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Zungu lifted the axe and dropped it forcefully on a piece of wood, which split in half. He took another swipe at each half and split ...

Zungu lifted the axe and dropped it forcefully on a piece of wood, which split in half. He took another swipe at each half and split them even further. Then, he stood up with his hands at his waist. He had been battling fatigue, headache and pains all day. Now he felt sudden irritations in his throat. A streak of sweat zigzagged down his face. “Ilere!” he called to his wife. “Ilere have you prepared that concoction?” He asked raising his voice. “It is ready, Zungu. You can come inside now and have it. The children have had theirs and they are sleeping now.” Zungu dropped the axe and went inside the hut. He drank the herbs extract with a frown on his face. It was a bitter mixture. Ilere was sitting on a mat beside both their sons who were down with fever. “I think a terrible cold is flying around. The children must have brought it home from school,” Zungu remarked. “Lie down and rest up my wife. I will go and check on Mama.” He felt a sharp pain in his muscles as he headed to his mother’s hut. Her mother’s body was covered in rashes. “You are getting sores Mama. I think we should leave for Akudinga immediately, so you can get there by morning for you to see a doctor,” Zungu suggested.

“I don’t have the strength to walk my child. You don’t have to worry. You have worked so hard to look after me. Times are hard. Please focus on your children and wife now. It is time to join your father if death knocks on my door. I lack any strength to walk. Just make sure I am buried beside your father when I go,” his mother answered. “Stop saying that Mama. I will do anything within my powers to look after you,” Zungu insisted. His mother smiled weakly. “You are a good son Zungu. If I had to live again, I’d pray for a son like you. Please don’t worry or cry for me. I am very proud of you. Go and look after your little children and wife,” she maintained. “Zungu!!!” Ilere shouted from her hut. He looked up. He could tell that Ilere’s voice was filled with anxiety. “Go…go see what is happening,” his mother urged. He felt a tight pain in his stomach as he rose to his feet. He had been staring at the rashes all over his mother’s face and legs. Leaving her behind bothered him, but he had to give his wife a hand.

He dashed to Ilere’s hut quickly, gritting his teeth in an attempt to endure the sharp pain in his stomach. “They are both bleeding and stooling. I don’t know what to do,” Ilere announced. Kariga was at the back of the hut stooling while blood was oozing out of Matami’s eyes. Zungu took a piece of cloth and drained the blood quickly. Fear took hold of him. He had never seen a thing like that before. Then he ran outside to give Kariga a hand. Kariga was very weak. Zungu helped him back onto the mat in the hut. “I have to get some help,” he told Ilere. I will walk to Nzuda to inform my brother of the situation. Maybe he can run to Akudinga to inform the doctor there. I hear other people are down with fever in town,” he explained. “Please go. I think we all need medical attention,” Ilere said, clutching her stomach. “Are you going to be alright?” Zungu asked. “Yes. I will manage,” she answered. Zungu left immediately. His legs were weak and wobbly and he felt persistent pain in his stomach, yet he soldiered on. He ran his right palm across his face to rid his forehead of the sweat that was building up on it. There, he felt bumps on his face. They were slowly rising. His fear was heightened.

“I think a terrible bug is flying around the village. I stopped over at Makonga’s on my way here and he too is sick as well as his sons and wife. Mama may not have much longer to live and my sons and wife are terribly sick. Blood is flowing profusely out of Matami’s eyes. Please can you run to Akudinga overnight and fetch the doctor. Mama is too weak to walk there and my bicycle is broken,” Zungu explained to his brother, Baabey. Without hesitation, Baabe agreed to make the journey. As soon as Zungu left, he climbed on his bicycle and rode most of the night under the illumination of a fool moon. “Did you say blood is coming out of your brother’s son’s eyes?” The doctor asked him. “That is what he explained to me. I did not see it.” Dr. Dennis remembered learning about Ebola in Medical School. This sounded like a classic case of Ebola to him. Quickly, he made calls to the capital city and asked for help. In the meantime, he packed everything he felt he needed onto a truck and left for Denge village. Baabe’s bicycle hung perilously on top of the truck, dangling rhythmically as they drove along the dusty and bumpy road.

“Please don’t die my child,” Zungu pleaded as he held dying Matami in his hand. He himself had been stooling all night as did Ilere. The bumps on his face had grown bigger overnight. Ilere was covered in her own blood while Kariga lay drained on the mat; hanging barely onto life. Zungu’s mother was too weak to make it. She passed away before the doctor arrived. “You have to wait outside,” Dr. Dennis informed Baabe. “I need to see my brother…I need to help his family,” Baabe insisted. “You may die if this is what I think it is.” “So let it be. I don’t mind dying, but I must have to help my mother and brother and his family.” “You will Baabe. Please let me assess the situation.” Reluctantly, Baabe stood outside waiting impatiently for the doctor and his team who had entered the compound. They quickly donned overall coats and thoroughly covered themselves as much as possible before entering the huts. Baabe wondered what disease this might be to have warranted such extensive protective gears by the medical team.

Not long afterwards, Dr. Dennis was outside. Fear and deep concern were scribble all over his phone. He removed his gear carefully and made a call on a satellite phone; the only one in the entire division. When he was through, he spoke to Baabe. “You will die if you step in there. Your mother is dead, and your brother’s sons are dead too. The best we have to do now is wait for a team to arrive from the capital. We need to bury the dead far away from here. There isn’t much chance for your brother and sister in-law. There is no cure for this disease…I feel very strongly it is Ebola.” “I don’t care what you call it doctor, but if my brother needs help, I am offering it to him.” He tore away from the doctor’s grip and stepped into the hut. Zungu was lying on near Ilere. Both were blood-covered with bumps and body fluid oozing out of gaping sores on their skin. Tears walked down his face as he stared at his brother and sister in-law.

“Is there anything I can do to ease your pain Zungu?” He asked. Zungu managed a look at him. “Stay away from us Baabe. No matter what you do, please don’t get this,” he warned him. Flies were already feasting on their sores. Baabe ignored his brother’s advice. He took a piece of cloth and covered Matami and Kariga. He proceeded to fetch water from an earthen jar. He washed blood off Ilere’s face. She was in a deep pain. “Leave, brother! Please leave brother,” Zungu pleaded with him. “The doctor said you’ll die if you have contact with us. Please leave Baabe.” “Then let me die Zungu. You are my only family. The doctor said that Mama passed away. We were not raised to run away when one of us is suffering. I am here for you my brother,” Baabe insisted.


Written by:
Victor Chinoo

Poster source: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk

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