I found this story cleaning out my files today and thought I should put it up. I wrote it about two years ago while I was on holiday. It is unfinished. I can’t remember why I didn’t bother to finish it but reading through just now, I suspect it stemmed from a dislike of the central character. I wonder if I should not just finish it?
Dr Ani was a clown, treated his practice like a joke and his patients like a punch line.
Often they didn’t know they were punch lines so he had to retaliate – in jest of course, he wasn’t really mean, heaven forbid. Like the time when sixteen-year-old Margaret had come in with painful constipation. She had gruffly informed the man who had treated her since she was a baby that ‘he really wasn’t that funny’ as he tried to make light of her condition. Of course he wasn’t hurt, no, no, no, no. That was teenagers for you. But he tried to make her see the error of her ways, what the joke was really about, punctuating each turn of the joke with a forceful, gloved jab into her unyielding rectum as he inserted the suppository that would help her shit. She sounded like she was in pain when she finally said she understood, laughing ‘haw, haw, haw’ like a donkey. ‘Constipation is no laughing matter,’ he informed her gravely, before he burst out, watching her eyes for signs of merriment. She doubled over, hiding her face and clutching her belly. Laughter really was the best medicine.
Yes, he had the good life. Granted some people might have thought that he went down to his hometown in Ukwuda to settle – ‘settle’ being the operative word – but mostly they were people who had had a humour bypass. Dr Ani didn’t bother telling them that the bigwigs in the posh Lagos hospital had realised his potential so much that no sooner than the research on laughter appeared in the Journal of Medicine than he was being given the biggest send forth party to go and practice the medicine he loved as a big man among the grassroots. (It was exactly the same thing he had been preaching for years! Fine, it was all put in fancy language like endorphins and such, but it was essentially the same. He could have written that paper with his eyes closed, if he weren’t so busy with the actual business of healing people, rather than sitting on his backside tickling patients with a palm frond and gauging their reactions. Honestly, the things people got paid to do)
People had cheered his move up the ladder and his fiancée, Nurse Eunice, popularly called ‘EU’ by her friends had wept openly with emotion. She was so overwhelmed by the honour. He had heard her best friend whisper to her during the party ‘It’s not too late, you know’ and knew that his wife was worried about the party running late. He knew her so well. He gave his guest of honour speech, cracked a few jokes and dragged his Eunice away from the party. Her best friend had clung to her until he had separated them, joking to make it less painful “Eh! Gladys, this way you are clinging to my wife, do you want to marry her? So because nobody is asking about your wares you want to turn to woman lover?” His casual reference to her spinster status and taboo lesbianism caused a few gasps. Gladys looked livid, but sure enough the laughter started up almost immediately, led by the Chief of Medicine who seemed to be spurring people on with his hands. Ah, the good old chief was always one of the fastest minds and bravest souls. After all, it was he who recommended Dr Ani for their most remote location, where people were so poor they couldn’t pay and medicine was largely unexplored. People would be more receptive to his style of medicine, not like Lagos where they were so full of themselves and how much money they had that they couldn’t laugh at their ridiculous ailments. It’s not as if it was life and death, most rich people only had imaginary ailments. And so what if it was? Some deaths were funny, especially when people farted or shat themselves as they died. Continue reading Forgotten story: ‘The Jester’