It’s been twenty-two days since it happened and I still feel like it was just yesterday. Today the 23rd of July, 2015, I had acted in the school play that we had been rehearsing for before it happened. I had dressed in my costume, a Yoruba traditional attire that was supposed to help me portray my character as a woman who had just lost her husband. I remember walking across the stage with a melancholic air around me as I got ready to play my part. The minute I laid eyes on the audience, my face metamorphosed into the appropriate expression for the role I was to play.
As I stood on that stage surrounded by the other actors, the emotions took over and I deliver my lines in a manner that surprised even me. I made to leave the stage and saw my sister Bolatito beaming with a look of pride on her face that clearly said “that’s my sister” even as the audience applauded. Apparently I wowed them with my acting skills but in honestly I know I played my part because it only felt too real. Initially, my intention was to act and nothing else but my emotions got the better of me. It all boils down to the unfortunate event that occurred in our house twenty-two days ago.In the face of it all, tears rolled out of my eyes and charted a course on my dark cheeks as the vividness had made everything seem so real as though I was really a woman that just lost her husband.
It happened on July 1st, “Wo mo ti n lo” was the last statement Dad said to me on his way out, kissing me good morning. I knew Dad had been awake longer than he should have been because of mom’s constant stomach aches. For some reason, this pregnancy was more problematic than when she had been pregnant with me or Bolatito. That is what dad used to say and who could blame the baby for misbehaving when he was just about to enter the world eleven years after his nearest sibling. Mom wouldn’t listen to dad’s constant admonitions to take things easy as she would always reply him
“ I used self-medications and your during the time of Boluwatife and Bolatito and they came out beautiful girls. There is no need to make this baby boy’s own different. I will be fine.”
Dad was leaving too early, earlier than his usual time but he explained there was an emergency and his attention was needed. I didn’t envy his life as a doctor, he worked long shifts and had little time for himself as he sometimes got called during his off days. As Bolatito and I dressed for school, mom explained there had been a ghastly accident and one of the victims lost a lot of blood; Dad was needed to perform a surgery. I was a bit pissed that Dad left early as he always made sure that Bolatito and I left with him in the morning. We hurried that morning so that we could make the school bus, Bolatito was forced to her food as we dashed out. The morning activities were soon far behind me as school activities took over and I linked up with my best friend Anita.
Perhaps if I am a more superstitious person, I would have known something was wrong that day. It was one of those days nothing seemed to go right, Anita and I got punished on the assembly ground, I grazed my knee during Sports and Bolatito came crying during lunch period that she had misplaced her money. The bad omen didn’t end there as I later found out in class I had forgotten my Geography assignment at home and got five strokes of cane from Mrs. Dojutelegan’s. I was really glad when it was the end of the school day and all I just wanted was to be home but Bolatito and I were in for another surprise. Mom wasn’t home, Bolatito who was extremely hungry since she misplaced her money and I had spared her only N50 naira of my own N150, she felt mom’s absence stronger than I did.
“This is the first time mom will not be home. Where could she have gone to?” I shrugged my shoulders to indicate I had no idea as well and we decided to sit in front of the gate and await her arrival. We had been sitting there for about thirty minutes all through which Bolatito was complaining bitterly of hunger when we saw Uncle Tade’s car draw up. Uncle Tade is mom’s younger brother and his visit was unusual. Uncle Tade never visited and when he did it was usually weekends not during a weekday more so in the afternoon. He parked the car and got down, his face devoid of emotion. We greeted him and he replied with a nod and Bolatito ever the talkative began explaining that mom wasn’t home.
“I know, get in the car, I am here to take you to her.” he cut in and headed back towards the car without another word.
The last time we had seen him was about four months ago at his wedding. Although we rarely saw him, he was a likable person because he was always smiling and just like dad, always trying to solve other people’s problems. We entered the car and the ride began in silence. There was something about Uncle Tade’s expression that didn’t encourage conversation and I think that was when I first began to get worried. We took the turning that led away from our school and got onto the bad road that led to dad’s hospital. The road was bad and full of potholes with the car making a strange sound every time it fell into one suddenly. The road was even made worse when following the total ruin of the other lane, road users had turned this into a two way road. It was not the most pleasant ride and I wondered how dad managed to do this everyday as cars, motorcycles, tricycles and even pedestrians contested for space on the tiny road.
“I wonder when the so called elected government that is meant for the people will fix this road. People keep looking for ways to cross themselves through this road every day. These roads have claimed more lives than childbirths recorded in the local government. The day they build this road will be the day I will start believing this government is for the people.” Bolatito and I looked at one another at this outburst, unsure of what to say. In the end we kept silent and figured it wasn’t aimed at anybody.
At last we got to dad’s hospital and I saw uncle Tade’s wife, Aunt Dara standing outside. I noticed her eyes were dull and teary as we got down from the car and she hugged us one after the other.
“I thought we were going to see Mom, why didn’t you say she is with dad?” Bolatito queried. Uncle Tade and Aunt Dara exchanged a look and my feeling of trepidation heightened. We walked into the hospital and saw Father Alfred, the church pastor talking with another man I couldn’t identify. I knew something was wrong immediately and finally spoke
“Where is mom?” I directed my question at Aunty Dara but she didn’t have to answer as mom herself walked into the room we were in. Like Aunt Dara her eyes were red rimmed and as she sighted us, she burst into tears.
“Hush now Simi, you have to be strong for the children, you are all they have now. Consider your condition.” The import of the words took some few seconds to sink in before I shouted
“Where is my dad?” Aunt Dara came towards me trying to hug me but I turned and fled the room, the tears blinding my eyes.
It was not until three days later that I learn’t what had happened. Dad had lost his life on that same road that Uncle Tade had been complaining about bitterly, Earlier that morning, a trailer with a container had fallen on dad’s car and crushed him to dead. The man that saved lives could not be saved.
As I perform this hour, remembering how mom had told me not to take the role. “It will only make you sad my love” She had told me. But I wanted to be sad, I needed to be. Being sad is better than how I feel, empty and alone. I just want to cry and never stop.