Torn Apart: BOYD PHIRI
IF THERE is anything that some mothers in the hood have appreciated the most about the cholera crisis, it is the willingness by their daughters to readily confess that they are pregnant when seen vomiting.
Certainly, in the past, mothers have always struggled to squeeze a confession from their teenage daughters to find out whether they are pregnant when spotted puking the first time.
Sometimes, mums have been forced by fathers to constitute ‘commissions of inquiry’ into their daughters’ discomforts each time it becomes clear that they won’t say a word as to why they are throwing up after dismissing malaria attack as the cause.
Ironically, with the population of grandmothers diminishing in the hood, the task of pressing for a confession from a teenage girl has been left to anyone calling herself alangizi.
Of course, it has not been easy for alangizi to get a confession out of most girls in the hood over their throwing up.
In short, they have been playing hard to own up, just like they play hard to get before giving in to unwanted pregnancies.
“Mum, I am fine, nothing is wrong with me,” one would say to her concerned mother.
Even threats of taking her to the doctor for pregnancy test would not readily prompt a confession from her.
If you have observed, at certain times some teenage girls in the hood have this thing about rushing outside their parents’ homes when no-one is looking and start throwing up, not worms, of course.
They would walk back to their confines and pretend that no-one did anything to their virginity to warrant bullocking from anybody about why they are vomiting.
It’s not that they are allergic to telling the truth about their health conditions at certain times; truth is, oblivious of the consequences, they feel good to keep secrets.
But with vomiting being one of the symptoms of cholera attack, it has become easy for mothers and alangizi at large to get a confession out of their daughters without them putting up a fight.
What I am trying to say is this: No-one wants health workers in the hood to mistake any kind of vomiting for vibrio cholerae attack, which is why some girls who have just discovered that they are pregnant own up without wasting their mothers’ time.
This time around the odds are that when their mothers notice them puking, the first thing that comes to mind is that they have contracted the cholera bug.
Never mind the fact that their mothers also vomited a lot while pregnant with them.
At least there was no cholera then for the hood to mistake this sort of vomiting for a bug.
The only thing you had to do as a father-to-be was to put aside money for the missus to buy enough clay soil in the hood to manage the nauseating feeling.
But with the unprecedented vigilance among members of the community and health workers at large to quarantine everyone seen vomiting nowadays, girls who have fallen pregnant readily confess to their parents lest the hood mistakes their morning sickness for the viral disease attack.
“Mum, I am pregnant, it’s not about cholera. I am ready to go for a pregnancy test if you think it’s cholera,” one would say to avoid being mistaken for a cholera patient.
Like the Bembas say: “Ifyakulya ubushiku fimonekela kumalushi (what is eaten in the dark is revealed through vomit), this time around, most teenage girls are not letting the truth come when they are five months pregnant.
What can one do if there is a new version of the Bemba saying, which goes like this: “Ifywakulya mufiko, fimonekela muli cholera,” meaning, “what is eaten in a dirty environment is revealed through cholera”.
That is how cholera has helped mothers to catch their cheating daughters.
So, in as much as cholera is bad because it is a fast track to the grave, it has dealt a blow to the girls because there is no benefit in lying, otherwise, they may find themselves at National Heroes Stadium in the cholera wards.
In short, the rate of teenage girls seen vomiting in their backyards or pit-latrines has reduced drastically because of the stigma attached to cholera and its attendant corollary to vomiting.
Even opaque chibuku beer guzzlers in the hood don’t vomit openly after drinking themselves stupid. One has to be naïve to vomit in front of Dr Chitalu Chilufya. Just kidding.