22 August 2013
I heard a loud bang on the gate, accompanied by the screaming voice our family friend and neighbourhood panel beater, Uncle Bayo. He was screaming for my sister and cousin to come down and open the gate. Being used to the feigned deafness of the house rascals, I ignored the commotion, knowing they would still go down to open the gate.
The baritone voice of my brother rang in my ears as he shouted at my sister to get down and open the gate immediately. A few minutes later, I heard a sound like when a slap is being dished out on someone’s smooth cheek, and what sounded like my mother’s voice. “What would my mother be doing at home by 3.40pm when she would ordinarily be at work?” I thought to myself, puzzled. Whatever is happening in the living room would definitely sort itself out.
Five minutes later, my brother suddenly barged into my room. The abruptness with which he opened the door got me scared and got me to leap. I took a look at his 6-ft giant frame, and my eyes were immediately drawn to his face. Strange! They were swollen, and tears were streaming down his dark cheeks. What is it that would throw someone with such a stature into a sorrowful state? Just imagine a NFL quarter back wailing. Strange sight indeed. And then the first thing that registered in my mind was the slapping sound I had heard coming from the living room. Right there and then, a barrage of thought ran through my head, all at the same time, like pictures in a kaleidoscope.
“Armed robbers are in the living room of my house, and they slapped my brother, and that’s why his face is swollen.”
“No if armed robbers were in the living room, they won’t allow him to leave their site.”
I remembered I had heard what had sounded like my mum’s voice, so I quickly changed my thoughts to “My mum came home, and she slapped my brother.” Immediately realising how senseless this imagination was, I discarded it.
It was then I realized I had been screaming “What happened, what happened?” And he was responding with “Ha Tayo, it is Tayo.”
I said “Tayo.” I still couldn’t get the thought of the slap out of my head, and I thought “Maybe Tayo is the one that slapped him.”
“Wait, Tayo. We only know one Tayo. What can be the connection between Tayo and my brother’s tears?” The only logical answer is “Tayo must be dead.”
I did not want to accept it, so I allowed myself to hope for a few nanoseconds. “What happened to Tayo?”
He kept on saying “Tayo, Tayo.”
I asked “What happened, is he dead?”
He went on “Its Tayo.”
“Please, tell me what happened. He’s dead?” More of a statement than a question. I was already falling to my knees at this point.
I landed on the ground, letting out a wail that was louder than the combination of the slapping sound, my mum’s voice, Uncle Bayo’s screams, and my brothers yell, as I ran to the living room. I just couldn’t believe it. It was only four days ago we were together in my house.
A neighbour heard my cry, and ran to my house. Uncle Bayo immediately cautioned me to stop wailing, and drawing attention. He said my tears would further deepen my mum’s sadness, and make her cry more. Like a stop clock, my wail ceased immediately. I knew right there and then, I would no longer shed a tear for you.
I was instantly reminded when my father died, when I was crying immediately I heard about his death. My next-door neighbour told me not to shed tears since we do not yet know if my dad’s death was ordinary. And if it was not, the people that had a hand in his death might be lurking around, planning to wipe my tears with a material, and go and use it for diabolical reasons. I stopped crying then, and now eight years later, I have still not shed a tear. Thanks to African witches, I was not even allowed to shed tears for my dad for a period of five minutes.
I looked at my mum, asking her what happened, as I stilled myself not to cry, while she ignored my questions. I walked to my room, calmed myself for five minutes, and came out.
I asked again, and I got the story.
“You were changing your flat tyre, when a car came out of nowhere and ran you over. You couldn’t be revived. Just like that, it was all over.”
I sat and looked for five minutes, with a straight face. I finally got pissed and walked to my room, noting the finality of it all.
Two Sundays ago, I remember begging you to accept a pack of Toblerone, and sacrifice the t-shirt I intended to give you for another person, as I left you, just like that, to attend to other business.
Just this Sunday, I remember us arriving from church at the same time, and I harassed you to move your car from the front of the gate, so I could park in the compound. When you protested my harassment, I turned them to pleas. We gisted for about three minutes, and I went to my room to rest. If only I knew. Would I have taken those last moments with you for granted, and spent it on my bed?
You haven't even spent up to a year in Nigeria. You were happy to be back home, always talking about how you wanted to do business in Nigeria, how Nigeria is the place to make money, become an agent for change in Nigeria, and so on.
My grieving process has just begun, and sadly, I would no longer shed a single tear for you.
24 August 2013
"I would no longer shed a tear for you." Today, I realised this statement is as false as the snow being black. I cried as I stood by the rectangular hole in which you were being buried, and the finality and hopelessness of the situation dawned on me. Then I knew that as long as I didn't think about you, I won't shed tears, but when I'm forced to, like when your graveside imposed your thoughts on me, the tears won't stop coming.
"I would no longer shed a tear for you." A lie that even surpasses that of the devil.
RIP Temitayo Obasa
When People are about to die, does death have its handwriting inscribed on their faces, because four days ago, I saw no sign of it on yours.
|Your last birthday on earth, |
Two months before you relocated to Nigeria
|You and I|
|You, I, and my sisters, when we were younger|
|Still finding it hard to believe...|