Amara Kash had a fall. Something's gone horribly wrong. It’s a race. Will she survive?
It must have been six months since I last spoke to mum. I'd been meaning to call, but never got around to it.
I guess I'm not totally immune to what generally happens to most normal people with a wife and kids.
Life gets in the way, I suppose.
Besides, I didn't have the good news she sought after.
News which would have probably made her attempt the shake your boom-boom dance over the moon in sheer ecstasy - elderly style.
You see, for the last two years and a half, I’d been chasing the UK Home office department responsible for immigration and border control.
For what it's worth, they owed me an update on my mother's application for leave to remain with me, her son.
The process should have been simple for any British citizen.
I beg your pardon! Not!
I found it frustratingly crawling with much arthritic difficulty.
And depending on whom I spoke with, the version of information received was usually slightly different from the last.
They either told me it was still being looked into. Or they had all paperwork required but no decision had yet been reached.
Asking when a final decision was likely to be given was like putting a letter in the post requesting to see God walk barefoot across the surface of Mount Sinai.
You just knew you won't be getting a direct answer any sooner.
The last I had a letter from them was an official request to update her file details with any relevant changes. And then silence.
That was until I prompted them with an email query six months prior to events unfolding.
The response was an unapologetic notice about the closure of previous department handling the matter with a web link to another page detailing various departmental updates and mergers.
So when Mum eventually called requesting an update, I was ashamed.
Because the one thing she’d verbally asked of me, I couldn't deliver properly.
Instead, I made a silly excuse for non performance. I told her it was out of my hands. That the process was regrettably slow. And I was waiting for the home office department to respond to my queries on her matter.
The truth was that I felt guilty because mum had to call to ask. It concerned me a lot that something wasn't quite right. I knew that something was bothering her even though she never said.
My dad never bothered to call to ask about my welfare.
He wasn’t the sort to enquire about my wife and kids even if he didn't mean it.
He just never took it upon himself to do so. Perhaps he never considered it at all a necessity. I cannot tell.
But mum would call from time to time.
She was the kind who took great interest in knowing about her grandchildren's general welfare.
She'd genuinely ask about me.
Not because she wanted something in return. Absolutely not!
She did because she cared!
She cared enough to know whether I was eating healthy with everything organic and sleeping normal eight hours.
It sometimes pissed me off.
But I guess it was all with good intentions. Most loving mothers generally do the same thing.
They probably often see their grown up children still as their babies, even when they've emigrated to the North Pole. Strange you might think, right? But it's true.
She’d want to know that my wife and I were living in equitable peaceful harmony and not in any kind of dispute which may warrant sleeping in separate bedrooms.
This is usually before nosing into how my business was doing.
I used to have a sweet warm feeling in my stomach just knowing that my mother cared so much.
Not just about me though, she was the same with all her children.
Sometimes it made me wonder whether she’d ever stop being so mumsy and not worry so much.
So to deal with that, I made it a habit of telling bad jokes on how things were perfectly hunky-dory in the knowledge that she'd laugh with me anyway.
It was her favourite phrase and I'm sure she must have known at some point that I was merely imitating her.
All my life, I'd always known my mother to be the most caring, peaceful, loving human being any child could have wished for.
And yet I never wished or asked for her. That is in the actual process of wishing or asking for who wants to be my mother before I was born.
Every child would have had to learn to cope with whichever family they were born into. Don't they?
As babies are totally dependent on their parents, choices of who gave birth to you and why was not negotiable.
For me, I was lucky.
I couldn't have been more pleased to note that this caring, nice and beautiful woman happens to be my mother.
If you desperately sought my opinion on her character, I would strongly recommend that our society adopt more of Amara’s kindred spirit than the horrible lousy head bangers patrolling our high streets spitting curses under their breath.
Mum never used a derogatory word as far as I'm aware. Always mindful not to complain about anything or anyone unless it was grossly and utterly necessary.
Never gossiped about other people's demeanours even after they were out of sight.
It didn't matter how painful her own experiences were, she'd opt always to stamp a cheer on it.
She’d bite her tongue nicely, smiled to everyone and got on with her life.
“Amachie uwa George,” she'd say in Igbo. Meaning: guard your troubles tightly and the world would think you don't have any!
If there was anyone I know who truly cherished strong family cohesion, it would be my dear mother.
She totally got it.
Family was the base for everything else. Love, integrity building, charity, kindness, bonding, faithfulness and the lot. They all begin from the home.
For her, the family home should forever remain the caretaker door of certainty.
It should be the door through which any of her children could always return to find open when there's nowhere else to go.
Family therefore meant everything to her.
Building one up was like carving your name on concrete.
Similar to leaving your mark on the world, a trail of your DNA code.
“Family was like etching out good solid foundation for generations yet unborn,” she once told me.
On another occasion, she declares: “Someday when you all grow up and successful, it is my wish that you mould yourselves into a solid family unit. An unbreakable alliance.”
She carried on: “Never give room for divisions no matter how small. Distance yourselves from anything which could bring mistrust. It's usually the first sign of a divided home. Yes, it's repairable though. But with greater difficulty than when two neighbours fight. Don't allow whosoever you bring home to sow the seed of discord by design amongst the brethren. Always endeavour to come together under one roof as brothers and sisters whenever you can. At such evenings, gather around a large table with all your wives. Let your children play together and bond with each other. Cultivate the habit of sharing meals amongst yourselves in the spirit of thankfulness, graciousness and most importantly, love. Eat from the same pot, saucepan or whatever you cook with.”
I was only twelve years old and carefree. Suddenly, there we were, all seven of us wide eyed siblings.
I believe we listened with rapt attention. And yet terribly spooked into thinking that something was wrong with Mum.
Personally, I thought that maybe our mother was not so well after all, even though I never saw her lay down with a headache.
Not for one day.
Maybe she was dying, but didn't want us to worry. She had her way of masking her own troubles if any.
If not the case, why was she being so emphatic about all this stuff she was telling us as if she wouldn't be doing the same tomorrow?
In my young ears at the time, it all sounded like she was planning on going away without coming back.
Luckily, and to our greatest relief, it turned out she wasn't planning on a course of abandonment.
Thankfully too, nothing was physically wrong with her at the time either.
Well, I guess it was as much as we could all see and wished to believe.
Mum was merely voicing out sensible motherly advice.
Some however unpractical.
Still, she shared her thoughts for the future and effectively utilized her time well with her children while we remained under one roof.
Some of us were growing up faster than others.
And like the rest of us, she knew it was only a matter of time before potential husbands began knocking down on our door seeking for our beautiful eldest sister's hand in marriage.
But this memory lane was decades ago.
I still remember the first time Mum arrived to stay with me in London.
I was single, all grown up. Though seriously dating the lovely pinky of a girl I was convinced was going to be my forever-after. The willow besides the stills of my narrowed stream.
It amazes me though, how two strangers are initially introduced and soon recognise they're meant for each other.
Some of my good friends, notably Skcuch and Bobbin had previously tried setting me up on blind dates on more than one occasion.
Not exactly my sort of thing to be honest. But I'd gone along with my eyes wide open anyway. After all, it's called 'blind dating’ for a reason.
I didn't want any surprises.
Turned out that my first proper blind date already had a boyfriend who was doing time away from home.
And guess where?
At one of her majesty's prisons.
Poor girl, I thought. Thanks for telling.
She seemed so lovely and looked like a very nice person.
I never did admit this to any of the boys though, that I was genuinely attracted to her.
The problem was my own stubbornness. My reluctance to explore whether we stood any chance of working something out under the very awkward circumstance.
I just wasn't comfortable enough to throw caution to the winds. You must know it's a preservation thing. Don’t you?
The idea of a potential romantic association with such a pretty young woman whose ex was a known shady character, didn't sit quite right with me, if you catch my drift. Things do happen in this foreign land. People do suddenly vanish without trace - merely recorded for statistical data.
Overall, she seemed like the dangerously quiet one. Soft spoken pretty looking young woman and yet mysterious.
Such a shame I couldn't remember her name. Not even now.
Besides, it was a long time ago.
In contrast, my other blind date happens to be a nurse.
She was a bit stocky type. Her calves were twice bigger than mine for my liking. That apart, she absolutely stood out from the crowd.
How could I ever forget the flirty girl who drank like a fish?
Skcuch and co had organised a coach trip to North Wales. Never been, so I gladly joined for the benefit of sightseeing and the other reason.
In just one sitting at one of a few service station stopovers, she'd managed to slurp down six glasses of red wine.
I was intrigued.
It also made me wonder how often she managed to remain sober over her twelve hours shift pattern without mixing up the wrong medication.
For me, alcopops was not my kind of leisurely sweet drink. I never had a deep tolerance for its consumption.
So, after the trip, I quickly killed off any fanciful idea which was beginning to sprout roots in my mind.
And although Laura had a wicked sense of humour, a bubbly chatterbox fun to be around, I couldn't get past the alcohol dependency syndrome. I just knew it would definitely create a gully too deep between us to find any common ground.
You could just imagine it, couldn't you?
For a guy who gets giddy on fizzy orange Lucozade, I couldn't see any lasting relationship between Laura and myself.
Skcuch, on the other hand was hugely disappointed that I couldn't even give it a woofing sniff.
“You could have considered it a work in progress kind of relationship,” he had kindly advised.
“You never know what might happen. People change people you know.”
Ya! Who doesn't!
I just didn't want to be the one who’d eventually be drowning my sorrows in much alcohol at the drop of a hat.
I called it a night on blind dating.
Bless my meddling friends for trying to hook me up though.
No doubt in my mind they all had very good intentions, but the romance call was mine to make.
Anyway, that’s another story on its own for a different day.
I’d driven all the way to Heathrow Airport to pick up mother and my sister Janet as their flight came in.
It remains London's busiest hub when compared with the likes of Gatwick or Stansted.
Large aircrafts were landing and discharging their human, freight and all sorts of cargo as fast as they were taking off back into the skies.
I remember loitering, waiting and loitering once again on ends at the arrivals lounge. I must have walked two or three miles in distance just strolling back and forth.
Oh my goodness gracious me! I totally despised hanging about waiting in such spectacle of other people's blatant pretentiousness.
Airports are generally like larger public bars with overpriced shopping arcades and planes if you're waiting to fly out. Hence the arrival areas are the very location to easily approach within a breath’s distance of people who were either too tired to stand anymore on two feet or just bored out of their wits they had to sit down.
Taxi drivers advertised names of probable corporate passengers being expected in square cardboard notices. They could have been anyone.
On this particularly special occasion of mine, I took notice.
There were quite a few snorers about. Funny how their heads rested like throwbacks with their mouths open. It suddenly made me wonder whether one must have their jaws open to initiate the strange noise of snoring.
I remember thinking how easy it would be for someone, not particularly myself though - to maliciously squeeze tiny amount of liquid vinegar in there to shut them up from such annoying froggy grunts.
Just one of those random mischievous thoughts out of nowhere when one is idling.
I suppose they must have been tired just sitting around doing bloody nothing.
To be frank, the sitting and waiting about scenario was totally arse numbing.
And for some of those who arrived far much earlier than the anticipated scheduled landing, they probably needed catching up on an already disjointed sleep pattern.
Then I saw them emerge. I was like “hey, people! Welcome to little London, where the world is converged.”
It was a great moment for me after such lazy, boring loitering and people watching irrecoverable lost time of my entire life.
Even so, I was so excited that I blurted those thoughts out louder than I'd intended.
As you can imagine, it wasn't exactly to everyone's cup of shericoco in a crowded environment.
There were some passenger waiters with expressions as deadpan as a grazed back-foot. Onlookers who grounded their teeth whilst grinning at my lack of shameless outburst at the same time. And those others whom I probably guessed thought were doing me an unwarranted favour with their meaningless nod.
They too offered their best wicked glare of disapproval.
On my part, I was convinced to have done the snorers a massive favour - to have woken them up from their croaky breathing episodes.
But you know what?
At that particular moment in time of my life, I couldn’t give a ‘fook’. Was past caring what anyone thought or didn't anyway. This was my family! My moment. Just couldn't give two ‘fook macarenas’ if you catch my drift, you know what I'm saying!
Instead my analytical eyes swept through them very quickly, like chariots of fire radar scan making my primary assessment. Noting little details.
It's been a while since I last saw these two.
Young Janet looked as lovely as ever. What I never expected was the shape of Mum’s right knee.
It looked deformed. More like a 'K’ formation than straight.
I was a bit worried it could pop out from its socket with any false moves.
Regardless, I couldn't have been any proudly happier. Not about the knee though. Oh no!
The fact that I was able to bring them over brought such bounty of emotional joy to my heart.
I didn't have to worry where they would stay or how to feed them as host.
I was finally settled in my new home.
I was at a happy place, which was a far cry from when I was rudely awoken early one late Autumn morning within a couple of weeks or so into my sojourn in this land with my envisioned rapid progression.
That experience has been permanently etched deepest in my human memory stick.
I still remember the incident like it happened only yesterday.
The ancient person I was sharing accommodation with thought he was doing me the world's greatest favour by invitation.
To this day, I still never knew his real name. It didn't matter.
Anyway, he made me an offer I seriously rejected without a second thought.
How dared he!
He asked if I could join in his early morning routine of public convenience sanitising rounds.
Something he called 'the key job’.
To me, it was an overrated choice of expression.
And definitely nothing like the 1969 Italian job movie thriller.
Obviously he was proud to be doing what he was doing to make a living. I guess for him, it was just a job.
I was the new boy. The Jamie just arrived, the novice. The ultimate new chicken standing on one drumstick in an old rooster’s pen.
Honestly, I should have been the one offended by his offer.
But oh no!
This bozo went about telling his colony of losers in addition to the woman who’d showed me great favour that I was such a picky arrogant git.
He bragged that I'd soon discover that life in London isn't going to be easy picking as thought if I carried on with such dismissive attitude.
And of believing that certain jobs on offer were beneath me.
What about the unmitigated audacity to pick and choose what I was willing to do.
Hell! Nothing's wrong with that!
A little self belief in oneself goes a long way in addressing mediocrity, I'll say. Won’t you?
I didn’t have to go through all the trouble of risking my comfortable living, leaving family, a loved progressive job, my growing network of collaborative friendship and terrific tropical weather behind, only to arrive in little cold and grey England to lower my expectations and suffocate my ambition.
No way, man!
This ‘Jamie just arrived’ wasn't ever going to stoop lowest to the level where he'd find it rather difficult to stand up straight again. I would not be considering taking up any work which had anything to do with cleaning up any public conveniences unless I was the one using it. That was final, period!
I knew I was made in Africa, but for great things. It didn't matter where I chose to live, the principle was the same. A man should know not to trade his worth even when starting from scratch. I definitely knew mine. With such mindful determination, lowering my expectations would have been the worst mistake I could possibly have made at the time.
And you know what? I'm glad I didn't compromise.
Time has passed and I'd come a long way since then.
By all accounts, I was doing pretty okay so far for me.
At least in my eyes that was how I saw it.
Could still be better though, I know.
But the journey isn't over yet.
My ambition hasn’t faltered or waned.
For a young man like myself, belief and purposeful drive on the straight and narrow was everything.
Still is. Because I'm self driven.
Discipline and knowing what one wanted was a good asset to begin with anywhere.
Working out the best modus operandi to get to the next level was another.
I believed I was raised relatively well. Okay, you are allowed to add subject to interpretation if you wish.
What I did know from the start was that I had a good head with some common sense screwed onto my shoulders.
I never did anything nor went with the flow as people are wont to saying with much commonality.
Thrifty was my second nickname by default.
Narrowly bland as this may sound, I did not desire to spend on anything that wasn't an absolute necessity. Hence wasn't in any manner frivolous with money.
One early acquaintance of mine took this same principle to its extreme. He would convert any potential purchase value to the Naira equivalent for comparison. And only expended on those things he believed were of similar value or cheaper.
I was thrift, but his was ridiculously absurd.
I couldn't live like so.
I deliberately ensured I saved even before I spent a penny. Not the other way round. Or the type of living driven by exchange rate.
For sure, I didn't have any pop idols that I cared so much about to imitate whichever way they moved or dressed. Which I now admit is a good thing worth copying by today's younger people.
They all seem more into liking, following and unfollowing each other like herds on social media platforms.
For me at the time, it meant I wasn't going to allow myself to be influenced by any vain glorifying twat in the media cloud. This young man wasn't drinking, smoking or partying away his youth.
Neither was I fooling around with Heather, Jules and Sandie Malika. Or any others with loose disposition as some of my friends were busily happy falling over themselves.
Instead, I considered myself a comfortably focused proud British citizen by naturalization.
For the first five years of my sojourn, I had patiently kept my head down.
Arose early in the morning and sometimes covered many night shifts because it paid slightly better unsocial hourly rates when temping at Coca-Cola enterprises plant in Edmonton or as regular staff at DTS logistics in Brimsdown, North London.
Then I subjected myself in all manner of ways to earn the right of citizenship and whatever privileges which came with such bonafide status.
I even licked an arse.
I beg your pardon!
Yes, you read that right.
No half measures!
It was the kind of arse I wouldn't have given a second look over if I wasn't so bloody determined to be part of the operative system.
I didn't want to become one of the invisible illegal population who continually docked and dived from the outside looking in. Some of these people lived on borrowed time. Never will rise to the surface. Always fearful of being found out. But similarly brave enough to pretend that all was well. Hoping for a miracle of sort. I saw it all. It wasn't.
So, no! I wasn't going to accept any half measures.
For me, it was all or nothing.
The arse licking bit isn't exactly what you may have thought and be thinking.
Are you such a dirty minded little piece of umbilical cord to think what I believe just crossed your mind?
Metaphors people! Metaphors!
Life was a little quiet and spontaneously uncomplicated.
I minded my own business with astute recognition that I was working my way steadily up to something bigger, better.
Yes! Slowly, but definitely in progression.
The future as I saw it was weighted in solid gold.
Better still, it held greater opportunities for me to explore.
I visualised where I wanted to be so much I could see, feel and touch it.
Even my credit broker William Vodderman, once told me I was super credit worthy. That meant it was okay to borrow funds from any lender dead easy.
Of course the service wasn't free or cheap. He definitely would be making a commissioner's mint for arranging such or any deal.
It was alright to feel flattered. Only that I wasn't quite ready yet to go borrowing.
So, in the beginning, it was safe to say I owed no one anything.
Part of that statement, I must confess, came from an advice I once heard my father quote from scripture, the biblical book of Romans 13:8.
Actually, thinking about it now, I do realise I am in partial breach of that verse.
I do remember borrowing one hundred legal tender paper notes from dear old Margaret.
Yes! Margaret Parrotti. She used to be my Maggy on everything.
Well, that was until she committed the unexpectedly unthinkable.
Yes! You probably guessed it.
She brazenly dumped me for some divorced senior citizen.
Turned out her chosen beau was a taxi driver she passed time with in her second part-time job.
Her reason was absolutely absurd. I would say so, wouldn't I?
Nobody likes to be dumped for a reason like this, I suppose.
She told me she'd figured I wasn't proudly overwhelmed to be seen with her in public places.
Some part-time lover boy that I was.
Well, maybe so.
But was it cogent enough reason to do the dumping?
Still, I refuse to accept any responsibility for her actions.
Her response therefore was to have a fling with the taxi driver.
She told me afterwards. Cheeky!
Honestly, I don't know why I was outraged by such loose behaviour, but I admit shamefully that I was.
If her intentions were to make me jealous, it worked perfectly. But I wasn't putting up any take me back fight. Never!
Margaret already had two teenage children.
It wasn't as if she was the year’s summer hottest spring chicken. Not by a long shot.
Nature’s unemotional hand of regrets was already beginning to assert timelines on her temples.
There were visible appearances of grey. Besides, the elasticity of her skin was also looking tired and loose.
Distancing herself from her effeminate husband and going through what seemed to me like one sided divorce process, made me realise she was probably right in her decision.
I never held her hand affectionately openly the way she desired.
Perhaps that was what she yearned for at the time.
The emotional side of affection for her was more important than the physical rump and bump.
I'm not so sure looking back now why I was in that relationship in the first place. My honest guess would be to think that it may have had everything to do with the physical.
I must have been thrilled with the passion fuelled weekend rendezvous we used to have in private.
She always came over to my place.
It must then be the knowledge that my Maggy was never going to fall pregnant by any purposeful accident. She'd previously had a total hysterectomy, you see.
If not, why wasn't I proud to slid my hands underneath her skirt and caress her thighs while seated skin to skin on a night bus.
Other than said, I still have no smart answer to why I didn't attempt to smooch all over her in public.
Anyway, I don't know where Margaret is at the moment.
I for one wouldn't think she'd be getting a refund any sooner from me even if I knew.
Time had passed between us like volumes of water would under a bridge that I now kind of consider the debt as a cheap payoff with no strings attached.
And so, after my exuberant excitement about my mother and sister Janet’s arrival, there was so much to catch up on. It sort of clouded most of my brain activity for a day.
I had made her a promise a while ago. To bring her over to London after her university graduation.
Seeing her again after such a long time, all grown up, learned and sensible, made me realise my promise was finally redeemed. Shortly, that is after all the half interesting home stories were exhausted, I then discovered that Janet had an entirely different plan for herself than the one I'd previously envisioned.
You could half measure my surprise when I noted that she didn't want to stay any longer than was absolutely necessary.
The spirit of love does wonderful things to people, doesn't it?
It sure does.
If in doubt, ask yourself why Adam never bothered so much to query Eve on whose authority she did eat of the untouchable apple pie in the garden.
Janet was eager to return back to her base in Lagos to be closest to her new beau.
It was my understanding that promising young men were becoming rare gem finds like gold dust hidden amidst desert dunes of the Sahara.
Hence, having found hers, was determined not to lose an inch of this flourishing relationship to any would be hawk-eyed man grabbing competition in her absence.
In other words, my invitation was great. She was no doubt thankful and all that. But timing was awfully inappropriate.
Later, she confided in me of her obligation to making sure that mum got on the right flight and arrived her destination in one piece without the error of jetting off into some unplanned sunset by misadventure.
Considering the hoops I had to jump to make this trip happen, I was a bit disappointed. It crossed my mind once or twice. Was she throwing away what I believed was her golden opportunity to see the other side of the world and live a little.
You see, what you didn't know before was the background gist.
But never mind. No offense.
I'll tell you anyway.
Janet's initial application for a two year working visa was declined by the British consulate in Lagos.
Understandably, she was furiously offended.
I asked that she email over the declining officer's declaration for refusal.
When I eventually got the email and read through the written decision to refuse grant of entry, I thought it was the most ridiculous biased summation I've ever read. It had absolutely nothing to do with applicable visa qualifying rules at the time.
Janet had every right to be offended. She felt cheated.
I was so pissed off too, it was contagious.
I couldn't have forgiven myself if I was to let the bastard get away with such bad decision.
I couldn't let the arrogant, ignorant ‘no entry Jose’ git have his cake and eat it too.
I had to do something determinedly about it.
So, I challenged the little bugger’s decision for lack of merit.
Like the applicant, I believed it was biased. His was a decision based only on the seen to be tough UK immigration policy to generally keep as many applicants out rather than strive to genuinely identify the clever rule breakers with intent and then bar them from entry forever.
Consequently thereafter on this matter, I appeared in court twice.
The first hearing was adjourned because the representing solicitor for the immigration department wasn't properly briefed.
It was laughably shambolic.
And guess what!
It was my first time too in any courtroom anywhere in the world.
Even so, I'd never seen such professional unpreparedness in my entire adult life.
So much so that I felt sorry for the poor woman.
I really shouldn't have, but I did.
She didn't have the required paperwork relating to the case she was supposed to be representing.
Didn’t know any details worth knowing on the matter.
Oh man! You needed to have been there to witness the Judge’s red eyed monster of frustration.
If he'd been a dragon in a Kangaroo court, he would definitely have unleashed an uncontrolled fireball to consume the incompetent representative on the ground of not knowing diddly squat.
The second hearing however was more interesting.
I had my chance.
I had to stand in the dock though and defend Janet's application. After all I was her eligible qualified responsible brotherly sponsor.
The Judge agreed with my defence.
He was kind after he’d patiently listened to all that I had to say.
Justice, I believe was honourably delivered and rightly so on that day.
He overruled the immigration officer's lame decision to deny my sister her legitimate entitlement to a two year working visa.
Janet was aware of all this and charmingly glad enough when I broke the fantastic news to her.
That's what families do. They go that extra mile to support each other out of very tight corners wherever practical.
Anyway, that was then.
Now she’s here. I clearly get it.
Her life. Her choices. The decision was hers to make.
She obviously knew where her life was headed better than I or anybody else ever did.
So, once again, this time grudgingly though, I coughed up on my credit card reserve for her flight home via Qatar.
There was a reason for the detour. At least she could see the different airport settings over the desert state on her bon voyage way home.
But mother remained with me.
After mum's medical examination and blood test results were in, I received an urgent call from her doctor which sounded like a polite military summons you really don't want to argue with.
It also sounded ominous. They wanted her to return to the practice swiftly.
I tried to pry.
She said my mother was a disaster waiting to happen.
She told me that my mum was at a higher risk of suffering a bad stroke or worse, heart attack without warning.
“Ugbum kwa!” mum would exclaim.
“Not on my watch!” I spat.
“Are you kidding me?”
I didn't expect a reply to such outburst of emotion. I didn't receive any either.
The reason was clear.
I panicked and rushed mum straight back to the clinic.
Dr Gol had a severe look about her. As though she’d lost a relative the minute we walked into her surgery.
“Your mother has an unusually high level of blood sugar,” she declares, no sooner than we were sat down.
“She has what we describe as uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. It would need to be controlled with medication without any delay.”
Mum and I both glanced at each other like two strangers lost in a park.
For me it was useless querying when it all began.
We then thoughtfully turned to the doctor seeking explanation as though rehearsed.
How could this have happened!
Well, it did. It was happening and right in front of me.
I could tell that mum had no idea either.
Rightly or wrongly, I blamed my Dad in absentia for his not-so-bothered attitude at least.
I was convinced all this business with mum’s diabetes was his fault.
He never paid mum much attention like he should. Properly, you know!
As far as I could remember, he was evenly wrapped up with himself.
His excuse? He had to work bloody hard to provide for every one of his seven children and possibly one or two other dependent relatives.
Lame excuse if he dared sought my opinion.
Nobody! And I mean exactly that. Nobody had an AK-47 pointed to his skull threatening to blow his brains out if he refused the attempt to recreate the house of Jacob.
Yap! That's right.
Of course he could have stopped at three babies after I came along if he considered the benefits of controlled family planning.
That would have been selfish if he had. Because, I would have definitely lost out on getting to know the rest of my beautiful, lovely brothers and sisters who came after me.
They wouldn't have happened, you see. Not in the union that formed our family.
So you don't miss what you never had in the first place, or do you?
Anyway, mum was put on prescription medication immediately to counter any potential sudden risk.
I on the other hand, as son and next of kin, was handed out a bunch of informative literature to educate myself on the unpleasantness of uncontrolled diabetes.
So in the preceding weeks thereafter, I read anything and everything I could lay my hands on about this awful creepy disease that is often called the silent killer. Most came from authoritative medical sources with associated empirical data.
I also came across personal testimonies of how this disease robbed families of their loved ones unexpectedly.
Notwithstanding, there were outlandish comments and opinions posted on the internet too. Some at best read like tales from the hopelessly irresponsible.
I was furious.
This isn't a joke for me, pal!
This is real life.
My mother's life. And possibly others like her.
Until then, I had no idea that my poor long suffering and ageing mother had anything whatsoever wrong with her. Just age, which isn't a disease. Only the gradual deterioration of the physical being.
She never complained.
I did however note that prior to the doctor and us consultation, taking mum out to any function was any driver's nightmare.
She'd suddenly develop what I could only describe as a recurring urgency to use the bathroom at the most awkwardly shortest notice.
It didn't matter if we were on the M25 strip with no hard shoulder to park, or stuck in traffic while returning from an evening visit to St Michaels.
Those were very awkward moments. There was no way I could suggest to the poor woman that she couldn't use the bathroom if she was so pressed.
Instead, I would rather swerve and risk being caught out and fined for parking on the forbidden double yellow lines for five minutes in order to find a free public urinary.
Because she was desperate. That's why!
I could laugh about it now, but it was anything but funny at the time.
It was like, I want to go now. I have to!
I dreaded any journey with her in the car like a urinary plague because I was totally ignorant of what was happening to her.
It got so bad that I considered keeping an emergency bucket in the booth of my car, just in case.
I had no idea.
Her pissing urge was a result of her diabetic condition.
This took a while. But with all the information I had diligently gathered over time on this awful disease, I became an unqualified expert on the subject.
It drove my decision to devise, cook and implement mum's new food regime.
I kept a diligent diary of her daily blood sugar levels, morning, noon and before bedtime.
I even showed her how to work the digital blood pressure monitor when I'm at work or unavailable.
We developed a sensible mutual arrangement that worked perfectly for both of us.
Hers was to do the test at appropriate intervals and jot down the results in a small piece of paper.
Mine was to transfer such data into my diary on return or on my free weekends.
I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to give her the attention and care she needed to manage her condition properly.
This labour of love was carried on steadfastly. It so happened to be a great combination. With medication, change of diet, small walking exercises (she hated doing those) here and there. And in no time, we began to see improved consistency in the management of her daily blood sugar levels.
It was great joy to see my mother glowing again. We could drive to St Michaels and back without me as chauffeur worrying about when the next bathroom call may come.
Amara now looked like vintage wine. Grandly refined. A touch of light lipstick to her lips, a pencilled eyeliner literally transforms her face into matured beauty.
However, amidst this bundle of joy and gladness within me also lay an awful mix of sorrow which hung about like streams of devils water in scorching heat wave.
No matter how hard I wished it hadn't been, yet at the back of my mind I knew that mum may never fully recover from the debilitating ravages of diabetes to her nerves and muscle tissues.
Of course, by this time the disease was effectively controlled, but sadly, all the years of damage was deemed to have become irreversible.
Some examples were already manifesting. Muscle tissues in her right palm were gradually degenerating. The needles and pins sensation she'd talked about was constant. Not to mention the dead nerve endings to the tip of her fingers.
She felt nothing with them even when pricked with a needle.
I believe my mother had a high tolerance for pain.
Of course she had eight children, didn't she? All of natural birth, no epidurals.
And for one who'd always used her hands, I guess it hurt her most to discover that she was steadily losing the power grip in those same hands.
She prided herself as a mother and competent home administrator doing things with her hands. Losing such independent ability to do minor chores for herself and for others was potentially devastating.
So it wasn't okay by any standards.
Mum had a catalogue of health related problems which needed seeing to.
There was still work to be done.
Next in line was to fix that right bended knee.
The process took a little longer than was expected. Something to do with the various assessment and consultation procedures to ensure safety. Independent questions were raised and answers provided as to necessity and whether it was the best solution applicable to her wellbeing. In the end we had it finally corrected.
The operation went smoothly at first. Afterwards, though no one least expected, something went horribly wrong.
Mum had developed sudden blood clot complications arising from the operation.
I must commend the tireless doctors who acted so quickly getting mum onto warfarin. So, for the preceding two weeks, I was back and forth in hospital like a yo-yo.
First in the morning on my way to work and later after close of business.
They even made her eat hospital food which reminded me of four years at boarding school meals.
Nwa chi na emere!
Mum pulled through against all odds.
Then there was a tiny problem with cataract in her left eye.
“Easy-peasy,” said the consultant eye surgeon confidently.
“It’s routine these days as removing an appendix. Nothing to worry about. You’d be home in no time.”
He was right.
Mum was patched up very quickly.
We were home in less than three hours with instructions on how to wash and care for the affected portion.
At the opticians, a week or so later, I was convinced that mum would be selecting a pair of bifocal glasses. You know. Having two’s always better than one.
Surprisingly she didn't.
She opted for a single varifocal instead.
“They’re fashionably modern and look good on me.”
I was floored by her answer. I laughed out loud.
Those were my proudest moments. Being there every step of the way, witnessing mum gracefully being properly patched up. One illness after another. Anytime I recall one of her favourite sages, it brings a dry smile to my lips and a rising emotional choke up to my throat.
“A patched roof which continually leaks when it pours isn't a good sign of progressive workmanship.”
Or “What use is a full attractive breast if one keeps suckling a stump?”
It all made perfect sense when you think about it.