My peace is gone, My heart is heavy – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The answer to my questions, or rather prayer, came in the form of an all-expense trip to Ghana for two weeks. I was to leave yesterday, but the trip had to be put on hold because of the news I received. Shortly after our board meeting, Aisha buzzed to let me know I had a visitor. It was Dera’s brother who had come from the village. Instead of going to Dera’s office or the house, as he had been there on two occasions, he came straight to my office.
“Chidi, this is a surprise. To what do I owe this visit?” I asked when he had made himself comfortable.
“I know you’re wondering why I didn’t go to the house or Dera’s office. I don’t know how to relay the news to her so I decided to come see you and Abike to prepare your minds and be strong for her.”
My defensive mode kicked in and I braced myself, prepared for the worse.
“Eh…Yesterday my father died.”
Blood rushed to my head and I gasped. Even though I was sitting down, I felt very faint.
“What? Oh my goodness!”
I’d met her father on two visits and had the privilege of learning a lot during the one week we spent there for her elder sister’s wedding. He told us a lot of what happened during Biafra and life during the colonial era. I remember recording it and saying I would document it for posterity. He was educated and still spoke the Queen’s English even though he was old. He was 40 when the Biafra war broke out and it was after then he married a 20-year-old lady, whose family had been killed in the war save her and her younger brother. Dera came after they had thought they would never have any more children. He was almost 60 when they had Chidera. Whenever his older children teased him, he would say it was a testament to the love he and his wife shared. Dera couldn’t wait for the day he would walk her down the aisle with Adrain.
“I have to call Adrian,” I told Chidi, reaching for my phone on the desk.
“Was he sick? He was fine the last time we spoke on the phone.”
“You didn’t let me finish.”
“There’s more?” I dropped my phone.
“Jasmine, please I need you to be strong. He had gone to see a friend who was sick at his house, After a while, his friend, Mazi Opara, asked him to get something for him that he had hidden in the wall of his mud house. As he pried the brick loose, the mud house came crumbling.”
“My goodness! Were there no neighbours to help him out?”
“One of the neighbours said that when they heard the noise; he rushed to check knowing that Mazi Opara was sick. When he got there, Mazi Opara asked him to go home and mind his business, but shouted for him an hour later. He said Mazi was frantic, saying he had forgotten his friend had gone into the mud house to get something for him. He mobilised the youth in the area and my father was brought out alive. He was rushed to the hospital where he gave final instructions to my mother and everyone of us before he died.”
“How could he say he had forgotten his friend went into the mud house? That’s a bunch of crap. That man should be arrested.”
“One step at a time,” Chidi said and broke down.
I couldn’t stop the tears that rolled down my face. It brought back the memory of my late father who had died in my mother’s arms. I thought she was going to go crazy, but she became stronger. I sincerely hope it would be the same with Chidera’s mother.
While we sat in my office, each with his own thoughts, Nosa called me. I picked up the phone with the intention of asking him to ask Adrian to come see me immediately.
“Jas, are you in the office?” I replied in the affirmative. Something in his tone made me uncomfortable.
“Tell me what it is,” I demanded.
“There’s been an accident and Adrian’s in the hospital. We are getting ready to fly him out of the country so you better hurry up to St Michael’s Hospital now.”
In other words, it would probably be the last time I would see him.
Filed Under: Diary of a single lady