Prompt: The phone rings. You look at the caller ID and recognize the number of your childhood home. You pick up the phone and recognize the voice. It’s you when you were a kid. Source: Pinterest.com
I glanced at the calendar. 17th May. The date triggered a vague memory of something significant in my childhood but I couldn’t remember exactly what. The date sounded ordinary but at the mention of it on my lips, my heart had started beating faster. What happened back then?
The phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and recognized the number of my childhood home. I picked up the phone and recognized the voice. It was me when I were a kid.
I startled and stared at the phone. I heard the voice again, saying ‘hello’ in an urgent tone. I brought the phone close to my ear again.
“Yeah…who’s this?” I asked, afraid of having my fears confirmed.
“It’s Jasmine. Am I speaking with Ewurafua?”
I swallowed. I had dropped my English name years ago after the tragic death of my mother. It was my way of leaving my past behind and starting afresh. Was this a dream?
“Yes…this is Jasmine. How may I help you?”
“My mother…I think she’s dying. She had an attack and I had hidden her pills. When I rushed back with them, she wasn’t breathing. I think she’s gone,” Jasmine said, sobbing.
Then it hit me. 17th May-the day I killed my mother. My mother had snatched away my candy the day before-the one my aunt had given me, saying that I wasn’t allowed to eat it. I had angrily gone to her room and picked up her pill bottle and hid it under my bed in my room as payback. I knew she took them before going to bed each night but I didn’t know what they were for. I thought that by holding on to what I knew she needed, she would give my candy back to me.
That fateful day, I had asked my mother for my candy. She said she had thrown it away so I should forget about it. She was lying on the sofa with her eyes closed, breathing slowly. She then asked if I had seen her pill bottle and that she couldn’t find it the night before. I had replied that if she were to return my candy, I might have an idea and stormed off. I heard her scream my name but I shut my door and threw myself on the bed. A minute later, the house was quiet. I thought she was coming to spank me so I sat on my bed ready. But she didn’t come. That was strange.
I got out of my room and decided to check if she was still lying on the sofa. My heart jumped when I saw her on the floor, breathing heavily. I rushed to her side and shook her.
“My pills,” she said faintly. I left her and ran to my room. In my haste to grab the bottle, my fingers hit it and it rolled over to the middle under the bed. I groaned as I tried stretching my arm to reach it. It was far away from my reach. I dragged myself under the bed and finally got a hold of the tiny bottle. I struggled to come out from under the bed.
“Mum, I’m coming!” I screamed as I ran out of the room, half of my face and body covered with dust. I fell by her side and found her still. I shook her body, calling her name. No response.
“Mum, it’s here. Please take one.” I took the glass of water beside the sofa and a pill out of the bottle. They were in two colors. Which one and how did she take? I took the white one and fed her the pill and water. She was still not moving.
“Mum, can you hear me? Mum!” I knew I was in trouble.
I wasn’t sure what had happened to my mother but I knew I had caused it. I saw the candy bar on the center table. Tears filled my eyes. She was going to give it back after all. I brought my ear close to her nostril. She wasn’t breathing. I took the home phone and dialed the first number that came to mind. That was supposed to be my…
“What did you say?” I asked.
“My mother, she’s dying. I had taken her pills but when I returned them, she wasn’t breathing. Please help me.”
“Go and get a taxi and tell the driver to rush you to the nearest hospital. I’ll meet you there.”
“Okay. Please hurry.” The line went dead. I stared at the phone. I could neither believe my eyes nor ears.
Those were the exact words my dad had told me when I called him that day. Was my mind playing tricks on me?
I remember the hospital I took my mother to that day. If this was a flashback happening in real time, then I knew what was going to happen. Should I still head over to the place?
Maybe I was dreaming about the incident because it was 17th May again. Maybe if I lay down and slept, I would wake up and find out it was all some sort of hallucination. As I headed to my bed, my phone rang again. The same number.
“Ewurafua, are you on your way?”
“Yes, yes, yes, I’m heading out now. Is she still not breathing?”
“No, she’s not. I’m scared.”
“Don’t be; she’ll be fine,” I said without believing it myself.
“Okay. Please hurry.” The line went dead again.
But my mother has been dead for years. And my dad had never forgiven me for what I did. Although he paid my fees and catered for my needs, he was emotionally distant. The day I moved onto the university campus was the last time I lay eyes on my father. He would send me money for my upkeep but he didn’t want me back in his house or his life. He said he was obliged to take care of me because I looked like my mother, the love of his life. But in his heart, I was nothing to him.
I have had to live with this guilt all my life, plagued with nightmares of that dreadful day. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have saved her if I had gone for the pills the moment I had entered my room instead of sit on my bed. Those few minutes wasted staring at the door had changed my life forever.
I knew it was crazy but I still got out of the house and sat in a taxi, headed to the hospital. I hoped I wasn’t losing my mind. If this was a dream, I should have woken up by now.
I hadn’t heard from my father for three years now. He stopped picking my calls at a point and soon after, the number was out of service. I went looking for him at our house but was told he had moved out. I wonder what had become of him now. If only I could see him again.
“We’ve arrived,” the driver said, prompting me back to reality. I paid him and got out of the taxi. Who was I going to look for? My dead mother or my childhood self? I should turn back before the nurses noticed that I had gone mad and restrained me. But my legs defied me. I kept walking towards the entrance of the hospital.
I swallowed hard and approached a nurse.
“Yes, how may I help you?”
“I’m looking for…”
“Ewurafua! Is that you?” I turned. It was my aunt; the one who gave me the candy bar years ago. She had really aged.
“Thank goodness! I’ve been trying to reach you but couldn’t get hold of you. Your father is here o! Are you here to see someone?”
“No…why is he here?”
“Kidney failure…he never got over your mother’s death and drank himself to near death. I fear he might not make it this time. I wanted you to see him before it was too late.” She held my arm and led me to the ward as if she could tell that I was contemplating on running away.
My heart sank when my eyes found my dad’s frail body. This is my fault, I thought sadly.
“Go and talk to him,” my aunt said, pushing me gently. He opened his eyes weakly.
“Dad…” He took my hand in his. I suddenly felt emotional. How I missed the warmth of his hands.
“I’m so sorry, dad,” I apologized, tears running down my face.
“It’s okay. I forgive you. So forgive yourself too. Do you hear me?”
I nodded, the tears, blurring my vision. He squeezed my hand.
“I’m sorry for leaving you all alone. We could have grieved and healed together. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, dad. Please get well soon.” He shook his head.
“I’m not coming back home. It was my heart’s last wish that I see you before I join your mother. Now that I have, I can go in peace.”
“No, dad. Not so soon. Please, don’t leave me too!”
“You will be fine, Ewurafua. Just forgive yourself and move on.” He coughed.
“Get me some water,” he said. I looked at my aunt. She nodded. I rushed out to get it. When I returned with a bottle, a doctor was covering my father’s body with the bed cover. I dropped the bottle and screamed.
© Josephine Amoako 2017
***Kindly subscribe to my newsletter here. Thanks!***