Inside every strong independent woman is a little girl begging to be cuddled.
Maggie drove in slowly and parked her car, almost the same time that her neighbor, Aduke drove in and parked beside her. She hurriedly locked her car so as to avoid making small conversation with the overly friendly Aduke. Aduke was faster, exiting her car and locking it before she was done with hers.
“Good evening Darling,” Aduke drawled. “How was your day?”
She turned to face her slowly, her face twitching into the semblance of a smile, and then she smiled, a bland empty smile that made it obvious that she was in a foul mood. “Hey.”
“Bad day huh?”
She nodded and made to walk away, knowing it was futile since Aduke lived in the opposite flat.
“I’m here if you want to talk about it,” Aduke offered, her heels click clacking on the interlocked floor as she struggled to match Maggie’s hurried strides. “Talking about it should make you feel better,” she continued, blissfully aware of her grating presence.
She gave a mild chuckle. “Not really. I don’t want to talk about it.” She walked faster, hoping Aduke would get the hint and just stop talking, but Aduke who’s nosiness was almost endearing wouldn’t let go, she held on tenaciously like a crab. She got to her flat and unlocked it as quickly as she could, doing her best to block away Aduke’s chatter. She stepped into her flat, stopping by the doorway as she thought of how best to dismiss Aduke without seeming out rightly rude.
“Babe, I don’t like seeing you like this,” she said, her face a concerned canvas. “I’d really feel awful leaving you looking this way,” she smiled, stretching out her hands, “Come here hun, a hug should make you feel better.”
A hug wouldn’t be bad, she thought mildly. Sometimes, all a person needed was a kind hug and soothing words. As Aduke reached out to draw her into her embrace, Maggie slammed the door in her face. She knew that if she had allowed the hug or even stood there for a few more seconds, she would have turned into a huge mess, with irrepressible sobs racking through her frame.
She wouldn’t cry. Men weren’t the only ones not allowed to cry, she wasn’t allowed to cry. She hurriedly undressed, shedding her clothes on the floor, all the way to the bathroom as she rushed into the shower, at least there, under the flowing water, her tears would be obscured. Maybe the warm water cascading down her face would help soothe her, maybe she could finally cry in the privacy of the darkened bathroom. She felt a thick lump in her chest, and the throbbing of her tear glands as they geared up, still no tears came. She could feel the tears close, so close, yet the tears remained, welled up inside her already tight chest, making no move to flow out.
‘It’s alright to cry, even my dad does sometimes,’ Ed Sheeran crooned from somewhere in her mind. She allowed it ring over and over in her head, hoping that perhaps, it would convince the tears to flow but they didn’t.
‘It’s alright to cry, even my dad does sometimes,’ Ed Sheeran cajoled, his voice in her head now taking on an almost pleading quality. She had no memories of her father so she couldn’t tell if he was the kind of father that sometimes cried. He had died exactly two days before her first birthday, they were birthday mates so he had wanted to mark the day in grand style. That fateful day, he went to buy a goat and some other items for the party. As he drove back home, a trailer whose driver had lost control of the brakes crashed into him. He died just a few minutes after he was rushed to the hospital. Ironically, the goat was found in the trunk of the almost mangled car, bleating and relatively unhurt.
It wasn’t alright to cry, because her mother almost never did, except perhaps, she did in her privacy. It was hard to imagine her mother shed tears, the woman who had refused to remarry though she was still in her late 20’s, instead single handedly raising three head strong children. Her mother, the Gibraltar solid woman, who even when her own father-Maggie’s grandfather died hadn’t cried. Even when her siblings were wailing and shedding tears by the bucketfuls, her mother had remained strong, instead she had hollered his praises in a strong, unwavering voice.
Maggie stood still, feeling the hot water permeate her every pore. She couldn’t afford to cry. She was a doctor and if she cried each time she lost a patient, then she would need to tote around a barrel full of her tears just in case she lost a patient and needed to cry.
This patient was different, she was a 5th year Medical student when the child was born, she could still remember its blue, almost cold skin and its very weak cry, how they had feared that baby was going to die. The baby had survived, despite the odds that seemed stacked against it, a weak heart and an unfavorable genotype, she had sickle cell disease. Maggie could remember how pained she was, that at this age and time, people still got married without knowing the compatibility of their genotypes, instead bringing sickly children into this world who invariably died before they had a real chance at life.
Pearl, which was what the baby was named had blossomed into a beautiful child and it was almost easy to forget how sickly she was. As the years passed, her parents had brought her to see Maggie each time they came for her check up. Maggie was like an honorary aunt and had kept abreast of the child’s progress from when she was a medical student to a house officer and then after her youth service, Maggie had returned to that same hospital as a Medical officer while she waited for a residency spot to open up in another hospital.
That afternoon, Pearl who was four years and quite healthy for a child with such odds against her was playing with some friends, suddenly she began to complain of pains in her head. Before anything could be done, she had lost consciousness. Her parents rushed her to the hospital and while Maggie and the nurses tried to resuscitate her, she had opened her eyes briefly, a small smile creasing her pale lips. For a moment, Maggie felt relief flood her and as she smiled back, Pearl’s body twitched almost imperceptibly and lay still.
Maggie could vaguely remember reaching out to feel her pulse and finding none, shouting at the nurses to bring the oxygen and walking back slowly to her office when all the measures failed. She could remember albeit faintly, how she had raged at Pearl’s parents, blaming them for being so stupid as to get married without knowing their genotypes and the berating she in turn got from her Consultant afterwards.
It’s not alright to cry because my mother never does, she thought, turning off the shower knob. As she stepped out of the shower, she felt strangely calm. Pearl was dead and there was nothing she could do, she only wished that all over the world, people would know their genotypes before making the choice of a life partner, in order to avoid the pain and suffering associated with raising a child with sickle cell disease.
Wishing you all Splendid week ahead.