It was not the usual bang, bang, bang that I had experienced once in a while over the past few months. This headache was certainly different and threatened to destroy any male ego I had left, it was a combination of bangs, vibrations, thumps and any other sound that exacerbated my brain cells plight.
It was so bad that I could not make conversation with my roommates, Tunde had asked earlier if I was hungry and I had struggled to provide him with a reply, not that I did not have a reply but I had been shocked. Tunde asking if I wanted to eat? Truth be told, I was hungry but then I had no appetite, I did not understand how I felt hungry but did not find any meal fascinating, it was not as if I had all the meals to my disposal anyways.
Tunde had eventually gotten me bread and tea that afternoon and that had been a greater shocker. The tea I had consumed with much ease but it had been a great struggle trying to take the bread, this was not me. My mother certainly would find it unbelievable if she saw me struggling to finish just seven slices of bread, my head pounded the more as I thought of my mother, now is not a good time to go into details on that.
I had an empty cup before me and five slices of bread, okay not technically five but more or less four and half when Tunde entered and threw a nylon at me which landed directly in front of my face. I was about to find out what the content was even though somewhere in my mind I had sniffed it already.
Here’s another thing I forgot to mention, I hate drugs, even the nicest of them like the orange coloured vitamin C did not appeal to me. And what made it worse was the fact that I could smell these substances and they made me sick.
Tunde’s voice broke into my thoughts, “Take the drug when you finish eating, the pharmacist said you’ll take another tablet today eight hours after.”
As much as I did not like the idea of swallowing pills, I mouthed a “thank you,” to my roommate who was strangely being generous.
“Just do and get well soon. Remember you have a test nextweek friday.” Tunde said.
What? I shrieked and I don’t know how it connected with my central nervous system but it worsened the headache. I had totally forgotten the test, I’ve omitted several important information that you need to know.
Who am I?
I am Anthony Fiyinfoluwa Akinyemi, the first child of my parents who currently decided to get divorced, I’m a medical student studying pharmacology and currently in my second year.
My relationship status?
Well it’s complicated, complicated is even a mild word to describe what my relationship entails.
Let’s forget my personal information and get back on track, shall we?
Now where were we?
We actually wrote this test last week but it had been a terrible case of ‘F over the board’. I had scored eight marks out of thirty while the highest had been twelve over thirty. The course coordinator had decided to show the class mercy by having a rerun of the test and he had basically threatened those who would score lower than sixty percent. Trust me! You do not want to know what the threat was.
To study well for the test, I had to be fit and healthy. I opened the nylon and brought out the pack of Lonart. I scrunched my nose in disgust as the torture of the pills going into my mouth came knocking. I took out a tablet and closed my eyes while imagining different possible pleasant scenarios that would make the herculean task before me simplified.
It was not working. I opened the pure water satchet and gulped a little. Even water tasted strange as the droplets greeted my tongue, I threw the tablet in with the small quantity of water left in my mouth before adding more water, after finishing one satchet of pure water, to my utter dismay I discovered I had not swallowed the tablet. I sniffed the catarrh that was gathering at my nostrils before stretching to get a new satchet of water in front of my locker.
This time I had almost drank half when I realised I had swallowed the pill.
I shrieked as I discovered Tunde had also gotten paracetamol tablets, Oh no! I took out two tablets and placed them in the metallic spoon I had used in drinking tea, on adding some water, I ensured I made a solution of the tablets before gulping my very own paracetamol syrup, I used the remaining water in the satchet to clean up every medicinal debris from my mouth.
There was no motivation to shout eureka this time. All that mattered was that the pills were in my system. I unlocked my phone to view the time, eight hours later would be approximately 8:30pm, eight hours where I would have to face the ordeal of swallowing more pills.
-NINE HOURS LATER-
You’re probably wondering how I spent the last nine hours, well I’d give you briefings on that. I tried sleeping but the catarrh and headache made it impossible, so let’s just say I’ve been awake ever since but that’s not just it. I think my fever has subsided but I’m still cold, the catarrh is still there and the headache. Oh! I just can’t describe how frustrating it is.
I’ve received calls from a few friends, how they got to know I was sick still remains a mystery to me? I tried chatting on my phone but the light from the screen worsened the situation and I had left the phone connected to the charger ever since.
So what had I done in the past nine hours? A lot of reflections, on my life, so much details I do not think you’d be interested in. But there is certainly one detail I’d love you to know, I had been scared and had dreaded 8:30pm, somehow I had wished the clock would just skip that time but alas it came and I had to take the medicines again.
Unfortunately for me, Tunde and my other nine roommates were in the room. Yes you read right, we are eleven. Now eleven is not the big deal, but it becomes a big deal when eleven students share a room that is meant to accommodate four students and it becomes a bigger deal when the room is so small and at the same time infested with bedbugs.
Why did I refer to my roommates presence as a misfortune? Because Tunde had reminded me of the drugs at 8pm, and I had told him I’d take them thirty minutes later. The trouble however was that all of them excluding Jimoh who had been reading his Quran had reminded me when it was exactly 8:30pm. How was I supposed to just take the pills when I had them staring at me like that? I had intentionally lied that I had no drinking water and one of the guys had handed me a satchet of water. I felt like a sheep being taken to the slaughter, those moments will be forever be engraved in my head. I certainly would not forget them in a hurry, the few minutes the three tablets had spent in my mouth had felt like several hours of torture but I had eventually swallowed the pills and the guys had not even hailed me. Did they really think this was not a big deal?
Later that night as I struggled to sleep. Yes! I said it, struggled. Because it was truly a struggle. My head still ached, it had probably worsened as I had been unable to sleep during the day, the catarrh was still there. The plus however was that I was no longer cold and I had no fever.
I took a glance at my room and observed as my roommates slept on the floor with the difficulty of spotting a free space on the floor, nobody used the top bunks and the beds on the lowerbunks were usually shared by two people while the others slept on the mattresses which lay on the floor. Today nobody was sharing the bed with me, they were probably being nice since I was sick or they were probably avoiding the chances of me ruining their night by throwing up while asleep.
Talk about being asleep, it was not seeming easy. I had closed my eyes severally trying to cajole myself to sleep but it had been difficult. I had exhausted the second tissue roll I had bought earlier during the day because of this catarrh and over the past ten minutes I had practically blown my nose up to twenty times.
Okay, I might have exaggerated and maybe not, what made it more annoying was the fact that the edges of my nostrils were becoming sore, there were times that I would blow into the tissue after so much discomfort only to be greeted by a little dampness and I mean very minute. Now how would anyone sleep if they had catarrh this bad?
Did I mention that my suspicion was confirmed later during the day? I guess I did not. During the period where I had decided to charge my phone as my eyes could not tolerate the light from the screen which was worsening the headache, Tunde had walked into the room and I had seized that moment to thank my benefactor. Come on! Free lunch and free medication from someone who was not obligated to such duties? The dude deserved a thank you. After I had thanked him and chipped in some prayers, Tunde had merely laughed before replying, “Oga better get quick on time and then you’ll refund my money.”
I had almost shouted, ‘Mo so na,’ translated as ‘I thought as much’. There was no way this roommate and classmate of mine would have transformed to be so nice.
Back to the present, as I threw the used tissue paper into the drug nylon that had become the recipient of the used tissues, I took a look at the time on my phone, it was almost midnight and I still had not slept.
Okay, unlike my other roommates who slept and woke up later in the morning and I mean really early in the mornings, I was a late sleeper. So anyone would wonder why I was bothered by the fact that I had not been able to sleep. Whenever I slept by one am then it meant I had gone to bed early, my usual sleeping time was between two am and four am and those were the periods my roommates chose to wake from their slumber. The reason I was worried about my sleeplessness was because I knew I was under the weather and adding insomnia to the other issues I was still battling with was not such a nice picture.
I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, I was not going to think about anything this time, I was not going to give the catarrh disturbing me an audience, all I was going to do was sleep.
If you’re probably waiting for me to tell you how lovely my sleep was and describe the kind of dreams I had, then you might want to have a rethink as I was yet to sleep.
Closing my eyes for some minutes had been cool but keeping the thoughts away had not been fairly easy. I had spent God knows how long trying to sleep and yet I had not gotten to sleep. My head was still pounding and I had eventually resorted to taking care of the catarrh.
What kind of illness was this that would not even allow me sleep? I did not want this kind of experience ever again, I could not talk or gist with people due to the soreness I felt in my throat, I could not chat with friends on my bbm and whatsapp, I could not even browse the internet and access my favourite websites because my eyes and my phone screen were not on speaking terms at the moment. I was finding it difficult to eat, I had managed to eat the remaining slices of bread earlier in the evening. Who would believe that Anthony was having difficulties eating few slices of bread? I don’t mean to brag but I had singlehandedly finished a big loaf of bread, you know those big loaf of slice bread they sell in almost every supermarket and stall in Nigeria. Okay, maybe I just bragged but seriously I once finished it when my younger brother had dared me, Michael had claimed that I could not finish it but I had proved him wrong when I ate everything even the malnourished slice commonly called ‘ipako’ used to cover or protect the other healthy slices.
So imagine someone who had made such a feat and balanced it with a chilled bottle of coke struggling to eat seven slices of bread. Seven slices! I really feel like crying. If you think food is what hurts me more, you got another one coming. It’s the nauseating pills that I have to take for the next two days, nobody understands my hatred for drugs except my family. They understand and that was why mum would always insist that the nurses give me an injection instead, I have taken more paracetamol injections in my life than I have swallowed paracetamol tablets. Call me weird but I remain Anthony.
I checked the time to discover that it is midnight already and I was yet to sleep, I really needed to sleep, I want to but it seemed as if my body had gotten used to the late nights I used to keep, not sleeping meant I was not giving my body the opportunity to rest.
I thought I had enough problems but my woes were only beginning, the thoughts that came knocking were all it took to aggravate the situation.
Calm down, I will tell you.
These were thoughts that were more or less questions, it was as if someone was firing these bulleted questions into my head and heart simultaneously and you guessed right, it worsened my headache while equally frightening me.
The thoughts or rather the questions were such that they made me dread sleep at that moment. Need I remind you that my headache had not exactly worsened or alleviated, as far as I was concerned it was still the same. Imagine while having a headache as severe as mine and the best thing your subconscious does is to make you wonder if this isn’t your last night on earth.
Sounds silly but if you were in my shoes you’d discover it’s albeit frightening, as in a truck load of scary shit.
What if I slept and never woke up?
That was the question that kept ringing in my head as I struggled with my headache and insomnia.
Now tell me how that question would not frighten me? Especially when I knew I was this ill.
I smiled and covered my face with my palms, it was impossible for me to die, come on! Let’s face facts. I was just twenty, still an undergraduate, not yet married, had no children yet, was yet to fly in an airplane, yet to build my own house, had no car, had not gotten my Ph.D and I could go on and on.
I still had dreams so this was definitely not my last night on earth, but my subconscious was crazier than I thought and was quick to list about five youths who had died without even making it to the university, it did not stop there but had gone on to mention other folks in my university who had died including a final year student who died three months after he graduated with a first class.
So what made me think I could not die? my subconscious finally quizzed. I shivered at the thought, dying was not an option at the moment. I still had a lot of unfinished business.
If I died, that meant I would die without having ever reconciled with mum and dad, I had been keeping malice with them ever since dad and mum introduced me to their new partners barely two months after they decided to get a divorce, I had been angry that dad was now seeing Mrs Amao who had taught me mathematics back in secondary school but that anger had graduated into fury when mum also introduced Mr Fawehinmi my economics teacher as her date. I had stopped talking to both of them ever since and thank goodnes I still got my allowance but I could not remember the last time I conversed with my parents, either through the phone or on physical terms.
I certainly did not want to die without asking for my parents forgiveness and pleading that they come back together.
Secondly there was Funmi. Remember when I said my relationship was complicated? Well Funmi happens to be my friend, she’s in my school but I’m a year ahead of her and she’s studying pharmacy.
I like Funmi, not in the usual way you like all your friends but you know how you like someone of the opposite sex. I’m not speaking lust here, I like this girl so much that I practically daydream that we get married and give birth to twins. Adorable twins that have my cheeks and have her eyes. But that’s not the problem, the problem was that Funmi had a boyfriend.
And that was not the only problem, her boyfriend was cheating on her. You might be wondering why I chose to keep Funmi in the dark, the thing is Funmi’s mum is a single parent who had issues with Funmi’s father and Funmi does not totally like the idea of relationships, she got into this relationship because of her friends and she has mentioned that whenever she discovers that her boo is cheating on her, she would sign out of everything that had to do with relationships. She would either remain celibate for life or would end up being a single mother like her mother.
Now where does that leave me? Funmi would not date me or any other person and I wanted to marry this girl.
The reason her scum of a boyfriend who happens to be a third year student of my school is cheating on her is simply because he is a dog who can not control himself although he likes to blame it on the fact that Funmi insists on maintaining her virginity.
If I die, how do I confess my feelings and the secrets to Funmi? I know she’d be pissed that I kept the secret about her cheating boyfriend from her but at least she deserves to know.
What about my siblings? I still had a lot to teach Bimpe and Michael, at least as their big brother I still had to protect Bimpe from guys who would do anything just to scavenge innocent females, well even if Bimpe is not innocent, I still have to try and protect her, right?
And Michael still had lots to learn from his big brother. I just could not die.
‘You think you can not die, but what if this is your last night? What if that bread and tea was your last meal? What if you left without graduating? What if you slept and never woke?’ My subconscious continued.
Now this was crazy! I shrieked and clunged my pillow to my chest, mum would ask me to pray in situations like this. “Lord forgive me for every sin, the times I lied, cheated, bragged, hated, kept malice, every bad thing I have done please forgive me and Lord give me long life, that I live long to see my grandchildren and to make my parents proud in Jesus name.” I quickly prayed.
Everything is dark, I have no idea what is going on. I feel light, my head feels light but it’s still dark. I smell something but I can’t figure out what it is. Someone touches me and I hear mutterings.
What was happening? Why was I perceiving the smell of mammalian skin being roasted? Was I in hell? Was I dead? Who touched me? Why was I not given a second chance? I felt like crying when I summoned courage to ask.
“Please, where am I?”
“London,” came the reply.
London? How could London smell like animal skin was being burnt? And how did I get to London from my crowded room in Nigeria?
I got a tap on my shoulder, “Ode, wake up jare. London ko! Liberia ni.” Tunde shouted while laughing.
I opened my eyes to find my roommates around me. I saw Jimoh and two other guys eating suya, so that was the roasted smell I had smelt.
I felt stupid, “good morning,” I greeted while trying to sit up, I felt so weak that sitting up was such a big deal.
“Aboki, it’s 7pm. We were scared you would never wake from your sleep.” One of the guys replied.
What? 7pm? I took my phone and checked the time, it was truly a few minutes past seven. I had slept for over twelve hours. My headache was gone, and my nose felt dry too. The smell of the suya was getting stronger and all I wanted to do was chew as many pieces that would grace my mouth.
“Please give me suya,” I begged.
The guys laughed before I was handed the suya wrapper containing about four pieces of meat with onions and pepper, I ate it hurriedly and somewhere in my heart I knew the appetite lacking Anthony was gone and the food monger was back.
I beamed with smiles as I looked at the guys in my room while thanking them for the suya, they probably would think I was excited because of the food but I knew better.
I was excited because I did not have to worry about things I should have done before I died, there and then I was going to do it all.
Make peace with my parents topping the chart, confess everything to Funmi, be a better brother to my siblings, a better person to all around me.
I would be a better Anthony.
I forgot two things, I would study well for the test I had next week and most importantly I’d take my pills.
I did not want this kind of drama in the near future.
Download this book to read offline at your convenience. And share with friends too.