Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Mendel's second law of Genetics.

Hey awesome people!

Don’t you all hate it when you finish all your chores, rub on some moisturizer on your hands and get ready to watch a cool series with twelve forty-five minute episodes only for mum to call with an urgent errand?

That’s what happened to me that Thursday evening. I remembered how I crawled outta bed, pulled off my grey fur socks and red sweatpants; and geared up to hit the road, my face looking like this:

“Hi Shi! (Every time mum calls me Shi, I know she is about to request a huge favor, and goes that extra mile to sound cute and irresistible); Please rush over to Mama G and tell her to give you some really important work related documents? I need them tomorrow!”

“Huh? What freaking documents! Which mama G? Where?” I slurred into my phone, my brain returning from the awesome world recycling Blindspot season 2 had sent it to.

“Girl! The lady who used to come to our house when you were in standard eight? She sent you a huge success card! You will meet her at the stage in Chaka,” mum said, with a hint of irritation.

“Muuum! How on earth am I supposed to remember her! My facial recognition system is dead!”

“Silly girl! You’d better go because she is already waiting for you. If you are late…”

“Ok mum! Your wish is my command,” I said, trying to keep the sarcasm from my tone. It is so awesome how we would never hurt our mums irrespective of how angry they may make us. I changed into an old oversized Avatar t-shirt, checked tight tights and neon green sneakers. I just didn’t care.

One look at dad’s sparkling van filled me with so much anxiety that I decided to drag my lazy grumpy mass to the stage and wait for a Matatu instead of driving the fifteen kilometre distance. Lady luck smiled and brought along a sleek shiny black Matatu for me to ride to Chaka. This thing, or ‘Box’ as the denizens of Uncouthville would call it, was crawling with inspirational calligraphy and gorgeous images of Jesus the Good Shepherd.


Or should I have said Art?
I hopped in and ignored the leering and lewd comments coming from the males occupying the back seats. Apparently, my body is a killer. Jesus! I wanted to die.

The music was way too loud. The only thing I could hear was my inner old lady complaining that she couldn’t even think. Luckily, the black machine had me there in four minutes and I slid out like a queen cobra.

I adjusted to my new surroundings as quickly as I could, trying to find Mama G’s conspicuous outfit and signature shapeless bags (That was all I could remember). As I passed the market, I heard the distant rumbling of every market’s ‘mad man’, but now that this is a mental health blog, every market’s ‘Schizophrenia patient’. Intrigued, I followed the voice and saw him. As expected, his hair resembled a black and brown version of mum’s old mop. He was adorned in brown sackcloth and beat down slippers. On his face was caked mud and in his brown eyes, an ancient sorrow only he could fathom. He pointed at an old lady’s can of peas on display and mumbled something.
In English.

How interesting!

I moved closer to further decipher his gibberish.
“My poor poor child! Why? I cannot believe this! It was so easy!”
He sat on the ground and began to weep.

“He lives to tarnish my all time favorite law…my son is an embarrassment, a monster…that wide ugly beautiful face with so much suffering! A failure, how! I even break nature’s law of independent assortment!”


One of the men I was riding with gained on me.
“I know the guy. His only son was born with Down’s syndrome…it was too much to take after having so many daughters…”

I shut him out from there to put two and two together. In high school, we only learnt Mendel’s first law of genetics; about segregation. Mendel’s second law, our teacher told us, was far more complicated. It is actually covered in an advanced stage of University biology.


What causes Down’s syndrome? Genetic traits are supposed to be inherited independently from one another. However, during genetic linkage, a serious error causes appearance of forty seven instead of forty six chromosomes in a human cell, where a third chromosome number 21 appears partly or wholly. This error is a violation of the law of independent assortment.

Break the law of nature…

“Mendel’s second law!” I exclaimed the same way Gregor Mendel must have when he had all modern Genetics figured out.

“Finally! Someone who is learned!” the man growled and gravitated towards me in a euphoric stupor. Scared, I stood rooted. I could not move with the rest of the crowd that ran like dirt carried by a tornado. I was stuck.

“You love biology like me?” He asked, tears gashing from his eyes like two waterfalls.
“Ye…yeeeaaahh…a lill..little,” I mused, trying to filter some oxygen from the complex smell of him.
“Work hard little girl…you might save me and my son. University is not easy…people are mean…very mean.” He slurred and collapsed under the weight of pain. Or five thousand jumbo jets.
My hands began to quiver uncontrollably as my own sadness rose in my chest like a black poisonous gas.

“I’ll help you, I promise.” I said and moved away, knowing that only his family and doctor could restore him to the genius he was before his illness struck.
I found Mama G clad in a neon orange dress, hanging on to her black leather bag by the sides like a gunia.

“My dear, you have grown! I thought that man was going to hurt you!”
“Naah!” I replied after disentangling myself from her disorganized hug.
“They only hurt people that they perceive as threats. They must be treated with respect and caution. Their strength cannot be underestimated.”

“Woi, why did Satan choose only the best…” she exclaimed.
“Aunty, he is not possessed. He has a mental illness called disorganized schizophrenia that is manageable via meds, therapy, exercise and diet. Scientists think he has an excess of dopamine in his brain; but apart from that, he can live a normal life. Most people live a normal life if they adjust it appropriately and have supportive family, friends, doctors and psychologists.” I told her.

Later as I rode back home in another grey “Box”, I concluded that his child’s illness triggered the Psychotic illness.
Disorganized schizophrenia is the most tragic illness. It may be genetic, meaning it sits still in someone’s mind waiting to be triggered by significant catastrophe or just stress. Its symptoms crop up just after teenage or in early adulthood. It can also be caused by severe head trauma, poor nutrition during pregnancy, certain infections, and DOING WEED! Yeah, smoking weed or eating pastries laced with it could give you a nice high. However, it causes irreversible brain damage that will give you a permanent all time low, so, don’t do it!

Its symptoms include disorganized speech, thinking and movement. Social withdrawal is common; they lack motivation and feel no psyche for new friends. They pay little attention to personal hygiene and dressing. This illness affects their emotions greatly; they find it hard to interpret facial expressions or feel anything deep. It also messes up their working and long term memory. Patients will be extremely sensitive to light and will want to take plenty of fluids even while not thirsty. Its most prominent symptom is hallucinations, they can be tactile (touch), auditory, visual or olfactory (smell). These may deeply scare the patient and family, but they always respond well to antipsychotic meds. Treatment is long term and entails drug therapy and other forms of assistance that a psychiatrist may see fit.

So that guy, awesome humans, that you see in the market exhibiting the symptoms above is not cursed or drunk or irresponsible or bewitched. He is seriously ill. Say a prayer for him. I hope someday mental health enthusiasts (like me) will pool together some resources and assist these people.


P.S. I got home alright and went straight back to bed.

Wikipedia app available on Google Playstore.
My high school Biology teacher’s wise words.