I Am Happier With One Leg
Have you ever thought someone will say he is happier having one of his legs cut off? Absurd you will say, but that is what Banji Oyewole, 41, a shoe maker in Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial city will tell you.
The Oyo State indigene was seven years old when it all started.
He had come back from school on that fateful day, back in 1983, and told his parents that he was having pain in his right leg. They gave him little massage and pain killer drugs, thinking it was just pains that may have resulted while playing with his peers.
Days later the pain persisted, with the leg swelling gradually. The situation prompted the parents to take him to a hospital. And that was the beginning of his travail.
The leg continued to swell, showing symptoms of elephantiasis. But some persons told the parents he may have stepped on a charm, something that actually happens in some areas of Nigeria.
Gradually the leg doubled in size.
Several hospitals were visited but they could not get a solution.
Years go by and Banji continued to live with the pain and growth of the leg, which has now started emitting water and blood, with a repulsive smell.
He could no longer go to school because of the discomfort the leg gave to people around him and the inferiority complex he had started feeling.
But Banji said he was not sure it was a charm. He, however, believed what he was told by doctors that treated him at that time.
"I have forgotten what they called it, but they said I had contacted it from a river or somewhere. They asked me if I go anywhere to swim, I said no.
"I believe that is how God wants it," he said.
While they continued to seek solution, Banji refused to be idle. He devoted his time to learning how to make shoes from his father, who was also a shoe maker.
"Since I was still able to work despite
the pain, I devoted my time to learning how to make shoes from my father. It
was a difficult thing but I saw the need to acquire a skill," Banji, who only
managed to finish primary school, said.
His parents took him to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, where he stayed for four years, after he had spent 12 months in another hospital.
"At a time, I can barely sleep for 30 minutes. Most times, I will have to go and take alcohol before I can sleep. I do that so that the pain can leave, but when the effect of the alcohol subsides, the pain returns."
The flesh and muscle around his thigh had shrunk. What was visible before the amputation was skin-over-bone and a swollen foot.
In the midst of this, he lost his father, but also found love.
He met Motunrayo, who was willing to marry him.
"I was not so sure what she felt was love, so I decided to give her one year. I do not touch her. We were just in a relationship, but I wanted to be sure she had made her choice out of free will," he said.
I am very okay
Motunrayo, now Banji's wife, told Bounce News that she loves him and was willing to settle down with him even in that state.
Six years ago, they got married and now have a child, a beautiful daughter.
Love had come into his life but his leg was still a concern to him.
To reduce the smell that comes from the leg, they had resorted to wrapping the leg up with cloth which he also must have to replace after several hours.
When he could no longer bear the pain, in the third week of the month of February 2017, he took a tough but happy decision, according to him.
"I gave them so much pressure, insisting that the leg should be amputated.
"Now, I am very, very okay," he said.
While all this was happening, one person that had played a major role was Banji’s mother.
Sorrow, pains and trauma were few words she could find to describe her experience.
“So much money has been spent on this leg. I have borrowed so much from different persons”.
One thing she is, however, sure of is that her son, could make shoes that could be compared with foreign shoes.
As happy as he is, having his right leg amputated, he says his focus is to give attention to his craft and make a living out of it.
To make work interesting, Banji said he would want to have an artificial leg, but the money is not there yet.