Three days ago, my sister-in-law lost her father-in-law. I do not know much about him except what my SIL used to say about him. I met him on two occasions. Both the times, I found him to be a smiling man, with a lot of knowledge and seeking for more. I found him to be someone who recently discovered the sweetness of Faith. He had a good aura to him. He seemed fatherly to me.
He passed away three days ago. A sudden shocking death at the end of Friday prayers. An attack snatched his soul from his healthy body. He was never on medication.
Death doesn’t tell everyone and come.
I along with my husband’s family, went for condolence. His body was brought from the hospital to his wife’s maternal home. We went there. It was a big roomy old house.
As I entered the central room, there were women. His family and relatives. Sobbing. He was laid on a single cot, wrapped in clean white sheets. My heart trembled immensely. I had never seen a dead body. I saw him that day. They had uncle’s face uncovered. I couldn’t look at it. I just couldn’t. His wife sat beside him on a chair, crying inconsolably. Their daughter was sitting at their feet crying.
I did not ask my eyes to cry. The tears came on their own. I couldn’t look at uncle’s face above his nose. I just couldn’t see his eyes. Closed as they would be. He appeared as if he was asleep. I went and hugged aunty. I asked her to pray for him. And pray for herself too. For patience. I was crying from my heart. I didn’t care what anybody thought. I had met uncle only two weeks ago. Smiling and discussing how bad politics in the country had become. And now he was here lying before me. Not moving. I couldn’t take my eyes off aunty.
She was saying that he always gave strength to her, and now he himself weakened himself to death. Why?
As I sat a few chairs away, I was hoping with all my heart that uncle would get up and laugh and say Ha! Ha! I was just messing with you all. But he didn’t. He just lay there. Still. They covered his face with the sheet. And aunty kept crying.
You marry a man, with no idea about the future. You leave behind everything for a new beginning. You hold his hand, and mould into a lifestyle that syncs you both to perfection. And then one day Poof! He is gone.
When they lifted uncle to take him away for his last rituals, I wept again. Fresh tears. Where are you taking him? Why? Bring him back and ask him to wake up. Aunty needs him.
Later in the night, in the comfort of my bed, I couldn’t sleep. Death doesn’t scare me. You are going back where you came from. It is just what death does to those related that tears me apart. Everyone moves on though. Only those who really loved and cared would find a hole in their lives that no amount of consolation from anyone can fill it for them.