“Baabe, you have to leave now. As it is, you are seriously contaminated. We will have to put you in isolation,” Dr. Dennis explained. He...
“Baabe, you have to leave now. As it is, you are seriously contaminated. We will have to put you in isolation,” Dr. Dennis explained. He was standing outside the hut, fully clad in protective gear. Baabe held Zungu in his hand. Both he and Ilere had passed away. A tsunami of tears raged down his face. He and Zungu had been very close since there were little children. “What have I got left? I’d rather go with him. What more isolation could be worse than being separated from my lovely older brother, who looked after me all his life?” He asked Dr. Dennis. “I am very sorry Baabe. I am truly very sorry. At the same time, we have to think about the wellbeing of your wife, children and entire village. We can’t let you back home until we are sure you are safe to return. Being so close to your late brother and his family has seriously exposed you to the virus,” Dr. Dennis explained. “I can’t possibly live without Zungu. I am better off dying with him. He thought me how to shoot a bow…how to set traps for antelopes and monkeys. Once, I was bitten by a snake, and he was on hand to find the antidote for me. He’d make sure I had eaten before he ate. He was there with me the day I went to my in-laws. He would bring his family to come work on my farm…just to give his little brother a helping hand. He never stopped looking after me…Never!!!” He stared down at the bruised, bumps-ridden face of his late brother and daggers of pain stabbed through his poor heart.
Not even the stoic Dr. Dennis could fight back the tears. He turned and looked away. Inside his protective gear, he could feel tears descending from his face onto his neck and sipping through his shirt. He had learned to compartmentalize his emotions owing to his professional experience, but listening to Baabe cracked open a can of emotions he had locked away over the years. He and his brother had fallen out years ago and had not been on speaking terms ever since. Suddenly, he felt an urge to see him again as he remembered their times together growing up. “Why have you left me here alone, Zungu?” Baabe shouted agonizingly. His voice was riddled with grueling pain. The emotions in his voice sent shivers through Dr. Dennis. He felt his shirt get wetter as more tears made the journey down his face. He called his assistants to come and help him drag Baabe out and prepare the bodies for burial as quickly as possible. “Baabe, we have to get you out now. You are more in danger than you understand.”
“Danger you said? What danger could be worse than being separated from the one who fought the mighty bully…the thug of the village when we were kids just to get himself between the bully and his little brother? He took terrible blows for me with a smile…the delight that his younger brother was safe. He asked me to run, while he took on the thug. The death that has taken Zungu away from me has put a dagger to my heart and stabbed it with brutal force. The air I breathe now is stale. The life that once ran through my veins is gone. Zungu was my source of inspiration. To wake up and know that he was there for me and I for him was one of the major reasons I lived. I am no more now that he is gone…and his wonderful wife who adored him too and children whom I loved so much. Let the sickness that killed Zungu take me too. I dare you death…take me with my brother. Take me wherever his soul rests. There, I want to be, right beside him.”
“But your wife and children love you so much! They need you Baabe. I can only imagine how painful Zungu’s death is, but your death would be just as painful to your wife and children. Would you want to put them through the same pain?” One of the health assistants asked him. This was not time for rational reasoning, so Baabe peered at his brother in silence, ignoring the question which he knew was true. The pain of his loss outweighed everything in his life at this point. “I am sorry, Baabe, the team from the capital has arrived. They are setting up an isolation tent. We will have to drag you and place you there if you don’t cooperate with us.” “Why don’t you put a knife to my neck and kill me then?” They ignored his question. Shortly afterwards, they managed to drag him out of the hut and placed him in a tent. He was washed thoroughly before being placed in the tent. Zungu’s body and those of his mother, wife and two sons were buried on the edge of town. Soon, more people were stricken down with Ebola virus diseases. A local elementary school was quickly converted to a hospital/isolation center, moving students to another temporary location.
Weeks later, Baabe was sick. He saw rashes similar to the ones he had seen on Zungu and his family appear all over his face. “We are expecting some treatment to arrive from America,” Dr. Dennis explained to him. “There is hope that it will help the bodies of the recipients fight off the virus. I have your name on the list if we get any of that antidote down here. There are few of them being sent over,” he explained. “I am optimistic that we can get some. It would hurt me even more to see you go. I have never met anyone who loved their brother as much as you loved Zungu. I have a brother but we have not spoken to each other in years.” “Why is that?” Baabe asked. “He seems more absorbed in his own world. When our father was ill before passing away, he did not care to visit with him; to help take care of him. His personal affairs were far more important than a father who slaved all his life for us to have a better life. I fell out with him over that and we have not spoken to each other ever since.” “I don’t understand why he did that…very bad, but I think you should get in touch. Life’s too short to go to your grave with grudges.” “You are right. I hope to get in touch with him as soon as this Ebola scenario is over, hopefully.” Dr. Dennis was fully masked.
“I love my children and wife very much doctor. I really do,” Baabe said. “I am willing to do anything I can to live…to survive this sickness, yet a part of me wants to go. Somehow the death of my brother took the fear of death away from me. A part of me wants to go be with him on the other side, while another part of me wants to live and raise my children.” “There is nothing we can do about Zungu, Baabe, but there is a lot you can do for your children and wife. I really want you to live. I hope this treatment is here on time.” Dr. Dennis wondered how much time Baabe had. Despite his pains and sores, he had kept a smile on his face. He exuded peace that could be felt from a distance; perhaps ready to die if death were to knock on his door.
“I can’t believe we did not get the antidote!” Dr. Dennis complained bitterly to one of his assistants. “How could they send everything to the capital? A lot of people; perhaps more people are dying here. Baabe has got to live…Everyone deserves to get the treatment, but this man lost his mother, brother, sister in-law and nephews the same day. I witnessed the pain he went through. I really want to see him beat this sickness,” he protested. He put on his protective gear and ran to the large hall with makeshift tents as rooms to check on Baabe. He was been bleeding the last time he saw him. “How are you feeling Baabe?” “I managed to sleep for a while. I saw Zungu in my sleep and he was smiling broadly at me. He told me they are okay! I am very happy now.” Dr. Dennis looked at him with admiration. In his deepest pain, he still had time to think fondly of his late brother and his family. “Are you feeling any pains?” He asked him. “I feel fine doctor…I feel just fine,” he said with a smile on his face. “I am sorry Baabe, we could not get the medication. There was not enough to go round all the hospitals. There is nothing more we can do.” “It is okay doctor. If I die, I go to be with my brother. If I live, I will be with my wife and kids. It is all in God’s hands. I have made my peace with either outcome.” He was still smiling.
Dr. Dennis could not fathom how anyone with his pains and sores could smile…in the face of death. By this calculation, Baabe may not make it more than two days. He desperately wished there was anything he could do to save this wonderful man. “Obviously my family cannot visit me. If I don’t make it, tell my boys and my daughter that I love them so much. Tell them to be strong, no matter what happens to them. Tell my wife that she is the best…the best wife in the world. And I mean it!” “I will tell them,” Dr. Dennis promised. He was fighting back tears as he left the tent.
Poster source: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk
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KEY WORDS: EBOLA, RASHES, STOMACH PAIN, SORES