Today, I saw the face of death…


Creaky beds and ventilation tubes littered the room. In one corner, a chubby looking man sat with a stethoscope around his neck. Other significantly younger individuals flocked around doing one thing or the other… I approached his desk and he signaled me to sit.

Nurse, jor mo fe yagbe. (Nurse, please I want to shit)….

There was a fine mix of men and women in the room. At least they numbered seven. “Don’t go anywhere baba” the nurse shrieked; the restroom is full and you can dislodge your catheter if you stand.

I looked around and saw the grim look on the faces of the residents and the indifferent look on the faces of the attendants who had probably spent quality time in a medical school somewhere. The atmosphere lacked compassion. Despite being over 30 degrees, the room felt frigid.

Nurse, please I need to shit now he cried again and he began undressing himself.

In sickness, there  isn’t anything like being shy or worrying about being naked or not… The goal is simple; Get well.

As he spoke, he got up and took a few feeble steps away from the bed. He could barely stand upright. The urine bottle hit the floor and another nurse shouted “baba, wait. Don’t dislodge your urethra. Use this… as she handed him the waste bin stationed by his bed and lined with polyethylene ”. He collected it and quickly stooped to poop right by his bed which happened to be next to another patient. Oblivious to all that was going on in the room.

You look healthy he said. . Let’s check your BP. Do you exercise? Do you sleep well? Are you on any drugs? Painkillers? None? Beautiful. You’d be fine. You only need to rest…

Doc, it’s an emergency please… my mother isn’t feeling well… carry her in… the available wheel chair without rubber tires rolls in…and because there isn’t a footrest, someone holds the woman’s  legs up to avoid them scraping the floor.

She is wheeled to the center of this crowded room visibly gasping. One of the younger doctors grabs a pair of gloves and walks briskly to the woman…. He searches for a pulse…. Grabs a stethoscope… shuts his eye and walked away. She had passed.

It had happened. The young lady who only minutes ago had carried her mother into that room in an instant had no one to call mother again. . In the twinkling of our eyes, her mother was gone. Liberated from this sad existence. For her, this was the final destination. No more pain. Nothing to worry about.  She was finally at peace.

For a minute, the room went silent…. Then the chatter resumed. In the background one of the nurses was advising the lady about wrapping the body up before it became stiff and they couldn’t move “it” around….

This was my second encounter with the reaper.

Today, I sat in a room with the reaper and saw the face of death.


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