Travail At The Beggars' Shed
The whole story started on Wednesday 13th of July 1977. The good and the bad twisted together on that day and nobody could separate them: As the people hissed and wept, part of their hearts still thanked God.
As the sun of that day rose, the travail of a pregnant woman started in a shed. It griped her so much that she could not stand again. She and the women with her assumed that the shed would be the birthplace of her child. The floor of the shed was not plastered and the roof was thatched leaf. The woman had laboured for more than three hours but could not bring forth her child. She had no strength because of her poor feeding and lack of pre-natal care. She was crying at the top of her voice with tears rolling down from her eyes.
Her fellow beggars could do nothing but only to tell her to have more courage and to talk to their gods to have mercy on her. Infact the male ones left the shed to give her respect; they thought that the four women standing by her were enough to do the necessary things when the child comes. But things did not go as they had thought. It got to a point that the woman’s voice could no longer be heard. She was opening her mouth but nobody could hear anything, they only saw the tears coming from her closed eyes. Her breath increased and her friends were afraid, they started calling the men who thought the child had come.
The men came to see the worst condition of the woman. Still there was nothing they could do. All their hope now was to see a taxi that will take her to the hospital. Only a bus had passed since the travail started and the driver did not stop when they waived to him. Nobody was ready to carry a beggar who might not pay. Another bus was coming and all of them started waiving their hands and pointing to the woman inside the shed. To their disappointment, the driver did not stop and the woman’s heart seemed to have jumped out when she heard that the second bus did not stop.
All the beggars rushed out when they saw another bus coming. All of them blocked the road and this made the driver to stop when he reached them. They were pleading that the driver should either help them carry the woman to the hospital or crush them with his bus. The driver argued that he was not going to the hospital but they insisted that he should take one out of the two options. At last he agreed when the passengers joined the beggars to plead on the same course.
The driver carried the woman and two of her friends to the State General Hospital. When she got to the labour room the Doctor discovered that she has no strength to deliver her child; he needed some information about her before he could start an operation but she could not utter a word to all the questions asked. She just described with her hands and nobody understood. Also, the two women that accompanied her did not know much about her; they only knew her name to be Clara and she came to the village five months ago with the pregnancy.
At last the Doctor carried out the operation and it was a successful one. A beautiful baby girl came out. They told the woman that her baby was alive. Then she managed to open her eyes. ‘My Joy,’ she said as she saw the baby. And that was her last word. She closed her eyes again and her heart stopped beating. That was how she ended her journey on earth.
The Doctor and the Nurses in the theatre pitied her; their mouths were heavy as they mourned the death of a poor beggar. “And she had no relation,” the doctor said, shaking his head and with his two hands at his waist. “Only her Joy”, one of the Nurses also managed to say.
They were still in the theatre, bothered on how to disclose the news to the two women that came with her. But suddenly, there was a noise outside. There was a siren approaching the hospital. It was the State Governor at that time and every body was running helter-skelter. The Governor of the old Anambra state came for an impromptu visit to the hospital.
The police men that came with him were paving the road as he was entering. In the process they pushed down one of the two women that accompanied the pregnant beggar and she fainted. The Doctors and Nurses around quickly did the necessary things to make sure that she was resuscitated. The Governor later moved closer to apologize for the action of the policemen. He asked whether she was one of the patients and the woman, in her fright, quickly told him that she came to the hospital with a beggar who had been labouring for a long time.
“Where is the beggar? Has she given birth to her child?” The Governor turned to the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital and asked.
The CMD also talked to the Doctor in charge. The Doctor now narrated the story. They took the Governor to where the corpse was laid. He pitied her but there was nothing he could do to bring her back to life. He now promised that the government would take up the responsibility of nursing her baby and sponsoring her education. He made the pronouncement that the government, even after his tenure, would be giving her a monthly allowance to activate his words.
Both radio and television broadcast what happened at the hospital on that day. And this made many people and different societies to be visiting the orphanage where the baby was being nursed. They came to see her and they gave her many gifts. Some of the beggars also came to see her. There was a day they came in large numbers, they chartered a bus to the orphanage to say hello to her. She was in primary four then.
She was in the orphanage throughout her primary school days. She left the place when she gained admission into the Federal Government College. As a boarding student she spent little time at home. After the first term in JSS one, they had two weeks holiday and she spent it at the beggars’ village. She just wanted to see where her mother spent her last days. Every body at the shed expressed their love to her. They all took her as their daughter and she was very happy. One thing that surprised her was her mother’s clothes and a baby’s cot they kept intact. They packed everything together in a hut just for her to see any time she visits the village. She kept two of the clothes and gave the rest to the women when she was going back to school.
When she reached Enugu town she rented a room at the Governor’s road and that was where she used to stay anytime she didn’t spend all her holiday at the village. She started living alone since 1990, at the age of thirteen.
Tags: Beggars , Travail , Woman , Came
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