The Reason I Remained ‘Clubless’

By Ikenga Chronicles February 12, 2018

The Reason I Remained ‘Clubless’

Uche Anyanwagu

During the first week of my internship in a Teaching hospital in a calm, serene beautiful town East of the Niger, I had a horrendous experience which led me to make a decision which I don’t think I either love or loathe till date.

It was a lovely Wednesday. My unit was on call that day. I had an unusual apprehension which could light a floating NEPA cable due to my last call the week before.

Will you blame me? My medical career seemed to have started on a very bad and sad note. I started with a call – a weekend call at that. All the first 3 patients I clerked and admitted died within 48 to 72 hours (I will tell this story another day).

So, for this next call, I felt I could just take the next “All-States Mass Transit Bus” back to Umuahia, my hometown.

We were in clinic that day and as the first on medical call, I was called out severally to accept medical cases from the Casualty (Emergency) Doctors.

The whole peaceful town was agog. There was a looming football match in faraway Moscow, Russia. I can vow that neither up to 2% of the football enthusiasts that day could locate Russia on the map of the world nor identify its map when shown alone.

Most bars and drinking joints (which also serve as viewing centres) were adorned with the colour of the Jerseys and insignias of the teams they support.

The town was sharply divided into two bold colours of Red and Blue with a hue of an insignificant colours contributed by a confused bunch of people.

Sadly, this was where yours sincerely proudly lorded that day. By hindsight, I feel that confusion (neutrality) was a safety net because every other thing that afternoon up till midnight proved the same.

My first call was to attend to a lady with uncontrolled blood sugar. Whilst on that, a 16-year-old boy (Case no 1), who was hit by a car during a road show by the fans of the Blue Team, was carried in rumpled. His mangled limbs dangled like a pendulum let loose by an overzealous physicist in a practical session. I still wonder what and how the Orthopaedic team was able to get him fixed.

As expected, the young men that brought him in were enraged. They fingered (whatever that means) a Red-team fan as the brain behind the attack. They could swear with their local government that that driver rammed into them.

The Blue mob had already beat the driver to pulp and he was also brought to the hospital a few hours later. His car was set ablaze too (Case no 2). Both case no 1 and case no 2 lay side by side at the A&E Ward, oblivious they were.

At about 6pm, the A&E department was rudely shaken that the noise from two opposing sets of people. When the English say, “Lock horns”, you will pick every detail here.

Two men (in their mid-thirties) were carried in by two opposing surging crowds into the waiting room. One had jack-knife still stuck into her left eye socket while the other had his skull literally split into two. Both men were soaked in their own blood.

As if this was not enough to send a strong message to their supporters, both factions were almost engaged in a brawl inside the hospital.

From the gist that filtered from their quarrel, I learnt that both men engaged in a bitter argument on the team that will win the UEFA Champion league finals. Both were so enraged with passion that it ended in a fight which left in its trail, the carnage that beheld us in A&E.

The Ophthalmology and Trauma/Ortho teams were sent to attend to them. Even as a doctor, I could not behold the sight of a rusty metal of the jack-knife with brown-coloured handle sticking out of that young man’s left eye.

A few hours later, I saw both heads bandaged and none of the men had the eye to even watch the match (Cases 3 and 4) for which they laid down their lives (sorry heads) for.

Cases 5 and 6 (fans of Team Red) were brought in dead into the A&E at the dead of the night.

It was alleged that while they were gyrating round town and celebrating the victory of their dear team, an aggrieved Team Blue fan rammed his car into the crowd and left these two dead and scores of others with varying degrees of injuries.

A&E that night was literally on fire. The once very beautiful and peaceful town became every shade of chaos.

The little peace we had was only during an unusual 120 minutes of stillness when all the roads suddenly became quiet as if an angel of darkness passed by.

Albeit, pockets of intermittent shouts filtered through that cloudless sky to interrupt this peace, depending on the side of the pitch you pitched.

At this fleeting moment, I recalled that my colleague and I were glued to the multi-purpose handset (phone) of a patient relative (if you can recall those early days when some handsets had three sims, TV, radio (even with antenna), torch, fan, camera, video-recorder, etc). Ehen, it was with such phone that we saw the match.

That football match ended in a one-all draw and went on to extra time and later, penalty kicks. It ended 6 – 5 in favour of the Team Red. The whole city was agog.

From faraway Moscow, the heat was felt in our local hospital more, with brothers at daggers-drawn. I cannot accurately say the number of corpses deposited in our morgue that day but we were overwhelmed not just by the number of casualties, but by the horror of the same and the needless reasons. None in Moscow knew the name of my village.

I recall that at a stage, reading from the newspapers that Beckham had a 250k-pound weekly pay but I never saw how that lit a bulb in Africa or fed a hungry soul in war-ravaged Syria.

Yet, many thousand nautical miles away, brothers raised their arms on their fellow; friends turned into arch enemies; peers were torn apart; and seeds of bitterness planted and nurtured to blossom and flourish.

I was a bag of emotions that night, not because any team won or lost, but because none of the players knew my name or that the blood of youths coloured the street on which their career rode.

Till date, I have remained clubless and should you catch me supporting anyone unknowingly, that must be Enyimba.

I am Uche Anyanwagu. I remain ‘clubless’. The pic below is both my team and fans.

  • This is the 10th in a series of essays on “Medical Myths – Tales by Doctors