It was an electrifying moment… tension hung thick in the air. It was the finals of the 2014 World Cup, and for the first time, an African team had made it to the very finals. The stadium was filled to bursting capacity. There was hardly room to stand- it was a sold-out match.

The Nigerians were already leading by a lone goal, courtesy of a defensive error from the Brazilian goalkeeper. The Brazilians, however, were fighting back with the tenacity of a bulldog. The pace was frenetic; tackles were flying high and low. Muhammad was at his very best. He was undoubtedly the man of the match. His presence was felt everywhere on the field- one minute you see him bearing down the left flank, the next minute he is defending deep in the Super Eagles’ 18-yard box.

Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. The Brazilians equalized! A heavy silence descended on every Nigerian watching the match. The tension was palpable as each team pulled out every trick in its bag to clinch the winning goal. The pace of the match increased even further and became more frenetic. But it was obvious that the Nigerians were tiring out fast as most of the attacks were coming from the Brazilians. It was only a matter of time…

Suddenly, with barely 2 minutes to go, a pullout from the Nigerian goalie found Muhammad unmarked. Controlling the ball perfectly, he dribbled his way past two Brazilians midfielders and started a dazzling run down the left wing. Weaving and turning with awesome skill, he left many Brazilians in his wake as he raced towards the Brazilian goalpost. However, Luiz was bearing down on him and closing the distance fast. Drawing on his reserves, Muhammad put on a fresh burst of speed to outpace Luiz. Left with only one defender to beat, Muhammad faked a dummy to fool him and powered a shot right into the bottom corner of the post.  GOAL!!!!! GOAL!!! GOAL!!! An African team had lifted the World Cup for the first time in history. Muhammad had done the unthinkable…

Shouts of Muhammad! Muhammad! Muhammad!! filled the air. Tears of joys were running down his face, as he felt himself lifted high up by his teammates.

UP NEPA!!!!!! The loud yelling of my nephews brought me back from dreamland. Their inane yelling brought me back from the comfort of my dreams to the harsh realities of life… the harsh realities of living as a cripple. I look down at my legs… legs wasted away by polio… and feel tears well up in my eyes. If only my parents had let me be immunized… if only there had been enough efforts from the government to sensitize the people… if only… if only… if only…

I gaze once more at my legs and let out a heartfelt sigh. Shaking my head ruefully, I reach for my crutches and hobble out of the room. I can never play football, except in my dreams.

I am Muhammad, and there are many more like me unable to walk, unable to run… there are many more like me, we who are victims of our parents’ ignorance. Please parents…immunize your child!

2 thoughts on “Immunization” by Edydeyemi (@edydeyemi)

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