(Photo Credit: Flicker)
For the past two weeks, I’d thought of a girl I met several years ago, a girl who taught me about hope, she once told me that, ‘hope is an endless journey, it never stops because if it does, it ceases to be hope.’
This is a true story:
Roughly around thirty years ago, as I was pushing towards my tenth birthday, my dad moved us into an exclusive neighbourhood, it was an eight bedroom duplex with what we called boys-quarters at the back. It was massive with house-helps and guards posted to the front gate and all sorts of people tending the garden. The house fitted us perfectly, we were a large family of eleven. My mom had nine kids, but even at that, I desperately missed my friends.
I preferred our former house, it was a bungalow in a quiet leafy street where kids could play outside. Our new home was different, everyone I met tried to speak with a posh accent. I was wild at heart at that age, I loved adventures, running around, stealing past guards and walking through the woodlands behind our home, giving my poor parents such grief.
Then one evening in September, the African sun was slowly receding into the clouds, I sniffed the air in contentment as I strolled along the road which led to our home with one of my brothers. A girl my age walked past and waved, she wore a white dress and green sandals, I waved back, stealing one more look. She had the kindest eyes, and a lovely smile. I liked her at once, maybe I’d found a friend at last. Within two weeks we met properly. She lived on the next street, and her dad was in one of those boring clubs my dad frequented, where middle age men drink and exchange business ideas.
Ayo and I became fast friends, if she wasn’t in my house I was in hers. She was extremely beautiful, I nicknamed her ‘china porcelain,’ because my mom had a set of china plates and heaven helped whosoever dared touched the plates, I think I broke one or two though! 🙂
She was very fragile, her pale, pallor skin often gave her an ethereal glow, more like a ghost at times but we still played hard. Sometimes I’d noticed the worried expression on her dad’s face but I ignored it, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t understand why he always seemed so pensive. She was my best friend and I loved her to bits, I didn’t for once think anything could be wrong with her. Then one day I visited her house and saw her sweating on the couch, she looked very ill. I touched her forehead and it was so hot. Her dad came into the living room and walked her to the door. They left for the hospital and I couldn’t sleep well that night.
Ayo stayed in the hospital for two weeks, I was dying to hear news but my parents just told me she would fine. I knew something wasn’t right. It was like that for almost six months, Ayo would be fine for one week, then she would be sick for four. One day in March, we were almost a year in our new home when she came in for a visit. Her eyes were bright and she looked healthy, I sensed she wanted to tell me something and when she did, I was clueless. My best friend had ‘Sickle-Cell Anaemia,’ a terrible disease of the blood. When she left, I went into my dad’s library and rummaging through his vast array of encyclopaedias (there’s nothing like Google then) found information on the disease. What I read was too advanced for my age, but at best, I understood her condition.
Three weeks later, on a hot Friday afternoon, I went to her house and saw her on the bare floor, writhing in pain. This time around, it was serious, she was crying and I held her head in my hands. Her mouth was dry and her eyes were yellow.
‘I’m so sorry.’ I kept muttering under my breath. I think my voice did a little trick and she stopped crying. She managed to sit up and gave me a weak smile.
‘Seyi, don’t ever give up on hope, it’s what kept me going all these years.’ She said and I laughed.
‘You’re just weeks older than me.’ I said, still smiling, I wanted to wish away her illness and pain.
‘If I didn’t have hope, I would have gone, but I stayed for my dad…’ there was silence, ‘and you.’ She added with a twinkle in her eyes. We hugged tightly and I felt a tremor passed through her body.
‘It’s time,’ her dad muttered looking down at us. I felt lost and my heart was beating very fast.
I helped her to her feet and into her dad’s car. Her elder sister stood in the doorway, her ashen face portend sad tidings. I stood beside the car, I wanted to follow her but was too scared. My parents walked in through their gate and spoke tenderly to Ayo’s dad.
That night, my eyes stayed open. The next morning, I dashed to Ayo’s house but the gates were locked. A week later, Ayo was gone. In a way, I was relieved she was no longer in pain, for my ten-year old brain, an ordinary fever is hell compared to the endless pain Ayo endured for her short stay on earth. However, I won’t really remember her for that debilitating illness, I would remember her warmth, faith and hope. She was a girl who believed in hope, and for someone like that, why can’t we have hope?
Although she passed, but I believe she did when she wanted to, she was way older than her years. If she were to be here today, I knew she would still be spreading her message of hope. Thank God for science, people with Sickle cell lived longer and less painful lives now.
Thanks for reading my long story, I try to keep my posts short but I’ve not posted for almost six weeks and I sincerely hope I haven’t bore you. I apologise for my absence, It wasn’t deliberate. I would visit your blogs as much as time permits. I love you guys and I hope you’ll all enjoy the rest of this week.
Much love, always! 🙂