•From paralysis to adulterated kerosene explosion: Life and times of citizen Nwaeruru Chinyere Ohaegbulam
By Emmanuel Iheaka
When Nwaeruru Chinyere Ohaegbulam was born about four decades ago, her family had no premonition that life had reserved for the newly born, what could be described as the worst form of cruelty.
For a family that had prayed and waited earnestly for a female child after five males, her arrival expectedly, brought great joy. But all of that was cut short when life fired the first cruel shot at the age of three.
According to her elder brother, Mr. Chinedu Ohaegbulam, measles had hit Nwaeruru at the age of three. It was a time she was already beginning to walk. Her parents as expected had taken her to a hospital for medication, where she was injected. That was all life needed to get her down. The injection, Ohaegbulam said, paralyzed Nwaeruru.
“My younger sister walked for only two years and few months in her entire existence on planet earth; after she sat, crawled, held something to stand on, and finally put the first wobbling tiny leg forward, as a baby.
“At age three, she came down with measles, and was taken to Mbano General Hospital, and was injected by one Robert, a member of staff of the hospital, which paralyzed her limbs. This happened in the early 1970s.
“Nwaeruru was a paragon of beauty right from birth, which made our father to give her that name. She was born after our father had prayed and longed for a girl-child, because he already had five boys. The birth of Nwaeruru was celebrated by my father in a manner he never celebrated his first five boys and the other children that came later.
“When the injection calamity happened, our parents went literally berserk, especially our father. They did everything humanly possible to make Nwaeruru walk again, but all to no avail. They fought the paralysis through the orthodox, unorthodox, spiritual, traditional, religious, as many people came with suggestions on what could be done to arrest the situation”.
When all hope to revive her limps appeared lost, Ohaegbulam said Nwaeruru was confined to a wheelchair. Growing up to realize that her limps were not capable of moving the way those of her contemporaries did, Nwaeruru accepted her fate and resolved to push on, with the struggles of life.
A native of Ogbor-Ihitteaforukwu, Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, Nwaeruru was later to be employed at the local government headquarters of the council.
But life was not yet done with dealing a deadly blow on Nwaeruru. On July 9, 2021, Nwaeruru in an attempt to refill a burning lantern with kerosene, became a victim of explosion.
“ On July 9, 2021, while Nwaeruru was on her bed, preparing to retire, but not without refilling the tank of the lantern that served as electricity in the house; as she poured the kerosene into the lantern, there was an explosion. On hearing the screams of her daughter; her great companion and care-giver for years, our mother used the last ounce of strength and courageously battled with her daughter to put out the raging balls of flame in the room. But much damages had happened to Nwaeruru’s face and body”, the brother narrated.
In the last three months, Nwaeruru’s siblings did everything humanly possible, within their limited resources to save her life, but their best was not enough.
While Nwaeruru battled with paralysis and burnt, she was also deprived of 14 months salaries, according to her brother. Neither her disability, nor the degree of the burnt could make government to release her salaries despite concerted efforts by her brother. She however, gave up the ghost on October 3, 2021.
“Nwaeruru was an Amazon; a fighter who faced life with courage. She never fell seriously ill before her death. She hated to be pitied because of her physical challenge. She was my friend; My siblings and I cared for her till her last breathe”, Ohaegbulam submitted.
It is believed that Nwaeruru will find in death the rest life never granted her.