You are sober today. It is unlike every other day when you drown yourself in bottles and bottles of alcohol. On these other days, you will wake up by 6am, cussing and cussing at life and the world and the fact that your alarm woke you up at the same time everyday. This was the routine. You’d then reach out beside you to your baby.
Your dear baby- the half empty, half full bottle of alcohol which you will gulp down your throat ceaselessly, savouring the hot,dry,sultry taste and aftertaste that lingered.
Alcohol is your only friend in this miserable world. It is your companion. The only soothing balm you have to ease your pain. The only true friend who you know hurts ,can hurt and yet you love.
Ever since Antwa died. Ever before Ojowe ran away from home. Ever after Kasali ran mad. Alcohol came to stay.
Antwa is your only sister who death took by the hand as a result of an ugly road accident. Antwa did not survive the accident even by a minute. She was confirmed dead on the spot. You cried when you heard the news, wondering why death would take your only sister your beautiful baby sister. You crier harder as you remembered how her mouth twitched when she was up to some mischievous act. Or how her voice resounded beautifully as she sang the ‘Ave Maria’ song. Antwa should have been an angel. Indeed she was,but she was one born to humans.
You cried at the cruelty of death. And then you wondered where God was.
You refused to go for her burial. Even her wake keep. You refused to be happy or even to smile. You cried and cried. Mourning the angel you were blessed with for eighteen years. Mourning your Antwa.
You weren’t the only one who mourned Antwa. Kasali did too. In fact, it was over thinking that made him run mad. Sometimes, you see him at the Morikulu Food Market when you go to restock your alcohol supply. You see him sitting aside, on the Libili rock, not wild or crazy like other mad men. But sad,unsmiling,pensive- hands on his head, tears rolling down his cheeks, muttering and mouthing what sounds like Antwa’s name amidst a series of sentences. Kasali was Antwa’s other half. Like she liked to call him, her ‘beloved’. He was her love and her his. His young heart could not accept that Antwa was dead. He’d cry and cry and receive no condolence. He was lost in memories and he could not be saved.
You wondered again why God let this happen to him.
As for Ojowe, you do not know why he left. Perhaps because you fell into a drunken stupor or perhaps because he wanted out of your life altogether. You will never know. Ojowe is the kid your sister adopted as a younger brother. He was only fifteen when he ran away. Young and foolish, taking no extra clothing, emptying out your drawers and pockets of cash and valuable kinds. Leaving behind nothing comprehensive except a note that simply said “GOODBYE UNCLE”. You always wonder where he is, hoping he is safe. Hoping that he isn’t smoking, drinking , stealing or even killing. He is supposed to be writing his final examination in high school but you don’t know if he is.
You wonder to God where he can be.
Today, you wake up sober. You try to smile. You try to be happy. For it is a year already since Antwa died. You clear out the empty bottles of drinks, clean up the house and put on some music. You dance and laugh and scream and screech. You clean yourself up,have a clean shave and dress in decent clothing. A tuxedo looks good on you. You see that in the mirror.
You look at your mantelpiece and see the picture of your beautiful angel- Antwa- smiling down at you. You smile back. You even throw the picture a kiss. Its been a long time you have felt happy, smiled or even laughed. This feeling feels new.
Its a brand new day! Your days of mourning are over. Humans can be mourned for days and weeks. But angels deserve a year. You step out of your house looking like a new man, feeling like one.
You stop a taxi and answer “Cemetery” to his question “where to?” You a re visiting Antwa’s grave today. You never once did before. Perhaps Kasali will come to his senses today as you have. Perhaps Ojowe will return home today. After all,it takes a year to mourn angels.
You close your eyes to ponder and you see her shining face. Antwa has come to see you first. You wonder now if this is God.
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