Mgborie’s sputum had changed from dark-brown to pink, then to frank red blood, with the cough more persistent than ever. The years of sitting beside the furnace, making smoked fish for sales to send her son through school, had it’s dividends in her charred lungs and her failing heart. When Uzodimma visited home last December, he could tell she had lung cancer from the little Pathology he did in Preclinicals. Frail, pale and lethargic, she lay on that bed with her beautiful brown eyes that told her son she was proud of him and all he had become. She would now rest, hoping to join Onwuatuegwu ahead soonest so they could watch over their son together from a good vantage point. Isn’t that what good parents should do in the end? But as she looked back into his eyes, it appeared to her that Onwuatuegwu had come back from the dead. Uzodimma held her hands tight as he assured her that he would save his old-time Love from the clutches of the Grim-Reaper.
The next 2 months in Bloomsbury saw what some called a wild goose chase in frantic search for anything that could help his mother. Even Professor Lindsay noticed the new aggression in him. “If there was a vaccine for Measles and Diphtheria and Tetanus, couldn’t there be a vaccine for Cancers, Lung Cancer in particular?” This was the new question on the Neptunian’s lips and he was bold about it. He knew he had no time to wait or waste as he already had his fair share of deathblows to close relatives. He was on the brink of unearthing the carrier proteins for the tumor suppressor genes that would be incorporated into the MOVAX, a name he had coined from his mother’s initials, when the letter came in from Afikpo’s community elders.
“Dia Uzodimma, ya mama af dai, an wi go beri am dis Wenesde. Wi se mek wi tel yu. Tek at. Baibai”
Short and stabbing, the letter tore to pieces what was left of his heart. Why was death so black-hearted? Why at the very sight of the oil of Salvation does it sniff the light out of our dim candles. Truly, in the words of C.S. Lewis, the death of a beloved is an amputation. For Uzodimma, it was more like a decapitation. Mr Barnes Williams, his School Counsellor to whom he could run to for succour was on a sabbatical to France.
With no one to talk to, Uzodimma packed his bags and was on the next plane to Nigeria. He would land at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, in Enugu. Why not give himself the opportunity of seeing her body one last time. He arrived Afikpo late Tuesday night as the elders were meeting about the burial costs of the soliloquising old woman. She would be laid to rest in her courtyard, just beside her husband. The sight of Uzodimma brought relief to them, at least, he should have brought some Oyinbo money along to spend.
Wednesday night passed with Uzodimma staring into the skies, the smoked-fish furnace responsible for Mgborie’s demise sitting across seemed to be saying to him “it wasn’t my fault, she was only using me to make money for you“. He blamed himself over and over again. If only he had been a little faster with MOVAX, or if only he hadn’t even gone to London to study. The many “if-s” stormed his head and soon enough, he lost it. Uzodimma went nuts right there and then, a sort of post-traumatic-stress-disorder-induced psychosis. He headed with speed to the carpenter’s workshop across the house, carrying his purple knapsack along with him. He would go and excavate her grave and…. he just wanted to see his mother again. “Thud, thud, thuddddd” was the sound Mazi Ibezimako heard that solemn night from his window only to see Uzodimma doing the abominable. Gathering fellow elders, they managed to stop him from breaking the coffin open, but they couldn’t silence the multitude of voices in the bereaved young man’s head. He absconded with his bag full of nails and off, he was gone. Only to be seen weeks later on the streets of Aba, yelling at midday “Whimper Dimper, I see you Super…”
But back in Bloomsbury, the prototype for MOVAX had been completed successfully using Uzodimma’s manuscripts. With an uncompromising Professor Lindsay heading the research team, no one dared take credit for the Neptunian’s work. Uzo will receive the honorary award from the Queen of England himself during the presentation at the Buckingham Palace. Mr Barnes Williams suggested they sent a search team to Nigeria to find the man whose daring brilliance defied death. Five Oyinbo men stormed the Onwuatuegwu’s residence with Barnes at the forefront; he had taken it upon himself to find Uzo no matter what. They were warmly received and served garri with ofe aku that evening as Mazi Ibezimako showed them pictures of four-year old Uzodimma and his parents, a proof that he wasn’t a Neptune alien afterall.
Would they find the Carpenter in rags?
Would he even ever come back to his senses?
Would Uzodimma Chukwuemeka Onwuatuegwu ever live to taste the good side of life again?
All these and many more in subsequent episodes.