The day the mechanic died, I was in the kitchen giving a dance performance to one of Ayefele’s songs in front of my cousin.
I heard my dad’s loud voice from upstairs. He was singing loudly as he usually did. Flakes and I rolled our eyes and shook our heads laughing at his untuned voice and resumed my show. We stopped abruptly a few seconds after. That wasn’t a song. He was lamenting.
“O God! O God why? O God why? Why?”
My heart sank and I ran upstairs jumping two steps at a time.
I met him in the prayer room. His eyes were red and wet with tears and he hid his face from me.
“Daddy what happened? What’s wrong?”
My mind raced and many thoughts entered my head. Did something happen to mum? Was his business okay? What could have happened to make daddy breakdown?
I probed some more before he looked up to me and broke the news – “Oluware is dead.” A cold shiver went down my spine.
You see, uncle Oluware was not just a mechanic to us. He was like family and there was not one week that passed that he didn’t come over. In fact, it was when he didn’t come over the last week that my mum figured something was wrong and reached out to him. He was terribly sick. He had adult measles and another sickness at the same time. But that’s not the point of my post.
My heart was shattered and I thought of the last time I had seen him. A deeper sadness and disgust embraced me when I remembered how I had behaved. The last time he came over, I was home alone with the maid because my parents hadn’t returned home. He asked me to make him swallow and soup and I very grudgingly made the food, murmuring under my breath and hissing at every second. Don’t ask me why I was so lazy and felt that it was so hard to boil water and turn cassava flakes in it a couple of times. He noticed my demeanor when I served him his food and thanked me profusely in a bid to lift my spirits. I didn’t fold though. How dare he?
How dare he what Deborah? How dare he get hungry and tired from working all day and ask his little ‘sister’ to fix him something to eat? I couldn’t believe that the last time he saw me I was so nasty and condescending.
You see, it’s sad that it’s only when people die that we regret the things we did to them, the things we didn’t get to say to them and the missed opportunities to spend time with them. I wanted him to come back so I’d make the last meal for him with joy in my heart. Maybe even give two extra huge pieces of meat and asked if he wanted more. I wanted him to come back so I could thank him for driving me about when it wasn’t part of his job description. I wanted to thank him for being the handyman in the house. For fixing the plumbing machine when it broke, for driving eight hours away from his home to help us during Christmas time. There were so many things to thank him for.
It’s been years now, but whenever I think of him, I still can’t shake that feeling of disgust and regret. I have tried to tell myself that I was young and hormonal but it doesn’t help.
I guess the point of this post is to encourage you to live life with your loved ones like it’s their last day on earth. Don’t be afraid to let people know you love them, share your feelings and have heartfelt conversations with people. Be thankful and cherish every second you get to have with them. Because the truth is, mortal life can end at any second. In other news, ‘eyan le ku at any given time’.