“Why? Why? …. Why can’t they just allow me to marry him” I sat on my perfectly laid comfy bed voicing out the emotions that can’t stay in my heart any longer, it was hard. I clutch my chest tightly trying to stop the piercing pain I felt, but it wasn’t working. It hurts badly.
“We still have the probability of not giving birth to an SS. I’m AS, he’s AS also. There’s a probability of not bearing a child with sickle cell disease. Why can’t they just understand that!” I yelled.
The shoe lying close to my feet looked like something I could use to calm the rage burning through me. I grabbed it tightly before throwing it across the room, unfortunately it landed on the standing mirror on my vanity table causing it to crack like the way my heart was breaking – not like I care about the mirror –something just had to pay for the anger and pain I felt.
I and Bayo Must Get Married … There’s 1 in 2 Chance Of Not Giving Birth To A Child with Sickle Cell Disease!
My parents can be overbearing sometimes – especially my mother – just because she’s a doctor doesn’t mean she can control my life. I love Bayo, and he loves me also – that’s all what matters to me – when there’s love, we can solve any problem. “We can. We definitely can” I tried to convince myself, but I hated the sound of my voice when it got to my ears. Internally, I felt confident that my stance was right, I believe I and Bayo can get married though we both carry the S trait, but my voice broke as I spoke – it quavered – like I wasn’t in control of it, like it’s trying to tell me that I am making a bad decision.
I released a loud humph before ducking my head on my laps. I despise the fact that my voice is starting to betray me – just like mum and dad. Then I rubbed my palm back and forth on my face. I started to think of the worst possibilities – which I know isn’t going to happen – because Bayo loves me a lot. Are we really going to have problems like mum said? Will Bayo stop loving me? Will our children suffer? I stop with the numerous ‘wills’ when I felt a light tap on the point of my shoulder. Waited few seconds but it didn’t reoccur. Then shrugged it off knowing I might be imagining things.
Who Are You…?
I wanted to continue with my mental questions when I felt a tap on that same point again. But this time harder. Trepidation begins to build up inside me. I’m sure I locked the door to my room, and I also took Mum’s spare key with me, so she won’t gain entry into my room, that means the possibility of someone coming through the door is zero. I remained glued to my position – not moving.
“Ara” the person called out my name. I was scared to my guts currently, it felt like I was in a sort of scary movie, “Ara … look at me” I raised my head slowly from my laps waiting to see some kind of zombie, but shockingly, this is more creepy than a zombie.
I grabbed my blanket lying on my bed, wrapping it around me tightly like I want to disappear in it – I don’t care, anything that will take me far from here.
After a minute of daring staring contest between me and the person standing in front of me – who hasn’t moved an inch from her standing position – I finally braced myself up. I can do this, I can do this. “Who are you?..” the person tilted her head, so I rephrased my question “why are you me? … or more so in a tattered clothe” the clothe my doppelganger – or whatever she’s – is putting on can’t even qualify as a rag.
“What? … How?..” I Asked
My doppelganger – her name until I found out her real name – took a step towards me, but I quickly raised my widened hands in her direction. She understood my gestures perfectly since she stopped in her tracks. She can’t move towards me, I can’t trust her yet, Even though she’s me – ironically.
“Okay” she folded her arms on her chest. “I’ll answer your two questions”. I dropped the blanket that I was hugging tightly, I’m starting to feel a bit comfortable around her – or me, or I- whatever, Ara’s doppelganger. “firstly, I’m you Ara because I’m you …” I scrunch my brows in her direction because I don’t get what she means, the look on her face shows that she’s as confused as I’m “from the future”
At least it is less meaningless now – though it still doesn’t make sense to me because I don’t believe in time travels. “I’m in tattered clothes because of you, Ara … you caused it. Your bad decision caused this” she looked down at her clothe with agony filled in her eyes.
“What? … how?..” I asked because I don’t understand how I can be responsible for that, I know that I’ve good fashion sense, so how can I make ‘me’ wear a tattered clothe – not me – never.
This Is Your Home in Ten Years Time
“You’ll understand when you come with me,” she stretched her palm open “come with me Ara… to see with your eyes what your stubbornness resulted into”
Then I arched my brows at her. I know I’m stubborn – yeah – but I still don’t see my hard headedness leading to a stage where I’ll have to wear ragged clothings. I look up to her stretched palm before standing up to place mine in it. If she’s really me from the future, she must be saying the truth because I don’t tell lies.
She closed her palm on my hand. It all happened in a swift. One second I was in my room and the other second I was in a huge house, a living room to be precise because it had a huge TV set and the sofas were arranged in all the four corners. “What is Bayo doing here?” I didn’t intend to say that out loud, but I couldn’t help it.
“This is your home in ten years time” Future Ara said. A wide grin formed on my face, Bayo was looking as handsome as he always does, and this house is huge – I’m definitely enjoying.
Explain More … Why I’m I Invisible?
My grin slowly turned into a frown when I saw me – probably 10 years time me – holding a frail kid in her arms. She looked skinny, extra slim. Her face had a lot of wrinkles, dark circle formed around her eyes – she looks far from someone who is enjoying – tears roll down her eyes as she approached Bayo, she got on her knees with the kid still in her arms, she cried as she shook the kid vigorously. “Why is Bayo silent?” I voiced out my main concern. I can’t seem to understand why Bayo wasn’t looking at her, he didn’t spare a glance in her direction though she was crying loudly, his gaze was fully concentrated on the large TV screen he was looking at “can he not hear her?”
“He can perfectly, but let me say you’re invisible to him… now” Future Ara said,
“explain more … why I’m I invisible?”
“Well, when you got married, it was all lovey-dovey until you gave birth to your first child. He turned out to be a SS patient. Bayo started regressing in his attitude towards you, but he was still supportive. You gave birth to three children who had the sickle cell disease, two are dead this is the last one standing … and well, see for yourself,” she paused. I don’t think I’ve experienced something more painful than this, this hurts way more than how I felt when Mum told me I can’t marry Bayo because of our genotypes “Bayo blamed it all on you when he lost his two kids because you convinced him saying you guys don’t have to give birth to an SS –”
It Was Avoidable! The Sickle Cell Disease Was Avoidable!
She stopped when a woman came from a corridor opposite where Bayo was seated. She sauntered towards Bayo’s direction like she’s very familiar with him – I don’t have a single memory of Bayo having a sister who I don’t know about. I was about to ask Future Me who she was, when I saw her seat on Bayo’s laps, they both had wide smiles on their faces, they totally ignored the ten years time me who was still crying on the floor with a dying kid in her arms.
“Chill Ara,” future me spoke when she saw the scornful look on my face “the woman over there…” she pointed towards the woman on Bayo’s lap “she’s Bayo’s legal wife, sorry to say…” I turned my face to her when her voice sounded like she was reluctant to say something, “your divorce with Bayo is already processing in this time, and it’ll soon be finalized”
“why? How? I love Bayo, and he loves me equally… we can’t get divorced. No” I’m already at the brink of breaking down at this moment. What is worse than losing your kids and getting a divorce. One more push, and I’ll break down completely. I nodded my head in denial this can’t be happening – I must be dreaming.
No … No … Stop Saying That!
“Ara… if you had broken the engagement at the beginning when you found out your genotype incompatibility, all this wouldn’t have happened. If you had taken the advices of all your loved ones and also not try to convince Bayo that you guys might not bring a child with sickle cell disease into the world… all this wouldn’t have happened. Your children will still be alive, and they wouldn’t have to go through sufferings at a tender age until they gave up the ghost. It’s all your fault Ara, it’s your fault”
“no… no… stop saying that,” I got down on my knees, “stop please, it isn’t my fault, please –” my head jerked up on reflex when I heard someone yell. It came from ten years time me,
“he’s not moving again, he’s not moving, he’s dead” she cried at the top of her lungs while shaking the kid in her arms,
“No… no… he can’t be dead, he can’t” I shook my head as I sobbed loudly, tears flowed heavily from eyes down my face , “no, no, no” I continue to say while I shut my eyes tightly. I quickly opened my eyelids with the word “no, no, no” still flowing out of my mouth.
Sickle Cell Disease Still Exists!
Realisation finally hit me. It was a bad dream – a nightmare – that looked so real. Then I touched the side of my face, and it was wet from my tears. I know it’s only a dream, but I feel like it’s conveying a message to me.
I icked up my phone from my bed side table. Dreaming in the broad daylight wasn’t something I’ve experienced very often, so I’m very – will I say – sad, no, more like sensible.
I stared at the genotype compatibility chart Mum hanged in my room when she found out me and Bayo are both AS. I never really paid attention to it before now. It had – AA+AA= CAN MARRY, AA+AS=CAN MARRY, AS+AS= NOT TO MARRY, SS+AA= CAN MARRY, SS+SS=NOT TO MARRY, AS+SC=NOT TO MARRY, AS+CC=NOT TO MARRY, AA+SC=CAN MARRY, AA+CC=CAN MARRY – scribbled in block letters which were coloured red. I averted my gaze from the chart before ambulating out of my room. I need to inform mum the news she always wanted – for my benefit.
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I’ve been standing behind the sofa Mum was seated, and she still hasn’t noticed my presence. She was rambling to Dad about how knowingly bringing a sickle celled child to the world is wickedness. “Mum” I called out lightly causing her to turn towards my direction.
Mum, I’ve Agreed … I’ll Break Off The Engagement
“Ara… you’re awake,” she adjusted her glasses with her index finger “I was just telling your dad 1000 reasons why we shall not allow you to go on with that marriage… I don’t understand why you’re adamant, I’ve seen the pain the children and the parents face. Some bore SS kids unintentionally, that’s a different case. But you! Ara, you can stop that occurrence in your life, and you’re being stubborn. You’re being wicked to yourself and your future kids” Mum said in nearly almost a breath,
“Mum, I’ve agreed… to break it off. I’ll break the engagement”
“why must you be stubborn–” she scanned my face like she was digesting what I just said, “really, you’re breaking it off” she brought her glasses to the bridge of her nose.
“Yes I’m, right now” I pressed my lips together. I switched my phone on to send a text to Bayo. I needed to tell him the new decision I’ve made – for the betterment of my life, his, and our respective future kids.
About The Author
Writer: Zinat H. Abdulkadir
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria
Zinat Hannafi Abdulkadir is a student of Ahmadu bello University college of medicine who is enthusiastic about instilling awareness of sickle cell in the public.
She is a Muslim, a writer and an entrepreneur.