Once Upon A New Year

Once Upon A New Year

“Uche, Uche!! Wake up please”. I stirred and woke up, staring at Ugo my brother shouting frantically and panting like a lizard. This is just 9am for God’s sake. I didn’t joke with my sleep.

“What has happened, is mum freaking out because of the messed up kitchen, is, is?”. He didn’t give me any answer and just whisked me out of my room and downstairs. My brother was such a drama ‘queen’. Mom was probably angry that we left the kitchen in a mess after last night, or maybe dad had left the tap running and now some part of the house is flooded.

We walked into the sitting room, and my uncle Chika was sitting there with a forlorn look. Our security guard stood by the door with blood shot eyes, and the househelp sat on the floor, crying or rather wailing. What in God’s name was happening? I walked into the dining area and there my mom was, tracing the delicate lines on dad’s favorite Chinaware tea cup, with a very sorrowful look on her face. Ugo was already bawling loudly beside me.

“Come, come here my baby. Your father is gone. He died in the bath, I can’t tell what happened to him. Your dad is goneee. The ambulance has carried him away already, for an autopsy. He… is… left…”. Mom tried to get words out but could not, she was crying hysterically now.

is all a joke, right?

Ten hours later, I was sprawled out on the floor in the sitting room. Ugo was hugging dad’s biggest portrait to himself, tears flowing down his face. Uncle Chika was sitting on the couch, his head in his hands, dad was his favorite brother. Mom was sobbing and wiping the chinawares and the figurines on the dining table, they were clean and spotless, I don’t know why she was wiping them. Ese, the help, kept asking me if I needed anything; I guess it was strange to them on how I have not even shed a single tear since morning, I’ve just been moping around and trying to act normal. I mean, my dad cannot be dead. My favorite person in the whole wide world.

My uncle began to talk. “Ugochukwu, hold yourself together. You need to take care of your mum and sister, you are the man now. I’ll always be here if you need me”. Man? Did he just say man? Ugo is such a woman. I didn’t realize I laughed out loud until I noticed everyone staring at me. Mum made her way to me.

“Uchenna, I am worried you are not showing any emotion. I know that deep down, you are hurting, you are breaking down, you miss your dad, you were his favorite and you were so close to him. Cry, you will feel better. Scream if you want. Hit me if you want to. Just do something. It kills me to see you like this, dying in silence”. She said while hugging me to herself. All I could feel was numb. Dad has left me numb. He’s probably somewhere right now. He might not come back tonight, but I will wake up tomorrow morning and come downstairs to him drinking his alkaline coffee from his tea cup.

Everyone has dispersed to their rooms, me included. It was such a bad New Year, we had just celebrated New Year’s day along with mom’s new big promotion at work. And now, this. If we had travelled to our village in the East during the Yuletide like we did every year, I could have sworn dad’s brothers and kinsmen killed him with their evil, I was glad Dad had written his Will two months ago though; but we did not travel because mum was caught up with work this time, and it had earned her a New Year promotion. But where is dad now? Just then, the skies roared with thunder, lightening sliced through the night. Heavy wind blew open my curtain, I hurried to the window hoping to see dad’s Highlander drive in, and him walking out of it with his goofy smile, saying “it is all a joke, you think I am really dead?” The skies started to rain torrents. Rain in January? So dad is really dead? The sound of the rain on the roof was so ominous, like a silent message or so it seemed to me. The night was dreary, my bones could feel it. I didn’t want to accept that my daddy is gone. The wind brought in a scent as I opened the windows, dad’s peculiar smell wafted into my room and filled the whole space. I shivered. I stared into the dark night.
“Daddy, is that you?”



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