The smell of fried chicken that welcomed me as I entered the kitchen reminded me so much of mama- her cooking, her welcome hug and kiss after I returned from school, the way she scolded me whenever I did a wrong- calmly but firm, never shouting or abusing, it reminded me that mama has been sick, seriously sick since three months. Not that I forgot, I have not forgotten that my mother is ill with cancer, and it’s gradually eating her life away.
I was in my uniform, a white pleated flay skirt and a navy blue shirt neatly tucked in. My skirt had no stains, as if I was only beginning the day. My bag hung lifeless at my back, or rather I stood lifeless at the door, the bag pleading to be let down. I dropped the bag noisily on the kitchen counter and aunt Ada, mum’s sister turned to me with a smiling face.
“Hey Adaora, you are back.”
She washed her hand before coming to hug my limp body and the tears started- hot tricky tears that never warns you, but spill out like sudden rain from a cloudless sky. Aunt Ada was cool, she was almost as nice as mama, but she was not mama. Mama is supposed to be the one to smile at me and tell me that I am beautiful, she is supposed to hug and wipe my tears away as aunt Ada is doing now, caressing my face with loving hands.
“Go upstairs and change dear, and come for your food,” aunt Ada said the same thing she says everyday, even though she knows I will never come down for the food. She brings it up herself. I turned and left the kitchen, too tired to drag my back with me.
My father returned at night looking lost. His eyes were sunken, almost hollow. His head looked bigger, like it would fall off his neck soon, he was more skinny and was beginning to spot white beards. He sat on my bed and took my hand in his callused ones. I sat up and he hugged me tightly.
“When is mummy coming back?”
“Soon my dear.”
We stayed silent for a while, he gently rocking me, while I listened to his heart beat. Aunt Ada brought our food and interrupted our session. We ate silently, not because we hunger for the food, but because there was nothing else to do. After our meal, father kissed me goodnight and left for his room, and I was left alone to think of mama and why she should never die.
Mama was a very kind woman. Father had always said he was very lucky to have her as a wife. Her kindness extended beyond our home and relatives. She knew how to take care of people. Being the only child, I felt she poured all her love in to me, but of course there was always enough left to shower upon others. She had once paid the school fees of three of our neighbour’s children and refused to collect the money when the woman came to return it.
Mama was too good to be sick. I have always wondered why God allowed her to be sick and refused to heal her. I blame God for all of these, but I still believed strongly that he will heal her. I slept that night dreaming of angels and heaven.
The day mama died, I had gone to school and aunt Ada had come to pick me before closing hour. Odd. She smiled when she saw me, but I noticed the tears in her eyes. More odd. She took me straight to the hospital, which is the oddest of all, and when I saw mama lifeless and father crying by her side, I screamed and then nothing more.
Aunt Ada and father tried to make me okay, but I kept asking for mother, never believing once that she was dead. I held a conviction strongly in my heart that God was going to bring her back to us. At least he owed me.
I refused to go to school and my father finally stopped convincing me. My classmates and teachers came and consoled us and it angered me that they believed that mama was gone. Mama can never die, she was my mother and should never die.
The burial day was cold and solemn, everyone had tears in their eyes, even the pastor was dabbing at his eyes. It seemed they all did not want mama to die, so why not we all come together and question God?
The number of persons that came were too many. I never knew mama knew this many people. Many said a lot about mama, how she had touched their lives in so many ways, and I kept waiting for mama to rise up from that gold coffin and call my name, I wouldn’t mind joining her. The coffin was very big.
Then the pastor said something that lifted my spirit. It brought a light to my heart and overshadowed the gloom that had settled there.
Mama is not dead, she is only sleeping and will rise one day.
As father held my hand and I clutched tightly to his, and we walked out of the burial ground, a new hope arose in me. I will see mama again. That’s the only miracle I look forward to.
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