My name is not Alfred… Part I
By Fred Chiagozie Nwonwu:
I am recently married, with a four-month-old daughter who is my pride and joy. My experience, both as a husband and a father, has been very instructive. With my daughter, I find joy; with her mother, I find the kind of companionship that I craved, but did not find, all through my playboy days.
I intend to write about these experiences once a week for this site, with the hope that someone somewhere will find it worth the trouble. To start with, let me take you back to our first antenatal visit and the initially scare, albeit unfounded, that awaited us.
Even before my Akwanwa (sorry, that’s what I call my wife) discovered she was pregnant, the choice of where to go for antenatal was already made for us by a neighbour. Our neighbour, one of those talkative ones that at times tired you out, but whose daily dosage of wisdom, and gossip, can’t be ignored, had regaled us with stories of her antenatal experiences (she has two kids) and where the best care can be gotten. It was from her that we heard that General Hospitals are the place to be for antenatal and the childbirth proper. While private hospitals may give you the personal touch and ease your anxieties, when the chips are down, they mostly lack the experienced hands to handle complications, she said. I wanted to scoff at her, but the sight of her two lovely kids who have only known the care of General Hospital made me think twice.
To cut a long story short, we enrolled for antenatal care in Agege General Hospital and my Akwanwa started visiting. Though the registration process required that I donate blood for the hospital’s blood bank, work did not allow me go for that until a month after my wife started her antenatal clinic. Ok, one confession here: my last HIV test was some years before, and while I had not strayed for years, the mind has a way of playing fear factor with you—I was scared shitless. My akwanwa had already done hers and returned negative. I know I should be claiming it due to association, if you get my drift, but I was still scared.
Getting to the hospital and seeing echoes of my fear in the eyes of the hundreds of men waiting to donate blood on behalf of wives, girlfriends, sisters or friends, granted me some kind of relief. At least I am not alone, I thought.
We, the men, were made to wait in a long corridor, sitting according to our numbers. Our principals were either attending the antenatal classes, or in the case of gumgum women like my Akwanwa, hanging as close to their men as they can. We all took our turns and flinched like men as samples of our blood were taken for tests then we were asked to move into a large hall for a pep talk. If that pep talk was meant to clam us down, it did just the opposite. I looked around me as the matronly matron went on about HIV, its spread and hope for the infected, and saw beads of sweat on foreheads in a room despite the dozens of ceiling fans whirring. I touched my forehead and found it was wet too. Haba, what else would one expect from men awaiting the results of a blood test when you go on and on about HIV and AIDS? I am sure I wasn’t the only one that flinched when she said, “some of you may not get to donate blood for some of the already mentioned reasons. Depending on what the reason is, you may be told to comeback on a later date or alternative arrangements will be made.” I remember thinking; Nna meeeen, what if?
Soon enough, a list was brought in and the matron announced that those who heard their name should go to the office immediately outside the hall. While nothing was said about the names, I was sure no one wanted to be in that list.
Me, I am not known for my kalokalo luck. I don’t win raffles so I stay away from baba Ijebu and the because I know I won’t win. So you can again imagine how I felt when…
Want to know what happened to our dear Fred? Was his name on that dreaded list or not? What will his pregnant (and no doubt emotionally high strung) wife do to him along the corridor of General Hospital Agege?
Find out in My Name Is Not Alfred… Part II, next week.
Photo by: Hellobeautiful