Connect with us

Advertisement

News

BN Prose: Changing Clouds by Adeola Adeyemo

Published

 on

The ancient city of Ibadan didn’t seem to notice the day my first son, Adewale, died. The city was as busy as ever. Cloudless skies hung blue above the city as people went about their business. In the compound beside the hospital where my son died, a couple was being joined in a very loud traditional wedding ceremony.

The sounds coming from their loudspeakers almost drowned the doctor’s voice when he came to tell Dele and I the news. When he said “I’m sorry”, it sounded like “I’m coming”, but he still stood there and I wondered what he meant. But when he said “He is dead”, the words rang clearly and my sorrow, heavier than my weight, fell together with a thud on the cold terrazzo floor. 

As we left the hospital hours later in the rickety station wagon, Baba Femi, our landlord was kind enough to lend us, I wondered why the people on the streets didn’t notice that my precious son had just departed this world. They just carried on as if nothing happened. One bright-eyed boy, about the same age as Adewale, thrust a loaf of bread in my face but quickly retrieved it when he saw the look on my face.

“Gbemisola, Gbemisola!” Dele called beside me. I turned to look at him. He hadn’t cried yet but I knew the tears hung heavy in his eyes and would fall soon. He preferred to cry when he was praying.

“Maybe we should take all the children to the mountain this time,” he said, turning to look at me briefly. “We need to cast out the familiar spirits that have been disturbing them.”

Dele hadn’t always been religious; in fact, he had been too proud to succumb to God when I first met him. As a school teacher, he felt he knew everything. Especially, more than the ‘preachers who prayed out loud for people and then begged for money’, that was the way  he described them.

I recalled what attracted him to me fifteen years ago. I had just completed my secondary school and was trying to make a decision between hair dressing and tailoring. ‘Fashion designing’, as is the popular term for it today. But after meeting Dele at a party, which I had snuck out to attend, all thoughts of fashion vanished. He had this aura of confidence around him and I hung on his every word.

He wanted me to be a nurse, and a nurse is what I became. Not that I went to any nursing school. Dele, with all his big words couldn’t afford to send me to school, and I was soon pregnant with Adewale. So between breastfeeding one child and getting pregnant for another, I learnt how to give injections at a local hospital and recommend Paracetamol and Chloroquine for a patient with malaria.

But when the children started falling sick and the doctors could not understand what was wrong with them, he listened to the preacher from the Apostolic church who rang his bell on the street every morning.

“Familiar spirits are disturbing your children,” the preacher said after praying rigorously for over an hour in our dingy one-room apartment. “You need to fast and pray on the mountain to chase them out.”

Dele and I took turns to go to the mountain to pray for them, but it seemed the longer we prayed, the more they fell sick. Sometimes they all fell sick at the same time and I wished dearly that I could take their pain, and they, my strength. My children were young, but they looked older than their ages. All four were frail, all four were slow, and I began to wonder if God had put a curse on me.

“We must pray harder.” Dele said beside me, his voice sounding very far away. “We must not relent.” He sounded just like the preacher with the loud bell.

And so five months after Adewale’s burial, we took our children, now three, to the mountain. We left Ibadan for the prayer mountain in Ede, Osun state the day Bolade turned 11, the month Adewale was to clock 14. Three-year old Janet was strapped to my back for most of the journey while seven-year Jide clung to his dad. The rain that poured on that fateful day in July 1990 seemed to be on a vengeance mission and the journey was most uncomfortable for us all.

By the time we got to there, all three of them were sick and didn’t have the strength to climb the mountain. We had to take shelter in a church at the foot of the mountain and I couldn’t decide which was more uncomfortable, the hard benches or the leaking roof.

“I’ll pray for all of you. It’s good that you are here. God will hear our prayers,” Dele said before he left, but his words did not sound reassuring.

Sometime in the middle of the night, as the sounds of many prayers floated down the mountain in different pitches, Bolade cried out of his sleep. “Mummy, my bone, hit my bone, shake my bone,” he cried, clutching his right leg in pain.

This was not the first time or the first child to do this. Dele and I took turns at night when any of them complained of this sort of pain. I couldn’t understand why they wanted us to tap their bone continuously or why they cried when we stopped. But it was what they wanted and we had to oblige. All trace of sleep evaporated as I kept vigil on Bolade’s leg.

When Dele came down from the mountain, he announced that he had a vision. We should leave Ibadan and relocate to Lagos. We had to leave the evil spirits behind and move to a new place.

We left for Lagos without returning to Ibadan and quickly found a single-room apartment in Mushin. Life was hard with all our money spent on rent and drugs, but we managed. For a few months, it seemed all was well, until Jide fell sick. This time around, we went to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), where he was admitted. After examining him and running some tests, the doctor said he wanted to run some tests on Dele, the other children, and I.

Dele replied the doctor quickly. “We don’t have HIV. We’ve already done the test and we are negative.”

The doctor, a young, round man just fresh from medical school replied Dele like he was talking to a child. “Do you know your genotype?”

The tests revealed that Dele and I were AS, carriers of Sickle Cell and our three children were SS, sicklers. After the doctor explained to us why our children were SS and the implications of it, I felt both angry and relieved. Angry that our ignorance was the cause of our children’s problems and relieved to finally know what was wrong with them.

But my relief did not last long. Jide developed more and more complications and ended up spending three months at the hospital. From one blood transfusion to another, one infection to another, he became so weak until he could take no more.

One Sunday evening, after my son’s body had been drained of all strength, he breathed his last. This time around, the clouds that hung above the city noticed and cried heavily with me.

Photo Credit: Northoflagosfiles.com

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited genetic condition in which there’s an abnormality in haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells. People with sickle cell anaemia have a type of haemoglobin known as sickle haemoglobin (HbS), which is different from normal haemoglobin (HbA). They are then less able to squeeze through small blood vessels. These small blood vessels easily become blocked, preventing oxygen from getting through and causing severe pain and damage to organs.  For more information on this condition, as well as information on support groups, advisory services and treatment, please see the following links; www.sicklecellfoundation.com and www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/sicklecell1.shtml

 

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at www.deolascope.blogspot.com

56 Comments

  1. Temi

    September 5, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Very appropriate post as this is sickle cell awareness month! I hope our generation become more aware of this disease. It’s preventable!

    • Tiki

      September 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but it aint preventable (given that it is genetic), it’s avoidable. Couples, get tested before you have kids! There’s enough suffering in the world as it is.

    • 2 kobo

      September 6, 2011 at 12:22 am

      preventable, avoidable same thing

    • oh for f#ck sake

      September 6, 2011 at 11:36 am

      ummm if you’re avoiding it, you’re preventing it… why too much grammar

  2. Chubby cheeks

    September 5, 2011 at 7:28 am

    hmmmm…tears rolling down my eyes

  3. Chuku nyerem aka ka m nyere mmadu ibe m aka

    September 5, 2011 at 8:03 am

    The Bible said it and popular culture echoes it. Ignorance is as much a killer as is a fully loaded gun in the hands of one ready to shoot. Ignorance does not mean stupidity. My parents knew about the SS condition & previous a test had been negative but when my sis began having seriosu pains one night we were in the village, my parents rushed her to the hosital and tests revealed she was SS. We knew it wasn’t a death sentence so we had hope. We would do all we can. The doc recommended iron rich foods and our love affair with ‘ugu’ became intensified. Years later, and 22yrs old, she’s only been admitted once with a severe attack. I’ve come across many young people who have crisis so bad they give them drugs usually given to people who have severe post-op pain and very frequently too. Some people have it worse than others. In all, we must educate ourselves and those around us. Some people will say “if we are both AS, then its bye bye” others will say “I will marry but no children”. Some others will wish it away and blindly fall into problems. Others may be lucky and escape it. Sickle cell is treatable; not yet curable but with biotechnology we may be closer to a cure than we can imagine. Till then, do your homework, share your knowledge with those around you and do what you can to reach those who are wallowing in ignorance; pray if that’s all you can do. My mother would say “ignorance wu oria”. Let’s spread healing.
    BellaNaija pls post this one. I’ve had some go missing. Thank you.

  4. hauwa b.

    September 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I thank God for his grace upon my family cos both my parents are AS and neither my brother or i are SS. I definitely wont risk it.
    beautiful writing

  5. Demmy

    September 5, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Very emotional story. Thre should be awareness campaigns on this topic. I’m practically crying! 🙁

  6. chichi

    September 5, 2011 at 8:59 am

    My friend is an AS is about getting married to an AS dude..I’m tired of talking before it would be like I’m a badbelle….I’m going to send this link to her!!

  7. adayus

    September 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Very nice and touching story, and I think the solution to this problem is for people knowing their genotype before getting married, so an AS person wuld marry an AA person so that the sickel cell genetic condition could be reduced.

  8. adayus

    September 5, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I also wanted to ask how do I get stories to be posted on bellanaija?, I write and I would like my stories to be posted for many people to see

  9. dewowo

    September 5, 2011 at 9:12 am

    lol @ “ignorance wu oria”… ezigbom oria.
    that said, a friend just discovered last week that he is AS. and i was so sorry 4 him. he’s just knowing his genotype & blood group after 3 decades alive. Genotype & Blood Group compatibility should be a password for any relationship maturing into the ‘other’ level or both ‘ll live their lives miserably. i no fit shout!

  10. From one writer to another

    September 5, 2011 at 10:04 am

    This story would have been better if it wasn’t too preachy and didactic. It was obviously written with the sole aim of educating the public about the danger of not knowing their genotype, and the pain of sickle cell anaemia. Adeola, you are a promising writer, but to write good fiction, the characters, not the plot or the theme(s), should drive the story. Meaning should be implied, not forced or obviously stated. A writer has to be subjective no matter how passionate they are about a topic. Please accept my amateur constructive criticism in good faith. All the best with your writing.

    • Aibee

      September 5, 2011 at 11:54 am

      I think you meant to say a writwer should be ‘objective’.

    • Ready

      September 29, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Perhaps the writer was focused on the message, and wasn’t trying to be objective as this is Sickle cell awareness month. Also, I don’t subscribe to the argument of a writer being objective, a journalist should be objective as he/she is reporting facts, but writing prose/poetry is from a person’s point of view, hence you can be as passionate as you want. If of course, that’s what you want.

  11. http://yehni.blogspot.com

    September 5, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Very touching Story! I think I have to do some research about sickle cell , because I did not even know that it was preventable, as @Temi said!

  12. teebaby

    September 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

    i had a sister that was a carrier, but what i don’t understand is that out of the 8 children my parents had, she was the only carrier of the gene. she died at 22yrs we were all happy because the pain is not what one can explain. She went through so much pains and could not do what others do in other not to break down and have crisis. It was painful when we lost her but we were happy for her that she will finally rest from pains. Couples should do the necessary test before getting married, there is no medicine after death.” Ignorant is not a defence.”

    • dColourCouture

      September 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      The probability of two couples with genotype of AS giving birth to a baby with genotype SS is 1in4. That is the reasons why all your other siblings did not have SS genotype. Its all down to probability.

    • niyoo

      September 7, 2011 at 11:05 am

      A carrier is AS and hence can’t die from sickle cell. Its either you have sickle cell SS; carrier AS or have normal haemoglobin AA.
      Being a carrier does not cause any sickness/illness.

  13. Nomy

    September 5, 2011 at 10:57 am

    BN Prose, I bow, i always always bow!

  14. Lucy

    September 5, 2011 at 10:57 am

    What a sad story. I think more awareness needs to be created concerning this deadly disease..

  15. Mimi

    September 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

    This story brought tears to my eyes. I have known I was AS since the age of 8. I broke up with a boyfriend when I found out we were both AS. I am not married to a guy who is AA. Once we started dating, I had to ask him what his blood group was. He actually didnt know so I made him do a test. At that point I entered the relationship because I knew he was someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with ( he was an ex from Uni).

    I personally feel it is not worth risking the health of your unborn kids and thinking love or religion would see you through. I have heard of some Christians who are both AS marrying and trusting God that their kids would not be SS. I would not recommend that. I know that with God all things are possible, but what if having an SS kid is a trial the family is to face? I would not advice an AS or SS person to marry another AS for the sake of love. There was an SS girl in my secondary school who used to scream abuses and insults at her parents during her crisis. She felt it was their fault she was SS as they did not find out their genotype before marrying.

  16. tite

    September 5, 2011 at 11:43 am

    There is AC,almost the same thing as AS.wisdom is profitable to direct. knowledge is power.

    • dewowo

      September 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      preach it Pastor tite

    • Tiki

      September 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      What’s AC?

  17. cooldeter

    September 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    nice and touching write up

  18. Lue

    September 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    oooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwh………………..so sad

  19. Onyx

    September 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Good story & I commend the effort to raise awareness about the importance of ascertaining genotype.

    BN, please edit articles carefully, particularly the prose because you never know when a literary scout will come by, on the lookout for some fresh writing. Case in point – “By the time we got to there”.

  20. Biodun

    September 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Hmm holes holes holes..i understand this story is supposed to raise awareness on the Sickle Cell Disease however, i’m not happy with your portrayal of Ibadan as some village without good healthcare. Mind you, University College Hospital (UCH) is the biggest and best hospital and is located is Ibadan. There are plenty of hospitals in the ancient city capable of diagnosing SS anaemia. Perhaps you should have used a proper village in your story. #justsaying

  21. Bim

    September 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    You are right Tite, there is also SC. A lot of people dont know this. If you are AS and you marry someone that is AC, you might end up with a child that is SC, which is similar to SS.

  22. Drpeperempe

    September 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Nice story! There are also other types of sickle cells e.g the C where patients have AC or SC blood groups! Pls get yourselves checked!

  23. cathy

    September 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    it got me close to tears, we just have to post such to create more awareness. nice one BN

  24. OmogeNaija

    September 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I totally relate with this, I have and Ex who would not leave me alone because I said I couldnt go on cos both of us are AS, He asked me where my faith is, I told him knowing both of us are AS and still going ahead to get married is like putting God to a test e.g. you see a ditch before you, take a plunge and still tell God, I dont want to fall o…. The pains they suffer is agonising, I had a beautiful friend in my Queen’s School days, Adetoro Adepoju who battled it for 20something years, I can’t bring a child to the world knowing it would suffer.

  25. Effect

    September 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    The probability of having an SS child is one in four. It is uncommon to have all four with sickle cell.

    However, it is a good eye opener for people who are getting involved sexually to be highly considerate of this. The effects of having a sickle cell child is very emotional and the pressure is high mentally and financially.

    For those who already have, not sure how many are Christians but God does perform miracles. I have cousins who are sickle cell and they are still sickle cell but they have not fallen ill for many years now or rather no major crisis.

    • niyoo

      September 7, 2011 at 11:09 am

      Where both parents are carriers, each pregnancy carries the 1:4 risk; not d misconception that for every 4 children; 1 will be SS. They may have an even distribution or all AA or SS. What some couples do is check when the woman is pregnant; and if she’s SS, terminate d pregnancy.
      Two SS being parents is obviously inadvisable. i saw a post about both parents being SS not translating to them having all SS. If both of u are AA/SS all ur kids will be AA/SS respectivley

  26. Wealth Adebayo

    September 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Wow! What can i say? Very touching. But is it possible for two sickle cell carriers to have all the children born with sickle cell (SS) I don’t think so.

    • Miss T

      September 11, 2011 at 6:42 am

      Yes, if they are that unfortunate.

  27. thehelp

    September 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    i had a childhood friend who died from this dieases when we were 7. they are 5 of them in their house and 3 out of the 5 kids are sicklers. her first sibling was an AA, she was the second hence the AS, then her younger brother the 3rd one AS, her little sister the 4th one SS and finally her last brother SS. it was sad cus when she died, i didnt even know what was going on until her younger sister became very sick, that was when i was 11 and my dad started telling us abt this sickness it dawned on me why she died. because the dad was the DPO in our city they went everywhere for treatment from hospitals to herbalists. the mom even became a herbalist herself all in the name of saving her kid bt all to no avail. the little girl died at the age of 9 and what sucks was she was my lil siters best friend. her youngest brother on the other hand didnt start to walk as a regular kid until he turn 3. it was all like a bad spirit in their family bt as “chuku nyere m aka…..” said “ignorance is a very bad sickness”. since then i came to find out am an AS my younger sister is too….we all swear to be very careful who we’r gonna end up to because of our childhood experience with that sickness. No kid deserve the kinda suffering they go tru and no parent especially mothers deserve to watch her kids in severe pain and eventually die. its jst heart breaking.

  28. thehelp

    September 5, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    i meant to say “she was the second hence the SS….” 🙂

  29. Jade

    September 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    My cousin is a sickler, and he is doing quite well with his disease. I am not saying that he doesnt pay a price, but he is learning to accept it. My toughts, prevent it if u can, but if not, learn about the disease and then decide if it is worth it.

  30. From one writer to another

    September 6, 2011 at 8:41 am

    @ Aibee. Yes, I meant to say objective. Thanks.

  31. zeenie

    September 6, 2011 at 9:24 am

    this really touched me because i lost my younger sister in 2007 and she was sickle cell anaemic…

  32. devina

    September 6, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I know a guy who is sickle cell anaemic.he is over thirty years old now, happily married,and enjoying his life.but her sister who is also a carrier, was not so lucky, as she died few years back.Sometimes, i wonder how this carrier works.God save us!!!

    • Miss T

      September 11, 2011 at 6:49 am

      A carrier (AS) is asymoptomatic and does not get the “disease”. An SS individual actually gets the disease. For varying and also unknown reasons a sibling with the disease survives or fairs better than the another.

  33. Ogo

    September 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Nice writeup! I guess its sending a message to me right now cos I actually just accepted a proposal from my BF & he is AS as I am too…. I have been reading, watching & hearing loads of stories about the SS disease & its scaring me mehnnnn!! But I don’t know how to tell him that”I no do again”…but am thinking, if I say,”I love him” & all.. Will our love still hold water when or if we have SS kids?? I dnt think soo oh!
    God help me!!!

  34. Nifesimi

    September 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    My father and his elder sister were sicklers, i grew up hearing about preventing the sickle cell situation. I’ve had 3 boyfriends that were AS but i had to let them go. Lots of time i’m tempted to just go ahead saying to myself all things were possible with God until i remember the pain of watching someone you love go through so much pain. Yes with God all is possible but wisdom is always profitable to direct.

  35. tmtmtmte

    September 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Just will like to clear the air about some erroneous issues raised here.

    People with genotype AS are said to have the sickle cell trait ie an asymptomatic carrier state.They are heterozygous for the sickle cell gene and they have only about 40 percent of their haemoglobin to be HbS and the rest the normal HbA. Their red cells do not sickle except under very severe conditions e.g. in low oxygen tension( severe hypoxia) so there carrier state will not cause any sickness or kill them.

    For a couple who both have the sickle cell gene as(both being AS), the chances of having an offspring with SS is 25percent( 1 in 4). The probability is for each pregnancy so each time they get pregnancy there’s a 25percent chance of that pregnancy to be SS,no matter what has happened in previous pregnancies. It is said that genetics has no memory, so it is possible for a couple to have all SS, all AS or even all AA. That’s why some people appear luckier than others

    I apologise for the lecture and all gbagauns

  36. NNENNE

    September 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    The answer is simple,” check before U love .”

  37. deedee

    September 7, 2011 at 10:36 am

    10/10 to ‘tmtmtmte’……was jst bout 2 xplain dat…..”d probability is for each pregnancy….”…….mshine ya eyes…ur love must make sense…..DON’T BE STUPID! God be wit us all, AMEN.

  38. 'labisi

    September 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    @Ogo, you can go ahead with the marriage with your bf but make sure you are aware of other options of having babies. There’s IVF, there termination bcos there’s a way doctors can test fetuses in the first trimester to determine their genotype and of course, there’s adoption. I’m sure there are more options so the point is to get yourself educated so you know your options. For our parents, most of then were not aware of the consequences so we cant really blame them because i find it hard to believe that parents will knowingly bring a child into this world knowing they are going to suffer excruciating pains. and for those that do, its selfish of them, plain and simple. I’m pretty sure most of the babies they referred to as “Abiku” or “Ogbanje” were ss babies.

  39. Peju

    September 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Nice BN Prose. @tmtmtmte, u nailed it wit dat xplanation. I hope d public wud read and learn from dis, Love wit sense !

  40. Tcute

    September 8, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I was born with Sickle cell anaemia and for over 20yrs i have lived with the condition, my parents didnt know their genotype even though they were very educated. I have two younger brothers and they are both AS and AA respectively…so i am the only one with the condition. My parents tried everything….hospitals, drugs, white garment churches, candles, anointing oil etc but as you all know there was and is still no cure for the ailment. I could not live and play like any other child, i was shielded and protected from the world (My parents did not want family or friends knowing about the condition,lol). But i never lacked love and my parents never blamed each other, they supported and assissted each other and made sure i was comfortable and did not go through stressful situations. The final straw came when i had a major crises in 2003….i was 20yrs old and usually individual with the disease dont live longer than 21yrs of age. I almost died but i thank God for His love ad seeing me through that crisis. With this in mind, i made up my mind that before the condition will kill me….i would kill it first,lol. I started declaring what God’s Word says about me….i developed an intimate relationship with God like never before, i knew God had a purpose for my life and i was not ready to leave the earth without accomplishing that purpose. This went on for several years until i summoned courage to take another genotype test in the year 2006…..i went with my Dad to our family doctor, all of a sudden my Dad was called into the doctor’s office and he came out weeping, i didnt understand what was going on and my Dad showed me the test results…..my genotype had changed from SS to AS!!!!!!!! At the moment…..i stay in the UK with its very harsh and cold weather, previously my parents were scared about my travelling abroad because of the cold, but now i have braced severe weather conditions, i have seen changes in my body, my tummy that used to be bloated is now flatter, my eyes that was usually yellow is so white now, my fingers and toes that were usually so pale are now pink…. I am 28 years old and enjoying everday life. I am telling my story to give hope to other sufferers…..there is life outside of Sickle Cell. I believe in Miracles and you can also get your miracle if you only believe…..it is a FIGHT OF FAITH!!!!!

    • Damola

      September 12, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      Jesus is lord!

  41. kookaburra

    September 12, 2011 at 1:34 am

    @ tcute, i’m reading ur story and the tears keep gathering; this is a story of faith i thank God for ur life, i want to say but i’m short of words i just have to thank this God again for looking upon u with mercy. For me from now on i’m walking in faith.
    @adeola adeyemo: i love ur writing style, it’s interesting.

  42. sylvia

    November 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    @Tcute…..i’ve learnt so much 4rm your story….Thank GOD 4 ur life..

  43. ama

    January 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

    well what i do is that befor i even start dating someone i ask them their genotype cos im AS.And if they are also AS, then i know its already over before it started

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tangerine Africa

Star Features

css.php