💎 •... Life, as It is•

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ᶠᵃᵈᵉᵈ ᵃᶰᵈ ʰᵒˡˡᵒʷ
•••
                    | Mushin, Lagos. |

          She sat still as a statue on the white plastic chair, leaning on her elbow and over the opened Neurology in Clinical Practice textbook on the table. Her feet were pulled up on the chair and folded next to her, numb and stiff from the lack of movement for the past two hours that she'd been absorbed in what she was reading.

The dead silence in the small, quaint canteen during middays like this also gave the place an air of relaxedness that helped her to concentrate and sometimes, venture into the deep recesses of her mind.

It was one of the reasons why she loved to hang out there.

She tilted her head her a little and stared out the glass panel at the empty street across, pondering on the piece of information she'd read and unaware of the figure clad in a T-shirt and apron approaching her.

"Demi?"

She heard her name being called – it was a faint voice faraway – but dismissed it as a voice fooling around in her head till she heard it again, this time, near and distinct.

"Demi."

She jolted, snapping her head around to face the boy now pressing his palms to the table. "David?"

"It's past three. You have been sitting there since one."

"Three?!" Oh my God.

He nodded and she dropped her feet to the floor in a haste, instantly feeling a cramp crawling its way up. She winced as she adjusted her sitting position and pushed the textbook away from her, trying to collect her thoughts.

"Learnt anything new today?" David asked, jutting his jaw at the textbook.

She stopped moving around and stared at the book for a few seconds before shrugging. "Uh...no. Not really. Just...read more on the bulbar onset type."

He nodded again. "That's the type that affects the facial and throat muscles, right? It causes slurred or nasal speech, and makes breathing difficult."

"No...I think the one that affects breathing is another kind of ALS onset."

His body shook in a quiet laugh, and he said, "Oh, yeah. That's respiratory onset."

She gave him the barest of smile she could muster and stood up. She closed the textbook and handed it to him. "Thanks. I'll. . . be leaving now."

"Alright, sure. Take care," He bade her, and leaned up. "Say hi to Nike for me."

She nodded, pushed the chair back under the table and made her way out of the canteen into the scalding, afternoon sun.

She took a left turn and walked down the pavement of the semi-deserted street. Cars and bikes zoomed past every now and then on the uneven road.

It was an average neighborhood – farther from a shanty but nowhere near being urban with plain houses fenced round by high walls or left open with only a front yard. Some were built in old-fashioned style, dilapidated and dating back to around the fifties and sixties and most were from earlier years, five or ten ago.

She continued walking, taking turns and alleys and crossing major roads, weaving through streets and marketplaces till she got to the innermost part of the town an hour later.

Houses made of planks, cardboards, nylons, unpainted blocks and some other material perched precariously amidst a heap of refuse and waste. They were ramshackled and cramped into tiny spaces between stalls and kiosks where people went about their daily day businesses. Malnourished kids in only dirty panties ran about, jumping over puddles of stagnant water and playing local games. The smell of feces, petrol, and something foul clung to the air, pungent enough to make one double over and barf but they weren't disturbed by it, and neither her as she trod a winding street to her Mom's apartment.

___

She reached for the door handle and pushed it in, stepping inside a partly lit passage. Feeling the cold and detached aura she'd become familiar with each time she visited, she shut the door and the passage was plunged into a pitch blackness.

She made her way to the sitting room; it was empty—of furniture and of anyone.

A beige curtain was pulled to the side and sunlight poured into the room through the cracks of an only window onto the seats of the two sofas in the room. A little of the light shone off a polished, wooden table placed in between the chairs, at the center. Those and two sack bag filled with clothes, resting against the wall and under the window sill, were the only things occupying the room.

Her eyes skimmed the small room for a light moment and then the slam of a cabinet had her moving in its direction: the kitchen. She reached there and met her Mom at the counter, chopping some vegetables – a bubbling pot on the stove next to her.

"Mommy," She called, her voice soft and affectionate.

"Iyun? Is that you?" Her Mom, Romoke, stopped what she was doing to look over her shoulder. She turned back her head and continued with her task.

"Yes ma," Demisola replied. She crossed the distance between them to stand next to her.

Romoke flashed her a warm smile. "How are you?"

"I'm fine," She mumbled, leaning against the counter. Her Mom nodded. They were silent for a beat before she asked, "Where's Nike?"

"She's in the room today."

She pushed away from the counter. "I'll check up on her."

"Okay."

Romoke nodded but she was already out of the kitchen and walking down the hallway that separated it from the living room. She got to the last door and entered the room.

There, her sister, Adenike, lay on the bed, ridden and paralyzed.

And for the umpteenth time, her heart crumbled to the hard floor at her feet, like it always did each time she set eyes on her. She quietly stepped into the room and closed the door, feeling a tight squeeze in her chest. She moved further into the room and could only stare, speechless.

Ruthanne Georgeson HighWhere stories live. Discover now