Didn’t seem to comprehend the rest of what the girl was saying, as her words stung my ears and heart. I could hear her, but I wasn’t listening.
“You don’t believe me?” She smiled mischievously, her eyes alight with an emotion that I couldn’t fathom “then ask your Papa.” She walked away.
I stood there, confused. It couldn’t be. No way! Mama wasn’t dead. We had had a hearty conversation this morning.
My house was several kilometers away from here, my school. I needed to talk to Papa; I needed to go home as fast as possible; but, there was no vehicle to convey me back. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry; hence, no one paid attention to me.
I took to my heels, and ran as fast as my little legs could take me. Tears clouded my eyes, and I ignored the consistent horning of the vehicles as I ran. I hadn’t ran far before tragedy struck. I laid down in the pool of my own blood. Furthermore, I felt no pain and as I drifted into subconsciousness, I saw a figure that looked so much like Mama’s…she wasn’t dead after all, or was she?
After the Accident…
The result of that accident changed my life completely. I couldn’t remember new events or new people. It was like being stuck in the past. My memories from the past were intact; but it was impossible for me to recall the memories of the present time. I had a huge memory book where I wrote down everything that happened in my life everyday. I also had a mini recorder which was always left on in my pocket. Every morning, I woke up very early so that I could go through my memory book, then, listen to the recordings I already made. With these, I was quite familiar with the activities of the previous day. These two items were as precious as life itself to me.
“Aren’t you going to school, today? Papa stared at me intently, as though he expected something unsusual from me.
“School?” How odd. I must have forgotten to scribble it down in my ‘book of memory.’ “Am I supposed to go to school, today?”
“Today’s your graduation ceremony, Aaron,” Dad sighed sadly, “you didn’t scribble it down, did you?”
How Long Will This Go On?
“How long will this go on?” I sat opposite Papa, and dug into my food, all the while avoiding direct eye contact with him. Papa had always taught me to be strong, so I was never really myself when I was with him. All I wanted to do was cry, to let out the pain and frustration I felt; but, somewhere in my head, Papa’s stern voice warned, “You are a man, and men aren’t weak; therefore you must never cry or show weakness of any form…”
I wondered if it was a normal thing that fathers did. I wondered if all sons were ‘men,’ if none of them cried or showed any form of weakness. Would Mama say same words to me? Where was she, anyway?
“There’s no cure. You have a permanent brain injury,” his voice was almost a whisper, as though he was scared someone would hear him , “but, it can be managed. Do you recall anything that happened yesterday?”
“No, Papa,” I uncrossed my legs and readjusted my sitting position, “whenever I sleep at night and wake up the next morning, I forget every event that took place the previous day. I remember nothing. Is this even life? What’s the use of living, then?”
“Don’t you ever say such nonsense words again!” If Papa’s eyes were guns, then, I would have been dead by now.”As far as there’s life, there’s hope. The doctor said you have anterograde amnesia.”
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What is Anterograde Amnesia?
“It’s a type of amnesia. You can recall past events and recognize people from your past; however, you won’t be able to recall any present or new events or even new people…”
“Then, I won’t be able to make new friends or remember anything that happens henceforth?” My heart sunk, and my knees buckled.
“You will be able to make new friends, but you will keep losing memories about them every new day…”
“Why me? What’s the point of everything, now? How can I be stuck with only past memories?”
“I’m sorry, Aaron. I know this must be hard for you, but we can overcome this.”
“How about college?”
“Do you not want to go?”
“Can I? Would I be able to cope?”
‘Believe in yourself, Aaron. There’s nothing you cannot do.”
I rolled my eyes, but he didn’t see. Yes, it was very easy to say, but quite difficult to actualize.
“When’s Mama coming home?” It was a weak attempt to change the topic, but it worked anyway.
Again, he gave me that odd look that made me feel stupid, “Your Mama… your Mama’s dead. I’ve told you this story countless times.”
“Oh!” I didn’t argue, even though a part of me wanted to.
Is it Possible to Recover from Anterograde Amnesia?
Papa had said I had an accident 3 years ago. I couldn’t remember the accident or even the surgery. I underwent surgery afterwards as I had a serious brain injury. The resultant from those events is what changed my life. I was diagnosed with anterograde amnesia. It’s a permanent condition as there are no medications approved by the FDA to treat amnesia, but it can be managed.
If I hadn’t had that conversation with that girl, would any of these have happened? Would I have to live my life dependent on technology assistance as well as reminder apps?
“Aaron!” Papa called, “someone’s here to see you.” I came out to meet my unexpected visitor, but my smile faded upon seeing her. Speak of the devil… There she stood, the beginning of my predicament. I wanted to scream; I wanted to push her out of my house; instead, I said nothing, neither did I move.
She smiled, “remember me?”
Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Nigeria