The Systemic Syndrome: Nightmare of an Almajeri Child (Short Story)

Updated on July 17, 2018
Endy Noble profile image

Endy is a creative writer. He writes on a number of subjects. Most of his writings are centred on the society and societal values.

Image of hungry Sani being carried by Peter.
Image of hungry Sani being carried by Peter.

The Lonely Road

This was the third day at a stretch he was going without food. He was thin. Very thin. He must have exhausted his carbohydrate source of energy.

Did I just say ‘must have exhausted his carbohydrate source of energy’? That was a mean thing to say.

From the looks, he was everything a skeleton. That could biochemically mean he had used-up all carbohydrate source of energy, finished his lipid source, and had rapidly muscle wasted. One can’t precisely say if he was surviving on calcium breakdown from the bones. He was emaciated completely.

His jaws shook violently like a piston. They were really shaky; as shaky as those of someone who found himself stripe naked on a cold winter night. He wasn't stripped naked of clothes. He was stripped empty of all foods by microbes feeding on the contents of his stomach and secreting digestive enzymes which break down those foods.

The noisy uproar from his stomach testifies he was extremely hungry.

'Who was he?'

Curious, right? Let all imaginations remained on holidays that will save some useful energy

Who is he? Let your imagination remain on their holidays. That will spare you some energy.

The Perhaps Praying Microbes

The microbes that were surviving on the content of his intestine and the mucosal walls knew how empty his stomach was. They too were victims of extreme hunger, food and water deprivation, and hope.

As the ecological maxim goes, “If the host is suffering from lack and deprivations, the parasites die first because the host had to take care of itself first, only then can the dependant survive securely.” This was the one time that maxim was so damned right.

The maxim was true for the microbes in this child's stomach. Some had fallen off from where they were attached on the villi and were lying helplessly on the floor of the Bowen waiting to be flashed out. Perhaps, they too were praying. Perhaps they were saying, “God please send an angel to provide our next meal.” Or perhaps they were saying, “God, please bless our host.”

What was I even saying? Do microbes pray? Do they pray at all? If they pray, to whom do they pray? For whom do they pray? Do they pray to God for themselves or their host? Do they pray to God or their host?

Those are questions for the most intelligent of humans. Yes, questions for humanity’s best of brains, the Louis Pasteur and the Albert Einstein of the world; not dullard like me who took no interest in anything intelligent, mystic or demanding of critical thinking.

If our world will ever get better bad cultural and religious practices would have to give way for common sense, only then can we've better world.

— Endurance AUF Noble

Peter’s Feet Walk Against His Will

Peter never wanted to follow that way but found his feet walking the path against his will. Too fast that his id can’t even imagine. Why were his feet walking against his will? Why had they become so suddenly swift?

This was something he can’t explain. He can’t comprehend because it was one of the ways God uses men when He wants them to become His human angels. He used them even against their will.

He persuasively and gently forced them to go where they don't want to even against their will. And if they were too stubborn to obey His will, He let a fish swallow them and vomit them on the mission field.

Do you remember the story of Jonah? That stubborn servant of God, running away from taking God’s message to the Ninevites?

As the story goes, Jonah found himself in Nineveh against his will. He never even had a clue how he got there. But we were told he that he got there in the belly of a fish. That was the case with Peter. The situation he now found himself was one he never expected? He hated the path he was walking, but he walked it. The worse was that he walked that path even swiftly.

As the story goes, Jonah found himself in Nineveh against his wish. He didn’t even have a clue how he got there. But the truth of the matter was that he got there in the belly of a fish. That is the same case with Peter; the critical situation he now found himself. He abhors the path he walked but he was walking it; worse, even more swiftly.

Almajeri Street Beggars in peeping into compound to beg for food
Almajeri Street Beggars in peeping into compound to beg for food

A Scared to Marrows’ Saviour

Staring scarily, he wasn’t sure of what his eyes were looking at. Was it a human? Was it a ghost? Was it a goat? Was it one of those dangerous guys that lying in wait for the next victims to abuse? “What could this be?” he asked himself, terrified.

Still scared but unwilling to back out, he moved forward. His curiosity was indulged. He taking his torch, he flashed the torch to aid the shining moonlight. He had been walking without his torch's light on. He had been walking aided moonlight, but now he needed the day to break at night. He wanted everywhere to be as bright as daylight. So he applied everything possibly capable of creating that daybreak at night.

“A human?”

Who was he asking?

“Yes, a human,” he asked himself. He answered his question because he had asked no one.

It was a human; a child about the age of seven. Yes, a child about the age of seven or even less. At least, a close look at his thin unfed body which was, by all means, a skeleton says so.

He was cranny. His jaws flapped violently like the piston of Vidhata Lister. His teeth jam against each other like the Taper Roller Bearing fitted on Crankshaft. He wasn’t feeling cold. No! He was sweating profusely. That was the evidence that he wasn’t feeling cold.

He wanted to say something, but his jaws flapped even more violently. The vibration was harder than that of the Piston in a Hydraulic machine. He was totally drained, exhausted and powerless. He had no energy; not even a zero joule of energy had he left. He had no strength; not enough to make his request known. But it was obvious he needed help.

“Oh my God” Peter screamed aloud. He was moved with compassion. He fell to his knees and was on the same level as the child.

Now, he had lots of questions running through his mind. His thoughts were clustered. Crowded like a political rally in Weldatta. He wasn’t sure of the identity of the child, but by all evidence, his torn and tattered clothes, his hungry, tire and jerking body etc. all suggested he was an Almajeri.

He had no doubt on his mind this child was one of the Almajeris; the street beggars. There are lots of them around. Five years old. Six. Seven. Sometimes even less.

The usual way was to see them in groups of two, three four or even twenty. But this one was alone and dying. “Why was he alone? What exactly was wrong with him?” Peter questioned. His mind raced to and fro like the bob of a swinging pendulum. More questions were trooping in, faster than he can handle but those weren't necessary. They aren't important, are they?

Peter wrapped hands around the child's waist and raised him to the shoulder. He took the child home.

The child needed food. He needed medicals. He needed care.

This child must not die. No! He must survive. He must be saved, and Peter was the man sent to play that role of a saviour.

As predicted, he was an Almajeri left on the street to fend for himself in a faraway land. He was far away from the place of birth; away from father, mother and other siblings. His other siblings were perhaps facing the same fate if they were male.

This child had neither father nor mother here. He was brought here and went about begging house to house, and for the past three days, no one was touched to offer him water. No one was kind enough to give him leftover food. No one was kind enough to this innocent, fragile soul. No! No one took him in.

He was a gift from God; given to one irresponsible man, a senseless woman. A mother senseless enough to let God’s gift and blessed fruit of the womb wander through life’s harsh conditions. These callous and irresponsible beings perhaps justify this callousness attributing it to religion and culture. That's the irony.

His name is Sani, seven years old left on the street to survive by himself or die.

Yes, he was left to die, but God spared his soul. God sent angel Peter to save him because God has a purpose for his life. God has a purpose for this innocent soul who had to face this undeserved hunger. Any time humanity’s pipe of generosity was permanently closed. Times when giving was difficult for the human soul, and greed crown their hearts.

Almajeri Children: Begging on the Street
Almajeri Children: Begging on the Street

Irresponsibility, Religion or Culture?

The sight of a five, six, seven or older children on the street left to fend calls to mind many questions. Why should a seven years old be left on the street to fend for himself? Why would a parent—father, mother or relative see this practice as an ideal and practice? Can there be any reason to rationalise this practice?

Your mind may be racing like mine. The truth is we all aren’t equally lucky to enjoy the warm embrace of a loving family. If you live with your parent till you are above sixteen, you're damned lucky. You are Luckier than Sani, the almajeri child whose story you just read.

The story isn't a real-life story, but it's more real and softer than some of the realities around here.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Ajodo Endurance Uneojo


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      • Endy Noble profile imageAUTHOR

        Ajodo Endurance Uneojo 

        8 months ago from Lokoja, Nigeria.

        Oh! Sorry about that Eric.

        We can share each other's pain and joy, right?

        I will try not to make this often.

        Thanks for reading, sir!

      • Endy Noble profile imageAUTHOR

        Ajodo Endurance Uneojo 

        8 months ago from Lokoja, Nigeria.

        The Almajeri system is a reality we live with here, Mary! Painfully unimaginable. Worst, it's promoted under the disguise of culture and religion. Well institutionalised and integrated.

        It's so sad to see children go through this.

        Thanks for reading.


      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Painful. Seems that though it is not a particular child, it is still true by combination. I definitely got the pain here.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        8 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        In our work in other countries, we have seen kids who work the streets to fend for themselves and their families if they still have. Many times, they live in the streets, too. But being in the desert alone is just beyond what I can even imagine.


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