Please, if you’re reading this, do not ask me questions. Like “Kin”, this is strictly for release therapy, a self-exorcism of sorts. Than you.
I remember, just like it happened an hour ago.
That call crushed me, not because of how it would affect me, but how it would affect your daughter. It was the cruelest way to leave, just when we had regained hope. That initial shock, as my uncles wept on the phone, screaming that you were gone. You were supposed to be recovering. I mean, the surgery was a success. Despite that, all I could think about was how she would take it. It really did start off as a great day. I took Sayo out to watch The Avengers on the day it opened in Abuja. We had a blast, really. Karima’s graduation ceremony was to happen that day as well; we couldn’t be happier.
In their grief, they wanted to call your daughter, without knowledge or regard as to what situation or position she would be in. I couldn’t blame them, but I couldn’t allow them to break it to her. I would take that upon myself. I remember her pain, her guilt, her fear. The pain of watching your loved one suffer, made more acute with the realisation of how powerless she was to physically alleviate that. The guilt wherein she believed that she didn’t do enough for you, care for you, be there for you. It was intensified each time you would tell her that you are grateful for everything she had done for you. You kept saying you’d be fine, and you would get better, as you were determined to “enjoy” her. I remembered how we would smile and say, “AMIN” to that and you would laugh. I remember your daughter’s fear that you would leave her, and I prayed for her sake that you would recover. If only that had happened….
And I’m drawn back to that evening…..
I remember calling your daughter to give her the news. I had barely said hello when she informed me that she was right in the middle of the ceremony and she would call later. I could not help but pity her; I knew that her joy for her daughter was about to be horribly eclipsed by her sorrow for her mother and I was not going to be there to comfort her. All I could say was, “My poor mother” over and over. I kept thinking about how she worried about you, how she fasted and prayed for days on end. I knew she wasn’t sleeping. Hell, we had to force her to travel for the grad ceremony, as she did not want to leave your side. We comforted her by saying you would be fine; she had begun to have some hope. I felt wretched, as I realised that my grief would be insignificant to that of hers.
I quickly realised that trying to deceive myself by repeatedly chanting, “I’m okay” was a waste of time. Wound tightly with my grief was anger. I had to lash out, and I found my door to be a perfect target. Yet, I felt ashamed of myself for that, as I was so self-absorbed that I forgot to pray for you. I then prostrated myself before Allah and began to recite Suras on your behalf. I will say this now: I have experienced nothing worse than the feeling I had as I prayed for you. The tears came as I praised a God I desperately wanted to hate, scream and rave at for taking you away from my mother. I recognised that I am worthless, powerless, insignificant. I desperately wanted to question Him for hurting my mother like this, and allowing her to feel such pain. In the end, all I could say was “La Ilaha I lLa Lahu” and submit to His will. I tried to take solace in the belief that His ways are not ours to question or understand, rather, you are in a better place.
However, it is simply not enough.
I miss you mama. Writing it down revives the pain. I remember how Sayo cried as I broke it to her. There are no words to explain the feelings that arose from the knowledge that you had been buried the next day; they didn’t even ask to find out if I was coming. My mother did not get the opportunity to say her final goodbyes. I’m grateful at least that you were upbeat, the last time she saw you. I remember how she looked at me when we were reunited. I remember her saying to me, “I’m now an orphan. I have no father, no mother. You, my children are now my parents too” and all I could do was tell her I love her, even as my heart broke for her. I felt my own guilt and regret, as I hadn’t seen you for about half a year by the time you died. You were old, but you were so strong. It was almost like you would live forever. The fact that you are not here is very hard to accept.
Again, mama I miss you. You were such an amazing woman, and I still don’t know enough about you. It is difficult to talk to my mother about you for extended periods of time; the thought of her crying the way I am right now is too much to bear. I also blame myself for not talking to you the way I wanted to. Saying I was busy with school is not good enough. Being ashamed about my inadequacy in speaking yoruba is not acceptable as well. There is simply no excuse. Still, I see you in her. She really did learn from you, and I am learning from her too. I will learn as much as I can about you. You were not some political figure, or business tycoon. To other people, you were an ordinary trader, but to me you were a super woman. It is because my mother had a mother like you that I have a mother like her. I am eternally grateful for your existence.
They say a person lives on after death in the hearts and minds of their loved ones. I do not care if it’s true; I simply believe it. I remember you, therefore you are immortal in my heart. I do pray for you, and wish that your place in the hereafter is favourable. I hope you have found peace in Allah. I miss you so much. It has just been fifteen months, but it feels like an age has passed since I last saw your face. In the end, I can only hope for the best and keep moving forward.
Till next time, know that I will love you forever mama: Iya Ikire, honoured grandmother.