Sometimes when he was home from the base, Dili would be ill with crises pain. Watching the child’s agonizing grimaces, his eyes would moisten. He would turn quickly towards the wall, the tears dropping involuntarily.
‘Daddy, are you crying? Why, Dad, why are you crying?’ the boy would ask through gritted teeth.
He never dared to answer, afraid the dammed-up well of tears inside him would burst.
The Messenger, The Message
The man of God remained still for five long minutes. When he emerged from his trance, he told the anxious parents he had a message for them from ‘on high’.
The child was to undertake a fast, a dry fast, for seven days. The fast must begin within 48 hours.
‘A dry fast – ’ Mrs. Ihaza gasped, ‘for a 5 year old child?!’
‘Yes,’ the man of God replied, ‘I am just a messenger, not the author of the message. You may wish not to carry out the instruction, but I assure you it’s the only way out.’
‘But can’t we, the parents, fast on his behalf?’ asked the father.
The Dry Fast
Now, how do you explain to a 5-year-old he can’t have pies, food, juice, coke and all the other stuff children everywhere would go crazy without? God!
Colonel Ihaza obtained leave of absence. Missus did the same. How were they – how was the child – going to get through the next one week?
At first the soldier and his wife thought they would observe the fast in solidarity with their son. It would be unacceptable to their conscience to feast while an innocent child fasted. It was even more poignant that the child was suffering the consequences of their ignorance (neither had heard the word ‘genotype’ prior to having children with SCD).
At noon the following day, the man of God visited to see how the family was bracing up for the exercise. Colonel Ihaza told him he and his wife were also going to fast together with their son. The man of God shook his head, No, no, no. They can’t fast with the child, let the child work out his own salvation – his own deliverance – by himself!
So Mom and Dad dropped their plan to observe the long fast with their son.
Ordinarily the household had orange juice every morning on awakening. The juice, usually served by the mother, was coming too late. So Dili proceeded to the kitchen to help himself.
The refrigerator was locked. Dili went and kicked his mother awake.
‘Open the fridge, mom, I want juice!’
It was a moment the parents had dreaded since the night before.
‘No juice today, son.’
‘No juice? Why? I’ll take coke then.’
‘No coke too, my dear.’
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