The mask was suffocating, yet papa insisted I wore it while accompanying mama to the clinic. Freaking hospital policies! They never ceased to repulse me. As I walked briskly behind her, I pulled at the aged piece of clothing. It reeked of locust beans, but that was the only one I could lay my hands on as we hurried out of the house in a bid to get there early. Mama termed handing out a hundred naira note to a mask vendor a waste of funds. It wasn’t worth the effort, while there were rumors of the virus being fake, mama being a strong upholder of that rumor. No matter how many times Madam Yinusa had tried to educate her on the dangers of having on a bacteria infested nose cover, she remained adamant. Well, to be honest, I understood her perfectly. I mean, it was easier picking up an old napkin, and turning it into a nose mask without spending a dime, than acquiring one with a whole ten naira in ten places. Some vendors even had the effrontery to sell it for a hundred and fifty naira. What were they thinking?
A lady in green directed us to the outpatients department, and as we crossed the little boundary separating the A & E from our destination, I noticed mama pull at the straps of the mask. After a few seconds, she pulled it off altogether, deciding to use it to wipe the sheen of sweat on her face instead. I smiled to myself as the passersby grimaced at her actions. Who doesn’t loose guard once in a while?
Finally, we were sitting, waiting to be called in by the doctor. I sighed as I stared at the number on the little piece of paper handed over to us. The figures 47 stared right back at me, as if daring me to sound a word of complaint. I sighed again. If the lady at the card collection office hadn’t delayed us with unnecessary questions and her chatting with her big mouthed friend, this could have been avoided. Mama eyed the lady for the umpteenth time. I was sure she felt angry for greeting her with a handshake. Apparently, she wasn’t worth any respect.
We almost flew in as we heard our number being called out. It was almost 12 noon, and the girls at the buka mama owned couldn’t run the business for that long without her presence.
He looked handsome, but the scowl on his face made it difficult for me to ascertain. The random blood pressure and temperature check was carried out, and then the questions began. Mama had come with the intention of getting a malaria test done, but the doctor had other plans.
“When did the difficulty in breathing start?” The doctor inquired.
“Yesterday. Exactly a week after the fever and soar throat begun.”
Mama didn’t notice the calculative eyes of the doctor as he added two and two together to make a ten. He then opened his mouth to make a declaration I still do not understand how he came to such conclusions. He said:
“I think you have contracted the deadly corona virus.”