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I Saw Ebola

By Habib Abayomi (Nigeria)

I saw the bloody headline this morning: A blunt piece with a photo. The photo of a woman that died of the Ebola virus, People that heard of her death protested violence. How come the voodoo doctor could not save her, as people treated her like a taboo of the deadly death? Doctors were blamed. They were ill prepared to handle the infectious disease. Nurses avoided touching her body, wearing protective masks and gloves to unravel the mystery culminating in her murdered sleep.

Her death was shocking news to the family;  the sorry tale spreading like wild fire and inducing hordes from the village to swarm the dirty, abandoned quarantine room, although at a reasonably distance. Protective gloves, face masks, long overalls and all. Her body was uniquely attended to, to curtail infecting other villagers. A deep grave was dug, the woman securely wrapped and dumped in by dainty hands, doused with chemicals and burnt.

For one whose death threw the village into confusion, her funeral was a source of interest. So, the city was dead silent as people prayed for the harvest that season, which was not rainy. When will the treatment stop its infection scare? The fear of the disease interrupted my dialoguing with the walls during the funeral rites of the deceased. The morning news was pregnant with a short droll comment on hysterical suspicions of close relatives, friends and workmates contacting the virus by touching the patient.  Someone remarked they were playing with death by being labelled as outcasts. I flung the daily newspaper, irked. A moment of solemnization attended its landing and ushered my renewed conversation with the walls.

Whenever the image of the deceased woman would appear in my lovely sleep, I would see doctors frantically trying to prevent the epidemic from spreading like a ravaging fire. It always slipped past them through slight gaps and they would look on, helpless. A sharp pain would come! I would jump up in fright and tears would well up my eyes. It is always a gripping dying-cum-survival story when we are secluded from outside contact. Lonely, lost, hopeful… hopeless.

A head-to-toe masked nurse administered my drips from a distance. Word was, the doctor that treated the woman slumped a few days later, and was wheeled to the emergency room. Tests had been immediately conducted on her blood samples. Positive. Not to HIV, no. Positive to the Ebola virus!

Her condition worsened considerably. She died. Alone, an outcast. Fellow doctors and nurses distanced themselves, suspicious of each other. She might just have infected anyone of them easily, unsuspectingly. The demon inside of me couldn’t forgive those who infected her with the deadly virus. How could those who knew the name of the disease die like infants and be condemned to the devil’s cross? I picked up the drugs she flung at me and swallowed them, doubting the potency of drugs I was taking. My temperature rose, notwithstanding,

No one could dance to the tune of the drunkards.  Precious moments were etched grimly on pages of the dailies, and cover stories for the following weeks, possibly months, crisscrossed in my fevered imaginations. FARMS, BUSINESSES. DUE TO THE UNCONTAINED RISE OF THE VIRUS. UNKNOWN PEOPLE BURNT IN MASS GRAVES. DOCTORS, NURSES, HEALTHCARE GIVERS AND EBOLA VOLUNTEERS SURRENDERING TO THE POWER OF THE SICKNESS. Hushed as it could be, these walls still carried rumours of deaths and suspicions.

I coughed blood out of my mouth, for I was an afflicted walking ghost.

If only I had learnt to wash my hands and inculcate all those safety tips my city lover wrote to me about, I would have been free of the deadly scourge currently imprisoning me. As the morning approached, the moon was orphaned with a smile of recalling how I walked with the infected harlot patient of the hotel whose tradition I had not forgotten. City lover.
My agitated state almost egged her out of my consciousness. Admonition to get married rang audibly in my head. How could a person who tested positive to the dreaded marry a romantic lover from the city? Lying on this sweat soggy mattress, I thought my existence had ended. Confusion kept my loneliness company, intruding the tale the walls narrated about the doctor from the city who visited the village, slumped in the bathroom and died. At the height of the confusion, a hysterical din of subtle and haranguing voices deliberated, telling me things, telling me that Ebola is everywhere. They repeated voices from the television, radio, and online, riddling into our quarantined compartments. Everywhere.

I recalled the moment I had with the dead patient-and how much contact I had with him. I was experiencing a drama of being isolated from the people. My family hid me as an infected loved one with the shadow turned into a stigma of believing that I could die young. How would the people receive the news that I was infected with this deadly disease?“
I was a dead man walking and isolated from the people. How would I tell my story of being an Ebola survivor? I asked the wall, my only companion. The confusion and din were dissipating. The strange sickness became a lying game as I never wanted the people to know that I was positive and suffering from the virus of Ebola. I went on experimenting the second day, thinking about how people were infected with the disease by shaking beggars on the hand without gloves. I complained about itching and rashes all over my body, which was getting weak.

The nurse that treated me got infected and died the following week as she slumped and slumped in the toilet. The funeral rites were painted with conversation with the dead to prevent the Ebola epidemic and she was lost to the blessed memory of being deceased. How would people receive the shocking story of how she became a ghost? But I was a survivor because I was taking the Z-map drug that had been prescribed only for me. The people who heard about my infection thought I had died and been buried but later they had to witness the shocking revelation of touching me with hand gloves.

The powerful voice of impregnating a girlfriend was an emotional moment of hearing about anyone being infected. They were scared that they could contact the disease. The visitor said they were not staying long as they were afraid of the Ebola. But, looking at his face, I could not tell people how I was able to marry a virgin from the brothel.

The suitors were angered that she had walked into poverty with eyes open to the sacrifice of the people. The plague of losing my memory to the dreaded and infectious disease was a glorious journey of my damaged reputation. I couldn’t resist those treating me like a dead person with the trauma of my painful agony. As they got back to the city, they called for an ambulance. The door opened and a nurse approached me but kept a little distance. The nurse said that I was infected with Ebola and they came to take my body to a hospital.
Inside they opened my mouth and looked at my tongue, saying it was typical of Ebola tongue. I took the mirror in my bag and I was shocked at my tongue because it looked whitish. I knew that I would survive it and nobody would die of the injurious disease. I could look to my image as I was dying slowly of the sickness. That morning I lost appetite to the heart-felt death sentence. I was in an isolated room where my family was not allowed to visit me.

I was afraid that, if I died, my house would become a broken home, staring me at the face as I risked my life to be treated by the mask-wearing doctors. I was already thinking of death and what would happen when I would die. Aid workers flew in from Britain and came to treat me as I heard about my terrible sickness. In the isolated room, people groaned and cried out. The smell of blood and diarrhea and vomit was awful-with the smell of dead bodies ravaging the room. But I felt very lonely and frightened, waiting to die and be buried.

The doctor calmed me down as she was responsible for injection control and safety of the people. The doctor wore scrubs and two pairs of gloves, waterproof suit and Goggles. Those who had died had made me fearful and feverish. The past dirty life kept haunting me with memories of experiencing my season of anomie as I feared death in dark moments of admiring my family life.

That morning I was famished and my wife came to the hospital with a local delicacy.  She slid her crinkly hands decisively across her stomach. A slight bulge. “I am pregnant,” she said. I stifled a response, not sure of what to say. Her hands shook reflexively. She looked away from me, striving to withhold the tears that welled her eyes. How could life treat her so miserably with an annihilated mind? She found her hands were shaking after touching me.

“My husband, you know I love you but this sickness has killed so many, so you have to be ready for death,” she said pensively. The pregnancy inside of her was speaking abortion because the child would be fatherless or even stillborn. I stared at her stomach. Those orphaned by the deadly disease were still licking their wounds. And here was another, soon to come out and compound her song of sorrow. She had vowed to the gods of the village that only through death would we part. How could she now abandon me in my sacrilegious death moments?

These hospital rooms had become a resting place for my unfortunate travails. The misfortune was appearing like spiritual burial rites. ”Sit down, my love. What are you afraid of? Is it death or the living dead?” I asked. And now that we are talking about your demise. How would you come back in your reincarnation?”  I spoke words of wisdom to her ears.
But the problem had made her to be deranged as I had maltreated her in the past with an iron rod. Yes, she was afraid that she was giving herself the last chance of freedom. I stood up and walked with my forbidden outburst of tears as I wanted to kiss her and romance her body so that I would know the pain of being widowed.

I wondered how she was going to cope after my demise as I laughed with the broken voice of coughing blood out of my mouth. The ghost of the dead was knocking at heaven’s door.

I go round the hospital coughing profusely, making the nurse fidgety. I was rushed back to the hospital room where I would slump and die but I was a survivor. The wife that came in contact with me also tested positive everyone realized that four patients had died.

But I was touched more about the voice of the dying wife. I wondered how she had been abused by those who should take care of her deadly sickness. But she heard the hustling noise of the forgotten buried people coming to visit the ghost city in her dreams. How could she return to life without being molested by the angry youth whose anger had swallowed the bitter pill of chasing the infected people out of the city to an isolated room as her angelic face was getting wrinkled? In his traditional rite, she was regarded as a cast away mother in the clan.

“I’m tired. I could die young. So this is how I would be deceased?” she asked the nurse who told her to be patient. The unique and terrible feature of the epidemic is the fact that doctors and nurses are dying one after the other in a controversial manner, and they are dying young. They were kept apart in distance as the sudden martyr of love in me was defeated as I could not be angry with my Ebola   virus.

The only thing I was thinking was that I would be buried and forgotten in the burial ground. The clan always rejected the ghost of the patient because they might contact the disease while the spirit would walk away from the body. The head of the clan said to the couple that this was an abomination. “This is a sacrilege against the sacrifice of the dead and we are to treat it like a sacrilege,“ he said. “The bodies will be rejected.”

How could they receive what is sacrilege. The struggle to be free from the disease was getting diabolical.Yet she said his demise would make the people prevent genocide of the deadly virus. How can he stop the epidemic from being spread to the city? But the laughter hurt the wife for infecting her with the virus. Thay danced together in the hospital, isolated to show to the visitors that their romantic marriage was heavenly. The drama of romancing each other was a dance flowing with the melody of the cough that he made when he put his arm around her, preventing her from falling on the ground.

“What is wrong with you? Are you all right. You’re smelling of spiritual wine.” He answered that he was getting feverish and couldn’t wait to be rushed inside, laughing at her condition and accepting the faith that he was on death row. He said he was preventing the epidemic with his own family blood.

People came closer to shaking hands wearing hand gloves as they never believe he would survive the sickness. The taboo that God smiled on his sickness was getting as beautiful as the pregnancy of his wife was getting in the last stage of giving birth as she cried without screaming. His eyes became red and his feet were shaking. When will the cry of a baby be heard in her own house? This was the question on her mind as she was a beloved wife that struck beauty in the eyes of her suitors. Then her eyes was swollen and her mouth became whitish as the deadly virus gave her an obituary picture in her memory.

They were poverty stricken and couldn’t take care of a baby. When will they become a sacrifice whilst protecting a country from the deadly virus? The joy of a safer picture was without evidence of death as they never wanted the unfortunate circumstance of the devastating effect of spreading the deadly virus. How could they watch with their eyes open to the damage of their ego of the outrage of the disease? The people came to pray for me and they became so emotional, shedding tears. Their moment of dancing without celebrating child birth had come. The child came with a smile of mourning the tragedy of the disease. Why would the doctor die was the question on my mind as I was wheeled into the emergency room for surgery. I was waiting for Mr. Death to take me home as I was a visitor on earth. How could the lovers be waiting for the reality of facing death? But death was ignored as they survived the warm memory of convincing his sacrificial blood.

“This disease has killed a lot of people, so how did you survive it?” the doctor asked me in rhetorical laughter as he was a shadowing picture of the grave. She had been rejected by the inhumane society – with incredible memories of strange behavior The ritual of removing the deadly scourge was done in the night as they sacrificed to the gods, becoming a taboo for the people .But I failed in the marriage, as I made the wife a concubine looking for suitors who would stand by her in her sick moment. She feared she might be a ghost as a shadow was walking after her on the walls. The complexity of her turmoil’s sudden silence could make someone rejoice for surviving the dreaded disease .Precautions were taken as the epidemic had befallen the vulnerable with the infectious disease.

“My blood will cry when I die. But If I survive, the glory will be to the almighty God for relieving my sickness,” she said to herself, immortalizing herself for repairing a damaged reputation. Will people be able to touch her after the news had spread that she was suffering from the Ebola virus. It was shocking for the most devastating news of survival theory.
 But she knew the family was alive for a reason, and the scent of tribute poured in as we arrived in the village throne to share our lucky story of coming back from a dead and isolated zone. The poisons of avoiding the patient were gone as the monster of dying young was gone and the peace of mind was restored as that which was masquerading was actually a fugitive of her beauty.

As I woke the fever came back, making me bereaved with the injury of the internal bleeding and breaking of my heart because she divorced me. The heartbreak was too much as she left with our baby. She went to marry a drunkard in the midst of the village, making me the laughingstock of the village. How would I be able to apologize to her, to come back home. The agony was felt in the night as I spoke to the walls with the inspiration of being in detention. The martyrdom in me couldn’t search for another romantic lover as the words of her past kiss were still alive in my memory.

I was hungry for more sexual pleasures in my sleepiness night. I was only able to embrace my pillow and sing the lovely song of the forest. The song became a freedom road for my marriage, which had collapsed in view of everyone’s mortal being. I was losing my beloved wife, whose diary of going back to the hospital the second day for test made her a victim of the deadly disease.

I was visibly shaken with indescribable worry after testing positive again. How would I be able to tell people that I was not healed, as my dream had turned nightmare of being a bleak epidemic survival story? I was a hero who prowess had saved the village from the spread of the incurable disease by educating stark illiterate people about the dangers of Ebola.

The sins of their forefathers was aggravated with rumours that the mortality kills children and there was no naked cure for the deadly disease. How would I be able to control the crowd of people that came to collect the vaccine for the children to prevent them from dying young? The crowd was dull and was fasting after an empty stomach of throwing the throne of the kings into the anarchy of confusion.

And there was a dark alienation of the clan. The clan had become a trouble center that could hold itself as they took bribe to marry into their family. How would I be able to tell the stories of the generation unborn and cleanse our names from being destroyed in a war of selling ourselves into slavery? Ebola was the attraction of white-men who came to know whether there was anybody on the outskirts of the hospital while people marched to test themselves for the deadly Ebola virus. The people that came were fearful as the disease was a death sentence but they rejoiced home as none of them was found infected by the bloody samples. There was a celebratory mood dance in the drinking joint. They celebrated that untimely death was conquered. But I was yet to be free as I had forgotten the scene of dying young. The warning of being neglected was a shame to me as I experienced dryness of the bones as I wept, unable to sleep. I slept on my back and stared into the darkness of the walls, becoming alien to the sickness. The next morning news spread through the whole village that I had died and my silence made the rumor seem real. The sun was dark and I passed on silently into a bliss of uncanny death. The Villagers made a celebrity of my kindness in stopping the epidemic. ”A man dies,” was one note I left on the table as I became a sacred being in my village.

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