Ikekhuamen was my brother. Ikekhuamen died at the University College Hospital in Ibadan around around 1964. How did he die? Nobody really knows what happened, in those days, a child died and there would be stories. Ikekhuamen. had seizures or “convulsion” and the hospital said whatever was poured down his throat was corrosive. Another story was that when our mother Izuma went to visit him, he started crying, upset, somehow some contraption that was attached to him to keep him alive got detached and he bled to death because the nurses were not paying attention.
Stories. That is all we had. I remember him still, light skinned, handsome, like my little brother Christopher. Sometimes I think Ikekhuamen came back as Christopher. Christopher was and still is gentle. Unlike Andrew who was always getting in trouble, he who who reminds me so much of me. I remember the day Andrew was running away from this teacher in primary school, he jumped from the second floor and kept on running — home.
Andrew was not always that lucky, whenever I am frying plantains, I remember Andrew, how he tried to grab plantains from the fire and all the hot oil flipped onto his waiting back. All of it. Man, the screams of a boy with major degree burns being held down. It was my job to take him to General hospital. Benin City every morning to dress the wounds on his entire back. For months.
I don’t like frying things because of Andrew, I am always looking around in case our son Fearless Fang is nearby, he is just as stubborn and restless as Andrew.
“Convulsion!” That was the rallying cry of the women in the Police barracks whenever. a child had childhood seizures. Childhood epileptic seizures. Whenever it happened, the drama was major. Someone would bring a spoon and jam it violently into the child’s mouth to prevent the child from clenching his or her teeth to the death. If you were the hapless child, you typically lost your teeth in the drama.
A woman would pour some mysterious fluid down your throat. Another woman would light a fire under your feet to keep you warm and alive. I had a “convulsion” and they put a fire under my feet. In the melee they forgot and the fire burnt all my feet. I did not walk for months.
My brother Ikekhuamen was not so lucky. They think the fluid that was poured down his throat killed him because it burnt his passages. He died at UCH, Ibadan. They said Ikekhuamen died crying because he missed our mother, Izuma. I was a little boy but I remember that night in Ibadan because the grief of a mother missing a dead child is something to behold. The women of my mother’s generation saw hell, Allah.
To this day, whenever I inspect my soles, burnt from ignorance and caring, I remember my little brother Ikekhuamen, and my mother. You would have loved Ikekhuamen, he was a beautiful boy. Our mother, Izuma, grieves to this day. Izuma, is a warrior. I should visit her soon. I miss our mother, Izuma, me and my burnt soles. I survived Nigeria. O, Africa. Yes. I am a warrior. Yes.
Come to think of it, as kids we spent a lot of time around hospitals. I should write an essay about that. Title: Zuma Memorial Hospital, Irrua. That is a real hospital by the way, founded by Dr Christopher Okojie. I spent a lot of time there. Malaria. Dr. Okojie was an angel. He passed away in 2006. Many children are alive today because of pioneers like him. I should write a book. Nah.