by Chizitere Ojiaka
One hundred and eighty four people. There were one hundred and eighty four people at my funeral that day. Eighty of them were people who were dead and already buried while ninety nine were the living souls who showed up to pay me their last respect.
My family was poor and we lived in a small house in the village. I was the only child of my parents but the cost of taking care of me shot up when I was twelve years old. I started falling very sick and I was always pale, weak and sickly. My parents had no money to take me to a hospital so I kept on getting treated by a local herbal doctor and the sickness got
worse. Dad and mum had spent most of the little money they had on my health yet I didn’t get cured. They couldn’t afford to loose me because I was their only Child and they loved me very much. For most of the time that I was sick, it was the love they ceaselessly showered on me that made me hold on to life.
At the age of thirteen, one of my mother’s secondary school classmates who worked for an NGO heard about my condition and convinced her organization to handle my case. The NGO worked with Children around my age and was set out to help these children with any form of need. I was taken to the city along with my Mum and Dad and admitted into a pediatric clinic immediately I arrived. I had some tests taken and the results showed that I had leukemia.
At the point my health status was declared, it seemed like the light everyone hoped for at the end of the tunnel had just been dimmed. The doctors promised they would do what they can to help me lived longer than I would have if I had
continued with my local medication.
I was placed on antibiotics, blood capsules and some other medications that would help purify my blood. I however had to report to the clinic two times in a week to undergo dialysis for my kidney which had been damaged as a result of the drugs I had taken in the village. The dialysis went on until I got a kidney donor a month later and the NGO sponsored my surgery.
The NGO my mother’s friend worked for blessed my life and that of my entire family with their kindness. My father got a job in the city while my mother offered to stay back at home and look after me. I went to bed every night waiting for the day my death would come. Waiting for death helped me appreciate the life I had and the people in it very much. I was in everyone’s prayers and God had no option than to answer them.
God gave his answer and I died after six years, but I must say I died a happy death. I got more love than I could accommodate for those six long years while the wicked cancer spirits bit my life away slowly. The doctors at the hospital made use of every clinical technology they could to keep me alive. I would have died earlier than I did if I had stayed back in the village feasting on local medicine. My parents were part of my battle and they stood by me and watched my life play scene after scene for those six years. I guess God answered the prayers of everyone the way he wanted to because on the day I died, my mother confirmed she was pregnant a few hours before I passed.
My father had come into my room to tell me but I went into shock, then coma while we were talking. He hadn’t told me about the good news yet. He was about to but I slept away right when he was about to say it.
I was buried after two days and my little sister was there at my funeral too. She was still in my mother’s womb, clothed with amniotic fluid and was the hundredth person at my funeral. Most of the people at the funeral were dressed in black while I wore a pink double breasted suit and laid stiff, cold and very pale in my coffin which smelt of fresh paint and lavender.
The box I was in got really stuffy and hot when it was closed but I was dead anyway so it didn’t matter. I was placed in the ground and bade farewell with tears, moans, screams and songs.
That year was tough for my family but they were comforted by the new baby God blessed them with. My flesh and my life were gone but I hoped that the memories of me which people had would live on. I had lived while I could and will be dead for as long as I am.