You would think it is only pregnant women that suffer from a temporary bowel discomfort called morning sickness. But that was not the case during my childhood. I used to suffer from morning sickness, and I was not pregnant. My morning sickness was caused by different human phenomenon; Fear!
That four letter word had a way of disemboweling me in the mornings as a kid, rendering me completely immobile. The plus side of morning sickness is that it can be faked.
I faked morning sickness when I did not want to go to the farm. I dreaded the terrible hot sun that baked my open back in an African farmland. It drained and sapped the small energy I had saved to play football (soccer).
I learnt about morning sickness after my elder brother told me how he got busted. He actually taught me how to get “morning sick”. He used to fake headaches for my mom (my dad is a democrat and my mom is a republican) whenever he did not want to go to the farm or school. But with the headache, my mom had a way of knowing if you were actually suffering from headache or a fever. You could call her a medical doctor whose specialty is headache diagnosing.
The process is simple, when you go “mom I have a headache, I do not think I can go to farm today”, she pities you like a normal mother would, then cuddles you with her stethoscope (her right palm) gingerly placed on your forehead. She keeps it there for a while (which usually seem like eternity) while you are waiting for the verdict like a criminal before a high court judge…then the sentence would land like a gavel on a table… “You seem alright to me son. You are not that hot, do not worry by the time you walk the five miles to the farm it will go away”.
Ah! Case lost!
One day the bulb of innovation lit up in my brother’s young brain…morning sickness! He realized that my mother had no way of diagnosing bowel disorder. Though the process was much longer, it was worth the effort. He had to start his plan the night before. He had to wake our mother up to escort him to Open University (Nigerian bathroom) at least three times before the cockcrows. Then in the morning he would declare “I have a belly ache”.
Poor mother who had been up all night shuffling back and forth had no reason to doubt his act. This usually nailed the case. Mother would excuse my brother from either going to the farm or school. My brother never lost any case in my mother’s high court with this new discovery. My mother bought it anytime my brother pulled it on her. She would not want her son to go through the pangs of morning sickness in the middle of nowhere.
Unknown to my brother, my mother was collecting historical data on his strange behavior. First, all the earlier headaches and sudden fevers had stopped and given way to the belly ache. Also, she observed that this sickness usually disappeared after a hot meal of Eba and Ogbono soup in the morning after everyone had gone to the farm. One day my brother got really careless. He was impatient with time…his morning sickness got cured too early and he started a hot football game with the other “morning sickness boys” in the neighborhood to the angst of my mother.
Needless to say my mother escorted my brother not to the latrine that day but to the farm for a full day’s work. That day was the day he got emancipated from morning sickness.
The above episode did not stop him from handing me the manuals when it was time for me to fight for my morning rights. The reason for my morning sickness was not just the fear of manual labor on the farm, but the fear of a bully in my primary school, a boy called Godday. Godday used to practice his new boxing tactics on me for no reason other than that he knew I had a limited resistance. So, to avoid Godday’s menace I chose to refer to my brother’s old manuals. It worked a couple of times, but it did not take long before my mother knew something was wrong with the entire picture.
I was not ready to face the embarrassment of someone who could not fight for himself and started calling on the UN to help him out. So I lied and stuck to the morning sickness routine, even when it stopped working. Until one day my nemesis went too far and gave me a blue eye! Hell broke lose. My mother did not have to wait for senate to vote on the matter before she tied a wrapper with her head tie, and dragged me along unwillingly to the source which made me confess.
The journey to Godday’s house was worse than that of the Pilgrims. We arrived at Godday’s house on a beautiful evening when every creature created by God in my village was relaxing on their veranda. And every one knew about my sorry story. Though the bullying stopped after that visitation, the stigma of a boy whose mother spearheaded his fight never left me…it stayed longer than the ink stain on my white uniform.
Twenty years later…I feel like faking morning sickness again but mother is so far away in Africa, and I am here in America. This time around it is not the fear of Godday or farm work… But it is the fear of a faceless lunatic. Some crazy men (or man?) have taken it upon themselves to start snuffing innocent people out of existence with a high powered sniper riffle. The death toll is increasing and the police forces in the Washington metropolitan area are caught with their pants down, and they are scrambling hopelessly like an unfortunate adulterer.
This sniper recently shot a school kid. You never know where he is going to come from. He has suddenly become a ikoiko (Messenger of Death) appearing anywhere he chooses.
The rotten aspect of this matter is that one could get shot doing anything. It does not matter what…you could be buying petrol or mowing your lawn or posting a letter or even trying to go to school. Only God can save man pikin for this land.
I watched the 6a.m. news this morning when I woke up from a belabored sleep, and this mad masquerader is still on the loose. I felt a pang in my stomach. Morning sickness! I am not faking this mother. I have morning sickness for real and I do not feel like going to work today. But my boss does not have the same compassion my mother has, and there are deadlines to be met… This is America. This is the land of DEADLINES!