I hate goodbyes. And people who say goodbye make me sick to my stomach. Because I find them repulsive to say the least. It may be an expression of good wishes when parting but to me, it is an instant of rueful humor. One that serves to stir up a volcano of stuff from my past. And so I have grown to hate goodbyes for close to 10 years now, because with them comes the remembrance of a time in my life which I would rather forget but cannot forget. Time may heal some wounds but only makes others fester, and this, is one of them.
As a child, I grew up a happy lil girl, well provided for and attending a beautiful school, which has now been reduced to ruins and that which most of the kids in our village couldn’t afford. I wore expensive dresses and colorful shoes. My sister and I could eat biscuits daily unlike other folks in the village. Back then, nyamabites were a reserve of the rich, and yes, we enjoyed those quite often. We lived in what was a palace, with a big gate that only few could master the courage to enter. There was a beautiful lawn and a breath-taking flower garden that was tended to fortnightly. We took occasional family trips and shopping sprees. Our parents sipped on wine, while we quenched our thirsts with juice, which for many others was a thing that only became a reality during the Christmas festivities. Life was good, and easy, what more could a six year old girl wish for? I loved my parents and my family; I lived in a bubble, my paradise, oblivious of the world and its vices.
Not until death happened. Death, a stupid thing that everyone talks of and nobody knows a thing about. And death paid us a visit, having sent an invite that was a bout of sickness but never waited for our response. Death was in a hurry, I know not why but that visit was rushed. They say death is not for the young and strong but these words meant nothing after stopover made by death on our family. Death had made a choice, and we were its victims. And when we got home from school, just a day before the funeral, it was clear to me that death was final. Tears and silence. The anguish of remorse and the darkness of despair. Sorrowful stares from mourners as us, young kids who had to endure this experience at such a tender age. But this was just the tip of the iceberg; the burial ceremony was nothing short of heart breaking. Tears came down, hot and scalding my chubby cheeks. All I knew is that I would never see her again.
But growing up I came to learn that death is basic. Death is essential. Death is fundamental. Death is a myth. Death is a dream. Death is pretense. Death is what we make of it. Death is the reason I whole heartedly loathe goodbyes. Death is the reason why at the age of 13 years, goodbyes ceased to be a happy moment, one of appreciating the time together and a longing to see each other another day or season. And from then one, goodbyes became a reminder of what I had lost. Because that is the last thing you ever said to me when I was going back to boarding school that morning.
And so, I hate goodbyes. But I hate death more, for taking you away from me. And I remember it all every time someone smiles at me and says: “She looks so much like her.” Her being you, because they are afraid of saying your name out loud in fear of hurting me. I took your smile, as beautiful as yours was. I still wear your favorite hairstyle, because it brings you back to life, within me. I read just as you used to spend most of your time doing but I hate singing, because I can never be as good as you were. And so to date I hate goodbyes, whether said on the phone or even worse when expressed in person. Because it boils down to one thing, my last memory of you. Sleep well Mama, you are missed.