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How I Met Pat | Samuel Otareri

How I Met Pat

How I Met Pat.

Once my back got so bad I shuffled around the house like an inverted letter L.

My friend Bobby said I have jedijedi. My friend Tinu said I was about to die.

I thought maybe I was really going to die. I thought, what a way to die, all folded left like a junction. Lying cold in a coffin of the same shape, six feet deep in the same L configuration. Wow.

But I didn’t feel like dying. I felt like a fight instead.
So I struggled onto an okada and went off to jaja clinic. If you know U.I you will know jaja.

The bike dropped me at the entrance of the clinic and there I stood, unable to move.
Whatever was wrong with my back now had control of my legs.
I waited for improvement. It didn’t come.
Maybe I was really going to die. I had never felt so much pain and immobility before.
So there I stood.
People came and went. I forced my body into a casual posture and smiled appropriately at anyone who cared to say hi. Every effort sent a molten magma of raw, exquisite pain up and down my spine.
The type of pain that made you want to just buy the ticket, lie down, close your eyes and sleep till the lord Jesus came back.

I thought, well, since I m here already I might as well give trying another shot.
First I imagined my legs sticking out in front of me, then I moved my toes an inch or so.
After what seemed like ten years I arrived at the waiting area.
It took ten more years to get to my seat in order to see a physician.
She was a woman.

A woman too familiar with mortality. She didn’t look at me when she threw a glum ‘good morning’ across her bare table.

I pity doctors.
The kind of doctor that has seen too much cadaver. She looked at me as though I was a talking cadaver. I knew if this doctor lady saw a talking cadaver she will simply slip her stethoscope on its cold chest to see if there was a discernible thump within those decaying flesh. Just doing her job. Oh, are you a cadaver? Sorry, it didn’t say so on the label.
Just doing her job. Just doing her job feeling around sick bodies, dying bodies, putrefying bodies, cancerous and gangrened flesh, worn out but tumultuous souls.

She asked me how I am.
I said fine, without much thought, just like a law abiding and respectful citizen would say.
She didn’t smile. I thought then that she didn’t have to be so serious. I would not be at the hospital if I was fine, would I?
She ought to have gone into laughing fits at my joke. I would.
Too much cadaverous encounters glossed over a doctors sense of humor, yes? Yes.

“So what is wrong with you?”
“My back.”
She looked at me.
“What is wrong with your back?”
Did I say something wrong?
“Jedijedi.” I repeated.
She shook her head and began writing very fast on what looked like a file. Is that my file, a history of my ailments? I have a history, huhn.

“What is jedijedi?” She asked.
“Too much sugar.”

She shook her head again and went back to writing very fast. I remember feeling uncomfortable with the way she wrote.
It was as if she was a judge, writing my sentence. I felt like a sick prisoner who has been considered for euthanasia.
You know, Mr Samuel, you are sick and are not expected to serve out your jail time. So we are going to help you but we need proper documentation. So scribble, scribble, scribble. Thank you, happy dying. OK, shoot him!

“Has your bed sagged?”
I thought about my bed, that incline in the middle wasn’t just a sag, it was a canyon.
“Yes.” I said.
“Stop using it.”
“Sleep on the floor. Use a mat.”
She passed a prescription slip to me, “get that drug, please.”
Voltarin, 500mg. Pain killer. OK, I dragged myself out of there, groaning.

Outside, I shuffled once more into a corner of the parking lot, to contemplate my journey back home. I figured I will get back home twenty years later. But then a lady joined me.

She wore a red overall and a blue denim. Her lashes were curved and her lips full. She seemed to have a cold. She walked with the nonchalant air of someone who was going to somewhere very important but who didn’t care if they got there very late. I liked her instantly. When she smiled, it felt like the world has never had wars before. Like everything was alright and everything I have heard before were lies.
“Are you waiting for a bike too?”
I said yes. I was looking at her dark eyes.
“My name is Pat.”
“My name is Samuel and I am dying.”
She laughed, “aren’t we all?”
“I can’t move my feet, literally.”
“I can’t carry you, literally.” She laughed again and it was like music.
“Come, let me support you.” She put a slim arm around my back and I put mine across her broad shoulder.
“You are heavy, wow.”
“You smell sweet,” I said.
And that was how I, Samuel, the first cadaver of his kind met Pat, the first sunshine of her race.

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