Numb. That was how he felt when his uncle finally broke the sad news. He heard it, but it sounded muffled, like a bad recording. His brain could process it, but every fibre in his body refused to accept it. He was in denial. “Surely there was a mistake”, he thought, a mix-up of some sort, because things like this never happened to him, they happened to other people. But even as these thoughts took form in his mind, he realized he was only grasping at straws, for these things do happen to him. This, after all, was not a first.
Bashir had woken up in the morning and been told by his uncle to go prepare, he’d said they were going to see his aunt who also lived in the area with her family. Bashir had wondered at that, suspicion in his mind, but he had kept his thoughts to himself. Now, a few hours later, he was standing in his aunt’s compound with his back propped against the wall, staring at his uncle as he announced the shocking news. He thought he heard someone scream in shock, probably his aunt, but he couldn’t worry about that now.
His mind was racing, his heart beating faster with every second. So many questions were running through his mind, and yet, he couldn’t bring himself to utter a single word. His bones felt heavy, his muscles unyielding; his entire body was rooted to the spot.
Bashir had just lost his father, and at fifteen years of age, he’d suddenly become an orphan.
He’d only been a couple of months old when his mum kicked the proverbial bucket and she had left behind two kids – Bashir and his elder sister Sherifat. Both of them were raised by their father, who did his best to support them in every way he could as a single parent. He eventually remarried a few years back and Bashir got two more siblings. His relationship with his dad had been a great one. To Bashir, his dad had simply been the best.
As he stood there, almost oblivious to what was happening around him, he thought back to the last time he’d seen his father. It had been just a couple of days back; his father had been on admission at the Ilorin General Hospital. He was being treated for intracranial neoplasms, commonly called as brain tumors, and had undergone a surgical resection through craniotomy – a surgical operation which involves temporary removal of a bone flap from the skull to access the brain. The objective of the surgical resection was to remove as many tumor cells as possible.
The operation had been said to be successful and they’d said he would be discharged as soon as possible. But they’d been wrong, thought Bashir, his father would never come home again. He would never come see him in school again bearing gifts. He would never call his name again.
His thoughts were interrupted when his uncle called his name, “Bashir, we have to get to your step mom”, he said. Obediently, he dragged himself into the car, joining his aunt and one of his older cousins and just stared silently through the car window as they drove off. Everyone but his uncle was quiet, he was busy making calls, informing family and friends of the unfortunate incidence. As he looked out the window, he couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, nobody seemed to notice their car as it sped up the road. Nobody seemed to see that his life had just been changed forever, that things would never be the same again.
After what couldn’t have been more than thirty minutes, the car pulled up outside the familiar building where he’d lived before moving in with his uncle when he started his secondary education. The building where he’d spent most of his secondary school holidays so far. With some apprehension, he pushed open the gate, and as he did, he could already hear the outcries coming from within the house. Cries that brought to mind a picture of prisoners being beaten with blade-studded whips, prisoners being branded with sizzling hot iron rods. But this was no physical pain, it was pain that registered on a deeper level, emotional pain, and Bashir was sure he felt even worse.
The entrance door was open, and the floor was full of foot wears of all sorts. Bashir realised the outcries he’d heard were those of his step mom, she was still crying out loud, saying all sorts, but his mind wasn’t following. He couldn’t go in first, so he hung back until his uncle, aunt and cousin had all entered. Only then did he summon enough courage to enter.
At first, he just stood there, looking around, noting the people around. He could see his step-mom’s mother, sitting beside her devastated daughter, trying but failing to calm her down. He could see two or three of his step-mom’s friends also trying to calm her down. He could see some of their neighbours, family members, his little brother and sister who were still too young to fully understand what was happening , and his elder sister sherifat.
He headed towards her as soon as he spotted her. The initial shock had left him and he’d found his voice once again, so he acknowledged some people as he went, people who greeted him back carefully, wanting to reflect just the right amount of sadness and regret in their voice, people who offered him words of consolation which he barely heard, people who had no idea how he really felt.
His sister was sobbing quietly with her hands around her legs as she held them close. Her eyes were red and swollen that Bashir wondered how long she’d been crying. She looked like she could break down at any moment, and yet, she looked strong enough to survive whatever life throws at her. He sat beside her, and put his arm around her. He comforted her and she comforted him, for both their hearts ached in synchrony. She, like him, had just been cruelly thrust into orphanhood. Today, she’d become his parent, and he hers.
The rest of the day was a blur of people – family, friends, and strangers alike. Bashir’s uncle had called him aside and talked to him, assuring him that everything would be alright. He’d said although Bashir and his siblings had lost their dad, every brother of his father would be a father to them. He’d said the family would always be there for them every step of the way. Although Bashir didn’t pay much attention to these words, he would come to see, in the years to come, just how true they were.
How do we deal with loss? If we lose a loved one, how do we deal with the feelings that come with it? Do we just bury them deep within and hope to forget them? Is it even possible to forget them? Do we hold on to them and forget everything else? It’s never easy to move on after a loss, but it is easier for some more than others. Where some would never recover from the shock and cruelty of it, some would draw determination and a sense of purpose from it and propel themselves into greatness.
Once again, how do we deal with loss?
Meet The Writer.
Abdulsalam Ibrahim aka Ibrahim Adey aka Haiby is a 4th year medical student of the University of Ilorin and a passionate lover of words.
In His Words:
“I love writing. Being able to string together a bunch of random words and make something beautiful out it is simply amazing. It feels great! And so, I write.
I also watch a great deal of movies. They offer a very nice, albeit temporary escape from what I like to call #medskewlcraze (medical school definitely no be beans).
I sing, I draw and I run (i’ve got a gold medal to show for it lol).
Well, that’s me, in a nutshell. Cheers!”
You can catch his lastest writings at his blog http://slothwritar.WordPress.com