Tuesday, June 19, 2018

World Sickle Cell Day

Death is trapped within your bones. That is what you were told. Came to dwell there by a glitch in your blood and your red cells became many, tiny scythes or sickles waiting to pluck you off the tree of life. One day, you asked if death wasn’t a thing trapped in the bones of all men. Yes, but for you, it is an early bird. So you learnt to count your days with each throbbing pain, as these scythes squeezed and tore through vessels. You even counted on days when a seeming peace lived under your skin.

You were told that you are an anomaly. A weakness, yet looked upon with love. But you know that beneath those loving eyes are lodged pity and fear; that you are looked upon as a harbinger of guilt. A mistake that shouldn’t have happened. Never. The other day, a girl declared she was AS, another said she was AA. And you asked how come they could say their status easily, but one with the SS genotype could not. “Stigma,” they said. You disagreed, yet remained silent because stigma, sometimes, is what the world calls its blindness to variety.

You see these things – the pity, the fear, the guilt – but your mind no longer grows frail as before. The world does not become drab to you. This is because you know the mind is not made of blood and vessels and pain. So aside what goes on in your body, you fuel and fill your mind with strength. Always. You choose not to think of dying. You choose to forget what it means to strap pain – like a child – to your back, or the way needles have lived under your skin. You see only life and light and colours. And when that girl said to you: “Why should I keep living? He left me,” you wondered why she couldn’t see it too.

You actually think of yourself as an anomaly. A mutation. Like X-Men. Something extraordinary. You think of yourself in images of strength, intelligence, and wings. When you are done thinking, you go to read the stories written on your body. People call them scars, but you call them stories. War stories. Stories in which you were the protagonist. Or “actor” as Nigerians say. And you smile because actor no de die for film. You read these stories, your conquests. Where you fought and won because you could.

And you wake up every morning, cupping in your palms, life in its full measure – your spoil of war.

It's World Sickle Cell Day. This is dedicated to all living with the disorder.

Written by Gideon Chukwuemeka Ogbonna

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