This is my fight song, just as Rachel Platten sang;
Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion
On this occasion, God please, this is my fight song. I beg you, I need to make that explosion right now, in your most holy name, let someone find me. Help-p!
Doris, can you hear me? My sister, who shares the same room with me slept like the dead. Doris o de jo na (Doris, I am begging), wake up! Help me! In the light of my pain, Doris was sound asleep hugging that her damn teddy bear. I hate teddy bears; they offer no real comfort to me. It is bloody-piece-of-foamy-substance.
At first, I had the urgency to use the restroom, my throat tasted like metal. I had regurgitated my dinner from my stomach back to my mouth twice, suppressing the feeling to throw up. If it happened a third time, I was going to puke in bed. In like manner, I counted from 10 – 1, to stabilize my breathing and control nausea.
Doris, please wake up. Hot tears flowed through my cheeks. If there was anyone in the world who could help me at that moment, it was Doris. Yet, she slept as though she had a contract with the dead. In as much as she was close to me, she seemed so far away. I wondered if my voice could even be heard. Slowly, all I felt was paresthesia and then, nothing at all from my waist to my toes. How I couldn’t move my body put a lot of fear in me. Surprisingly, I remembered Racheal Platten Fight Song and the fact that I liked to see myself as a warrior. I chorused hoping for strength;
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me
I was gingered to make another sound, so I made my final attempt to wake Doris. I moved my fifth pillow to my right side balanced it against my feet so that I could throw it at Doris but, it lazily fell to the ground. It didn’t even make a sound. I cried. It was 1:07 am.
Thereafter, I drifted into sleep. The event from the previous day flowed through me like a dream.
We had made it through a stormy period of filing the appellate brief at the Court of Appeal. The family of Ajanlekoko would do anything to have the judgment in their favour on one hand, while the Lagbaja family would instead give their only heir to the gods than hear that the court’s judgment was given in favour of the Ajanlekoko’s over “that 500 hectares of farmland” lying at 101th Avenue.
Given these points, one would think that it was a recent case of a family land dispute. Hell Nooo! The family of Ajanlekoko and Lagbaja have fought over this parcel of land for four generations, and they would continue this duel until the 10th generation or at any cost have it declared bona vacantia.
At this point, can we just burn land? Like, erase it from the surface of the earth the way we delete folders on computers? I would gladly select the option for these relatives whose ancestors are disappointed in the grave for their gross inhumanity towards themselves over land. Even so, what do I know?
Be that as it may, It was judgment day, and Chioma planned that we got to the Court of Appeal early to have an excellent view of those court of appeal judges who sat like the three witches of Macbeth. I didn’t know who to curse more. The then military government that relinquished acquisition of the 500 hectares of land? or the families that will rather kill one another? or the mere fact that I was just in some damn pain?
At this point, I despised the fact that the principal members of the family of Ajanlekoko and Lagbaja were not put to death like Lieutenant Colonel Buka Suka Dimka for the July 1966 mutiny. What was I even thinking? Toyo, no thoughts of dead people abeg! Moreover, it certainly wasn’t helping with the pain. I snapped back into the reality of my agony.
Doris, wake up, I need help. Water, please! Doris, water!
I couldn’t move, I felt dizzy, and I couldn’t see clearly either. This was not new to me, but the rate at which all was happening at-once was definitely faster than usual. I was afraid. and slowly began to go breathless like the oxygen in my room wasn’t enough. I said to myself, Toyo, you are a warrior. You have been through a lot already, and I know you’ve still got a lot of fight song in you.
I mentally weighed the idea of making it to the dressing table so that I could toss an item at Doris or on the floor. Hopefully, someone would hear the thud. First thing to remember, I made my attempt as I sang the nursery rhyme to bear the pain.
London Bridge is falling down
Falling down, falling down
London Bridge is falling downnnn
I didn’t make it to the “my fair lady” part when I dropped on the floor like a pile of dirty clothes, panting and sweating. I exhaled. That didn’t work, wrong song. Toyo, why did you involve the Queen.
Meanwhile, It was 1:50 am.
To emphasize, time was so slow no help came!
Also, I could feel the loud bang in my head, my brain was now on fire, like someone lighting a bonfire in there. My body began to burn; I could taste my hot temperature in my mouth as I struggled to breathe with my mouth.
I looked at the clock, hoping it was 5 am. It was just 2:20 am. Toyo, you are a warrior, don’t give up this fight song nimbly.
The cold seeped through my ribs, and I could feel my chest slowly lockdown. I had spent thirty minutes on the tiles. I repeatedly coughed to keep my heart warm, and then, the cough turned into me, trying to actually breathe.
God, please wake mummy up in her sleep. She always knows when I am sick and come to my rescue. Why isn’t she here now?
My body moved from the temperature that was capable of boiling water to ice water. The incessant rain in July made it so easy to turn stone cold. I knew I had to stay alive. I am a survivor, and I must win this fight. Songs use to help me forget the pain, I choose the song when the fight calls. As I sang, I closed my eyes properly, hoping my vision would get better…
Even when the world caves
Even when the fight calls
I’ll take heart
I know You are greater
Forever You are Savior
I will sing Your praise
With all that I have
With all that “I am”, Lord
Nothing! The pain intensified. I decided to stop begging God, but as my last ritual on earth, I said the Lord’s Prayer. If God didn’t listen to my prayer to wake up Doris or Mummy, he surely would listen to the “Receive my spirit” part.
I couldn’t bear the pains that seemed like I was being stabbed all over my body anymore. It felt like fire and ice at the same time while struggling to breathe. I couldn’t bear my inability to see correctly as I went dizzy anytime I opened my eyes. I couldn’t even find the tears to cry or the voice to call for help. Its been two hours of unimaginable mindless pain. Two hours of torture and muffled cry for help. Two hours of my desperate fight for survival. Was this it? Was it my end? In the hope that I wouldn’t die, I said a prayer, “Dear God, console my parents”. I blanked out.
I felt movement. I had hoped it was heaven. Then the voice sounded familiar. I was sure I knew that voice. As I drifted into the unknown with my eyes involuntarily closed, I was very much aware of what was happening around me. To rephrase it, how could I be dead and yet alive?
Under those circumstances, I heard Toyo, stay with me.
Stay with you? How? Can’t you see that a thousand nails pierce through me? Can’t you tell I find relieve closing my eyes and zooming into the unknown?
Toyo, stay with me. Somebody, help my child. Her interjected shrieks were enough to rattle the depths of hell. It dragged me out of the bottomless pit and yanked me into this world of mindless pain. She kept screaming, Jesus, save me. I thought to myself, who was Jesus to save, I or my mum?
If you hold her hand like that again, I am going to bite you. Madam, I can’t find her veins. I am sorry ma. My mum yelled again, if you touch my daughter again like that, I will skin you. When my mother is in her auto-panic mode, she screams, yells cries, and you actually can’t function with her around. She will confuse you.
I heard my mum say, touch my child in that way one more time and I will bite you. Use a yellow Canula, she demanded. Are you blind? Should I teach youuuu? Silence! I counted from 10-1 again hoping I could tell my mum nothing can ever go wrong again so long she stands by me, but I couldn’t open my eyes even if I tried.
In the darkness I lay, waiting for redemption. The usual happened quickly.
Generally, I could feel the saline already—the buzzing of doctors and the flocking of medical personnel. The head physician agreed to the first emergency treatment with antipyretics, analgesics, intranasal oxygen and intravenous fluids to stabilize me.
Then she requested the following series of tests which includes; random blood glucose, complete blood count, kidney function test, liver function test and a chest x-ray with a possibility of a brain CT scan followed to ascertain the cause of the crises.
At this time, Chioma had ranged my line almost a million time. She got to court nice and early, and I was nowhere to be found. I wasn’t picking my calls, till the phone’s battery was drained and was switched off. My mum got so angry, but then, knowing that I had worked tirelessly on the appellant’s client brief; she knew I would not have missed court without reason. She began to have many evil thoughts hoping nothing had happened to me after we left the office at 10:00 pm.
The court proceedings weren’t so exciting anymore. Chioma not only worried about me, but she also ended up not listening to anything that was said in court. Our plans to laugh over how counsel wore their wigs, or how the pronouncement of the court wouldn’t have ended the Ajanlekoko’s vs Lagbaja war, was untimely killed by my absence. Chioma kept on dialling my number in the hope that I would pick, while she tried to compose herself.
On account of my health, the investigations as to why I had passed out weren’t farfetched. My PCV (packed cell volume) result came back as 9% compared to my stable PCV of 18% to 21%. The doctors were not only outraged; they were confused because I had just had a transfusion barely 3 weeks ago.
Afterwards, my mum queried, Doctor, why is my daughter not opening her eyes? We’ve been here for seven hours. My mum wasn’t going to back down until she sees me sit on that hospital bed, force-fed me and out of there like her tiny little bundle of Joy.
Despite the expert opinions that I was responding to the treatments given, my mum was the first person to notice something wasn’t right about my unconscious state.
She was 100% correct.