Slowly Giving Up
By Bonny Dolla
Published by Bonny Dolla at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Bonny Dolla
Donny was epileptic. It was rumored that this was a curse he had inherited from his father’s family. After his mother had separated from his father and remarried elsewhere, he, together with his younger brother Darius, found themselves under the care of their grandparents.
Together with Tiffa and Fina, the younger sisters to their mother, they lived in a small mud house located near the junction.
This was one of the two main junctions in the village, the first and bigger one called Khujeshi was found at the entrance of the village. The other junction was called Khumilo. It was here that the four main roads of the village intersected. One of the roads led towards Munzolio. This was far deep in the village near the river. Here, near the river were found large uncultivated pieces of lands where the boys in the village would take their livestock for grazing. It was also where the boys held their football leagues which normally ended with quarrels and eventually fights with boys from one side of the river fighting against those from the other side.
The other road led towards Ndori spring, where the villagers would go for pure drinking water. People would travel from far to this spring which was known for its sweet and pure water. In the village, water was always fetched very early in the morning or very late in the evening.
The other road led back to Khujeshi. It was here that boda-boda men would tarry while waiting for people to be taken to Kilingili market. The only shop in the village was also located near Khujeshi which meant that all the villagers had to travel this far to buy victuals. Mostly, they were the children who would be sent to the shops because they were faster.
Donny’s grandparent’s house was located along the fourth road. It was roofed with iron sheets. The main door faced the gate directly, opening into the lounge. It was here that his grandfather used to sit, reading his old books. Occasionally, he would pull his huge glasses from the face and look through the window towards the road.
In front of the house, lying between the house and the gate, was a small field with well cut short grass. His grandfather would wake up very early in the morning just to clean this field. He was a neat old man who talked softly. He was lean, but always smart with his shirt always tacked in his cotton trousers. He loved to challenge other villagers by speaking English. Not so many of his age could speak English as well as he did.
Their grandmother, however, was a tough lady who rarely smiled. She always seemed to be in control and at ease.
The two, Darius and Donny had been forced to join Ekatsombero Primary School which was far into the neighboring Ekatsombero village. Only few of the children in the village travelled that far, most of them went to the nearby Munjiti Primary school.
“Epilepsy is a curse and can never be healed.” This was the notion in the village. Donny knew this. They had tried all native medicines, and all the medicine men could not break the curse. He had come to believe he would never be healed. There was nothing he could do about his situation which kept growing worse and worse each year.
At first he would faint at least once a month. He would just fall down even in the field while playing and start convulsing. The other children would run away and leave him alone. This was dangerous because there are times he would injure himself, but what made him sad was the way other children and even adults would look at him thereafter. There are times he would even urinate in his clothes during the seizures, he would then shamefully get up, upset with himself, and would walk slowly to a secluded place and sit alone. “Why me?” he would ask himself. It is during such times that he would cry and wish that he had not been born.
Over time the situation worsened, he would convulse twice a month, or even thrice a month. Darius was affected too. He felt ashamed to be referred to as the brother to the epileptic boy. It was his duty to look after his brother at school, though. There is a time when Donny fell in the fire and got burned very badly. Luckily, he was rescued before the heat reached the bones of his leg. He was therefore able to heal after a long time of nursing the wound, but he remained with a large scar, and would limp.
The disease was affecting his brain too. He always felt dizzy and much forgetful. His grades fell dramatically, from the top of the class he had become one of the bottom last students. Though he tried to study hard, he would forget everything.
At first, while he was performing well, he at least felt useful, but now that he was poor in studies he felt even more useless and poorer. His brother was improving in studies on the other side. This made him a little happy, at least he felt there was hope for their little family. He loved his brother, the two understood each other.
Darius automatically knew it was now his responsibility to work hard at school and help his family. He also knew that it was his responsibility to take care of his brother. Donny had been so good and kind to him, he did not want to let him down.
Donny’s situation worsened as the convulsions struck even more frequently. It reached a point that he would convulse twice or thrice a day. He would not even talk. He just sat gazing emptily most of the times. Darius felt so sad, he would look at him and cry secretly. He felt angry and weak. He wanted to revenge to someone who caused this to his brother, but felt like there was nothing he could do which made him even more helpless and restless. He became short tempered. He felt he was alone in the world, he was therefore defensive even to his friends who begun to fear and avoid him due to his hostile behavior.
Even though Darius managed to stay at the top of his class, by the time the national examination results for primary school came out he was disappointed, he had scooped a good score of B+ but that was not enough to earn him a scholarship to high school. He knew that for him to study he needed financial support which he could not get from either of his grandparents. His mother was also poor, to add on that, they rarely communicated and she seemed to be preoccupied by other important matters, more important than them, or even his studies.
As his second option, he decides to re-sit the examination. This would take him another one year but it is better than giving up. So he joins Munjiti Primary School. This proves very supportive when he meets other hardworking young men, Okore, Litabalia, and Ing’ini. They immediately become friends, competitive, determined and hardworking. They set to work together in unity. They share books and other resources, helping each other with studies and in the process they become very good friends.
When they are free, they spend their time together at Ing’ini’s place where they play a variety of games, chew sugarcane freely and talk happily about their issues.
Ing’ini was from a fairly good family. He lived with his mother and his other sibling. He was the brightest of them all, and was respected by both family members and the village. He had proved to be very responsible so that even his parents gave him the freedom to invite his friends as he wished in their large house where they would freely sit doing their homework or even chat. Darius begun to see the hope that burned in the eyes of his friends and he begun to feel that he too had a bright future.
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Darius is the only brother to Donny who is epileptic. They are living a poverty stricken life in the village, far from their divorced parents and Darius has to assume the task of taking care of his brother and dreaming for a brighter future for both of them. In this village, Epilepsy is seen as a curse and the grandparents do not even bother to seek medical care for his brother. He begins with enthusiasm but slowly begins to give up along the way as matters begun tough later on. This book is based on a true story, the main setting is in an African village.