Takesure is inspired by events in his life; the challenges he has faced and lessons learnt in the process.
Family is a such wonderful word, one that stirs up warm feelings in most people around the world. It is the first thing people think about when in trouble and also when there is something good to share and celebrate. We miss family after being away for school or work for a period of time. Most of us think about wanting to hug loved ones and enjoy the familiar surroundings of home after being away for some time. Family is consistently the most significant group of people that makes us feel safe, secure, and warm.
Where I come from, families are closely knit. Each one of us is so close to the other that we can’t live without the each other. Strong bonds are built and reinforced as we grow up in an environment of love and mutual respect. Children are taught from a very young age to love and respect elders not only from the family but from the community as well. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents and children make such a close unit that lives and does almost everything together. When in trouble they stick together and work through the challenges together. This makes the burden feel bearable, helps with family healing and gives hope to the family
My brother Levi passed on suddenly, from what I later learned was bacterial meningitis, at a very young age of twenty. The whole family was devastated, I was devastated! It was my first encounter with death in the family. The experience was dark beyond description. I was only eight and didn’t quite understand what death was and how its coming into the family would be life altering. After brother Levi passed on, my life was never the same again. For very long time I couldn’t accept that he was gone. He took a part of me with him as he went. Life lost its meaning for years.
Seven years later, when I was fifteen my sister Oly disappeared. When it was first discovered that she was missing, I didn’t take seriously. I thought she had run away with her boyfriend. I was actually angry with her for doing that to us. Mum hadn’t been feeling well for some time. "How could she do that to us? How could she be this insensitive?" I said to myself. But as days turned to weeks with no word from her, it began to dawn on me that some terrible had happened to her. We had to report her missing. Every lead we got we followed but without success. Weeks turned to months, months turned into years but still no luck. She remains missing to this day, twenty six years on.
While the family was still trying to come to terms with the disappearance of my sister, death came again into the family. I was eighteen and fully aware of the implications of death. It was my aunty, my father’s sister, who waved good bye. She had fought various ailments for close to half a year. It was a very difficult time for us as a family especially since her husband had passed on a few months earlier after a short illness. She left five kids behind, two of her girls were just seven and five. I remember them confused and heart-broken as they kept asking, “When will mummy wake up?”
I went to college for four years. When I graduated the family was elated. I remember calling my grandmother telling her that our lives were about to change. Little did I know that our lives were about to change for sure. My father had a bad cough the night of my graduation. The following day we took him to a public health facility where he was diagnosed with a chest infection. The doctor gave him medication for the infection and we took him back home. After he had his meal, mother gave him his medication and he retired to bed early.
I was awakened by my mother’s scream in the middle of the night. I jumped out of my bed intending to go outside to investigate but to my shock, one of my uncles met me by the door. He told me to sit down. It was then that I knew it was bad. “I’m sorry sonny, your father has passed on!” “What?!” I barked. I couldn’t believe it. “He died peacefully in his sleep.” He continued. "But God why? Why me? Why us?" I kept asking but didn’t get any answer to my questions.
The family elders had called a neighbour who was a doctor to check on my father when my mother had reported to my uncles that he was unresponsive. The doctor neighbour had pronounced him dead after examining him. It was a nightmare, one moment we were celebrating my graduation, the next we were planning my father’s funeral. It felt like we were cursed for sure. It was as if we weren’t meant to know any happiness in our lives. I was out of my mind with hurt, grief and despair.
I met a girl of my dreams. After a couple of years of dating I knew she was the one. I popped the question and she said yes. As had been the case lately, whenever we had news to celebrate, bad news would be hot on the heels. My younger brother Owie who worked in our home town fell ill and was admitted in hospital. At about the same time my maternal uncle Joe fell ill and was admitted to hospital too. After a week or so in hospital the family agreed that they weren’t getting any better and would get better medical care in health facilities in the capital than they were getting where they were.
They were both transferred to hospitals in the capital. Uncle Joe was admitted at one of the best private health facilities in the capital as his medical insurance could cover his bills. OS went to the country’s largest public referral health facility. His medical insurance couldn’t afford him the luxury of a private hospital. In spite of the improved health care they both didn’t improve. Exactly a week after they came to the capital, on Valentine’s Night, they both passed away. On the same night, would you believe it? Uncle and nephew fell sick about the same time and passed on about same time too. What a tragedy!
The following year my wife and I were blessed with a baby boy whom we named Owie, after my dear departed brother. He was my mom’s second grandchild after my elder brother’s daughter, Ru. Naturally my mother was elated. We were all very happy. My mom was in poor health though, she’d been unwell since I was fourteen. She’d been in and out of hospital over the years. At one point she suffered a stroke but kept fighting, she was a very strong woman.
However, a year after OJ was born she finally gave up the fight. She had fought for one and a half decades. It was time to rest. As we laid her to rest I realised how lucky I was to have had her as my mother. A women whose love brought such a big family together. A few years after she left, the family is no longer as close as it was when she was around. She was the glue that kept the big happy family together. And how she managed it, almost so effortlessly, is beyond me!
Dedicated to those who meant so much to me, those who will forever have a special place in my heart; my dear departed!
© 2020 Takesure Danga