I was sitting in the waiting room when I heard the doctor call my name. I slung my Chipolopolo scarf around my neck, wrapped myself in the national flag, picked up my vuvuzela, and marched unsteadily in the direction of the doctor’s surgery.
Dr Rawat was waiting for me at the door. ‘Come in, Kalaki,’ she said, as I stumbled into the room and fell laughing into a chair. Rawat sat down and looked at me so seriously that I couldn’t stop laughing.
But finally I managed to get control of myself and stood up straight. Then I slowly lifted my vuvuzela to my lips and gave her a good blast in her right ear. ‘Ha ha!’ I shouted, as I swung my scarf around my head, ‘We won!’
‘Kalaki,’ she said, ‘you look terrible!’
I leant towards her and put my finger to my lips. ‘Don’t kubeba!’ I whispered.
‘Go and lie down on the bed,’ she said sternly.
‘Oh doctor,’ I said, putting my arm around her shoulder, ‘I didn’t know you cared!’
‘I do care for you, Kalaki,’ she said kindly, ‘it’s my job. But I only wish I could get some help from you.’
‘You’re the one that’s being paid to do it,’ I laughed, ‘I’ve got my own problems.’
She held me down on the bed while she examined me. ‘Your pulse is 150, your temperature is 40.3, your blood pressure is 240 over 140 and your eyes are very bloodshot!’
‘Be Jesus!’ I exclaimed. ‘Am I dead already? And it’s only yesterday I was as fit as a fiddle, or possibly two fiddles! Tell me doctor, give it to me straight! I’m a brave man when I’ve got the spirit in me! Shall I live to see the World Cup? Or shall I fall victim to a prophesy from TB Joshua?’
‘You’re suffering from Gabon Fever,’ she declared solemnly. ‘It’s all over!’
‘All over!’ I gasped. ‘The final curtain?’
‘No, Kalaki,’ she laughed, ‘I meant it’s all over everywhere?’
‘What?’ I said, pulling up my trouser leg, ‘am I coming out in a rash?’
‘I mean Gabon Fever has spread all over Zambia!’ she laughed. ‘Come back and sit in the chair, and I’ll give you some medicine.’ She leant back to the shelf behind her and took down a little bottle of red pills. ‘You take two of these three times a day, and you should be alright by the end of the week.’
‘God bless you doctor,’ I said. ‘If only I’d brought my sainted mother to see you, she’d still be with us today.’
‘But no alcohol while you’re taking the pills,’ said Dr Rawat, smiling sweetly.
‘What!’ I shouted, leaning over and catching her by her stethoscope, ‘You silly old bat! I’ve told you never to give me pills that can’t be washed down with alcohol! You can stick your pills up your vuvuzela!’
‘Calm yourself, Kalaki,’ she said as she deftly disengaged herself, ‘It’s one of the symptoms of Gabon Fever. Lack of respect for authority!’
‘What d’you mean, you cheeky little quack! I’ve never had any respect for authority!’
‘That’s why there was such chaos when the team arrived,’ explained Rawat. ‘Gabon Fever! The fans were on the runway, up the control tower, everywhere! The police couldn’t do anything!’
‘Ha ha,’ I cackled, ‘What can they do! All they know is tear gas and guns! If they do anything they just cause a riot!’
‘Driven by Gabon Fever,’ continued the doctor, ‘the fans ignored the police, ignored all the rules of the road and ignored all the government ministers!’
‘Ha ha,’ I shouted, jumping onto my seat and blowing my vuvuzela. ‘See how Dotty Scotty was left opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water! See how we declared a public holiday for ourselves and left the schools and factories empty!’
‘Get down now Kalaki. I’ve got other patients waiting.’
‘See how the government tried to take the credit, when all they had done was to try to sack the coach!’
‘Please, Kalaki, just swallow two of these pills!’
‘Let them show us the Gabon Disaster Report, then we shall see how the government can help football!’
‘Please, Kalaki, this is a non-political hospital!’
But I blew my vuvuzela in her face. ‘See how the bogus bishops tried to take the credit, saying their prayers had been answered! Saying God had favoured us! But we blew our vuvuzelas in their faces, and instead thanked our boys for their determination and skill!’
‘Kalaki, get down from this chair!’
Down I jumped, off the chair and into the corridor, blowing my vuvuzela as hard as I could.
When I opened my eyes I found myself surrounded by a bile-green plastic curtain. Sara was sitting at the side of my bed. She put her hand on my forehead. ‘You’ve come round at last,’ she said, ‘you’ve had a bad attack of Gabon Fever.’
‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘When you blew your vuvuzela, your eyes popped clean out of their sockets.’
‘Nonsense,’ I said, ‘I was just scoring two penalties.’
‘The other patients were so frightened,’ said Sara, ‘that they all ran away. One fellow who hadn’t walked for years jumped out of his wheelchair and ran straight out through the gate!’
‘That wasn’t my fault! They were just going to join the celebrations!’
‘You infected them with Gabon Fever!’