The Wind of stigma made Emeka’s world so cold. Everywhere he turned, fingers pointed out at him like he was vermin, an outcast. Parents warned teachers to prevent their kids from playing with children of his kind. His uncle Odiba often attended PTA meetings with all the arsenal in the world, cursing and lashing out against all the parents and teacher who treated infected students like garbage.
This torture lingered on all the way to university. He formed an association of infected students and fought hard for their rights. He ran several protests to build acceptance amongst other students but these activities were often used as comic relief as “Normals” would perform pranks and laugh hysterically, leaving the infected ones depressed.
Emeka as determined as always rallied his troops to fight more and never give up. “Alaran” as they were called, was a derogatory term used to describe the infected students.
The Government did everything they could to supply these infected students with their dose of Anti-retroviral drugs. Every month students would line up at the school teaching Hospital, the nurses covered up in bio-hazard suits and gloves handing out the drugs. Emeka, as part of his agenda fought against the bio-hazard wearing nurses as he felt it contributed to the Discrimination of the infected, as the disease could only be spread via Sexual intercourse and Blood transfusion but again the cries fell on deaf ears.
Emeka stepped out of his room this very cold morning, his usual practice included going through his social media platforms for news. He often day dreamed while he smoked marijuana with his friends as they joked about things they could achieve if a so called cure was found, the places they would go and hot girls they would bang.
Emeka checked his phone and saw that the #OVER was a trending topic on his twitter timeline. He decided to check what the discussion was about. For that movement he felt he had just hallucinated. “But I didn’t Smoke this morning now?” he asked himself, he rolled his scanty beard in anxiety, paced around the front his room before he burst into hysterical joy “YES!!!!!!! It is over guys! We are Free! YES!” the whole boys hostel jumped out of beds and the infected quarters was left puzzled by the Emeka’s outburst.
His closet friend Simon, an abandoned infected orphan found at a night club, asked him “You mean they have found the cure?” his were eyes watery, he knelt down slowly and grabbed Emeka by his shorts, Simon looked up in the sky as tears cascaded down his cheeks he flashed back to the days at the orphanage where he would watch other “Normal Kids” get adopted while he was always left behind, the years of stigma, the nicknames, the bullying. Emeka looked down on his crying best friend he whispered “Yes Bro, We are free” Simon looked away from him, let go his shorts sat on the ground like a throne, and grabbed the earth while screaming loudly.
It was wild! The infected partied on for three days, didn’t attend lecturers, drank and danced like crazed monkeys. The Normals looked on as the infected partied and rejoiced. Finally, they would be accepted into society as humans being.
On the fourth day, a Huge truck with supplies of the antidote rolled into the school as the “the Infected” escorted them from the gate down to the teaching hospital, holding palm branches, waving white handkerchiefs in the air symbolic of the coming of a messiah, they walked a good 2km dancing and singing as the trucks slowly drove down to the hospital to administer the antidote.
Emeka, stood at the hospital gate, his legs vibrating like the earth shook, the oxygen felt different, clean and fresh like it was his first breath, his hands twisting his scanty beard over and over as they stubbornly untangled themselves, his shirt tied across his head like a hooligan. Different families waiting at the hospital to witness the emancipation of their wards from their Bio incarceration. The head ties were so colorful the rainbow would be hide in shame and the cameras were flashing like lighting.
Each infected student entered a tent and the specialist gave a 5mml shot in the arm of each. Emeka, the last to take a shot did so as a show of leadership. As the needle pierced his skin, he felt sweetest pain prick, it travelled swiftly through his nervous system, the effect of the cure felt like a heroine kick and this gave him a high only a rocket can take him to.
Three months after…
“We present to you all graduates as one” the VC announced. The infected and the Normals sat together much to the disapproval of the parents of the Normals. Everyone sat together but apart at the same time “Please Shift!” a normal yelled at a “Cured” using her handkerchief to wipe off vigorously where their skin had touched.
A new Group had emerged “The Cured” as the government tagged it. Companies came to the graduation ceremony to offer best students in each department jobs and it was made mandatory for them to offer the best cured student in every department a job also by the government.
Emeka, who studied Marketing was offered a job in a huge telecommunication company as a marketing analyst in the marketing communications department. He was assigned to a manager who was a Normal, but had a team of 3 Cured and two normal analysts. This included his best friend Simon and one other cured from other university.
Six months down the line, the Great Depression had kicked in, it was a bad year for business and most companies put pressure on their departments to do more with less. During the annual meeting the director announced “Any unit that doesn’t show its significance will be wiped out, as we are not looking to carry any liabilities this year” he said as he took his thick glasses and wiped the frames, with eyes rolling from side to side lackadaisically without focusing on anybody’s face. The managers knew the heat was on, their jobs were at stake and so they demand that each analyst produce three ideas per week and at the end of the month a pitch will be organized with the director and members of trustees seated.
Emeka saw this an opportunity to shine with his great insight and he embarked on a journey of tireless research, burned the midnight oil and made sure he was ten steps ahead of all this colleagues both normal and cured at progress meetings and general office work.
“Eureka!” he screamed at 3:00am in the morning, he finally figured it out, he smiled at his computer and couldn’t type a thing. “This is my chance, I will be normal as soon as I save this company” he muttered to himself, twisting his scanty beard in anticipation
The next morning, he strolled down the office complex with a spring in his step, his smile beamed off the perfectly polished marble floor as we greeted everyone that worked passed him. The normals avoided him and answered reluctantly, but he didn’t care, he was on his way to being the first cured human to climb the corporate ladder.
Emeka Came out of his manager’s office, feeling like a prince, his manager had praised him so much he felt like his head was going to explode “You’re the best cured staff ever, we might just retain you” he remarked winking at him. Emeka meditated on his words till he was about to sleep, he thought about himself becoming a manager and also joining the board of trustees.
Everyone came in their best suits and shiny shoes ready to vow the board, it was pitch day! Emeka did not default in looking his best either. As he walked to seat beside his manager, his best friend Simon looked at him and smiled “Goodluck! Knock’em out” he said tapping him on the shoulder. Emeka twisted his beard as his legs were starting to sweat, as he opened his laptop to revise his presentation, his manager tapped his shoulder “Good luck out there today, Cured boy!”
Other teams presented to a straight-faced board of trustees, other staff members clapped after the presentation of each team. “Next!” the director Yelled with trade nonchalant look, as Emeka tried to get up, his manager tapped his shoulder and winked at him “Let me get this cured boy, I see you’re a little nervous” he whispered swiftly getting up. Emeka sat down frozen on his seat feeling like life was just snatched from him.
“WOW! What a presentation, the thought process and seamless solutions, I believe this is the future of this company’s growth” the director yelled out standing up and clapping wildly “Thank you sir” the manager said smiling and controlling his boiling emotions “I see this cured analysts are really putting in work for the your team” director remarked looking at Emeka straight in the face like he knew it was his idea.
The manager suddenly stopped smiling, looked down, up and then straight into the eye of the director and spoke softly like a poet “These cured Analysts had little impact on these ideas, I will like to commend my team of normals for putting in hard work day and night to make this idea come to life”. Emeka felt like the world was sinking, he looked straight at Simon with water in his eyes and Simon looked back at him his eyes red with anger and suddenly looked away.
Emeka felt pain like no other, his hands shaking, the room become small as the burn of the director overwhelmed him, all the forgotten pains of the past flooded back like a tsunami. The manager looked at him smiled and winked as he walked towards him, on getting to his seat he whispered in his ear “This world is for normal people, GET LOST!”
The next morning, all the cured Staff were sacked. Emeka sat in his living room staring at this TV, different ideas running through his head. He could not take it anymore, he snapped, picked up a glass cup beside him.
As he about to release to launch the cup into the TV, he saw the breaking news and paused “The Factories that Manufacture CHGD Vaccine has shut down due to lack of funds and economic issues, that leaves us with only one factory producing these vaccines for infected citizens, we hope that these issues are resolved soon, we must win the fight against the virus!”.
Emeka eyes lit up like a cigarette in the dark, he look across the room and saw his mobile phone ringing simultaneously, it was Simon “Hello” He answered “Did you just see the news? Factories have shut down! That’s serious” he worryingly said “I see an opportunity there friend, let me tell you my plan…”
Emeka walked briskly into the former office cafeteria “Good Afternoon Bros! I so miss your cooking” he smiled as complemented an excited chef “Emeka my friend great to see you again, sorry about what these bastards did to you, your better than this place” he replied waving his hand dismissively. It was almost lunch time, “Bros Abeg I need that sweet chapman you always prepare” he said walking towards the storage room, “Sure you can have all you want and more back there, what did you come to do around here anyway?” he said with a puzzled face, Emeka paused and looked back “Came to get my payback” he said smiling “HAHAHA! You funny guy!” chef laughed dismissingly.
Emeka entered the room and brought the infected blood bags he stole during his 6month checkup. He mixed the infected blood with all the drinks and food that will served that day
As he walked out, he took a glance at the chapman jar and smiled “You will require a double dose of Alaran blood, since everybody loves, but first I will take a drink for Simon”.
The war on the normals had begun, Emeka released a video wearing a mask that went viral on all media platforms.
“Good Morning Everyone, We are the Alarans! We have infected your water system, food and your entire life with the dreadful virus you cursed us with for years, funny who is normal know? we have also taken over your only functioning vaccination plant, and it is going to explode in 7,6,5,4,3,2…be continued.