Death. When one reads Bikozulu’s pieces, which at some point were mostly about death, you’ll feel that death is the most gut wrenching thing to ever happen to a living being. The death of a loved one that is. The phone number that will never be picked, the voice you’ll never hear again, the home that will never be the same again, the vacuum that will never be filled by anyone.
And I’ve never lost anyone. Well, at least not a close family member or friend.
But you should hear the number of times death has been mentioned in our home. You would think we are not aware of the pain involved. Or that we are not scared of it. But are we really scared of death?
My sister was. And maybe still is. My sister can be called the troublesome child. Always needing to be taken care of lest things go wrong. She was that kid who never showed up in school with all her books. One or two important ones had to be missing making everyone struggle on how to ship them to her. If not that, then you could be rest assured that you would see her before the term ended or before visiting. She was sick. Its like sicknesses just liked her little body. In primary school sickness loved visiting just before visiting day or before end term, while in secondary school just before opening day.
We all got used to her theatrics. And calling all the time when she was in school. Any time she got an opportunity and if she didn’t get one she made one. It was just her troublesome nature. Or so we thought.
Until one day when we were washing clothes. Rather, I was doing the washing, she was doing more talking. She told me that all that time she disturbed people at home when she was in school, when she pretended to be sick to come home, she only had one agenda; to confirm if my mum was alive and well.
And if mum didn’t come for her visitings, she always assumed it was because she was unwell. I was the one who attended little girl’s most visitings, so you can imagine her worry. And I wonder how sane people are okay with taking their kids to boarding school. Anyway, I digress.
My sister then becomes the leading human being in our family who worries about death. She doesn’t say it out loud. But you can see it in the way she worries when my mum is sick. And my mum is sick almost as much as she is well. I don’t know whether a month passes by when a part of her isn’t aching or unwell. Or maybe I grew up hearing her complain of one sickness or another till it kinda stuck in my head, and maybe my sisters head, that mum is always sick. And sick people die more than healthy people. So maybe unlike my sister I never said it out loud or allowed myself to think of it, but we grew up afraid of mum dying.
There reaches a point in time when death of a person is a relief to the people around. Well, in our case, it had reached a time when my mother thought that the death of my dad would be a gift. She told him that severally. She was tired of him. And his thearetics. And thought that him dying would really do everyone a favor.
My dad kept quiet. Not in a “how can you say that to me?” way. In a way as if someone wishing him death was just another normal day on earth. Well, we weren’t even surprised. Like, when you have grown up in the kind of family we grew up in, minor things like these don’t even raise eyebrows. Its just another normal day at home. Worse things have been done than telling someone to their face that their demise would be a relief.
No one dies though. My mum’s health gets better. My dad lives. My sister stays at home long enough to get bored with seeing the same faces she was always feigning sickness to come see a glimpse of. And we all hope that none of us goes first.