It was a cold, stormy night, the hasty wind pushed every obstacle in its way, it seemed as though the Lord of the skies wanted to drain the entire heavens of its fluid as the rain poured heavily to the ground.
She screamed out in pains, she had been having these contractions all day but now it was obvious that the end to her pregnancy had come. Her husband, Adewale searched for his car keys frantically, his mind had been altered by the fear that gripped him each time Abike screamed. “But this is where I kept these keys o” he said repeatedly; the impatient Abike irritated by the drama that was being performed by her dear husband could only say “Mr. man are you waiting for me to die before you find the keys?” “Ah, there it is” he said as he carried his wife outside and into the car.
The nervous Adewale could do nothing but pray and hope as his wife was wheeled into the hospital labour room by the nurses. He had never seen her like this before, she cursed, screamed and nagged¸ she had even said that she hated him for the pain she was going through and he could not understand how he partook in anything that could harm her; besides, they had wanted prayed earnestly for a baby and now they would have one. The small coffee table in the white waiting room held old magazines and a copy of the National newspaper which had the caption “36 year old woman delivered of quadruplets abandoned by husband”. He thought of the possibility of his wife having multiple birth but wavered it- they had decided not to scan for either the baby’s sex let alone know how many children they were expecting. But what if she did?
“Madam, I need you to be strong now, at the count of three, you push”, the voice of the doctor sounded like it came from a distance, she had been in there for six hours and there was no sign of a child. Thick sweat trickled down her face like one bathed in warm water, the excruciating pain she felt each time her cervix contracted was in-explicable. She knew she had to be strong, for herself, for her baby, she mustered all the strength she possessed in the world, her heart leaning on her God for help, ’O God, help me’, “madam push a little harder”. She felt a body being pulled carefully out of her’s, “it’s a boy”, the umbilical cord was cut and the fragile, crying baby was shown to his mother and taken away to be cleaned. Abike felt another contraction and screamed out but she was calmed by one of the nurses who said, “Don’t worry, it’s just the placenta” but as the doctor checked, he saw another head and delivered her of her girl child. “you have a female child too, congratu..”, the mother was already asleep, tired from the ten hours of labour.
Adewale had tried to sleep but it seemed as though, the spirit of sleep had been driven away from his drowsy eyes, he paced the room in circular motions, strolled to the hospital gate and back, repeating the same pattern until the doctor came in with a smile on his face, “congratulations Mr. Briggs, you have a beautiful girl and a fine boy”. Overjoyed, he ran towards the room his wife later named necessary torment but was stopped by the nurses who said it would take a few minutes before he could go in.
A year had gone by and the twins were the perfect definition of joy to their parents. Abike would always make a fuss over what new collection of George’s and Earlydays apparels that she had seen and thought would look fabulous on the kids. She had been very specific when hiring Nanny. “the twins have allergies to different things so you must always remember” and the list begins:
David will only eat mashed beans.
Sophie doesn’t take rice-based foods.
Allergic to dairy.
No juice with preservatives, all organic.
No canned food.
She won’t eat meals served in yellow plates.
He loves apples.
All meals must be pre-measured- he shouldn’t have more than his servings per plate.
And the list goes on and on till Nanny could hear nothing but babblings.
The utmost care and attention was shown to the children, doctor had said she may never have any more children so these ones must be well taken care of but Nanny had noticed that David loved to keep to himself and each time his sister wanted to play with him,he would scream and then throw himself hard to the ground and begin to cry. The surprised sister would then withdraw and go ahead, playing with her toys. Speaking of toys, the only one he ever seemed to be interested in was Charlie, the dinosaur, he would tug at it, pull its head and then kick it to the side of the room, crawl to pick it up and continue the same routine as though, he was programmed to do so and each time Nanny complained about it to Abike, “Madam, I no sabi as David dey do o, he no dey follow person laugh and he too dey cry”, she would say “ma yomi lenu jare, each child has their unique character, you must have upset him”.
But days passed by, and then weeks and even months but his behavior was the exact opposite of Sophie’s. Their father had returned home from work and the little Sophie ran to him, lifting up her arms saying “dada,dada, tarry me” but David sat with his green, rough skinned dinosaur, unconcerned with the father-daughter connection that was going on behind him. “Hey there young man, wont you say hello to daddy?”, Adewale pulled the child up and tried to cuddle his baby but the child cried probably annoyed that his father had transported himself into his world of aliens and dinosaurs. He seemed to say “can’t you see that I am busy with my friend?’’
‘Honey, David hasn’t spoken oh and its five months past Sophie’s first word, I think we need to take him to a doctor.’
“You say he cries a lot and doesn’t seem interested in you right?, he doesn’t smile too, and he doesn’t even play with his sister. We have done some required checks and coupled with his inability to speak, it is conclusive that your baby is autistic”.
“No, no, no, my child cannot have any of those diseases, it’s for white children now, don’t tell me what is not”.
‘It is important we get him ready for the appropriate therapy’. ‘You should go to the National Autism center,they have a whole lot of information on behavioral, psychological and educational therapy.’
‘It’s a good thing we detected early, gives him the greater chance to live normal.’
‘One more thing please, you have to incorporate patience into your lifestyle because this young man really need it.’
“Life is trying, let alone adding an autistic child but the truth is, I am learning new things everyday, the Autism center has been really helpful too.”
May I add that ‘autism doesn’t come with a manual, but a parent who never gives up.’