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“The news is like a vicious uprooting. I am yanked away from the world I have known since childhood. And I am resistant: my father read the newspaper that afternoon; he joked with Okey about shaving before his appointment with the kidney specialist in Onitsha the next day; he discussed his hospital test results on the phone with my sister Ijeoma, who is a doctor, and so how can this be? But there he is. Okey is holding a phone over my father’s face, and my father looks asleep, his face relaxed, beautiful in repose. Our Zoom call is beyond surreal, all of us weeping and weeping and weeping, in different parts of the world, looking in disbelief at the father we adore now lying still on a hospital bed. It happened a few minutes before midnight, Nigerian time, with Okey by his side and Chuks on speakerphone. I stare and stare at my father. My breathing is difficult. Is this what shock means, that the air turns to glue?” she wrote.
She wrote how difficult it was to accept the fact that her father had passed, wishing it was all a dream and untrue.
“Messages pour in, and I look at them as through a mist. Who is this message for? “On the loss of your father,” one says. Whose father? My sister forwards a message from her friend, saying that my father was humble despite his accomplishments. My fingers start to tremble, and I push my phone away. He was not. He is. There is a video of people trooping into our house for mgbalu, to give condolences, and I want to reach in and wrench them away from our living room, where already my mother is settled on the sofa in placid widow pose. A table is in front of her like a barrier to maintain social distance. Already friends and relatives are saying that this must be done and that must be done. A condolence register must be placed by the front door, and my sister goes off to buy a bolt of white lace to cover the table, and my brother buys a hardcover notebook, and already people are bending to write in the book. I think, Go home! Why are you coming to our house to write in that alien notebook? How dare you make this thing true?”
THE SUN, NIGERIA