Whatever It’s Worth
“You’re to take this every twelve hours, that is, two times daily, for the next fourteen days.””Okay, thank you.” “You’re welcome. And this,” holding up another dispensing envelope containing green capsules, “is to be taken once a day. Take with sufficient water.”
A teenage girl walks in, all sweaty and distraught, and in a ragged jean wear. As the influx of customers has been increasing beyond what my field of vision can accommodate, I should consider installing a CCTV soonest. In five months, the dispensary has mushroomed from a struggling outlet to a high-traffic one-stop grocery and drug store. Hold up a sec, who says I can revisit the once-dreamy idea of opening a chain of mega outlets across town? That way, an expansion of… “Got that, Sir. Thanks,” my client’s response brings me back.
“And, one more thing Ma’am,” flailing index finger briefly, “if you notice such things as dry mouth, constipation or a tingling sensation in the limbs, do not be alarmed; it’s just the side effects kicking in. They’d resolve soon as you wind up the regimen.”
The girl picks an item I cannot see from the stand, brings out a pen and squats. Whatever dropped, she is still there in a bent posture.
“Would that be all, Pharm?” she asks, politely chiding my distracted self.
“My apologies, Ma’am. Yes, that will be. Please do not forget to come refill the other prescription when due and…”
My eyes revisit the girl by the corner. Now upright, she slides something into her pocket and begins to sidle away, heading toward the door. Strangely, she is barefoot.
Seeing she has no intention to approach the counter, I excuse myself, breezing past the client before me. If I was seething, I tried hard to conceal it. I wonder how many more of these pickpockets and delinquents I’d have to deal with. Just the other day, I frantically saved a miscreant from the hands of a fuel-and-tyre-ready mob. Not that by deciding to intervene I wasn’t myself risking being lynched alongside, but having earned a reputation in that community it was not as tough, or impossible, as it could have been. Having lived such life while growing up- until I found redemption, seeing youngsters ply that path is hard for me to pretend not noticing. Yet, that they never learn from someone else’s ordeal is my worry.
Realizing I was moving further away–nearing the end of the block already–and without yet commanding the girl’s attention, I call out: Hey! The girl breaks into a run. Not something I would do on another day, but–vexation or genuine concern for whatever her plight is, you make your pick–I take after her. Bumping into people, running over items and incurring damages I could not look back to assess, I keep on. She slows down after some three hundred metres. You still got your fitness, I humor myself in the heat of an unfunny scenario.
Turns out she was not indeed fleeing but had a destination. Slouched on the curb is a lad–six, maybe 7–gasping for breath, the same her sister and I are trying to catch. Hoarse coughing and loud wheezing, the sight elicits empathy. My fiery rage melted like wax afore a furnace. The girl, not minding my catching up with her, uncaps the inhaler she stole and slid it in the boy’s mouth.
While her brother’s condition is inadmissible excuse for her act of pilfering, that she was compelled that much along the line in desperation to save her sibling’s life touched me in more ways than one. And did I mention I am asthmatic too?
* * * * * A reflective me returns to the dispensary. But for my locum colleague who stood in, the queue of clients that had resulted would have been formidable. Tossing them an absentminded nod of greeting, I head towards the drug section that Alice (I did ask for her name and number for follow-up, having shared the Gospel with her and some money) disarranged while scurrying away. A small piece of paper on a pair of scruffy sneakers reads: “IN EXCHANGE FOR A LIFE; WHATEVER THIS IS WORTH.”
Written By: Bunmi Oke
Image Source: Google Images