Efe sat down on the chair the doctor gestured towards. He was tired of these predictable visits. He was tired of taking folic acid every blessed day. In fact, he knew the doctor would ask, and he would not tell her that the last time he took the folic acid tablet was his last visit with her a month ago. The routine vitamin C tabs was not so bad, as he took over half of it the first few days of the month and gave the other half to his only sibling in exchange for favors. She would do the dishes when it was his turn or sweep the portion of the house he ought to just to get some of his orange flavored tablets.
‘How are you doing today Efe Omatseyi?’ The doctor broke into his reverie.
Why did she have to call his name as though she was confirming a fact when she saw him there monthly or even more frequently whenever he had a crisis and had to be admitted. Ah well, she was not the one he was angry at. He was angry at his parents who treated him like an egg this minute and acted like they could not wait to be rid of him the next. He had overheard them quarreling last night. His mother wants to have another child as she does not know how long “Efe would survive this illness”. His father was of the opinion that they might have another ill child if they tried again.
‘I am fine Ma.’ He replied hurriedly when he saw that she was looking at him wondering why he had not uttered a word since he got in. Of course his father would not want to have another child by his mother. He had seen the man hanging around one pretty light skinned lady when they both travelled to Enugu. They had gone there to see a herbalist (traditional medicine healer) who was supposed to give them a “wonder” concoction that would cleanse his system and change his genotype. His father talked to her frequently on the phone when he felt no one was close enough to hear him. ‘Amaka baby, I will be there to see you again before you know it!’ she was probably even pregnant already. That was not his business though. After all, he was probably not going to be around for much longer.
‘Here Efe, go and do your Packed Cell Volume at the lab. When the result is ready, you would come in so we can discuss. Do you have any complaints?’
‘No Ma.’ He said this as he was heading for the door. Honestly, he was tired of everything. She had forgotten to ask him where his water bottle was. She insisted he take water with him everywhere he goes to enable him to drink often. He was supposed to prove this by showing her his bottle whenever he came here. She was definitely going to ask for it when he returned, right before her long speech. Kai, this doctor liked to counsel for Africa.
He greeted the laboratory scientist as he sat down for the blood investigation. The laboratory scientist was a forty-plus year old man who never smiled. He didn’t care about that because the truth was there was absolutely nothing to smile about. He however wished the man was accessible so he would beg him to send a result that was higher than the actual value for his pack cell volume. He knew it would be lower than his stable state value today as he had not been eating regularly, taking his routine drugs and he had been feeling dizzy for the past few days. Ah well, he knew he could not stop the entire cycle that was going to happen next. He had even packed a bag when he was coming. The result of the blood test would be low; he would be admitted and given blood. He would be subjected to an earful by the overzealous doctor who would go a step further to counsel his parents on things they already know but are no longer interested in doing as they have already concluded that he would be gone soon.
He stepped out of the laboratory and sat in the waiting room. There was a pretty girl sitting close to him. She looked very healthy; he wondered what she was doing at the hospital. The girl looked at him briefly, and then she turned and focused on the movie showing on the television. He felt she must have noticed his yellow eyes or the shape of his head. He was a constant victim of emotional bullying at school. His classmates never laid a finger on him but the shape of his head and his limp was a constant topic of discussion amongst them. You would think they would have gotten used to it by now. Still, they found a way of reminding him that he had sickle cell every day. School was another place he was tired of. He would have thoroughly enjoyed the many days he spent away from school if he did not spend those periods in the hospital. It was either he had excruciating abdominal or bone pains that had even made him pass out at two instances or he was being treated for malaria. He was treated for a bone infection once. He had so many blood transfusions that he had stopped counting when he was 10 years old. He read on the internet that he was at risk of getting a blood borne infection because of that amount of blood transfusion.
He was dreading entering that office again. When would it all end? The pretty girl in the waiting room turned to him and smiled. He realized that even though he had hoped she would smile at him, he could not bring himself to smile.
‘Ella, I love your relationship with this great guy. You both make me want to love. Kai, love sweet oh!’ Idehen said this dragging Ella to sit down with him. He was about to delve into a serious discussion and did not want her distracted.
Ella sat down blushing. ‘Bros leave me alone jo. I know you will not stop teasing me again.’
Idehen went on to tell her how he wanted to get into a serious relationship because he wanted to be married in the next two years. He wanted her to link him up with one of her beautiful, well behaved friends. She had good manners and he was certain that she had to have good friends since birds of the same feathers flock together.
‘The only thing is that you have to ensure that her genotype is AA.’
‘Ah ah, Idehen, you want me to start asking my friends for their genotype. Nah wah for you oh. Will that not make them uninterested right away?’
He explained to her that since his genotype was AS, he had to get married to a lady with genotype AA. This was to ensure that their kids would have genotype AA or AS. If he married a lady whose genotype was also AS, they stood the chance of having a child or more with genotype SS.
‘You remember my friend Kenny? He has two children with genotype SS, that is they have Sickle Cell Anaemia. He is always in the hospital for either one or two of his kids. Do you want me to borrow money from you to treat my children? Abeg ask them sharp sharp. No time to make mistakes.’
‘I thought they say it is one child out of four that would have the Sickle Cell, how come both of Kenny’s children have it?’
‘Noooooo. If both parents have genotype AS, then for each child they would have, there is a 25% chance that that child would have genotype SS.’
‘Bros, you don turn Doctor!’
‘Forget! You need to learn from the experiences of other people oh.’
‘Shade, how far? Has Olu done the genotype test now?’
Shade looked up from the novel she was reading. ‘Ejo, fi mi le oh! Leave me. Ah ah. You keep going on and on about this genotype.’
‘I will not let you be. I hate to say I told you so but this is how your last relationship went down. I respect Segun a great deal for ending things. This genotype risk is just not worth it.’ Tola continued cutting the vegetables on a chopping board as she talked to Shade. She had a stern look on her face.
‘Madam i-hate-to-say-i-told-you-so, yet you have just said it.’
‘I will say it oh. You know that you know how to love very well. I will not give you my shoulder to cry on this time. So you better tell him to check his genotype early on.’ She had stopped cutting the vegetables and was swinging the knife about as she said this.
‘Ok, ok! Can I please read now?’
‘No. This is serious. If you don’t look into it now, you may end up getting hurt again later, or worse still, get married with the risk of having children that have sickle cell anaemia.’
Shade closed her novel after making a dog ear of the page she was reading. She stood up drawing closer to Tola and started talking very fast like she could not wait for all the words to be out.
‘What if I tell you that I already love Olu and he loves me? We have decided that we don’t care about genotype. So, even if his genotype ends up being AS, we will get married. Our love will conquer every challenge we may face in future. After all, we may not even have any child with SS genotype.’
Tola had stopped cutting the vegetables now. She deliberately dropped the knife down as though she wanted to avoid using it.
‘Ah ah, say something. Why are you looking pissed? That is why I didn’t want to tell you anything just now.’ She sat down on the chair next to her close friend and immediately regretted doing so as Tola stood up and started ranting.
‘Of course, it’s about the two of you and the great love you share. It’s about how you would deal with whatever comes your way. What about that child you just might have? The one who would have multiple visits to the hospital where he is prodded with needles, who would suffer great pains? You both are not the ones who would have to take pain medications, like a whole lot.’ She had to pause and take deep calming breaths.
Tola wondered if she should bother to tell her that her brother was that child she spoke of. She had watched him suffer a great deal. Was she so wrong in trying to prevent another child from going through similar problems? He was married now with two children but she knows how stressful things were for him when he was younger. She was just trying to prevent other kids from going through the same ordeal.