What is Death?
Mum called yesterday.
Mum: “Hello, how are you?”
Me: “I am fine”
“What could have happened this time?”, I said under my breath.
Yeah. That is how I think any time mum calls with a certain tone in her voice. Since the day she called me to tell me of dad’s death, my heart skips. That day, I dropped the phone and smashed the screen. These days I hold the phone tighter.
Mum: “Aunty’s mum is dead. She died yesterday. Call her as soon as possible.”
I knew it!
It was just a coincidence.
I called Aunty. My Dad’s Aunty. She sounded so dull. I felt her gloom transfer to me over the phone.
Before 2015, I had not experienced any case of the death of someone close. Till dad died last year. Before then, I had no idea how I’d behave if it happened, and after on.
Death has changed a lot of things for me. As of now, death happens to be the strongest thing on the face of the earth. Not Superman or the Incredible Hulk. Death took dad away, and there’s no coming back. No reversal. The helpless feeling is still there.
Last week, I was involved in an argument in the office. Someone insinuated that we have everything in control. “It is all in the mind”. I know for sure, that there is that X, aspect of life we have no control over. The recent deaths have expounded this perspective.
Only remembered, only remembered,
Only remembered by what we have done;
Thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling,
Only remembered by what we have done.
This hymn keeps playing in my head every time my mind travels there. After everything, death just happens. After all the money, the academic qualifications, the career level, the fame. Death comes to whisk us away without the permission of our loved ones and family.
I owe Aunty a lot. So much that I don’t know how to repay her. Aunty was phenomenal at dad’s burial, in the midst of the mass abandonment we experienced.
I saw her aged mum last year, and I know how much she loved her mum.
Take heart Aunty. (That’s all I can say, for now)
I won’t tell you it has happened. I won’t tell you it’s in the past. I won’t tell you to move on. I won’t tell you to be a man woman.
These were the kind of things I heard from the few people who said a word or two to me, during my downtime. A vast number said nothing, so I’m grateful for ‘the few’. The few may have meant what they said. The few may not have known the right thing to say. I appreciate them. All I know is that I am healing by myself. Me, myself and I.
So Aunty, do not expect anyone to comfort you. You will have to do it yourself. You’ve always been a strong woman. I share in your gloom.