I’ve met up with my posts for the web series for the week, and even though the Teenage Series went up on Saturday, I actually scheduled for Monday. So, my blog has been quite dry, I admit it but Wife Material comes up unfailingly on Friday (God Willing) and Senorita comes up…well…soon.
In view of the ‘No posts up’ I decided to post a story I wrote years back, it’s actually a narrative and it’s based on True life. I might start posting some of the stories in my story bank, I actually have a lot, it all depends on the feedback I receive.
I hope you enjoy it!
afternoon, the sun shone brightly on our roof and I could perceive the burnt
smell of dried shrubs.
I watched my mother lift the pestle in the air and slam
it into the huge mortar, she was sweating. She was not the only one pounding
the millet, my step-mother was too and together, they both created a rhythm
with the pestle and the mortar. My father’s third wife sat in the kitchen, she
was making soya bean cakes. I lay on a small mat beside the entrance to the
house and waited, trying not to get bored. Suddenly, my wait was over as I
heard the loud shouts of children outside our compound. I smiled, as they
rushed in; eager, young and full of life. They danced into the compound,
singing loudly and reciting the poems they were taught at school. Behind them
was my favourite sibling, I fondly call him Baloo, because that’s what he used
to call me as a child.
and ran to meet me, his face lit up in joy.
me.” He said frowning.
I asked smiling.
girls‟ punches are not hard.” He laughed.
favour?” I asked.
want me to do?” He asked me, always willing to help me out in every way he
me.” I replied.
story of my life.” I said, looking up at him.
his bag and brought out his note book. Baloo is the only sibling who could do
anything for me without considering it a task.
begin?” I say as Baloo rips two sheets off his note book. “Are you sure these
will be enough?” I asked him.
I will get more sheets of paper”.
the mat, folded his legs and producing his pen, he waited for me to start the
story. Nodding in affirmative, I cleared my throat and began my tale, staring
at my ten years old brother.
name is Hauwa Garuba and this year I would be sixteen years old. I am the tenth
child of a family of thirty-five children. I have twenty-two sisters and twelve
brothers. My father has four wives and my mother is his second. My family is
well respected and looked up to in the community for guide and example. The
children especially look to us for benchmarks of good behaviours. I was born on
the first of December 1998 and on that day, the story of my life began.
about my birth, I was one amongst the many children born to my father about the
same time. I grew up quickly in a household of many, learning at a young age
how to take care of myself.
two years old, we were visited by strange people, strange because they were
very different from the rest of us, they were a mixture of different
complexions, some shone like the sun while some others were dark and brown
skinned like us though a bit different from us. Slung on their shoulders were square
shaped boxes inscribed with words I could not read at that time but now, with
the help of my brother Baloo, I know the words are, ‘Kick Polio out of
mentioned his name and continued writing, I cleared my throat and spoke again.
tongues and the only person that was familiar to us, was our village head, he
came with them and stopped at the front of our house calling out greetings. In
my tradition, males do not enter the house of a married man, they call out
greetings and wait outside to be attended to. At the sound of their voices the
male member of the family they have come to visit, goes out to greet them,
women don’t go through these formalities, they come and go to family houses as
often as they like. The men that call at our house come specifically to see my
father as he is the man of the house. When our village head and the strangers
arrived at our house, we knew who they were looking for. They stood at the
entrance to our house as my eldest brother Adamu ran to attend to them and gave
them a mat to sit on. The visitors are under our inquisitive scrutiny as we
stared at them. Our village head sat on the mat, and motioned to his
strange companions to sit, they sat. Our village head asked my elder sister to
fetch drinking water for himself and his companions and she ran off to do his
bidding, returning shortly with a small clay pot of water and a cup. As soon as
she set the pot of water on the ground, our local village head takes the cup
from her and removing the cover of the pot, he scoops water from the pot,
drinks hastily and offers the water to the strangers but they refuse. Shortly,
my father comes out with a grim expression on his face, he greets the village
head quietly and stares down at the strangers, he doesn’t greet them. Issuing a
harsh command he sends us into the house and we run as fast as our legs can
carry us, even I who had just started mastering the art of movement at the time
almost fell in desperate attempt to catch up with my siblings. After running
from my father’s sight we waited for barely two minutes before tiptoeing to the
wall of the entrance in order to eavesdrop on the conversation amongst our
village head, the strangers and my father. We heard snatches of the
conversation but it wasn’t clear to us, my father’s voice kept rising till he couldn’t
contain himself anymore and he angrily ordered the visitors out of our house.
As soon as we heard the change in my father’s voice we scampered away, each and
every one of us running to our mothers for cover.
stood before all the members of his family and warned us never to entertain
such guests in his house and on no condition should we drink the medicine the
strangers carried about. We all stared at him in fear as he left for his hut;
then our mothers started whispering amongst themselves. I did not understand
the topic of discussion or why the strangers were sent away. Life moved on
smoothly as it used to though the strangers repeatedly visited once a month for
as long as I could recall but we always remembered the stern warnings of our
father. I saw most of my friends strut around with the sweets and gift items
they received after being administered with the medicine of the strangers, they
even showed off the blue ink mark on their little fingers. I followed them
about asking what the medicine tasted like, but they couldn’t describe it, I
was full of envy as I wanted to taste the „forbidden fruit‟ of the strangers.
One day as I walked down the street on my way to my brother’s kiosk, I saw one
of the strangers, surprisingly she spoke our language, she asked my age and I
happily told her that I was four years old, she crouched before me and opening
her bag, she retrieved the strange medicine, she brought out sweets too. I had
just opened my mouth to receive the medicine when I heard a familiar roar, it
was my father and he was walking towards us, anger clearly written on his face.
I turned and ran back home, terrified and in tears. When my father came home
that evening, I was punished for almost receiving the stranger’s medicine. Two
weeks after the incident with the stranger I fell ill, it started with
headaches and fever, native medicine was administered but the ailment seemed to
get much worse. A week later my limbs were loose and floppy, I lost reflexes in
both my hands and legs, I couldn’t walk and I dragged myself about. The fever
eventually left me but the worst thing happened; I was paralyzed. All visits to
native healers proved abortive and nightly massages with hot scalding water
seemed pointless. I was placed under the sun and moon but it was not useful
either. I remember dragging myself from place to place and bruising myself in
the process till I was provided with a knee and elbow pad to shield my body
from the incessant wounds. I remember people calling me cursed. Most children,
even my friends stoned me. I remember my cries of self-pity and I still see my father’s
worried gaze in my mind’s eye. It was then that the truth set in, I was the
example, the one who made the words of the strangers sound more like words of
wisdom than that of foolishness. My father’s stubbornness and pride prevented
my siblings and I from being immunized against Poliomyelitis.
am paralyzed, for eleven years I have crawled in the dust, I have become a
spectator and bystander on the road of life. I don’t want to be people’s object
of pity, but that’s what I am. I rage against this and scream silently for a
cure. Who will pull me up from the shackles of polio?
soon? Will I have my stolen childhood back again? I have watched my mates
prepare for marriage or better yet, education and I lie at the background and
watch. I can’t remain this way forever. Is there going to be a cure for Polio?
Will I grow old with the virus and die lame? Will I ever have children? Will I
be able to someday sit and stand upright?
anger? My father for being ignorant? My mother for not being brave enough to
go against her husband? The society for not standing up to my defense when my
father battled against immunization? Should I blame Polio for leaving every
other child in my father’s house and attacking me alone?
making the same mistakes my father made, I crawl to their houses in silent plea
that they stop the disease from gaining wings, lately my father has joined the
fight against Polio too. I see locally recruited female vaccinators throw away
vaccines instead of saving the lives of children with this medicine and at the
end of the day, give false reports of vaccination rounds to Polio facilitators.
I hear supervisors‟ falsified reports of the number of children immunized
against the number of Oral Polio Vaccine vials used and I sigh in frustration
and despair. I am not the only person affected by the polio virus and I am sure
that every day, at least one child in Africa is paralyzed by Poliomyelitis and no matter how hard I try to make a
change, I am just one crippled individual in the midst of a walking generation.
I may not walk on two feet, but I stand for vaccinations. I need help in
fighting this virus because I fear that I am drowning in a heap of ashes.”
cheeks and I feel a lone finger brush it off, it’s Baloo and he too has tears
in his eyes.
do I do with this?” He asks me.
publish it… ignorance will not be tolerated anymore.” I replied.