Who will console you well enough? (part 2) by Victor Ola-Matthew


You don’t want your relatives coming around because death is not another reason to party like it is ninety nine. Aunt Christabel arrives first, her silver rosary inconspicuous against her pink blouse and blue wrapper she is putting on. Her makeup reminds you of the village and earlier images of the deceased before you were born in the photo albums; her very thinly drawn eyebrows, amateurly puckered pink lipstick and the plentiful taluc powder rubbed all over her face.

“Nwannem, My baby”, she opens wide, her arms, for a hug. “You’re looking lean. You’ve not been eating,” she adds the usual overlooked body shaming remark she always greeted you with. You sniff her and she reeks of firewood and worn clothes.

Again, you don’t want anyone in your kitchen, but when you see the ugba and abasha for nkwobi in the black cellophane bag she dropped on the ground before hugging you, you don’t refuse the offer—nkwobi was the favourite of the deceased—even though later, the delicacy wouldn’t pass your throat when you tried to eat it.

Uncle Peter comes in next followed by some others with their children and they dig into the Nkwobi that should have been yours. They discuss the burial arrangements and cows to kill and when they see you pass, they say, ‘Just like that, gone’, between lamenting hisses. They decide the date first and drag on the venue being Umuahia, Yaba cemetery in Lagos, or just the backyard. You don’t want a Party.

When you finally return to your phone to pick a call or reply texts, you don’t want to write a pity epistle. ‘How did it happen?‘, ‘Cancer?’, ‘Mere malaria’, so you turn off your phone.

Months later, after the family’s matching Ankara prints, Jollof rice, stouts, wake keeping and church memorial, when you still cry in bed, looking at photos from months earlier with the deceased at a park and at the Choir competition the church had won, after your younger siblings have slept, you don’t want any of the then consolers saying, ‘I thought you would have gotten over this by now, you’re not the first to lose your mother you know?’ If you could, at the sentence’s uttering you swear before man that you would have shot the shit out of the speaker.

What you wanted was for Chikezie whom you had broken up with two days before the now deceased died, to show up at your house and struggle to take advantage of the vulnerability you were hiding behind a strong facade. You wanted him to, after holding hands, let you cry on his shoulders, his chest. You want him to say, ‘it’s okay’, and wrap you in his arms on your black spring bed while you both watch the Simpsons.

But instead you got none of what you wanted and all of what you didn’t want. You got another sibling who survived while your mother couldn’t.

You got more responsibility and nobody could console You well enough.

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.