My heart beat fast as I remained on the mat after salatul-Subh. My right hand was shaking and I wondered why. I was worried but couldn’t explain the correlation between my anxiety and the shaking of my hand. Maybe a doctor can explain. Maybe he can explain. And probably if I get to hear his voice, I might stop worrying.

There was a thick silence in the room. Nervousness gnawed at my inside. And fear settled in my heart as the silence in the room permeated. I had the room all to myself since my cousin whom I shared the room with got married a couple of months ago.

The boys were in a world of their own so no one to share my worries with. I was the only girl child of my parents and the second of four. Mom, who would have been my confidant passed away when I was only seven. Dad cared less about my feelings. In fact, he was just too busy making money and attending to his new wife to give me the attention I needed.

Dad’s new wife was a nice person. But my heart didn’t accept her. She’d tried all her best to make friends with me but I always ignored her. I don’t want to be friends with a woman who’d come to take my mom’s place. I didn’t even saw the need to make friends with her since I had my cousin Neemah. Now that Neemah was married, I needed someone to talk to immediately hence I would be consumed by this fear lurking in my heart. Dad’s wife was a widow with two sons. She brought them into our house after she married dad and I had additional two male siblings. Why would she bring boys and not girls? And to aggravate my anger, her boys were as insensitive as my own three male siblings. What a lonely world!

I picked up my phone to call Neemah but she wasn’t answering the call. I tried for the umpteenth time with the same result. I put the phone on the bed and got up. I walked to the door but paused after grabbing the door knob. I went back and sat on my bed. Why wouldn’t I stop worrying? I thought aloud as I sat on my bed with a million thought going on in my head. Maybe if I go back to sleep I would be fine. I thought and laid on my bed but I haven’t laid for five minutes when my joint pain started. I moaned in sharp pain. My step mom rushed into the room while my dad followed her.

“Call the nurse.” My dad instructed his wife.
Aunty Bolanle rushed out to go get her phone. She rushed in again and put a call through to my nurse, the nurse my dad hired specially for me.

“She said she’ll be on her way right away.” My step mom told my dad.

“That’s good but before she comes around, please massage her leg for her.” Dad instructed his wife and walked out of the room

I was really angry, how insensitive could my own dad be? Not even a sorry from him to me. He had always been like this anyway so I wasn’t surprised. I shouted as the pain grabbed me again. My step mom rushed out of the room to go get some ice. She came back with the ice and was about placing it on my knee when I snatched it from her.

“I’ll do it myself.” I snapped.

“Allow me do it. Beside, your dad instructed me to do it.” She replied calmly.

“I know, I know everything you do for me is always because my dad said so. It never comes from your heart. Don’t worry I will help myself.” I said obstinately while she quietly left the room after realizing how unwavering I was.

I’d always done that to her but she doesn’t seem to be annoyed. Even if she was, she never showed it. I don’t like her and I do not hide my dislike for her. She was only pretending to be nice so as to win my heart. And I wasn’t going to honour her with a friendship. It was five years already after she married my dad and I still find it difficult to accept her.

Mom died when I was seven and dad refused to marry again. I couldn’t discharge my responsibility as the only female child because of my ailment but this didn’t make my dad consider marrying again. I was happy there was no woman in his life to snatch our love from him but my happiness was cut short five years ago when he announced that he wanted to marry aunty Bolanle. Angry was an understatement, I was devastated but there was nothing I could do to stop him. And eventually, the attention that wasn’t even there before reduced to zero. I transferred all my frustration to aunty Bolanle and vowed never to accept her.

I placed the ice on my knee and groaned in pain. Aunty Bolanle rushed in again but my scornful look sent her back. I do not need her help. I was on this first aid treatment when my nurse finally walked in. She administered the necessary treatment and I was relieved.


My name is Azeezah Balogun. And as a child, I suffered from Juvenile Idiopathic arthritis, known in adult as rheumatism. And now as a 23 years old adult, I had the full blown rheumatism. My late mother died while I was just seven but before her death, I could never forget how my pains caused her sleepless nights and tears. JIA snatched my childhood from me and the only memories I had of my childhood was pains and tears. JIA made me a truant in school and the four wall of the hospital became my second home. My dad was always ready to spend his last kobo on me and it was only with the mercy of God that I never sustained a physical deformity.

While growing up and even now, I was excused from any physical rigors which includes house chores because of my ailment. Rasheed, the first child of my family wore my late mom’s shoes perfectly. He grew up into a very dutiful young man. Because I could do less or nothing at all, dad raised him a bit toughly. He does the chores and the cooking. Kamil, my immediate younger brother was also raised in the same manner. And as soon as Jamil, the last child of the family could lift his hands into his mouth, he joined them as well. My ailment made me a queen amongst my male siblings but I wasn’t enjoying it because I would have loved to assist them.

When my mom passed away minutes after she had her fourth child Jamil, life was dark for us. My dad was a busy man and my mom had always filled the vacuum well without a loophole and now with the demise of my mother, the vacuum mother filled became evident. The death of my mother was a big blow to dad. How would he survive alone with a new baby and three other children amongst whom was a child suffering from an ailment? But the toughness in him quickly paved way for him and he raised his children like a Lion. My dad hired a nurse for me while his sister took baby Jamil away and only brought him back to us when he was five. Then the nurse my dad hired for me introduced us to a natural remedy for my ailment. It worked and I was better but not without the symptoms showing once in a while or more frequently sometimes. Then I grew from that little ‘sicky ‘sicky girl into an adorable young woman. I left the pains behind me but the desire that generated as a result of my pain never faded away.

The first time I saw my dad in tears was when my mom passed away. And the second time I saw him weeping like a child was when I was ten. I suffered a very severe attack and everyone thought I was going to die. It was in the middle of the night and my poor dad was running around the house without getting hold of anything in particular. He had no car of his own then maybe he would have rushed me to the hospital. My dad was helpless, my two brothers in the house were crying profusely. I was dying while my family could only shed tears. Dad had done all the first aid he knew but I wasn’t getting any better. I felt like my bone was been smashed into pieces. I was screaming in pain and my noise was what attracted the neighbors. Our landlord came around not minding the time and after seeing the severity of my condition, he offered to take me to the hospital in his car. My brothers stayed in his apartment while I was being rushed to the hospital.

I didn’t know what treatment was administered on me but I woke up feeling much better and my pain had disappeared. The following day, the doctor announced that I was discharged and I burst into uncontrollable tears to the astonishment of my dad.

“What’s wrong my dear?” The middle aged female doctor asked with concern.

“I don’t want to go home.” I replied amidst tears.

“Why wouldn’t you want to go home?” The doctor asked calmly again and instead of replying, I wept again.

I cried without replying to their questions. My dad and the doctor asked why I do not want to go home but I cried instead. My dad sat beside me and heaved a troubled sigh. The doctor too was confused but she didn’t leave my side. After a while, I said what was in my mind amidst tears.

“I don’t want to die. My mom is dead and I don’t want to die too.” I expressed amidst tears while my dad snapped at me.

“You better stop talking nonsense! You have put me through enough agony please don’t remind me of the death of your mother again!!” My father shouted with rage while I trembled with fear.

“Please don’t shout at her, she’s only a child.” The doctor replied my dad calmly.

“She’s only a child and she’s been so mean and difficult. Why would she want to remain in the hospital after being discharged?” My dad sneered in anger.

“It is not her fault that she’s battling with this ailment. Please don’t be too hard on her.” The doctor pacified.

“I know it’s not her fault and I never said it was her fault but she shouldn’t compound my problem by being stubborn. Why wouldn’t she want to go home after being discharged? Please help me ask her because I don’t have time for all this rubbish. As it is, I’m already frustrated, let her not add to my pains.” Dad said furiously and walked out of the ward in anger while the doctor turned to me.

“You see! You’ve made your dad angry. My dear, tell me why you wouldn’t want to leave the hospital?” The doctor asked calmly.

“Because I don’t want to die!” I said in tears again.

“No no, please stop crying. You won’t die.”

“But if I leave the hospital I will die.” I said and this time the doctor released a smile.

“My dear, you won’t die by the mercy of God. You’re perfectly fine now. You have to go home. The hospital is for treating sick people and not a place of abode……….” The doctor was trying to say but I interrupted her.

“The hospital is for sick people and I am also a sick person that is why I don’t want to leave the hospital. Whenever I am home, I always fall sick but immediately I get to the hospital, I would be fine. Please allow me to be living here. I want a doctor to be staying by my side every day. Doctors are nice people. They treat sick people and they have nice words unlike my dad who is always shouting at me.” I said and grabbed her two hands. “Please ma, allow me to be living here. I don’t want to go home.” I pleaded amidst tears while the doctor breathed a sigh before responding.

She turned my face to hers and after our gaze was locked. She spoke calmly.

“My dear, like I told you earlier, the hospital is not a place of abode. After a sick person is cured, he has to go home. You are very okay now, there’s no reason for you to stay at the hospital. Be a good girl and go home, okay.” The doctor tried to convince me but I was adamant.

“But I said I want a doctor to be by my side every day. There’s no doctor in my house. Please don’t let me go home.” I pleaded in tears.

“Okay okay stop crying my dear. If you really want a doctor by your side every day, then you have to face your studies and excel………………”

“And……………………” I interrupted sharply.

“And then you can marry a doctor, right? By doing that, you’ll have a doctor by your side not only every day but till eternity.” The doctor said with a grin while I jumped up with joy.

“Yes!! Yes!! Yes!!! As from today, I’ll try and not fall ill again. I’ll study hard and excel so that I can marry a doctor who will take care of me till eternity.” I was diggy with overwhelming excitement.

“Yes my dear, that’s the spirit. Now pack your things like a good girl that you are while I go tell your dad that you’re ready to go home.” The doctor said while fondling with my cheeks.

“Thank you ma’am. I love you ma’am.” I said excitedly while I impulsively threw myself at her. She scooped my tiny body in hers and I felt like a messiah was sent to me from above.

Now as a 23 years old young woman, whenever I remember the incidence, I realized that the doctor said all that just to cajole me into going home, you know, an adult can make use of anything to deceive a child. But to me, it wasn’t a cajolement. Beyond the doctor’s deceit, a dream was conceptualized inside of me. I held on to what the doctor said. If I didn’t marry a doctor, what do I gain? Who can take care of me and my ailment better than a doctor? And so the desire to marry a doctor sparked. The similitude of my case was that a company which has already specified that an employee must have a five years experience before being employed, Persons who do not have five years experience would not even be considered. You have to be a doctor before I can even give you audience. No doctor, no marriage. And now, I found myself in a fix. I woke up with my heart worried………………………………….

To be continued.

Lateefah Adewunmi Jumah


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