Somehow, as I lie supine on this bed tonight, with my head propped up by a pillow, I remember the first time I cried because of you. And no, on that day, the tears did not fall in torrents. It was a noiseless sorrow: no whimper, no wail.I was on this same bed, in this same position, when reality crashed on me like an avalanche, and the first tear dropped. As it ran down my pimpled cheek with an eerie warmth, flowing in a single line without derailing, I knew this grief had come to stay.
There are different types of grief. There is a type of grief that weighs one down like a heavy metal around the neck of a swimmer. There is another that turns people into vegetables, draining them of energy to the very last calorie, such that they can only look on as their lives waste away.
Dare Amuda, I know of these griefs and many others. But this grief with which you have left me is hard to define; it is a potpourri of elusive things. I try to grasp it, and it vanishes. Like water held in a clenched fist, the definition sips through my fingers until I am left with a wet face in place of a wet hand. Again, I try to grasp it. It vanishes, reappears and vanishes still.
That night, as the tears welled up in my eyes, I cast a quick glance at my two roommates where they slept with heaving chests, their loud breaths competing with the whizzing fan blades for attention. I observed that their faces looked serene, too serene, as though there were no troubles in the world. It was this detachment, this ability for fellow humans to carry on when everything was wrong with you, that prompted the first tear to drop. Thenceforth, many things about me began to change. Now, people say my laughter has become short and shallow, that my smiles are tight and tired, that my tears flow rather readily. I look at them and shake my head because they can’t understand, because even I barely know what I have become.
Your death is a catalyst, Dare; it has altered the activation energy of my emotional reactions.
As I gaze at this ceiling, with a gecko traversing its white-patterned asbestos, I recall the many tarred roads, marked with broad white stripes, that we trod back and forth, chatting and laughing on breezy nights. I recall the time we spent eating together, watching movies and checking pictures. The few times we argued, the debates were dispassionate and candid. I would look into your eyes and tell you that you were saying arrant nonsense. You would smile and ask me to prove it. Life was that simple.
I wish I had cherished those moments better. All I have now are memories, flaky reminders of a short companionship. Even at that, the ease with which sorrow blots out the sense of pleasure floors me. In those last days of your life, while you lay exanimate at the Intensive Care Unit, with an oxygen mask perpetually stuck to your face, I could only look on, helpless, as you drifted away from this world. I saw the excruciating pain that convulsed your frail body at those times you were due for another dose of painkiller. They were things I’d never seen: the awful grimace, the restlessness, and the muffled moans. I witnessed them, and my spirit sank. My spirit sank because my sorries and affectionate pats could not assuage your pains, because I was of no use when you most needed succor.
So when the doctor broke the news of your demise many days after, I received it with a mixed feeling. I was somewhat glad that you would no more be in distress, and I was inconsolably dejected that you were gone too soon. You have left a gaping hole in my heart, one that wrenches the most sensitive part of my being, and I don’t know what to do about it.
Often, I now find myself examining your pictures or reading your writings over and again. I have gotten all the books you loved, the magnum opus of your favorite artist, and I’ve been visiting all the places you hoped to see. I want to know what life meant to you. I want to have an understanding of things that interested you, and how they did. I want to be all you wanted to be and more. But then, there can only be one Dare Amuda.
The tears are welling up in my eyes again. I imagine all you could have been if death had spared you, if that vehicle hadn’t hit you, if you hadn’t gone for that Industrial Training, and I want to jump up from this bed, scream till my voice goes hoarse and break every louvre blade I see. I want to write your name with my blood on the walls, then pull the walls down with my bare hands afterwards. I want to rip my clothes to shreds and devour them. I want to…
But instead, I bury my head in my pillow and let the tears flow. Some griefs are too heavy for raucousness. I do not whimper or wail. I just stare into the darkness that envelopes me and let the tears fall in torrents for once. This noiseless sorrow is mine to bear, mine alone.
~~~Omoya Yinka Simult
*First published on Brittlepaper.com on March 30, 2016