“And that’s when the dog barked”, He finished
“That’s when the dog barked?” I asked, giggling
“Yes!!” The kids screamed excitedly
I’d heard this story more times than I could count but it sounded fresh every time Simon told it. He held the kids spellbound and they never got tired of hearing him tell the dog story. I loved him. I loved the other kids as well… I couldn’t but love them. It was my job to look after them for a few hours each day and loving them made that easy. I loved Simon the most though. He was really special to me.
I found being a primary school teacher so rewarding. It gave me hope after my loss last year. I never thought I’d come back to this job after Pelumi’s death. Pelumi, my love, the husband of my youth. The one I made all those plans with. I didn’t think I could go on when he died. In fact, there were many nights when I was certain I was dead because I could see him standing over me, watching me with a sad, sad look on his face. It was always a sad look and whenever I tried to get up to give him a hug, just the way he liked his hugs, he walked away. He always walked away and I always screamed. My screaming never brought him back. Instead, it woke my mum up. Her hands were quick to hold me as I cried and called out his name.
“Pelumi!!!! Pelumi!!!! Come now!! Where are you going?!! Pelumi!!”
My screams woke my dad as well. He always stood at the doorway of the room muttering prayers.
I couldn’t have gone through that experience without my parents. They were my rock.
One year later and I’m slowly finding myself again. I’m 31. A young, childless widow. But I’m ok now. Maybe not ok but much better. Things will fall into place. For now, these children are my joy. The light in my darkness.
There is something about Simon Danagogo that endeared him to me. I’ve not met a stronger, more compassionate 6-year old. He is such a trooper!
I’d walked into class 2 weeks ago to see his classmates gathered around him, noiseless. You could hear hay drop in that silence. Only his voice could be heard. I listened as he told them why his eyes were not white but yellow, why he got tired easily and couldn’t play soccer with the other boys for long, why he had to take prescription pills everyday and why he was often absent from school.
“You know my grandma comes to see Mrs Poroma every time I’m not in school right?” He asked
“Yes”, They replied
“It’s because I’m in the hospital and my bones are paining me and I cannot come to school,” He explained
“What do you do when your bones are paining you, do you cry?” I heard a voice ask
“Yes I cry and I also pray to God to help me stop crying so that my grandma too will stop crying because she cries every time I cry.”
That sent me straight to the staff restroom. I had to compose myself. Simon had sickle cell anaemia- a hereditary blood disorder where the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells instead of the normal disc-shaped red blood cells. This affected some of his organs and caused him a lot of pain especially in his bones. He had missed school several times this year and I figured someone had asked why, leading to the explanation. It tugged at my heart to see him that brave even when he knew the pain could start again at any moment.
I hurriedly dried my eyes before going back to the classroom. I didn’t want the children sing-songing,
“Mrs Poroma, sorryyyy”
“Mrs Poroma, why are you cryyying?”
“Mrs Poroma is your head paining youuuu?”
The thought of that made me giggle.
“Who likes when the dog barks?” I asked, when he was done with the story
Squeals of “Meee!! Meee!!!” filled the class as little hands shot up.
“I like when the dog barks too” I said, smiling. “Let’s clap for Simon”
SEQUEL NEXT WEEK!!