This was the day your parents thought they had lost you. Your body was dead cold and stiff, and like a log of wood, your father ran with you on his shoulders to the backseat of his Volkswagen “Jetta” car.
It all started with a slight pain on Wednesday evening just before Bible Study. Unlike you would on a normal day, you took two tablets of Panadol, but it still didn’t get any better. In church, Bro CY kept tapping your shoulder to stand as you sat during the prayers. It was the week before the annual “Easter Retreat”. If only he knew how much you anticipated Easter, how your clothes were properly laid out in your wardrobe for Good Friday till Easter Sunday, he would know not to think that you, of all people would not pray for the heavens to hold her rain and not disrupt the retreat.
You barely had an interest in the retreat, or in the numerous success seminar tips for students which you never adhered to. It was about Izuchukwu, the Children Chaplain’s son, your crush. The clothes in the wardrobe were for him, your blue scarf: the one your aunt got from her pilgrimage to Jerusalem was for him, the missiles you fired towards heaven to hold her rains were for him. Inasmuch as Easter was the only time solemn assemblies were held in your church, with the women crying on Good Friday while walking behind a man who bore a cross which looked nothing like what you learned at Sunday school, Easter for you, was about a racing heartbeat, stolen glances and constant placing of your hands on your nose, because you could not walk without feeling his eyes follow you. This was how girls your age dealt with shyness, this was the time the flowers bloomed and your body sang a new song.
The pain started from your right thigh, by the time you got home that night, it was all over your right leg, you shivered from cold, and your body raged hot. You could not explain the pain to your parents, your mother asked all the questions, “how?’, when did start? And touching your thighs she asked “here, is it here, or here?” You took the pain killers she gave you with such speed that she marveled “Ihe nke a ji gi” (this thing really has you down). You knew the truth that not even the worst sickness could stop you from using the new smiling gestures you had practiced in front of the mirror countless times for Izuu.
Thursday morning came like there was no night. You dreamt of the first day his eyes met yours; Children Camp 2007, theme: “I cannot pass like that”. He was thin, and his neck screamed hunger from a distance. His eyes were not the most prominent, and when he smiled, they disappeared completely. He stammered, and maybe that was why he was quiet and barely said a word, but you loved that about him. He ate his food in silence and unlike the other boys, he still had his trousers on his waist. You were ten, and your heart had not beaten any faster.
You were taken to the hospital that morning, the fever had become unbearable and your foot was swollen. Doctor Ike had been your family Doctor since your mother joined, “The Glorious Women Ministry” and became friends with his wife. He examined you, and mentioned he hadn’t seen a thing like that before; “it’s probably a reaction, nothing serious”. Later that night, as your parents made calls to their friends describing your condition, you lay helplessly on the sofa, you knew it was no reaction, you knew this was the beginning of a lot of things like pain.
Good Friday morning, Aunty Nneka came to the house, it was her voice that woke you from sleep; “this is not an Oyibo medicine matter”. She had a commanding persona - you sometimes wondered how your mother’s childhood was, with her as a younger sister. You loved her and the energy that came with her presence. She was huge and hairy, fairer than your mother with a skin that felt like butter. She wore trousers a lot, and although your father considered it an abomination, she said she didn’t know why a person would settle for skirts when there was the option of trousers. You loved the stride in her steps, and maybe that was why you walked like one in a hurry to bring an end to a fight.
To be continued…
Writer, polyglot, dreamer.