December 5th was the day you left.
You left and never looked back. That day, I had woken like every other day and had rushed to your room to be greeted by your dainty smile as was our usual routine but I met nothingness. Something had changed. I could sense it.
I walked briskly to the parlor where I met a teary-eyed father, I had never seen him cry. “What’s wrong?, Where’s M?” I asked. I hoped that he would disappoint me but the words that left his mouth were “M is gone, she died on the way to the hospital”. At this point, I could not even process my thoughts. These thoughts tumbled on one another leaving my mind in disarray.
You were not sick! Was it not the previous night I had sat with you while you ate your dinner? It was Eba and Okro soup. Yes! I remember. There were no signs! Or was I too young to see them?
I drew my mind away from these thoughts turning to look at my mother who had already adorned a black Bubu. In between sobs she spoke to someone I could not see.” “Ehn, M. Why now? My M, Jesu!”.I knew it was futile, that she would ask these echoing questions and there would be no answers. Still disoriented, I turned and left to my room, dry-eyed and in a state of quiet shock.
The journey to my room felt like wading through murky waters. It was slow and painful, each step felt like I was sinking deeper in these waters, drowning. My eyes were fixed on the ground as if I was a walking corpse. Eventually, I got to my destination. Took a deep breath as I pressed against the doorknob, it was as if the hinges could sense my sadness. It whimpered with me. Maybe I was beginning to imagine things, I thought.
My sister was on our not too tall bed, cross-legged, my eyes met hers pleadingly, begging her to tell me it was a huge joke but she turned away. The emotion searing through her bathed me and in that moment I wept.
I never really talked much, you mostly did the talking while I listened to your gospel. You spoke to me in a different language yet I understood. You were a safe space. I have lost you. The end of each year means I would have to relive this memory . I look back and can’t help but remember how much has changed.
I love you M. I never got the chance to tell you because as Africans we don’t say such mushy words, we are not supposed to be verbally vulnerable. We demonstrate our love and you did just that. You will forever remain in my heart. Till next year.