By Juliet Rogers
“I’m feeling really unusual, and I don’t know what is wrong with me. I think I’ll relay this to my fiancè, Patrice,” Cintia said to her old aunt who could only walk through the aid of a walking stick. “You don’t do that, Patrice is almost in a very serious mess as I was made to understand this morning – friends of his – I mean his best friends were caught red-handed robbing an Indian shop, and he was implicated. They had already been charged to court, the hearing is on next Wednesday,” her aunt advised. She fell and fainted as her aunt said these words to her in the hospital.
Patrice and Cintia were school friends, both attending the Saint George’s Cathedral High School (SGCS). They were always in the company of Sattu, Adoro, and Tonki. They became group mates on the first day they appeared for the interview which will give them admission into the school. It was a raining morning and all five had met at the bus station, waiting eagerly to get a commercial bus or taxi that could convey them to the school campus for their interview. A long line of pupils from different intermediate schools in different colourful school uniforms snaked down the street. It’s about a quarter of a mile from where they were. Which means it was not easy to board a taxi; there was only one bus that often ply that route. No other one did because of the bad road condition leading to SGCS. Although many cars did, but the large number of students and the heavy rainfall, falling in torrents, made it extremely difficult to get a taxi.
Fear engulfed them as it was less than one hour to the scheduled interview time. A long Limousine drew up; it was the cousine of Adoro. As it reduced its speed, as if trying to park, those anxious students with terror in their worried faces, gripped with fear that they might miss the interview, looked through the raised transparent glass. “Adoro,” the driver of the car quietly muted. But this ‘guy’ was not liked by the family members because of the awkward lifestyle he lived. This was not a moment to despise, no matter the nature of the indifference that had existed before; it was a matter of survival. “I want only four students besides Adoro,” the man side. Coincidentally, and with the agility of a flash of lightning, Sattu, Tonki, Patrice and Cintia stampeded into the Limousine and the car drove them off to SGCS campus. “Who is Adoro?” Cintia who got the seat by the driver, the very cousin of Adoro asked. “Yes chick – he is my cousin, but I don’t like …,” Syke replied. Adoro cursorily wore ugly looks on his face. “Hey, stop that, Adoro,” Syke who was his cousin, driving them, hastily responded. The car took them right in front of the main administrative building where the interview was to be conducted; they were in the last thirty minutes to the actual time stipulated for the interview when the car drove them in – the Principal, Mr. Abdala Moses, was sorting out the students for the occasion.
That was how these five became friends. Even though they ended up in different classes allocated to them, they remained to be friends until Patrice and Cintia dropped-out of school; it was in the second year of their high school studies. Since then, their group nomenclature changed from ‘pentagon’ to the ‘trio.’
From time to time, the trio visited Patrice and Cintia and tried to pacify them to return to school, but they preferred the street life. Not that they slept in the streets, but most of their times were allocated to street activities. Becoming lovers, dating themselves, Cintia’s aunt accepted Patrice in her home. “The best place for boys and girls is the school and good homes for thorough counselling; there we are socialised into understanding how to live the lives of responsible citizens in the near future when we grow up,” Sattu advised on one of their several visitations. “When did you become a guidance counselor? If you’re seeking a job, no vacancy for you,” Patrice sharply replied. “And I think we’re comfortable, enjoying our lives at the ‘Red spot’ and other places,” Cintia coolly added. Their cynical laughter sent their friends away. Similar attempt by Tonki, together with their teachers, did not help to persuade them to return to school neither.
At the ‘Red spot,’ they were invariably arguing, accusing each other of a foul in their relationship. “For the money you got at the card games two days ago, I didn’t get anything,” Cintia grumbled. “What about the one you yourself got from your several contacts with so many men last night? I’ve been here before you. What I know about ‘Red spot’ is that the men who come here do not hesitate to spend money to have their fun and pleasure with chicks like you – a purple colour as the one you posses will just send them mad and force them to pay any amount, charged for the ‘game’ – that I know – What did I gain? Nothing! I who introduced you to this business.” “Let us go home,” Cintia suggested. “We can settle it at my aunt’s,” she concluded.
After keeping sometime, a little over two hours, Patrice left at about four O’clock in the morning for his house. The smiling sun was kind and sharp, smiling into Cintia’s face, all covered in pods of sweat. As she writhe in pain because of that strong feeling which is beyond her understanding, she took an advised position and left for a nearby community clinic for a medical attention. “What are those things, according to you which have been happening to you and you could not understand?” Dr. Kuyatii asked. Intermittent increase in body temperature, vomiting, especially early in the morning, for days now, sharp headache around my forehead, coupled with dizziness,” Cintia explained.
Dr. Kuyatii decided to conduct series of clinical tests. Reading the results to her, Cintia stood still. One thing was certain; she was pregnant. “There are other things that’ll be of interest to know – added to the pregnancy – you’ve contracted the virus that will result to HIV & AIDS and …” She could not allow Dr. Kuyatii to conclude as she rushed and tightly held on to his black west coat, gathering his white necktie he wore on his neck. “One more thing; the test proved traces of hepatitis B in your blood sample,” he finally concluded. “What do I do now? Cintia asked in a disorganised trembling voice. Dr. Kuyatii advised that she must be admitted like the other AIDS patients for at least up to the time she will go into labour for the birth of her child – that is, if she wants her unborn child to be free from the the virus. She speedily accepted without option. Her aunt was of a good service to her.
Two days later, she called her attention to something that puts her off. Her emotional state was now a bit okay.
Her friends, Sattu, Tonki, and Adoro who were in the third year studies in their different universities had not only heard about the arrest of their friend, Patrice, but they themselves have read it in the local tabloids how four other arrested armed gangs attempted to rob a Lebanese and an Indian merchants. They almost escaped, but were hooked up in police net. They could not find them at home, but neighbours who had known them before came to the conclusion that Patrice had been one of them and his name was published in every newspaper – declared wanted by the police. The fugitive was certainly Patrice. Coming to Cintia’s house could not help them to get the fact they wanted.
Before they arrived at the hospital, Cintia’s aunt had narrated to her how Patrice was associated with armed robbery – he was not actually an actor in it at all. But the thieves were members of his criminal gangs – very tight friends. Cintia collapsed several times in the hospital upon hearing the story. She repeated the unfortunate story about Patrice to their friends who were eager to know the truth.
They could do nothing about Cintia’s health predicament; it was appalling. Several attempts with their family lawyer to apply for alibi in respect of Patrice did not work. They hopelessly and helplessly stood by, with Cintia who was given temporal discharge from the hospital to see and witness his friend’s trials, and to hear the final judgement of conviction from the judge. Patrice who was proven guilty of all the charges, was sentenced to twenty five years, with no option. Two months later, Cintia gave birth to a son, but it was a stillbirth. There were several unanswered questions as to whether that child was truly the child of Patrice or one of the many men Cintia had the commercial sexual intercourse with, if ever the child had lived; Cintia died two years later – Patrice remained a convict – his critics believe he was harvesting the product of his street life.
Juliet Rogers is a Societal Engineer, Life&Emotional Intelligence Coach.