I used to see this question, “How are you?” as just a conversation starter or pleasantries some years back.
When someone says, “How are you?” You reply, “fine”, Or “I am fine” or “good”.
And from there you continue with other stuff like pleasantries, start a conversation or you just go on your ways.
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We usually don’t mind. I know I don’t use to.
This is because people don’t usually expect honest answers from “how are you”. They just want to greet you, ask a question, start conversations, gist, gossip, pry or just exchange pleasantries.
And we hardly give honest response, anyway.
Imagine, if you give honest answers to every how are you, even if it is once in a while you become a weirdo.
Some might even start avoiding you or stop asking ‘How are you?”
But, we are in the year 2020.
I do not need to expatiate on 2020 before we know what we have all gone through this year.
I am sure the thought of 2020 is enough to conjure up so many horrible things that would last for a while.
So, in the face of everything going on in the world right now, especially the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on everyone, this popular conversation starter is too lame to know how someone, anyone, is doing right now.
That is if you really care to know.
And if there is any time to truly and honestly care about one another, it is now.
Honestly, I got tired of “How are you?” eight years ago. I hated it whenever people came to see me on the bed and that was the first thing they would ask.
“Really? How am I?”
I would say “Fine”
Then I got tired of saying “Fine”
Because, I was not fine, but I didn’t think they wanted to know why I was not fine.
Would they like to know I was in hell, that I couldn’t sleep because I was too scared to close my eyes?
Or because every time I did I thought I wouldn’t survive it.
But the year 2020 has taken us beyond personal trauma, crises, or dramas. It has given us a collective problem, anger, loss, and, trauma.
We have all lost someone or something. We were hopeless, despaired, terrified at one time or the other in this year.
So many people have lost their jobs and some have had to start all over again. Some still have no clue where to begin or how to survive.
South West 1: Save The Girl is A True Tale of Loss, Family, Faith and Fate. If you missed the last episode, you can read it here.
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“Are we there yet?” I asked again when the car bumped into another pot-hole for the hundredth time.
“We are almost there. Look, this is the hospital’s fence.” I couldn’t see anything, but I believed him.
It was bright and hot when I opened my eyes again. I saw my father, he was crying and talking to me at the same time. I have never seen him in tears before.
He was talking to me but all I heard was “Ah! Oluwa, Omo mi, omo mi kin lo de. Oh God, my child, why my child? Why has this happened to you? Why has this happened to me? What have I done?”
“It’s okay, Daddy. I’ll be fine. I have some money in my account. My ATM is in my bag. The pin is— I couldn’t remember the pin. Later, I wondered why I said that.
I was still trying to remember when they wheeled me into a white room. I saw the white, high ceiling and white light and then they blended together to make a very bright light.
Everywhere was white and misty. I was not sure of which.
There were so many people moving about, shouting orders, some speaking in hushed voices, some were harsh and loud but I could only hear them.
So many voices, shapes and shadows without faces. They were touching me everywhere, cutting here and there. They cut my shirt and my bra. I heard lots of “Stats” and “ASAPs”, so many strange names that were lost in the mist and the voices.
And then some words became clearer between the torrent of strange words “clean the leg,” “save the girl”, “we should save both”, you can’t leave a pretty girl without her leg,
“Save the girl first” a new male voice barked.
“Call Dr O Asap, a lady’s voice barked at someone. Get the OB/GYN team here now. She said again”.
“Infection is spreading already. How long ago did this happen? does anyone know?”
“Where is the anaesthesia?”
“We couldn’t find any. Then we do it now! Fast, we do it without it.
I had no idea what “it” meant until they dipped my leg in some sizzling oil and roasted it alive. It sent me on a trip to hell. I screamed with all I had left.
“You are all wicked, cruel people. How could you do that without what did you call it? How could you do it without anaesthesia? Wicked people, heartless people. What have I done to do you?”
I was sure I was going through the worst agony in the whole world then, that there was no pain as tormenting as I was passing through. But I was wrong.
However, one good thing about this particular one was it woke me up. I was widely awake. It probably brought me back instead of sending me over.
“You sure have some mouth on you lady, she said close to my ears. But you are strong, very strong.
Most people would faint, I have seen men who fainted, but you came back spitting and swearing at everybody stronger than when they brought you in. Do remain, strong, okay? Hang in there, love.”
I thought it would be better if I fainted like the ones who were smart enough to let go. At least they would remember less.
Then a bright light flashed in my face. “What is that?” I screamed. “Is that camera?” How dare you take my picture? Does this look funny to you? Do I look like some celebrity to you or do I look like I want my picture taken?”
I have no idea how long I was out after that but when I came to a new male voice had joined the party. I didn’t like it, because it made me alert and sad and terrified.
“The leg is gone,” he said without feeling.” his voice chilled my blood and pierced my heart. “You can see it is badly mangled; we have to amputate it. Look, the bleeding won’t stop.
“The bandage is soaked already. We can’t save the leg. Let’s save her”. Somebody should call her family and move fast. I didn’t want to listen anymore.”
I let the darkness envelop me.
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“Please answer me if you can. I need to know you are fine.”
The other guy came back and said some angry words that I couldn’t catch, the voices were fading away, and then a man said something.
“I’m going to place your head down now. I will be back. The movement was agonising.
I was getting tired of the whole thing. Nothing makes sense. I was supposed to be walking with my friends. But they were not there.
The Nice man was sure I was alone. I couldn’t remember where I was going with these friends, whose names I can’t even remember.
Now, I am wondering if the man is right that I was alone. Which means I am crazy or something else is wrong with me since I have no memory of anything pertaining to this madness. Even that doesn’t make sense
So, the only sensible explanation would be I that I am dreaming. I am in a dream.
“This is the longest nightmare I ever had,” I thought and it seemed it would be the last.
“We are here. Wake up, we are going to move you into the vehicle now.”
They did. And it was the most horrible thing I had ever felt in my life, at least for that moment.
I had no idea where I got the strength to scream that much.
The pain started from my waist and surged into my head and then they met again in my back simultaneously.
I was blinded by it at first and then I saw flashes of light and various colours.
My waist was on fire and my back was protesting, because someone was pouring hot oil on one of its members.
They carried me in through the boot of the vehicle. I felt first then saw my left foot dangling as someone pulled me in. “Don’t look I said to myself over and over again. “if you look you will not be able to endure it.”
But I did it anyway.
The inside of the car was like a bed of gravel to my back.
Everywhere aches. Each breath I took was like hot razor scraping my side.
I would scream and groan at every bumps and pothole and there was a whole lot of them.
It was as if there was not a single smooth ride on the way to the hospital. I was in agony, but I had no tears, no fear.
I had forgotten how to be scared, I couldn’t cry.
I had just one goal. I had to see my family. The thought of them filled my head, my mind.
“Dear Lord if this is the end, forgive me all my sins, but grant me the grace to see my family before I leave.
That was my prayer as we journey to the hospital.
The man cradled my head on his laps. He would soothe me and assure me that the journey was almost at the end.
“Hang on, we are almost there, he said.
“What about about my friends?” I blurted out.
“Your friends? There was nobody with you. It was just you.”
“No, there were two people with me. My friends, we were walking together.”
I had no idea, so I did not respond. I couldn’t remember. But I was sure there were two people with me.
So, I insisted like a petulant child. “My friends were with me, two guys.”
“Calm down, you are not in the condition to about anybody now. We are almost at the station and then we’ll go to the hospital.
“We are Not at the HOSPITAL? Oh I am going to die.”
There were two guys with me, my friends. What happened to them?”
“Just save your strength, we are almost there.”
I must sound crazy was my thought. He thought I was hallucinating or going crazy. Maybe I am.
Maybe this is all a bad dream and I would wake up and everything would be fine. I just need to calm down, truly.
His next question confirmed my fear.
“Where do you live? Do you remember your house?”
I did not answer, my only thought then was what had happened to my friends and why he thought I was not sane.
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I went out for a walk in my new neighbourhood to get acquainted with the natives and was starting to relish my new freedom from the series of domestic violence, courtesy of my father when I came across Abiodun.
Abeycity, as almost everyone in Under Powerline called him before his before demise few years afterwards.
My grandmother’s rented apartment was located at one of the notable area in Under Powerline, a few minutes walk will get you to where Abeycity lived if you take the shortcut.
He stood outside his parents house that afternoon glaring at me as I was walking towards him a couple of yards away starting to like this new environment.
I noticed the hostility in his glare but chose to ignore it as I walked past him.
He made a grunt and I turned to know what his problem was from quite a reasonable distance.
He was laughing impishly when I made a quizzical face which I shrugged off as a dumb joke bullies make probably because we were age mates or a year ahead of me because he was a bit taller than I was then.
“Hey” he said. He was holding a stone the size of a glutton’s morsel and flung it at me before I had the chance to even comprehend his intention.
The stone hit me slightly above my left eye brow with what I later termed ” Dexterous Accuracy.
I was disoriented at the moment as my hand pressed the bruised flesh.
The mood changed quickly when blood began to ooze out of the cut down the left side of my face like a leaking faucet.
Upon seeing the blood from where he stood, he bolted and jumped on the available little path exit at his right side and I dashed after him.
Abeycity was Schizophrenic but I didn’t know that until later. I chased him to every nook and cranny of the community with my blood masked face.
He was running as fast as he could and I was surprised I could keep up with him even though he was a good runner.
He finally went back to his house to save himself from my wrath but got disappointed when I finally caught up with him the same place we met and was on him in a few seconds.
I tried so hard to disfigure his face more than what he did to mine but couldn’t because his father came out and pulled me away from him.
He was hospitable and humble despite my mother and grandmother’s perpetual bickering that day.
Time passed as I began to subconsciously admire Abeycity’s crafty endeavours.
He was very talented at his age he could make any monument from home materials.
Some of the tools and toys he made then were Spindles, toy cars, dolls and so on.
Most of these were made from cassette recorders, broomsticks, soda bottle caps, rubbers, threads and so on.
He never had a friend in the neighbourhood, no parents wanted their children to mingle with a mad boy.
What we believe then was that there was a demonic spell on him from birth and people with his condition shouldn’t mingle with normal people.
When people like him bite a normal person, the demonic spell would be transmitted to the victim. That was our believe then.
I got to understand eventually hoe superstition has ruined a lot of lives and ignorance is an unbridled malady in our society.
If only I had known it was just a scientifically proven mental condition. Abeycity was hardly violent then.
He was a blessing but we rejected because of his difference.
If they had looked beyond Abeycity’s condition, his legacy might have lived on.
It would have been more than that of a menace to the society.
But his death was like a big relief for everyone.
The society still bask in ignorance even with a vast and available knowledge a click away, they just can’t just see the good in every anomaly.