I picked up my phone to call Eva immediately after I got home to tell her that the email we had been waiting for had just arrived. She must have been asleep, so I went about my evening listening to the playlist we’d created last Sunday. I left my phone by the TV and went into the kitchen to prepare myself a meal, we’d have ordered Haiwain pizza if she were around.
I thought I saw my phone light up when I was walking through the corridor to the shower, but I wasn’t quite sure so I didn’t check. I heard it ringing while walking to the kitchen to check on the chicken I left in the oven and I picked it up.
“Hello?” The voice on the phone isn’t Eva’s. Besides, she says “Ola!” when placing or picking up calls, especially to me.
“Where is the owner of the phone?” I ask, with rudeness in my voice, waiting for the slightest provocation to bring it out.
“She’s at a hospital,” the caller replies.
“I know that, because I left her there,” I respond.
“Well, you need to get back here. She’s being rushed to the emergency room,” she responds.
“Why?” My heart collapses in my chest and fear takes charge of my body, guilt too.
“You’ll know when you get here, It would be best if you could hurry,” she hangs up.
I pace in the living room for a while, then I rush to the kitchen to switch off the oven, and throw on a black heavy trench coat, boots and some mittens. I try not to cry, but tears escape my eyes nonetheless. I order an uber as I try to place things in order around the house. I haven’t packed fresh clothes for Eva, but given the rush, I decide to pick clean clothes when I get back later in the night or tomorrow. I also remember to call Ethan’s dad to ask if he can stay with him another night and day because there’s an unexpected turn of events.
We reconnected at Papa’s burial, twelve years after the birth of our son. He’s married with two kids and expecting another one. He showed up while the pain gutting down my family was fresh and the least I could do was let him spend time with his son. Eva pleaded with me to give him a second chance, arguing that papa’s passing was enough proof that tomorrow isn’t promised, I gave in. It’s barely been a month and Ethan likes spending time with his new family. It infuriates me, but the thought that he has people that love him other than me and Eva, his only living family, comforts me.
Papa’s passing is a fresh wound that leaks in my solitude. I seem to be taking it strongly, as compared to Eva who lost weight and sobs in the middle of the night. The night we received that call, we cuddled in my room and cried ourselves to sleep, Ethan gently patting our backs, sobbing quietly. We made a promise to love and care for each other because the only family we had was gone. It has been a tough realization to come to terms with, Eva’s illness has only emasculated my fears.
He was hit by a car from behind while he was riding back home at around 7 pm. Noisy neighbours didn’t wait for him to get to the hospital before they started sharing pictures of him, lying on the ground, lifeless. It was as if they were trying to get into our good graces by calling us and sharing long paragraphs of condolence messages. Those messages threatened to tear me apart. It was Eva who shut down both our phones and wailed. We sank in pain and drowned in it. It was the toughest time of our lives.
Eva fell ill immediately after papa’s burial. She wouldn’t stop coughing and I insisted that she call in sick and go to a hospital. I asked for a day off and admitted her to a nearby hospital. Three days later, her condition got worse and I demanded that another test be done. To my shock, the doctors had misdiagnosed Eva. She had Bronchitis. A quick transfer was authorized and she was taken to the New county hospital that evening. Here the situation has been improving gradually since then. Admittedly, she’s been handling papa’s loss with a lot of fragility and it worries me. She’s become a shadow of herself and keeps dreaming of him. It scares me, that she too might slip away, and Ethan will prefer to stay with his much fuller family than a lonely mother grieving.
As the Uber driver speeds down to the hospital, I can’t help but notice all of the places that became our favourite places. At the back of my mind, something keeps telling me that those places would never make me happy as they did before. The thrift store we always bought Ethan’s clothes, the mall we’d frequent with dad when were teenagers and eventually, where we met the boys we liked as teenagers. I can’t help but think of the way she liked to wear her hair, her obsession with the mirror and how she frowned upon ugali. My heart skips mighty beats when I catch myself thinking of her in the past tense. I want to take away my ability to think and recount memories, but that’s a luxury way out of my budget.
Eva had established a cute eating spot for bachelors and bachelorettes in our favourite mall and had grown quite popular. It grew popular because it catered to a fraction of the people deemed the most controversial and opinionated. In fact, her clientele often stayed longer, interacting, learning how to cook and raving about life. She’d become such a darling to her clients to the point I thought that she’d actually change her mind about marriage and children, but none of that was forthcoming. There I go again, thinking of her in the past, and I curse myself once more.
I remember our childhood too when I see a father pulling out a kid’s bike from the car’s boot. Eva must have learnt to ride a bike for seven years at least. It’s hilarious, and we never missed the chance to joke about it with her. It was even more hilarious when she was teaching Ethan how to ride a bike and she had the nerve to tell him, “boy, you have two left feet.” Dad burst into laughter and narrated to Ethan amid laughs, how it took the entire village to teach Eva to ride a bike. I miss him. I wish he were here to hold me and reassure me that my sister will be fine. I still remember how he lay calmly, silent to my cries, with no smiles flashed and no tap on the back. He was quiet.
I’m hoping to talk to Eva about the email. I just got accepted for my creative writing post-doctoral program and I’m certain she’ll jump and celebrate more. It’s why I called her, and she didn’t pick up. We had talked about it while she was having porridge in the hospital and she was of the idea that I chase down my dreams to every city, country, hole and mountain they take me. Here, my dreams are coming through, but the fear of losing my sister is the only emotion central to my heart, the uncertainties of life!
“After you get better Eva,” I said in the middle of her little comic stunt. She was silent for a second and then replied.
“Don’t worry about me, Anne. I won’t be holding you back.”
“Yes. You better get well and go tend to your controversial bunch of bachelors. They miss you.” I reply.
“Go on. Go home, take a shower, and rest. You can check on me tomorrow before your flight.”
“I don’t have to go for the trip by the way. My boss affirmed I could stay back and care for you.”
“Anne, you’ve always wanted to visit Malawi, this is your chance. It’s a work trip but it’s Malawi. Heavy on crossing things off the bucket list, remember?”
“There will always be more opportunities to visit Malawi. Never more opportunities to care for you here. But, I could take up on your offer to go and rest.” She smiled and asked me for a hug. Oddly strange, because in all of my years of knowing her, she never asks for hugs, that’s my undocumented job description in our relationship.
The driver stops at the gate and I pay him in cash and ran inside. I’m waiting for the lift when it opens up, and my heart falls on the floor when I see a woman sobbing quietly. Fear is slowly charging up to my head and when I get to the fifth floor, tears already rolling.
She’s cold, motionless and unresponsive. She didn’t wait for me to say our goodbyes. I always knew she felt safer by dad’s side, but I had promised to take care of her, no matter what it takes. She didn’t believe in me? Did she think about me? I have questions for her, but how she’s ignoring me is sickening.
Thoughts of another casket, bouquets of flowers laying all over the house and endless calls flood my mind. It was doable, with my sister holding my hand. But now, signing papers, referring to her in the past and watching her lay in a coffin aren’t sights I’m ready for. What did I do, to have to bury both my father and sister in the same month? Running my hands through her hair, she liked it when I massaged her scalp. I wonder if the grief will kill me as well or my child will keep me tethered to this world?
Gone In 60 Seconds By Henry Githaiga
The Burden Of The Past Unexpectedly Poses A Dilemma On A Budding Love
Deathless Memories Of My Past Are Holding Me Hostage
She Found Out That Her Boyfriend Had Faked His Own Death
I Found Out Through A Family Funeral Contribution Group That The Man I Loved And Was Going To Marry Was Married To My Cousin
The Storms We Weathered. A Valentine’s Love Story Part 1
She Died While Delivering Our Child – My Ego Costed Her Life
The Cologne Scent I Breathed In At The Supermarket Reminded Me Of Love Lost And The Regrets I Had Over Leaving The Love Of My Life