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Sad Inspirational Drama

This story contains sensitive content

Malaria is a life threatening disease, spread by an infected female Anophelese mosquito. 

In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria worldwide. (World Health Organization)

Malaria is both preventable and curable.

WARNING: Depiction of illness and death.

There is water dripping somewhere: I can hear it, but I cant see it. I might be imagining it, because with every drop, I feel pain. Perhaps my brain has been conditioned to feel each blow of the drop of water. At the same time, I would do anything for a single drop of water. If only I could move. 

I hear a man groan next to me. I wish he wouldn’t. I prefer to think that I am alone, He needn’t remind me that there are more of us. That my suffering is not my own, but shared among the living dead. 

Days have turned into weeks; they have locked us in, boarded up the windows. The more time I spend lying in the darkness, I imagine that there are different shades if darkness. I swear, I can almost see the light in the dark. For a week, they kept bringing in more of us, before they decided that it was enough. We were shut in, not to keep from others coming in, but from stopping us from breaking out. The irony is that none of us will ever walk again. Our bones are caged in this unforgiving fever, our minds are left not to rot, but to imagine every spectrum of an undreamed memory.

We are at the mercy of our bodies spiralling into the abyss. We are alive, but something, somewhere inside us is already dead. At first the smell was overwhelming and unbearable. The sweat stain clothes became putrid, as fevers broke repeatedly, before the body could take no more. Then it was the smell of death that became familiar to us. 

A fly lands on my face. I summon my arm to lift and beat it away, but I am tied down with invisible ropes. My mind no longer commands my body, the sickness does. All of us, mind, body and soul are held hostage by a parasitic terrorist. I feel the fly crawl excitedly over my face. I feel violated as it tastes my skin, searches my nostrils, kisses the side of my mouth. Its death march over my dried cracked lips, whose wish only for a drop of that water that is dripping somewhere in the darkness. 

The man groans again. I feel irritated. Why cannot he die quietly, when the rest of us are doing just that. There is no dignity in this ending, we have been selected for this fate. The nights we slept beside our families, the nights we spent dancing with our friends, the nights we spent singing our children to sleep; we were selected for this fate. Around us they sung their songs of death, songs that we could not hear. Perhaps, if we had tried to hear them, then maybe, just maybe… we would have known. 

There are moments between delirium that I remember sweetness. It is my mind showing me that it is merciful, but it is cruel. In depths of this ever growing insanity, I hear children laugh, as they run to water’s edge. They scoop the water in their small hands and pour it down their faces, baptising their youthful bliss. The colours of the sun setting into the water is warm, soft and beautiful. The fisherman return to the shores, their nets full of their day’s catch. We run to them, we stand around, our hands behind our backs, our bellies jutted out and one leg forward as we lean closer to inspect their hoard. 

There are women, adorned and clad in bright colourful clothes. Sharp shapes, bold colours wrapped around their hypnotic, full rounded bodies. Their sink is dark like liquorice, their arms sculpted and strong as they pound sacks of cassava leaves into pulp. Their children cling to their limbs as they weave around them, while helpless infants are strapped to their backs. Our women are our homes, she embodies it all. In the end we all reach out to her, desperate for her caress, her full bosom and her songbird voice. 

There is an old man who sits under a large mango tree. His skin is scarred and hangs in loose folds around his thin bones. One day, he disappeared and now I cannot help but wonder if he is in here with me, hidden under all the bodies. Perhaps it is him who keeps calling out into the darkness. 

I close my eyes and I wait. It is all I can do. In my blood there is a parasite and my body is his host. I will welcome him like a weary traveller to feast at the banquet. This is what good hosts do. The air around me is heavy, I feel it pressing down on my chest. I want to push back, escape from these binds. But our restraints are from within. Our minds slowly driven insane, as the fever climbs until we are no more. 

The man moans again, wrenching me from my perfect stillness. I turn my head, but I lose control and it just flops to the side. I force my eyes to focus in the darkness, seek out the man. I find him. He is withering, in pain, lost out at sea. I try to call out to him, to tell him that I am here too, that he is not alone, but I cannot. My throat is dry, I cannot summon my words of comfort, so I just stare. After an age it seemed, the man, rolls onto his side and whimpers like a child. His eyes search around him, until, finally, they meet mine. 

My face is paralysed, so I do my best to convey a message with my eyes. 

You are not alone. 

The man blinks back at me. 

We continue to stare at one another. It is all we can do to hold on to our humanity. The stories we might once have told one another, are now translated into a morse code of blinking. I set out to make this man calm, but in turn, the fear I felt is slowly ebbing away. In our hell, I am not alone. There is someone else like me. 

This brings me peace. 

September 02, 2022 10:26

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