An extract from 'The Day of the Orphan' by Dr Nat Tanoh - released TODAY!

Shorter Extract from The Day of the Orphan by Dr Nat Tanoh

Acorn Independent Press, £10.99, 25th May 2018

700 words

Chapter Six: No Rwanda

Saga had malaria and had been out of school for a few days. In the African tropics, everyone, at various unpalatable points of their existence, was bound to have some unsavoury dealings with the dreaded malaria fever. It was yet again his turn.

Malaria was a nasty business indeed. The puny, barely visible Anopheles mosquito was the main cause of depositing malarial parasites in the bloodstream of innocents, causing insalubrious and often times, life-threatening fevers in their wake.

It was late afternoon and Saga was lying in his bed, thinking about mosquitoes and wondering why they had to exist at all. He had suffered a particularly bad night of shivering as though he had icicles in his veins, and had also vomited any and everything he tried to eat.

He was completely exhausted and could do nothing but wish pure perdition on all mosquitoes! The generally accepted view that HIV/Aids was the single highest cause of death in Africa was pure fabrication, he mused. Those so-called experts ought to check their facts because it was actually malaria that was the chief cause of mortality in Africa, especially among infants! Experts indeed! He scoffed weakly and mentally added on more perdition for all mosquitoes everywhere!

He was now feeling very hot and bothered, and had cast aside all his bed cover sheets that had failed to do their job of keeping him warm the previous night. He was starving too, as he had managed to hold down just a single bottle of 7 Up all day long. Everything else he had attempted to eat had been unpleasantly and painfully regurgitated. His voice had consequently become very hoarse from the frequent vomiting, and he had shed a couple of pounds in a stressful manner.

Saga heard the house telephone ring downstairs. After a few moments, he heard his mother’s muffled scream. He was too weak to muster the necessary vocal power to shout out any enquiries to his mother downstairs.

He soon heard his mother’s tread coming up the stairs. She came into his room and he noticed her face was tear-stained, rendering the make-up around her eyes askew and rather unsightly.

‘Saga, Ibrahim has been hurt. He and some other Northern boys were beaten up badly at your school. They are all at Ridge Heights Hospital. It’s the anti-Muslim thing, that New Patriotism thing. I am so sorry, Saga. I am very sorry.’

Saga was shocked, upset and agitated. Ibrahim was his dearest friend. He did practically nothing without Ibrahim and he knew exactly what must have happened. He tried getting up off the bed but his mother stopped him.

‘I must go and see him, Mama. You know I must do that. How many times has he been to see me already since I got this stupid malaria? I must go, Mama!’ he said weakly, but with growing determination.

But his mother was firm. ‘You’re too weak to go anywhere, Saga. You can’t even walk. I know he is your best friend, and almost like a part of our family. But you are still not well enough. You just had a relapse and you have barely eaten anything for three days straight!’ She gently pushed him back onto the bed and pulled his abandoned cover sheets back over him. It was obvious he was even exhausted from his slight efforts to get up. Extreme bodily weakness and malaria were bedfellows indeed.

‘Don’t worry, Saga. I know this is bad but you must wait till you’re stronger before you go to the hospital to see him. You’re lucky you’re not on admission yourself in your present state. I will go and see Ibrahim at the hospital with your father when he gets home, so don’t worry, okay?

That night, Saga wept. He wept for his friend, Ibrahim. He wept for his other Muslim friends who had suffered a similar fate. He wept for his school, his family and his country. Finally, he wept for his own frustration at being unable to do anything about the terrible maladies that were engulfing his world.


Helen AbiolaComment