By Musa Bah
In the village of Nekkoonna, the sun had just set and darkness was slowly beginning to fall. The village was gradually being covered by the shroud of darkness. The young boys were sent to go to Alagie Samba Juum, the village’s only shopkeeper, to buy kerosene for the lanterns. That was for those who were a little affluent; they could afford lanterns. The majority just drilled holes in empty tins of Nescafe and put a rope inside which when set afire, would draw from the kerosene inside the tin. This was how they sought to banish the darkness in their rooms.
Fatou Jobe was feeling a little dizzy and had to hold onto the metal pole protruding from one end of the bed.
She stood unsteadily and dragged her feet to the bed. She sat down and leaned backwards to ease the almost unbearable pain she was feeling.
“ Yow suma Ndeye, I am going to die,” her wail was deep and carried all the anguish she was feeling at that particular moment.
“What’s the matter?” Mariama Senghore, her mother asked, rushing into the room.
“I think my water has broken,” she said, “I wish I had completed my bucket list.”
“Please, don’t talk like that,” her mother said rushing outside to call Alieu, her youngest son to go and prepare the donkey cart for transportation to the clinic.
For as long as Fatou remembered, that had been their mode of transport. Whenever someone was sick and needed medical care, it was a donkey cart that was used to reach the hospital.
They lived in a remote village far away from any urban centre and thus, no form of development ever reached them.
The only time that they saw many vehicles – expansive or not – was when elections were fast approaching.
Politicians would come with their fancy cars and hold meetings in which they made many promises to them. They promised that if and when voted into office they will build schools, clinics, provide potable water and whatnot. As soon as they got into office, they chose to suffer from selective amnesia.
Fatou, had earlier completed her senior secondary school education and was then swept off her feet by one Buba Faal who eventually proposed and married her. He had come to the village only twice and surmised that he could not stay there for even a week. There was no potable water, no clinic, no school (Fatou had to trek ten kilometres to attend a primary school), no internet connection or anything for that matter. Thus, he had told his wife that it would be better if they stayed in Bundung.
This time Fatou had had a falling out with her husband after she caught him kissing another girl in their neighbourhood. They had fought and she packed and left for the village of Nekkoonna. At the time, she was already three months pregnant. No one came to negotiate for her return and; her father decided that he would dissolve the marriage immediately she gave birth.
She had loved Buba very much and was still holding the torch for him. She still had the flame of hope that Buba will regret his actions and come for her. At some point, she knew in her gut, that that was just wishful thinking. Buba was from a rich family who went around seducing girls by showing off his family’s riches. He got her and it went longer than most, thus the marriage entrapment. She reluctantly accepted the fact that she may never have him again.
A jolt from the cart passing through an area of land filled with potholes brought her back from her oneirism.
The pain was piercing and it was all she could do to prevent her from screaming. She would be ashamed to scream aloud with her little brother there on the cart with them.
“Lu metti yaggut,” she heard her mother’s consoling tone and managed a weak smile.
Mothers! They are a special breed. Despite the fact that she did not make a sound, Fatou saw that her mother knew that she was in excruciating pain. There was something about mothers, call it intuition, but they always knew the condition of their children. She squeezed her mother’s hand to acknowledge the empathy she felt.
When they arrived at the clinic, they were ushered into the ward where they waited for the nurse in charge to come and see them. You see, there was no gynaecologist in this area. The women in the regain were therefore left to make do with their nurse who was actually half traditionalist half conventional. That was the type of help pregnant women had to deal with in such situations. She came and smiled at the two women. Fatou was not in the mood to smile and exchange pleasantries. The pain she was going through was too much for her to even open her eyes talk less of engaging in a conversation.
The nurse ushered them into an adjoining room where there was a single bed with a white bed-sheet on it.
The bed-sheet was dirty, it had some blood stains and black spots on it. Despite her condition, Fatou took in all this within a few seconds of entering the room. She was then sprawled on the bed and she tried to open her eyes. She was dazed but could see the features of an older lady who had seen a fair share of suffering. She was the nurse.
The nurse told Fatou’s mother to sit outside and wait. She then went to another room for her tools. When she came back to the room where Fatou was, she was holding a tray littered with some crude tools. When Fatou saw these tools, she was so gripped with fear that she went blank, she had fainted.
To be continued…