sweating black man



I look at him, he looks back at me; in another place and time we may have tried to strike a conversation. Not here, certainly not now.

I look at his shirt, it is unremarkable. His lower buttons are unable to stay united as his distended belly peeps through like a shiny calabash, he is sweating which is unusual as the weather is very cool today, I look at his feet, they are bare, and it will indeed take a lot of struggle and will power to fit them into any regular shoe.

I turn my eyes away from him; I have other more important things to worry about – like what awaits me behind those doors. Someone is coming out, I try to look at her expression, I can’t tell whether she is happy or sad, she walks past me, the smell of stale deodorant on a repeatedly worn and unwashed blouse assaults my nostrils.

I hear my name: ‘Mr. Okafor!’ the lady in the smaller room calls; I stand up, I look at him -‘my friend’ with the big belly is also trying to stand, I move quickly past him and shut the door behind me; I have been dreading this moment.

The man behind the door is looking at me in a funny way, I am suddenly uneasy; his face is going through different emotions. I start to sweat, I remember ‘my friend’ outside the door, he will still be sweating.

‘Here are your test results Mr. Okafor,’ the man hands me some yellow papers. He is still looking at me queerly. My palms are suddenly moist. I look at the papers and the meaningless numbers and letters on them.

‘Wh… what do they mean?’ I ask the man who is still looking closely at me.

‘Well, you are Mr. Okafor aren’t you?’ he asks me.

‘Why, yes of course.’ I reply, suddenly wishing this is not my name.

‘Well, before I continue I must remark what wonderful shape you are in.’ he says to me.

I look at him waiting for him to go on. He is shifting in his chair.

‘Erm, it is your kidneys sir, they are no longer working.’

I look at him in a daze; he is looking at something underneath his table, now he is looking at the fan at the far corner of the room.
I barely hear him saying ‘I am so sorry sir’. I stand to my feet and without a word I walk out of the office.

‘My friend’ is still sitting there in more discomfort than I left him, I can’t help him, and I have my own problems. I can’t wait to get out of this building!

The woman in the small room is calling out again, I hear her faintly as I exit the building.

‘Mr. Okafor!’ she calls.

Before I can say anything, I hear ‘my friend’ answering, ‘yes, please!’

He is walking into the office.


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