It was about 7 in the evening. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing but I remember I was in the living room, sitting at the dinning table (probably doing what 16-year olds at the time thought was cool lol). My older sister was away at a church camp and my older brothers were probably “being boys” in their room. It was a typical vacation day in August and I didn’t see the need to register the day in the crevices of my mind, except that I didn’t know we were about to receive some news that will forever alter the course of our lives.
The previous day had been my mum’s 50th birthday. We had had a surprise party for her. We had invited a few of her very close friends. My dad was guest of honor of course, considering he was married to the lady of the day, except I didn’t see him as such. For some reason I was mad at him and I made sure he knew with my frowning at him.
See my dad and I had a great bond. Whether it was a about waking me up from bed by whistling directly in my ear or in my nose, sprinkling water in my face or singing loudly in my ear, which were all as irritating as could be, or he was teaching me French (he lectured in French and Spanish), or pulling my nose so it doesn’t stay forever flat as a pancake (hahahaa bless God for such insightful dads…..of course when they’re not annoying us, that is! I shudder to think of the state of my nose now, if I wasn’t blessed with such a genius as a dad, annoyances and all). We were wining court cases together (that is, with me proudly sitting in the back or outside annoying the clerks who had been given the enviable task of babysitting yours truly) Oh! How I loved those trips. The looks on the faces of the grateful clients and the gifts they showered, of course they had to make sure my needs were abundantly met. My dad was some kind of hero then. He would visit me in secondary school by using his charms to sneak into school any day he was en route to or from a case to see how I was doing and bring me sweets. He’s my best friend, my cheerleader.
But not today. Today I was maaad! I wouldn’t talk to him. Wouldn’t smile at him. Frowned at him the whole time and blinked my eyes at him every chance I got. Daddy sensed my anger at him and kept his distance. He chatted fervently with everyone else and ignored me. Of course I saw that as a victory. He seemed a bit quieter than usual though. He seemed a bit worried or sad, perhaps my behavior disturbed him more than I thought…… Well, I didn’t care, all I knew was, I was mad at him and he needed to feel sad and bad about it, daddy or not.
The next day, Dad left early for a court case in Kpando with my mum’s brother and his wife. They had been battling a land issue for so long they thought it was now time for the law to take its course on those bloody encroachers and Daddy would see to just that. My mum wasn’t particularly happy with it though. These land things tend to drag on and sometimes, lives get lost etc., but I guess dad thought he owed them a chance, seeing they were related and all. Dad wasn’t really one for the money in most cases he took on. He mostly did pro bono stuff and those he did get paid for, it wasn’t really about the money anyway. …… So off they went. Me, I was still mad though so no goodbye from me as I usually did. There was not the usual begging to go along either, after all I was mad. Stack raving mad, from the looks of it, since I wasn’t moved to say goodbye.
But I still can’t remember a single other event of that day, except it was in the evening. 7 there about. Typical vacation day, 28th August 1997. So here I was at the dining table. I heard a knock and I went to get it. It was my great aunt with another relative my mum really respected. I got my mum, they took their seats, drank water and exchanged all the necessary pleasantries. Dunno what was said but they got up and went outside.
Next thing I heard was a deep wail which frightened the ….out of me. I didn’t know human beings were equipped to emit such a sound. I jolted out of my seat, eyes wide open — I’m sure I could have seen the crocodiles at Paga if I looked hard enough! My brothers ran out and asked me to stay inside, but I had to have a peak. It was mummy, rolling on the floor outside and wailing. I was terrified! What could be so bad that mummy would be rolling on the floor in the sand outside? Only I did that, and even that was centuries ago when I wanted to have my way. She was unconsolable. By now our immediate neighbors had come out too, all in a bid to find out what was happening and get my mum off the ground. I’d never seen my brothers so calm……
Later that night, it was crystal clear; Daddy’s GONE!!! There was an accident just 30 or so minutes shy of their destination. A trailer truck lost control and rammed into them…… No one in their car made it! Just like that, my cousins were left orphans and I was left without a dad, best friend or cheerleader. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. JUST LIKE THAT!! NO WARNING!! Daddy’s gone!
As long as we live and breathe, people are going to hurt us. Yes, some will do it intentionally but others won’t – hurtful nonetheless. We need to let it go. The Bible says we shouldn’t let the sun go down on our anger, but I don’t think it necessarily means we should hold on till we go to bed at night and wake up without it. I think what it means is, the moment it happens and another event takes over, we should let it go. Sure the pain might linger on, being human and all, but the effect shouldn’t. Sometimes it seems so unfair that they receive forgiveness when we’re the ones who’ve been hurt. Forgiving makes us feel like push overs. People will ‘buu us kwasia’. We gotta hold on and let them know we see them, and we are no ones fool. The anger feels like pay back. Vengeance. But Matthew 18:23-25 tells us that if we don’t forgive people, we get turned over to the torturers….
Every time I think of my dad, automatically I think of the day before and how mad I was. I think about the sadness I saw in him and my frowning, and blinking at him and all I did to make him know how upset I was. No matter how hard I try, my default isn’t the French speaking, gift giving, loving, understanding, whistle blowing, funny, cheerleading person he was, no! I think of my grudge, and funny enough, I can’t for the life of me remember what it was all about. Why I was mad, is something that will forever elude me but the pain of how he must have felt and how I didn’t get to say goodbye, lingers on till this day, 18 years on. When I cry over him, it’s because I wonder if the sadness I saw was because he kinda had a weird feeling (you know how ‘they’ say you can tell when your time is almost up), whether he was worried and didn’t know why, or whether he was actually silently grieving over my treatment of him. I cry because I wish above everything that I made his ‘last supper’ a memorable one by being myself, his loving, doting, adorable daughter. By making him happy and taking his worries away.
I don’t automatically remember the fun times with my dad. I remember I was mad! Trust me, that’s not memory you want to have even of an ‘enemy’ when they’re gone, let alone someone you love. So torture, Yes! Holding the grudge now will pacify you, you think, but when all is said and done, it means nothing. It doesn’t matter!
Written By The Yvonne Mawuko, CEO of Bloom Magazine