IT IS PART OF THE GIFT
At Sabena’s home:
SEVEN year old Sabena lies ill on a small Iron bed placed in the small palour. Her father and mother sit by her discussing her in low tones while she lies fast asleep this rather hot afternoon The bed is placed at the middle of the parlour to take advantage of better ventilation at the position. Sabena is getting better as she no longer shivers from cold; she even sweats and there are sweat beads on her sweet young face
as she sleeps, oblivious of her parents-nay the world. There is a small table at the foot of the bed. The medicine bought from Sam, the village chemist, and a plate of unfinished food, are placed on the table; a half full cup of water Sits at a corner on the table. ‘ Visitors come in once in a while to sympathize with Peter and his family.
Peter: [As Angela leans forward to wipe the sweat beads on Sabena’s face] I hope that doesn’t wake her up. [Lowering his voice] This is her first sound sleep in three days. Careful my dear.
Angela. [Shakes her head amidst a whisper] No, she will not wake up. It’s important that she sleeps well. The sweat beads were beginning to build up and would begin to trickle down a corner of her face, giving her the sensation of something crawling across her face, that would make her wake up. Peter. [Admiringly] Her sweet little face; my intelligent and brilliant girl. [Observes] Since she is beginning to sweat, she IS surely getting better. [Admiring her with a smile] She Is very much like me. Angela. [Whispers as Sabena stirs a little]. Allow her to sleep. Visitors Will soon begin to troop here and will surely interrupt her sleep. So let us allow her to get some more sleep before they begin to return from the farms and school and start coming. Her teacher will surely come after school since she sent some pupils to come and find out why Sabbie had been away from school for two consecutive days. holy will also soon return from school and you know what that means. the end of sleep for Sabbie. Peter. Please fan her with something. I am sure that the heat is disturbing her sleep. She needs some more air. That will help her sleep better. [PICKS an old local fan from under the bed] Here, use thus. [Queries] What time did “Doctor” say that you should give her the atternoon drugs? It is already half past twelve.
Angela: I’ll give her the drugs by one or two, but she has to eat before taking them.
Peter: [Insists] My question was what time “Doctor” said that she should take the drugs, not when you want to give them to her
Angela: He didn’t give a specific time; he said in the afternoon. So I will give them to her by one or two. She has already had her morning drugs Look at the table. she didn’t eat much. I had to entreat and pet her for next to one hour before she even went that far.
Peter: [Cautions] I hope you are not going to give her that food again. It Is already cold and must be stale by now If I cannot afford a hospital bill at least I can afford what she will eat before taking drugs
Angela: [Shaking her head] Oh. no. I will not give her that food again. [She takes the plate and cup away]
Let me even take it away before pe0ple begin to come. [She resume] Uncle Eko recommended that I should ask her whatever she would like to eat before giving her drugs. He said that it would stir up her appetite for something which she would eat very well. Peter: [Agrees]. That is a good idea. But that does not guarantee that she will eventually eat the food. It happened to me when l was a child and when the food I mentioned was presented I could not even stand the smell of it. I still cannot understand that. Angela: [Rhetorically] Has she not taken after you? I think you people should form a club of the food phobic. I suggest that you name it Food Phobia Club of Africa. [Muttering] Food should make one’s mouth to water but food drives you away and I have to be forcing you like a small boy.
Peter: [Objecting] But I eat.
Angela: [Contends] Eat what? ls that how a man should eat? Look at how tall you are. You should eat sufficient food for a person of your height and get more energy.
Peter: Have I ever complained of weakness or tiredness? Go and ask “Doctor”.
Angela: You know what I am talking about; stop being shifty. If you were a small boy I would spank you for giving me all that trouble of forcing you to eat.
Where did you even learn that from?
Sam stops his bicycle at the front of the mouse and walks in greeting from outside before stepping into the house. He discovers that Sabena is sleep, as Angela mentions to him in her direction. His gesture reveals that he is sorry for the noise that would have woken her from sleep.
Sam: Master P! How is Sabena? I hope she’s getting better
Angela signals to him silently in Sabena’s position Sam covers his mouth with both hands with dilated eyes.
Peter: [Encourages in low tone]. Do not worry “Doctor”, come in. She is still very much asleep. Sam: [Takes a seat] When did she start sleeping? Angelaz About one hour ago.
Sam: Very good. How is the cold? I mean, IS she still feeling cold?
Peter: No. You can see that she is even sweating. Look at the gathering beads.
Sam: Good. [Counsels] Make sure she gets enough air. I can see that she is getting better. i went to buy some of the drugs that are low in my stock. I decided not to come in on my way to the market. Have you given her the afternoon drugs yet?
Angela: No. It is not yet one o’clock. I will give them