Magunga’s story about scars reminded me of the book ‘The Fault in Our Stars.’ For a moment I thought Augustus Waters would laugh if he heard that Magunga found it weird that his girlfriends loved kissing his upper lip with a mere bump. Gus would probably explain to him how difficult it was to convince Hazel Grace to become his girlfriend and later make love to her despite having a prosthetic leg.
Anyway, people have scars, but no matter how small or big they could be, they never deter anyone from achieving their dreams.
Here is my scar story;
Waking up to go to school was always a problem and whenever an excuse came up, I would gladly stay at home and watch my favorite cartoon, Power Puff Girls. One particular day I woke up to find my legs really swollen, just the same way it happens to people who travel for longer distances or some pregnant women. I had not travelled anywhere and of course having had sex was out of the question. I was in pain so I had to go to the hospital immediately. My legs looked very fat, which was contrary to the rest of my body.
On the way my mum kept on asking: ‘Where did that katalang’ bite you?’ I could not recall a scenario where I had been bitten by the big black ants. As you now those ants bite mercilessly and leave one with swellings all over.
After a series of tests and X-Rays, the doctor decided that I needed to travel to Nairobi for further diagnosis. Finally, a trip to the city. I was so excited that I forgot about the pain for a while. Driving in an ambulance for close to eight hours can be frustrating. The loud siren, the reckless driver, being barred from seeing the outside world because you are tied to a stretcher and to crown it all the pain in my mother’s eyes made me sicker.
Eventually, we arrived in Nairobi and was taken through a series of processes before being taken for another X-Ray. This time I was wheeled to a big room that contained big machines and for a moment I thought I was going to die. I was so scared that I found it hard to breathe. I have never seen this big machines in my life. They told me to lie down on a stretcher before I was pushed inside a circular-like tube which I later found out was scanning my entire body. It took a while before I came out of that dreadful room and re-united with my mum. It felt like we had been separated for several years.
We stayed in Nairobi for several days waiting for the results. Later on I learnt I had Lymphedema, which I have never understood up to date. The pain had been suppressed so I went back to school. My legs would remain swollen to date because I was told that the disease has no cure. I got used to it and I would receive annoying comments from time to time but I chose to pay little attention.
The pain would later recur when I was preparing for my Mock Exams in Form Four. It was unbearable. I wept for the better part of the night as Joan (my best friend) kept on assuring me that it would be alright. I was later supported by her and another friend as I left the school premises with my eldest sister.
I stayed at Aga Khan Hospital for a whole week. I had to leave the hospital for a Mathematics paper on one occasion because I could not miss my exams since it was meant for indexing purposes. I had a series of injections on my buttocks, arms and somewhere next to my navel (I found that unnecessary). After all that, there was no clear indication of what I was suffering from. I remember my classmates Mariela, Josh and Lucky came to see me. Hospital attires are so transparent and I could see Josh staring at me. Probably he had spotted my red underwear which was so visible beneath the faded dress.
Since then, I have never had another attack.
I get a lot of ‘sasa ona uyu msichana mdogo ako na mimba’ comments a lot because swollen legs are associated with pregancy. I have never found anything wrong with that. The people who hung around me also echo at how I am going to have a difficult time during pregnancy.
Let me worry about how I am going to get pregnant first. All the guys I have dated admire the way I have beautiful legs. Even my own lecturer shared the same sentiments thrice now if I remember. One time he even said it in front of my classmates. You know one of those lecturers who says something jokingly and people just ignore him. However, he shows the seriousness of the matter when he threatens to give you a zero in a CAT, where you are supposed to impress a newspaper editor to publish you letter. Therefore you have to follow him to the office to plead for more time.
All of a sudden he bursts out, ‘you have beautiful legs!’ And you look behind you to confirm if it is you, even though you know all too well that you are the one being referred to.
I resorted to wearing trousers each time I attended his lecture. This would also help me avoid the “nini mbaya na mguu zako?’ question from anyone who cares to notice I have nice legs.
The other day my boyfriend’s mum was worried about my legs. She even offered to find me some drugs she used while she was having the same problem. Probably she got worried that there would come a time his son would spend a lot of money for my treatment or would be stuck in the kitchen trying to prepare us a meal because I would be confined to a wheelchair.
Luckily, these legs have not barred me from my dreams. Although I have to put on a bigger shoes size than I am supposed to, or tell the same story over and over to my next boyfriend, I still look great and I have become a better storyteller.
© Mercy Awino