Dying In Public

by Lakunle Jaiyesimi

“Felix X is dead” was the bold newspaper headline that was never made. It never saw the light of day, but remained on the whispering lips of all and sundry.

On that fateful morning, the neighbourhood of a very old patriarch was roused from slumber to hear the news going round of the death of the youngest and most promising man in their neighbourhood. There and beyond, stories of the death of worthless men, accompanied with stretched portraits of their fat-stuffed faces, graced the front pages of the National Dailies. Contrived smiles concealed the atrocious underbelly of corporate and disguised crimes lived through their years on earth. They died and a simulation of public service on public news sheets is their consolation.

“Felix X is dead” but no one cared to mention it. The stars shone at night; and the Sun rose at dawn. Things remained as normal as drinking a calabash of Palm-wine, and saturating it with the smoke from the butt of a lit cigarette. It was remarked by one close ally of Felix X that “he died unsung and unmentioned” and I added “having rendered an unrewarded exceptional service to humanity”.

What went wrong? The News and the details leading to his death brought a spark; but certain antecedence bestowed a knowing relief. It was all about the plague that has grown wings the moment it was given birth to; and shortly after, learnt to walk on water unguarded – HIV related.

Neighbours have had the virus and many others had kicked the bucket – courtesy, the syndrome; all, in spite of the anti-viral drug management services rendered by recognized bodies. However, quite a number of top celebrities like ex-basketball players, musicians and actors had been claimed to have tested positive to the virus; but under high-cost therapeutic management, are able to lead normal lives. Some of them have spent seventeen years or more living with the virus (or so, they say) and yet, they lead such lives even healthier than many of us, who do not harbour the virus in our blood. This is really a cause for concern, but requires an elaborate but episodic treatment to unravel its enigmatic content in an interactive manner with the affected audience.

However for the moment, the death of Felix X is of paramount interest, and its precincts include such situations that could similarly lead to the death of many of us – ingenious and otherwise, who are overtly and covertly involved in seeking out the solutions to the miscellaneous challenges of man.

Before that night that he finally shut his sight from the beautiful complexity of the world, Felix X was a proactive member of his close-knit neighbourhood, where he had learnt much about plants and their ethnomedical uses – or maybe we should content ourselves with the word “therapeutic uses”. This was not in any direct way related to the profession that he chose to study at school – Engineering; but yet he pursued it rigorously with his might few years after leaving the University.

He derived joy in helping the sick recover, using common and easy to obtain plants. And to the amazement of patrons, these plants – used in their natural form, but sometimes in combination with one-another, worked miraculously. There were testimonies of plants that had worked as blood tonic, energizers, anti-malarial, antibiotics, anti-diabetic (at least, this had been verified by me in the laboratory), analgesics, anti-amenorrhea and so on. The claims of users confirmed that these inexpensively obtained plants perform therapeutically better than even the high-cost white-powdered drugs made into bottles and shiny foil.

These were the areas Felix X delved into; researching into old and new plants that could be used to improve the health of mankind, and at the same time, drastically reduce the cost of treatment. In my opinion, I would have thought that such an Engineer – who abandoned his profession to embrace an art that would earn him little – deserves to be honoured personally and nationally.

Going forward, Felix X added to his favourite group of patients, patrons who are infected with the virus everyone terms ‘deadly’. He had a combination of plants that he used in treating such. However, the authentication of such a claim, I would expect, remains a question that would never be answered; but I see it more as an attempt to rouse the man who pretends to be asleep.

I have quite a number of expectations, and one such is the fact that owing to the huge number of deaths recorded due to AIDS in Africa especially; anyone who claims to have an anti-HIV or anti-AIDS drug – even though with a hypothetical efficacy profile – should be largely supported financially and morally. This is in order to see to it that the peaking scourge is brought to a halt and reversed. However, the reverse is the case! Not sounding too ambitious, it has been widely observed that, whoever comes up with a claim of having found a cure to the so-called dreaded disease is practically kept silent, in ways that could be comfortably described as mysterious. It has happened severally in the past.

And it also became a fate, more or less grabbed by Felix X.

Albeit whoever cares might scoff at it, but the one who has fire heating his bosom would not scoff the one who has a basin of water on his head. The same goes for the sick who will never scoff at the one who will heal him. So Felix (with many other Africans) was to a number of HIV positive persons.

With the will, if I had the power, hearing of his ‘undocumented’ exploits I will absorb Felix X, and set up a structure to scientifically validate his claims and get same published in recognized Journals for the awareness of exploration of all, who might need the information. I will promote the inquiring spirit, proclivity for discovery and the predilection for humanitarian services possessed by Felix X into broader areas, where he could improve these skills for the benefit of himself and humanity, which it appeared in the resilience of his silence, to have served till death. Unfortunately, he died unsung and unmentioned having rendered an unrewarded exceptional service to humanity. He became a part of the forgotten aspects of our everyday lives; and yet, only then we scoff louder at him when the spark happens to flash through us of his memory. But it remained and it remains with those of us that had benefited from Felix X’s magic of plants. His standing memory is a constant reminder of what we have lost. HOPE. The hope of being cured the deadly disease is drowned in the gargantuan waters that always gape. We’ve lost the one that promised us our lives again. We see them around – those who had been cured. They were privately tested positive, privately cured, privately retested, privately confirmed to be negative and privately lead their ‘imposed’ humble lives as poor members of the world.

Unfortunately, Felix X the private healer also died privately; and no one knows what killed him, not that anyone cared to know anyway. But between you and I and them, we all know the only plausibly obvious arrangement that killed him, having closely watched the antecedence. Late Prof. Awosika provides my respite.

But I hereby make public the news of the private death of a private man, who discovered the cure to AIDS; in the hope that when I discover an added cure to the disease, I would make it scientifically public, so when I die I die in the public.

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