THE BLOOD TEST DISASTER
Politicians promised us heaven but it turned out to be an illusion. Those who innocently trust the political class do so at their peril. The average politici1m has no conscience. He or she is. a chameleon, a crook and of course, a sadist. As far as they are concerned, the ends justify the means. That explains why they can rig, incite and kill to win elections by whatever means at their disposal.
These emotions worked on my mind as I battled fervently with the arduous problem of how to fix my sick saloon car and generator. Both of them are “tokunbo” items. The trouble with second hand goods is that they are relatively cheap to buy but very expensive to maintain.
However, in a country in which practically al modern equipment are imported at exorbitant prices, consumers have scanty options. I decided to give priority attention to my generator. Only Bats find comfort in darkness. Mechanics are not helping matters. They are shylocks who helplessly exploit and cheat. Generator mechanics are really the only persons enjoying a boom at this electricity epileptic season. I chose to buy a new generator.
The international trade fair had just started and everybody .was trying to make a good bargain. Nigerians see trade fairs as bazaar for buying and selling. Expectedly, majority of the items on sale are imported. As I arrived at the gate, area boys were ubiquitous. Obviously, they were not invited guests. As most Lagos citizens know, the fear of area boys is the beginning of wisdom. Past threats to tackle the menace of area boys failed. In their bravado, they confront law enforcement officers. When the Oba of Lagos, a former senior police Chief, launched an attack on their stronghold, they resisted bravely and won. Since then, area boys have become the Kings of the wild mega city. Like other wise visitors at the international trade fair, I bribed the red-eyed fierce-looking area boys blocking the gate: I secured the right of passage and drifted with the crowd into the trade fair arena. The generator stand stared me in the face. There were many varieties. I admired the one at the right hand side. “Yes, that is a good one. The engine is Ruston 16 RKC – 2500 KVA. The alternator is GEC, output voltage 11 KV and fuel is AGO. Year of manufacture is 2006,” the . confident sales lady rattled on.
“Brilliant girl,” I soliloquized. My attention was drawl). to her. Pretty, ebony black and elegant, she looked like a beauty queen.. Her snowy teeth manifested an angelic innocence when she smiled. Our negotiation lasted for another 20 minutes. We agreed at a price. I issued a cheque which the lady pledged to check before the delivery, of-the generator. . Two days later, my generator was ready. I waited for the luncheon break and invited the saleslady to the trade fair restaurant. We discussed at length. Her name. was Eva. She was a final year student at the University of Badagry. Her course of study was Economics.
Eva reciprocated my advances. I told her how much I admired her and wanted her as a wife. She was hesitant. “You will have to wait till after my graduation and national service. Besides, the consent of my parents is absolutely necessary.” I was prepared to meet her conditions. ‘
My visits to the campus were frequent. Eva impressed me by her frankness and keen sense of humour. We seemed compatible in many ways. Our conversations were generally agreeable. The only area of our difference was the issue of the Niger Delta. Eva hailed from Yenegoa in Bayelsa State and felt bad about the purported ill treatment of her people. “The only solution to the problem is resource control,” she insisted. At the end of the day, we parted as good friends. As far as we were concerned, the politicians should find a quick solution to the crisis.
When Eva telephoned three weeks later to tell me about her examination result, 1 was grossly disappointed. “I failed my course in Economics,” she narrated apparently holding her tears. For a few seconds, 1 was silent. However, I summoned ,courage and consoled her. “Never mind darling Eva, You can still make it next time. Your best is yet to come”.
Eva blamed her predicament on her reluctance to respond to the romantic advances of the randy Econometrics lecturer and her failure to buy lecture r handouts.
“You see,” she explained, it is trade by barter in the campus state of nature. Most of the female students give what they have to get what they want. I am a born again Christian and cannot indulge in sexual pastimes merely to achieve academic success.” I believed her. Eva seemed too good for immoral. I was tempted to report the scandal to the Dean of the Faculty of Economics. Eva discouraged me. “The dean himself is Casanova. You cannot send a thief to catch a thief. Besides, lecture handouts have become gold mines for academic; staff,” she admonished.
Our patience paid off soon. Eva scored a good pass in her resit examination. My lobby for a favourable posting at the national service collapsed like a pack of cards. Perhaps, if we had listened to Salami, my friend, things would have been different. Salami told me in confidence: “Only children of rich and powerful people choose locations for their national youths service.” Eva was posted to Ondo State. In spite of the distance, I visited her often.
Eva’s parents raised no objection to my marriage proposal. Both parents were highly educated and exposed. Our ethic disparity did not pose any problem. Similarly, the question of bride price was quickly settled.
Experience has shown that only poor parents inflate the bride price. The current vogue in most parts of the country is to reduce the bride price drastically. Many societies have realized that there are too many spinsters – in – waiting roaming the streets. Our wedding plans started in earnest. I bought the wedding gown and
a golden wedding ring. We contracted the printers for the invitation cards and church programmes. Suitable wedding halls were expensive but we managed to settle for Paradise Hotel. The pastor congratulated us but insisted that we must produce a medical certificate. “This is the new church rule in the light of an epidemic of sickle cell disease and AIDS among the youths/’ he explained. No problem.
At the Charity Hospital clinic there were other young couples undergoing premarital blood. test. Eva and I were attended to by noon and asked to come back the next day. We arrived late in the morning. The laboratory supervisor frowned at us. We wondered. Soon after, he picked our medical report and gave ,it to me. ,My shock was palpable. Eva, was HIV positive!! We wept profusely. Our wedding plans had crashed.