How do you tell a mother who has just lost her firstborn son in a horrific accident just 2 days earlier that you don’t remember him? Or a father just returned from identifying a mangled body as that of his own flesh and blood?
We went to express our condolences for the loss. Any other circumstance, this would have been a meeting of joy. Instead our embraces were heavy with sorrow. Akwaaba and sorry for your loss in one exchange of words. We did our amaneɛ and sat down while other mourners poured in.
I looked around the room. Mr. J, childhood friend of my father, didn’t look much different from eight years ago. But the usual jovial face was gone. In its stead a serene solemnity. He held my father’s hand as they tried to put together what must have happened while simultaneously planning the best time and way for the burial and funeral. He must have been asleep, they tried to comfort each other, he wouldn’t have seen or felt a thing… Three AM bus, yes he would have taken his seat and immediately fallen asleep ….
My eyes drifted away to the other side of the room where his mother, a frail thin woman, slumped in her chair. She had always been frail. Sickled I believe but today she looked as if she would crumble underneath the weight she was carrying. The elder sister, her eyes red from countless tears I imagine, sat by, trying to hold herself together. The younger brothers, solemn as they hosted the younger mourners.
The conversation turned to me. Ah, but KChie, it was you, don’t you remember? Everyone is looking at me. The last time you were here…, he took you to find a friend…, yes, Cantonments area… and when you came back, we teased him that he had been too quiet…that he couldn’t chat you up… don’t you remember?! My father and Mr. J. taking turns, recounting the story, filling in each others words, prodding me. Eyes around the room, eagerly awaiting a flicker of recognition in my own eyes.
I didn’t remember. I confessed. I tried to bury myself in my shame. Our eyes turned to the TV – on mute – now showing scenes from the crash on the weekend update. A horrific sight indeed.
As for that, he would not have felt it…only 29 years old…ɔye alɔbɔlɛ…he would have been asleep…coming for a workshop…3 am in the morning [sic]…why leave at such a time?…and you know the course was to start in the evening?…why didn’t he come during the day like he usually does…hmmm…only 29…ɔyɛ vɛlɛ ooh…he would have been asleep…he wouldn’t have felt it…