BY HOGANDE KIAFULI
ANY MOMENT from now, she will die. There’s no doubt about it. Death is already creeping slowly in, like the approaching dusk.
There is a gloomy ambience all around her, and the air reeks of death. Today or tomorrow, any moment, she will breathe her last. The beat of her heart will slowly tempo to a halt, and she will cease to exist.
Her stature heralds impending death. Her bones gain prominence amidst the wasting muscles and fat tissue. Her strength fades so badly that even her once so soft and curly hair, fails to stand firm on her rather thin scalp. The ears look as if they were withered by the sun, and the eyes have sunk deep into the skull.
As if afraid to look into the face of death, the eyeballs have turned upwards, such that only the white sclera is visible. Her mouth and tongue are flaked with white stuff that easily bleeds when tried to be removed. Water cannot be sipped, and food cannot be chewed because the flakes are very painful. She can talk no more, for her voice is suppressed by the terrible infection.
The bones of her limbs are clearly visible. Her arm bones so visible they look like baseball bats stuck in the side of her chest. The ribs stand out distinctly from the cage, moving with each struggling breath with.
Her abdomen looks as though it had been emptied of its contents. Urine flows out unrestrained, as she failed to muster up strength to contain it. The odour of urine and faeces is all around her.
As if spelled by the smell, no relative visits. That terrible day, which turns out to be her last, is the one she needs her family most, particularly her mother. But mother, a health worker, has frozen her account of tender-loving-care.
The one male in the world that she calls Daddy withholds his loving presence at her dying moment. Her brothers and sisters refuse to show she is their little sister, once so loved and cherished. As her moments tick away, the memory of her family fades, and she brushes aside remaining hope of seeing them again.
But a man sits on the bed by her side. He is the love of her life. Tears flow freely down his cheeks as he watched her sick body. He wishes he could look into her eyes once more, and see the colour and radiance of life. He wishes her lips could part again into the smile that once sent chills up his spine.
He takes her right hand into both his hands, and gently squeezes them. He takes her palm and slowly moves it over to his lips. He kisses her palm, as more tears pour down his cheeks. He cannot help but weep into her palms.
He tenderly lowers her hand to her side, and reaches for her face. Smoothly he cups her face in his hand, and affectionately caresses her cheeks and jaw. His heart aches as though dropped in a pot of boiling water. His voice box has iced up, and he is rendered speechless.
All his words seem to turn into fresh tears, streaming onto his shirt. His mind is blank, as if switched off by remote control. He doesn’t know what to think.
He leans forward and gently kisses her forehead. “I’ll always love you,” he manages to sob, “and I’ll be here by your side with the love I’ve always had. You going to be OK, darling, you gonna be fine.”
I was stunned. For almost two minutes, I stood there speechless, and motionless. I had gone there to put up an intravenous cannula so we can infuse her with supportive fluids. Instead, I found myself being infused with inspiration and… sympathy…or maybe something between inspiration and sympathy. It’s probably next door to pity, or sister to compassion. I just cannot describe, but I felt it!
What a love!
As I stood watching, I noticed that he was now looking at me, with tears still pouring from his eyes. I realised too that my eyes were wet, but before I could turn around to wipe them, a single drop of tears escaped my right eye and rolled down my cheek.
“I’m so sorry but, the love you have for your wife really inspired me,” I said.
“She is my wife, and I will love her till death. I have vowed that in good and bad times, for better or for worse, I’ll always be with her to love and cherish, and that is what I’m doing. I understand that she won’t make it, but I want to treasure every moment I can with her, while she is here with me.”
“God gave her to you to love, and I can see that you truly love her,” I said. “God will reward you because you truly loved the wife He gave to you. You loved her just like how God loved sinners, and for that, I am truly inspired!”
“Thank you, doctor,” He sobbed. “I thank God for you.”
That night, the deadly HIV celebrated, because it successfully ended another human life.
True love flows only from a heart that knows the God of love!