings tears to her eyes is when she talks of how her family doctor walked away from her. She says it was as if he took a part of her, the part that made her look forward to the next day. She said that day, she just stood transfixed in a spot crying, as she watched him…walk away.
Seated next to Rose is Tunde. If sadness could be quantified, his will match Rose’s, pound for pound. Tunde is a good looking young man, over six feet tall with a charm that made girls want to make charms to get him back in university. His world came tumbling down the day all things seemed they were going to be beautiful. He was scheduled for the final interview with the man that held a key to his fortune, the bank manager. He noticed the grim expression on the man’s face as he brought out the medical report he was asked to bring, something which in his usual carefree manner, he did not even bother to look at, for as he once joked to his numerous girlfriends, he was as healthy as a stable of horses. When the bank manager mumbled a million incoherent reasons why he could not get the job, he felt as if a bit of him stood up and started for the door. When he looked deeper, he realized it was his future…walking away.
Emeka like any 6 year was as cheerful as Cheese seating on his father’s laps in the middle of the bus as it drifted along the road aimlessly, like a drunk heading for the gutter. Emeka sometimes wondered why his body itched. He wondered why he was lean and blistering with sores like an unkempt dog. He wondered why the boys in school never played with him and why the teacher claimed that his seat at the back of the class away from everyone else was kept for him because he was ‘special’. Emeka wondered why his mum passed away a few months ago and why his dad always looked like the devil himself had made him a promise. The one thing Emeka never thought about, because he did not know was that his own life was slowly ebbing out of him and would no longer be in two months. Emeka never thought to reason that his breath was like a soldier after the battle…walking away.
Seated in the back of the bus where nobody could see her tears was Moji. When her husband caught the virus, her names Mojisola Yetunde were suddenly no longer sufficient to identify her. Her relatives added to it ‘death eater’, the village women called her a witch and her friends labeled her cursed. Whenever she went home to see her promiscuous lover cum husband on the bed, withering away, she felt like packing her things…and running away.
In case you have not noticed, at the bottom of this blog (For those browsing with PC's), there is a phone-like interface titled staying alive. It is a gadget i added to my blog to support a cause i believe in i.e. funding for those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Just by clicking on it, you help to generate funds that would be channeled to help someone who really needs it. So what are you waiting for? Click away with the gentle and soothing conviction that someone some place is sincerely grateful that when asked to help, you did not simply up and ...walk away.