Sometimes, you barely feel it breathe, though it fills out the breadth of your being. Other times, it’s merely a voice in your ears; calling, clanging, clutching the faith in this fate; this calling. This path you’re following, waiting on the sun of fulfillment to glisten the sky of your fond, teenage aspiration.
You fall in love in your teenage years, and love brings you here, to this apt place, this theatre of threats, to this place that wears the cologne of death and life, to this ten-bedded emergency room of the state hospital.
This growling night carries with it eerie totems. Your soul knows it. Your body feels it. Your spirit senses it.
It’s 12 midnight. Fauzia is a 13 year old sickle cell patient who has been stable in the ward prior to this time. Then she starts to scream like the siren on a hearse, writhing with pains like a firefly that brushes its wing against a burning wick of a lamp. You don’t want Fauzia to merry with your cocktail of analgesics again. You don’t want to make her miserable with pentazocine. You sigh and a surge of pent-up tears tear through your eyes.
Jaiz is only 6 months when his mum died. His aged grandmother labours with bated breath to keep him mum as he cries and disquiets the ward. He whimpers now, like a surrendered cow nearing the slaughter slab; eyes smouldering, feet fetter together. You wonder why he cries inconsolably. His grandmother grins and asks you, “My daughter, don’t you think he misses his mum?”
Samuel slips steeply into a scary altered sensorium. He says he sees death drape in black and red coloured cloak, a short dagger in his hand. He dodges the dagger as death wields it. He shows it by bending and lifting his head and using the edge of his right arm to block imaginary assaults. He shouts at you: “Doctor, death is in your direction. Dash out of here, don’t dare death!” His pun intrigues you like his unexpected delirium. The question keeps thronging in your head, “Why? Why is he having this delirium?”
“It’s not fun!” He warns you. He continues, now, quoting the Bible: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” You pick it from him and say in your heart, “For You’re with me, Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”
You tell the nurse to rein him in with 2.5mg of diazepam.
The door to your call room opens to collect you in. You hit your left foot on a strip of wood at the entrance and nearly sprawl on the floor.
Invisible strands of cobweb caress your face after you part the curtains.
You whisper immediately, “Jesus.”
The bulb announces the arrival of electricity with a white glint.
A wall gecko creeps behind the tuft of the window’s curtain. The light left.
All the myths mother has told you come afresh and they make sleep slip from your mind. You close your eyes to appease sleep.
A rage of bangs comes on your door. 3:00am. It is still dark. You grumble, “What sort of emergency is this?”
A girl with high fever, cough and difficulty with breathing writhes on the couch. You ask, walking backwards, trying to feel your pocket for your rosary. “Has she been to Lagos, Abuja or Kano lately?” Lagos is the epicentre of the raging coronavirus.
You grab a bead of your rosary with your pocket like a piece of a boulder. You lips mutter, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Your delirious patient makes a loud, unusual snore. The girl’s mother weighs the loud silence in the emergency room. Your heart seems to stop. She nods slowly, and says, “No, she hasn’t.”
Adesina Ajala has works in Brave Voices Poetry Journal, Writers Space Africa, The Wild Word, Opinion Nigeria, NMA MediNews, The Quills, Featiler Rays, Eboquills, Praxis, Parousia, Libretto, AFAS Review, The Heart of Flesh, The Shallow Tales Review, The Arts-Muse-Fair and elsewhere. He was co-winner TSWF Writers Prize(2018), winner Freedom Voices Poetry Writing Prize(2019), winner Splendours of Dawn Poetry Foundation (January, 2020), second runner-up Shuzia Creative Writing Contest (3rd Edition). He is presently shortlisted for the Naija Pidgin Worldwide Essay Writing Contest. Adesina shares his time between Creative Writing and treating sick children as a medical doctor in the hospital. He’s on Instagram and Twitter as @adesina_ajala.