It was really important to me that I not be late for work that afternoon. The madam whose children I tutored after school hours was quite particular about my time of arrival. It seemed as though she was always looking for a reason to cut my pay. She never did anyway but I didn’t want to dare her.
I was all dressed up and if I could just grab a bite to eat, I’d be out of the house in a few minutes. Just then the living room door opened and in came my mom looking all drained and exhausted. I felt so sorry for her ‘cause it was clear that daddy’s prolonged illness was beginning to take its toll on her. I took a few steps towards her but stopped when I saw the entourage of uncles and in-laws coming in behind her. This wasn’t right. Momsie always came home after a few days at the hospital to rest and take a change of clothes. Since when did she need these people to do that?
With her eyes downcast, mom passed by me without saying a word and into the children’s sitting room. Suddenly there was an air of foreboding gradually creeping around the entire house. She sat down and held her head in her hands while facing the floor. No one said anything but gradually the kids who were at home came out one by one. We knew something was up and it wasn’t good news!
“Hmm, hmm” one of the uncles started by clearing his throat. “We all know that when some things happen, we should never question God and...”
“Why are you going round in circles?” Momsie cut him off mid-sentence “Our daddy is dead!” She spat it out just like that. A scream escaped my sister’s lips, my brother bowed his head, I laughed derisively and my uncle continued to ramble. I didn’t hear what he was saying and frankly, I didn’t care.
I wish I could say I was shocked or that I was sad or that I wailed. I wasn’t and I didn’t. In fact, I was numb. I didn’t feel anything! Was this a joke or something?
The previous day, we were at the hospital to see daddy. It was a Sunday and I took an auntie there who didn’t know where the hospital was. Daddy looked terrible. He was so thin that you could actually count a few ribs. His feet were swollen and his eyes sunken. He looked gaunt and was so uncomfortable. I adjusted his bed several times before we found a position he could relax in. The doctors weren’t saying much but we really didn’t need them to. We all knew he was going to get better and return home in no time. This was our daddy. He taught us to have faith and our faith coupled with his would bring us through this one too. Just like always.
As I left the hospital that evening I waved at my father and like he always did, he gave me a thumbs-up sign albeit a weak one. He always did that. Like he was trying to say “Don’t worry, I’ve got this one too”. I had instructions from my mother to have my younger sister come to the hospital the next day to relieve her as she needed to run a few errands. I got home and delivered the message only for an uncle to come to the house as early as 6am to tell my sister not to bother going to the hospital as my dad had been transferred to another hospital more equipped to handle his case. We should have known.
By 7am another uncle came around and I remember thinking that he was trying too hard to make us laugh. I should have known. But why didn’t I? The day just gradually rolled by. Those who were going to work prepared and left, I didn’t have to be at work till later so I attended to some laundry, all the while, the 7am uncle kept going outside to take calls. It seemed strange but then he probably had some discreet business to attend to. Uh-Uh, he was disseminating the news of my father’s death, yet I had no clue! Not until that afternoon.
The uncle had concluded his ramble and we all sat there wondering what to do with ourselves. Suddenly, our auntie shows up and everything crumbles. My mother suddenly jumps up calling the auntie’s name and throwing her hands everywhere, wailing “He didn’t want to die, He didn’t want to die!”
Quickly all of us kids jump up all at the same time running towards her and holding her. That’s when the crying started. I begged mummy to stop crying as my auntie led her away into her bedroom but she didn’t. I still didn’t cry.
Of course work was cancelled for the day and even for the week. My concern seemed to be for other siblings who were yet to hear the news. Who would tell them? How would they react? They were free to cry but I hoped no one would do anything irrational. As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t going to give God the benefit of my tears. Not one drop!
That was one helluva long day. I sat in the main living room and watched as the visitors came trooping in. Most of them wailing. I remember feeling like slapping a few of them. Their faces were all contorted with wails that produced no tears and after 60 seconds or so of their ‘mock wail’, it was business as usual. “Can you give me water to drink?”
Water to drink? Water to drink? You are asking me if I can give you water to drink? My daddy just died!!
By the end of the day, all my siblings had heard and thankfully they all seemed to be taking it well. The entire week was filled with planning for the funeral and receiving yet more visitors. Some visitors just felt they had to say something and how that irked me!
“God knows best”
Oh yeah, He does eh? Is your dad still alive? Tell me that again when he dies.
“It is well”
Really? So why’s my mom in there taking drips and suffering from acute depression?
All the activities leading up to the funeral were a blur but I held this thought close to my heart. God and no one else killed my father. That was my conclusion.
Daddy had been seriously ill for close to 4months. His liver had been damaged. He was neither a drinker nor a smoker. He didn’t eat any fried foods or any such junk. He ate all the fruit and vegetables ever placed before him so what do you mean his liver has been damaged?
Ok, let’s say this is an attack from the devil, what would it take to get rid of it? Prayers? Faith? Fastings? Declaration of The Word? We did all that. We had faith! Not once have we ever asked for anything as a family in faith that did not eventually come. Our faith always worked! But not this time. So, God, you are to blame. You killed daddy and watched while we grieved, cried and wailed. Well, for your information God, if it’s my tears you want, You ain’t getting any of it!
That was how I packed all my theology in a big black box. Locked it up and threw away the keys. Yes I still went to church. To sneer at all those church folk who earnestly answered “Amen!” to the Pastor’s declaration “You shall not die….!”
Yeah right. That’s what they tell you and then you step out the door and…you end up like daddy.
I was so bitter in my heart. I carried around this coldness and heaviness. It was eating me whole! I was becoming some sort of a hard creature no longer the young woman who had had her whole life stretched before her, full of faith.
I was dying.