You were 19, beautiful, intelligent, full of promise and all you wanted to do was to become a successful Accountant so that you could put a smile on your mother’s face again.
Jane didn’t know she would die of Sickle Cell complications. Not a single soul in her family knew she had this genetic condition. She was always anaemic and always had problems with pains inside the bones in her legs. That’s all the doctors ever told her mother, so mother didn’t know Jane had sickle cell disease although many of her children didn’t live to be 19. Even if mother knew anything about sickle, could she have done anything to save Jane? Jane’s passing tore her family apart. Everyone blaming everyone for something they did or didn’t do. There were those who thought she was pregnant and tried to abort it. Crazy. Her estranged parents sure were at each other’s throat. Father’s grief was more of shame for failing to be a real supportive father. Wasn’t there when Jane really needed him. Too late now, father.
Even the little old lady sitting across the street every morning minding her own business, wondering where her first meal of the day would come from got her usual share of blame African style. She is the local “WITCH” killing everyone who had potential, with her witchcraft. Now she killed Jane, the one shining star left of her mother’s children. How very shameful of this little witch.This is how sad it was. Someone went through their entire life in pain and when they finally died nobody talked about sickle cell. Not the doctors, not the families, not the community the deceased lived in. The witch across the road had done it again was all one heard. Over and over again the same story was the story in this community. “The witch who kills everyone”. Even those who knew about sickle cell disease would rather attribute the devastating effect of it to this witch. Maybe sickle cell disease is a witch. What ever form this particular brand of witchcraft takes, I’m certain it is not that little old lady across the road from Jane’s home killing anyone.
Who would marry our kids?, they say. At least in their view their children would find husbands and wives as long as nobody finds out about their deadly secret. Sickle Cell. That revolving door just keeps going round and round without a gatekeeper to slow it down. The witch is the cause of the pain, the crisis, the isolation, the stigmatisation, the marginalisation, the mental distress and more. It’s always that evil heartless, hungry little old lady across the street. That Witch. Jane is not here but the witch still sits in the same spot, patiently looking around for her next victim. She would most likely find one too, for as long as enough parents and young people are walking around guarding their secrets hoping to find a life partner before that dreadful story is told, if it actually ever gets told.
Jane is now just a name we all remember every now and then. Her pains are gone for sure. Set free from crisis, the cycle of pain that every sickle cell patient I know would gladly love to do without. At least I hope where ever people go after this world won’t be infested with crisis and discomfort everyday. That witch across the road would have to go to that place as well before she can hurt Jane again.
Sadly, little old lady sitting across the road or not, there would be plenty more victims because this community still does not talk openly about sickle cell. The family secrets would remain so. The kids would continue to find partners, if they live past 19. Jane is gone, relaxing in a better place I hope.
I miss you, your innocence, your beautiful smile and your tall gorgeous self. Your dream to see mother smile again would never be achieved. Who else is there? Mother may never know happiness, Jane, because you were her last hope and now you are gone, forever. Rest in peace my good friend.