JAZZ: Children Don’t Cry

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Writing this is probably the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do in a while. I’ve refrained from sharing this with you guys because I hate all forms of pity and this piece is bound to result in massive doses of that annoying emotion. Whenever I say I’m the only child of my mother people usually say one of two things; “you’re enjoying” or “how does it feel”. Before I go on I’d like to thank Chidinma and Franque for their posts it gave me the courage to write this.
I’m sitting here trying to remember details of their lives but shamefully my mind has only the barest memories of people I used to share a house with. His name was Junior he was my little brother and he liked to bang his head on the wall repeatedly. It was weird at first and people always tried to get him to kick the habit but when we realized he wasn’t hurting himself it became one of those odd family tales you told at the dinner table.
Ewere light skinned, skinny and always with a sweater. The one I didn’t get along with. She was three, four or five years older than me. I guess our rivalry stemmed from the fact that she was my parents’ favorite child. I was the one who was/still is a splitting image of my father but for some reason mum and dad doted on her and well as little as I was I must have somehow sensed it. It didn’t help that everyone fell in love with her instantly while I hovered around unnoticed. I was Ewere’s little sister.

Junior was 1st to pass. I remember all the commotion, my mum’s finger in his mouth, in her one woman battle against the convulsion that had taken hold of his little frame. They rushed him to the hospital that night and I assumed he’d return, after all hospitals made people better. He didn’t. Some random relative told Ewere and I that Junior was dead. My mum cried, Ewere cried, my dad didn’t he had to be a man, his friends said so. I didn’t, I wanted to and I tried to force the tears but nothing came.
I was in primary three, I remember this because I had to switch schools my parents assumed it would be too hard for me. Ewere and I went to the same primary school and she was such a goody two shoes that even though she had moved on to secondary school all the teachers asked about her on a daily basis. The school bus brought me home but for some reason my neighbor’s mum took me over to her house and not mine. She said my mum wasn’t home and I’d wait for her here.
It was strange seeing as my mum or dad was never home when I got back from school and staying home wasn’t an issue because at that time a lot of relatives lived with us. I didn’t think too much of it as my neighbor’s cousins were home for the holidays and we played video games. Sometime later she came to get me and they took me home. The children’s parlor as we called it back then was full of people and my mum cried unabashedly. It was de javu all over again.

My mum broke the news to me herself, news had come from FGGC Shagamu, my elder sister had passed on. Everyone was in tears but they didn’t matter only my mum did, I didn’t cry for Ewere just like I did not cry for Junior. I held my mum and told her to please stop crying, she didn’t and someone eventually spirited me off. My dad cried. Years later he told me he had locked himself in his sitting and cried his heart out.
Just like they did with Junior, they buried Ewere and no one told me where. I wasn’t invited to my sister’s funeral, it wasn’t a big surprise as I also hadn’t attended Junior’s. Someone decided children should not witness such things.
I had an active imagination and for many years I blamed their deaths on witches and wizards. I knew my genotype was AS but I didn’t connect the dots until a genotype lecture in university. I came home at the end of that semester and I asked my mum “were Junior and Ewere sicklers?” she said yes. I had a few more questions to ask her but I never did, it had been ages and yet the look in her eyes when she answered my question revealed a depth of hurt I had never noticed until now.
They say life shapes you and I am a testimony to that. In SS3 a classmate died and I had no tears. Everyone did but I didn’t. Growing up I had seen death up close and personal, my philosophy is people die move on. So I sit here today because I just read Franque’s post and the memories came flooding back, it doesn’t help that Chidinma’s post is also still fresh in my mind. I’m sitting here and the tears come freely. I cry for the little brother I never got to pamper or protect. I cry for the older sister who never thought me to watch out for the bad boys.
I sit here in tears today for my mum and dad who buried two of their three kids. I sit here in tears today for everyone who has ever had to mourn the loss of a dear friend/relative to the sickle cell gene. For the ones amongst us who carry the SS gene I wipe my tears because I understand that pity just won’t do. You are brave without trying, your courage you wear without fuss. I sit here today thankful that the tears have finally come, sad because I do not know their grave sites, angry that I was ever jealous of the affection Ewere got.

I am appalled when people say things like I love him and our genotypes are not important. When my parents got married, the genotype testing wasn’t available to them and I can tell you for a fact that they would’ve walked away if they knew what fate held in store for them. It is your life and yes you are free to do whatever you wish with it, but please consider Junior and Ewere who passed on in excruciating pain. Please consider mum, dad and I who are left to mourn them.
Thank you for reading.

Jazz

Jazz

A word that best describes me is “complicated”. Love music n addicted to Lagos radio. Confuses fiction with reality, so I strongly advise u take anything I say with a pinch of salt. Blood bleeds Red n Black. Man United – Do not test me. When I die I’d like to have “Here Lies Greatness” on my tombstone. Cocky much, Naughty much, Silly much. That is all.

25 comments

  1. my heart goes out to you Jazz as i read dis,and i applaud your courage for sharing this.words are just not enough,one only hopes that in this modern age people will not take chances using lame excuses of love to cover it up

  2. May they lways be in the hearts o’ those who loved them, thanx for sharing this story with those o’us who never truly get it…

  3. I have nothing to say. Nothing at all. Just thought I’d make a comment after reading. I can’t find any words. I’m touched to my soul.

  4. Firstly,its so touching you thought to share your personal story to the world.I appreciate it and have lived with cousins and seen them die until only3 of 6 are left.
    One of whom may go as well.
    I think we should all get proactive.
    AS and AS are still getting married and I just saw a friend produce her second baby of unknown genotype
    The first was confirmed AA via amniocentesis.
    There are several others who will take that step.
    I wish our celebs and the rest of us would get working to raise awareness about this.
    It affects everyone and dear jazz,I hope this story will pay off knowing that someone will make a right decision by reading it.

  5. Wow! I think this is what our ppl thought was ogbanje. Majority of young people these days know about this salient issue.
    It’s better to do the noble thing and walk away from such a partner than to allow innocent kids suffer. It happened in the past because of ignorance but now that we know,we can and should make a difference.
    Jazz,keep being your courageous self and thanks for sharing.

  6. Am lost for words but I hope this post makes a difference in the lives of those who carry the ‘SS’ gene.I commend your courage. Well done

  7. I really can’t find the words to say! This is soooo touching! May God continue to strengthen you Jazz! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  8. Very touching Jazz. Thanks for having the courage to share this.

    My blood type is also AS & my dad is a sickler (thankfully he’s still alive) so i kinda know where you’re coming from. Ever since my brother & I were young, my mum always drummed it into our ears that if we ever chose to get married, we had to be careful. Sigh…

    May the Lord God continue to strengthen you & your family. Amen.

    Bless you..

  9. Wow! Jazz, this is a lovely write up, esp cos its true. Can’t imagine how hard it wuda been to write this. I’m so sorry babes!

  10. As i sit at my desk, it’s a wonder how i managed to hold the tears back. However, i must say that whilst it isnt the best decision for two carriers to marry, i do not totally abolish the idea. There are sickled cell people who have been a great blessing to this generation and selfish as it may sound i am grateful to their parents for the courage. Unfortunately we all will die. Parents have lost all their kids to a car crash in one day if they where asked they would probably have made all the right choices. From experience i know couples who decided they would rather adopt than part ways for the sake of their genes and they are so happy together. Life is full of choices and there is no right or wrong script.

  11. A true story of life which still creeps into most families even in this present day unfortunately. ‎​Τ⌣h⌣ã⌣ñ⌣k⌣s for sharing your experience dear, and I hope a lot of us who are still single learn from it. BE WISE.
    However I see the issue of genotype as a way which God has assisted the human race to sieve properly while seeking for a help-meet

  12. Jazz… With tears in my eyes… I must say I admire your courage.
    A friend of mine died in Primary school and I didn’t cry but a friend’s sister died SS two years ago while in final year and I just couldn’t hold the tears…. I sobbed like she was family.. Thinking of all the pain she had been through.. I was almost happy she had gone to rest…
    Your story speaks volume to intending couples… It’s just unfair and plain selfish for people to get married all in the name of love knowing fully well that they might have SS offspring.
    The Lord is your strength. God bless you

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