I was alone and did not know what to do. Should I shout for help or just dive into the river to save my brother and the other three friends who at this point were drowning?

That was a question that formed a thick canopy in my cognitive world. I started feeling weak and dizzy, and in no time, I fell into the Luchenza River.

“Thomas! Can you hear me?” was the next voice I heard.

I violently rose and grabbed my mother. I looked around and saw that I was in a hospital. A young doctor had come to my bed.

“How are you feeling, Thomas?” the doctor asked.

“I am feeling weak.” I replied. “Doctor, what am I doing here and what are these tubes you have put in my arms for?” I asked.

I was shocked to see that I was in the hospital because the last thing I remembered was that I was swimming and fishing in the Luchenza River together with my brother and our three friends.

“Thomas, you are at Bangwe Clinic,” the doctor replied. “Those tubes you see on your arms are what we call catheters. One is for parenteral feeding and the other one for fluid infusion, since you are too weak to eat and drink on your own,” the doctor continued explaining.

“But how am I here?” I asked myself as the doctor prescribed me some drugs.

In no time he left, leaving me alone with my mother. Then came the whole story! My mother narrated it while crying and I joined her as I realised what I had gone through in the past 24 hours.

It was a Saturday morning and there was no food in our house, as usual. Together with my brother I managed to coerce our neighbourhood friends to go to the Luchenza River to swim and catch fish. They hastily agreed and we set off for the journey. Midway to the river we found a mango tree and there were plenty of mangoes on the tree.

We didn’t waste time to climb the tree. Instead we picked the mangoes from the ground and started eating them while proceeding to the river. We reached the river in no time and we started with our mission of swimming and fishing.

Ten minutes later my stomach started grumbling with pain so I went out of the water. I could not continue swimming so I retired to the riverbank. When I looked back I noticed that my friends were drowning. I did not know what to do and I no time I passed out.

According to my mother, I fell into the river and started drowning too.

Lucky enough an angel by the name of Mr Chikopa came from nowhere and saved us. He had witnessed the ordeal from his boat. After pulling us all to the riverbank he called for help and people came. We were unconscious at that time and frothing at the mouth. Lucky enough, Bangwe Clinic was near so they took us there.

My mother told me while shaking her head.

She told me that doctors had found that I ate poison. That is when I remembered the mangoes we ate on the way to the river. Though I was only ten then, I still remember exactly what happened. Mr Chikopa changed my life. Since that incident he told us to fish with him whenever we wanted to. He also paid for our school fees. Lucky enough, all of us survived that ordeal and we are at secondary school now.