He was tall—as tall as I can remember. He was handsome—as handsome as I can remember. He was a dark-eyed, swarthy man with killer looks that sucked people in and left them as breathless as Chimamanda Adichie’s Prose. Vigorous black hair sat on his head and his eyes beneath scanty brows. He had a beautiful build and he always walked with his hands swinging to his back.
He was a man who thrived on gesticulations and had a singsong voice that, sometimes, carried me to never–never land. He always told me stories, his expressions changing with every feeling his different stories brought — his face told the stories even better than his lips did. I would lay on his laps and watch those lips of his form shapes as he spoke, rays of moonlight casting light shadows on his words. I can also remember his laugh. His laugh was loud and the sound of it rumbled honestly from his throat, the kind of laughing he did when it was just the two of us— the two of us in a dying world.
I have a lot to remember him for. But in this prison called Grief, his features are all my hazy mind can make out. I loved the way his lips curved when he smiled, I loved the irregular shapes they made when he spoke. I loved his eyes, his black eyes— so dark they were like an endless pit that could swallow you whole. I wished I could curl up into those eyes and live there forever. I loved the funny look he carried on his face and the many furrows that appeared on his forehead the times he shouted at me and also the tender way he calls my name. His voice had a euphonious tune and I was always lost in the curve of it, lost in his throat.
This is nothing other than the story (just a few words strung together) of how the earth swallowed up a beautiful man, unprovoked; of how that dread of an illness, hepatitis B, crawled his insides and ate him up; of how he left and never came back. The day he left, I begged him to stay, begged him not to leave. His deeply dark skin had turned sallow. Ebuka, I love you, his face said. His face, a sagging version of the one I remember — that was what the illness did, it dragged down every inch of his being, pulling his soul and will down too. The words his face spoke crept and clung onto me, undetected, like fire ants would. His words took up so much space in my lungs it was hard for me to breath. I couldn’t speak, though my throat was cramped up with painful words, clogged with emotions that paralyzed my vocal cord. I had tiny eyes that swam in a sea of tears that refused to fall.
It was until I realized that he’d already left before I even begged him to stay, that I let out a deafening shriek that poked holes into the sky. Loneliness wrapped itself around me like a cloak and broke my insides into unsized pieces. My soul became a lone empty road on which depression and pain took evening strolls.
Today, I hug his words close to me — they become him, they fill my arms and soothe my jagged heart. I swallow my memories like an oversized bitter pill. I close my eyes but tears forces its way past my eyelids. ‘I love him so much,’ I whisper to myself. I didn’t say it to believe it. I know it as a fact, I love him. After Monday comes Tuesday, three plus three equaled six, I love him.
He is my father and he is dead.
Muna David Ochiabutor is a writer and a believer who resides in Nigeria. He is also a 400 level Law student of the University of Nigeria. He enjoys watching movies, eating plantain and spaghetti, and reading Mitch Albom. One day, he hopes to act. You can find him on Twitter, medium and Instagram: @munahdavid. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.