Sometimes, it’s the inane nature of things that foretells what is about to happen. Yet it is the very inanity that lulls us into a false sense of security, the irony of it all hitting us only after the event. Hindsight is indeed 20-20 vision.
Usually, life is a series of mind-numbing activity. Stuff we could do in our sleep. Every now and again something breaks up the routine. Sometimes the break is welcome. Other times, it is an unwanted intruder.
This is one of those times. This break is so incongruous with the routine that precedes it, nothing I have known before quite prepares me. So that when I get that phone call, the one where my younger sister is crying frantically, breathing heavily and calling out my name repeatedly. I know it’s bad. Really, really bad.
I search for the rewind button. I want to live life in reverse. To turn back the clock. Go back to the morning when I wake up and it’s Saturday. A regular Saturday in the Ivara household. Football. Homework. Cleaning. Getting ready to go to my friend’s baby shower. Driving. Singing along to Heart FM.
But no matter how many times I replay it, I always end up at that moment where I get the phone call. The one where my younger sister is crying frantically, breathing heavily and calling out my name repeatedly and I know it’s bad. Really, really bad.
My breath catches. I ask her to repeat what she has just said. I hear her the first time but I convince myself that I could not have heard her right. She says it again. And again. And again.
“Daddy is dead.”
How can he be dead? He was just here. It’s been 10,080 minutes. One week since Daddy was here. In my home. Sitting in what my boys call ‘Granddad’s chair’. Now, she is telling me he is gone. How can that be? I can see him here. Pottering around. Repacking his and mum’s luggage. Drinking Moringa tea at the dining table. Roughhousing with the boys, telling them he was going back to ‘Naija’. Surely this is a joke. But I know it is not. I know the moment I answer the phone and hear my sister crying. I know that life, as I used to know it, is changed forever.
My hands start to shake. My breath comes in short bursts. My lungs are burning from the effort of taking in air. I start to cry. How can this be? It can’t be true.
It’s been three days since I got that phone call. I have repeated that phrase ‘Daddy is dead’ over and over again. I roll the words around in my mouth, whisper them, say them out loud, say them in my head. They still feel mismatched, like they don’t belong together in the same sentence.
It feels like something has been forcefully wrenched out of its place and I have been left with an open, gaping wound. There is this huge lump in my chest. Try as I might, I just cannot shift it. Unshed tears. It is hard to believe there are any left after all the ones I have cried.
I look around the house and think, he was just here. My Daddy was just here…