Drowning

Day 3 of the Afrobloggers WinterABC!

Even though all my posts for the WinterABC are fictional, there are many who have lived these pains, and so these are in their honour!


“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” Vicki Harrison


There was no funeral. At least not yet. It was banned to have them. 

So Ol’man was at a funeral home, waiting. Waiting to be sent away.

Everything was suddenly so strange. I learnt so much about myself! 

First, that grief/panic/fear made me nauseous. 

The day he died, when they broke the news to us, I didn’t stay calm the way my brothers did. I didn’t scream the way Mama did. I turned around, and right next to the walkway, I hurled out all my insides. I hadn’t eaten much, so I didn’t even expect to have that much vomit inside me!

Kuuku came and held my hair. Funny, because it was something I’d taught him long ago when he was going out to a party with his first girlfriend.

“If your girlfriend happens to drink a little too much… or gets too drunk that she throws up, the first thing to do is protect her hair! Weaves cost big money! And washing vomit out of hair is horrible!” 

After everything had come out and even the dry heaves had subsided, I was shown a washroom where I went to wash my mouth. There, I looked at my face in the mirror and didn’t recognise it. Who was this person? This fatherless girl?

My father had been my identity. He was Ol’man the great lawyer. I was his first child, his baby girl. His artist. His soon to be author.

I heard mama scream again, and I rushed out, hoping that by some divine miracle, this scream was because the dead man was up and walking. 

He wasn’t. 

I had never seen Mama scream. She was that prim and proper woman that everyone commended for composure. It freaked me out even more that she was so out of character. I didn’t know what to do. Kuuku had his arms around her and was trying to put back her face mask.

She was not having it. 

“Ei Ol’man!!!” was all she kept screaming.

The days after were just a blur. Answering phone calls, calling the lawyers and the caretakers, listening to stupid rants from very insensitive family members. Luckily thanks to COVID, we didn’t have to deal with many people stopping by with condolences and questions. That would have been so much worse! 

Mama returned to her calm self. She refused to move Ol’mans things. Even the shirt he’d worn the day we’d rushed him back to hospital was still hanging as was. 

I learnt also that my art was suddenly trash. I could not pay any attention in any of my online classes. When I tried to write, my tears filled my throat, and made me choke. So writing was also completely out the question. On some days, I could sleep for hours and hours on end, and then when I woke up, I didn’t want to do anything at all! I had no choice though, things needed taking care of, and mama was trying. I needed to help!

On other days, I could not for the life of me get any shuteye!

Ol’man was gone, just like that! 

I learnt many things about my family too. 

Like that Kojo was an avoider. He was out the house every chance he got. He acted as if nothing had happened. He didn’t want to be involved with anything!

Kuuku was the empathetic one, making sure Mama was okay, cooking dinner so she didn’t have to, and helping me with the calls and the preparations. He had asked for days off from work, and was helping out.

They say grief comes in waves. Mine didn’t. It only poured. It was drowning me, and I could not swim! My grief had taken away my creativity. The things that usually could help me cope were suddenly gone. And even though I was drowning, I knew mama has it worse…. and so I couldn’t let her see me drown! 

I had to be strong for her. 

But with all my inspiration gone, I feared it was only a matter of time before it became obvious that I was on my way to Ol’man. 

Comments (35)

  1. Completely relatable. The drowning. The feeling like you can’t create. I felt this. I empathize because I’ve been here. It gets easier. Somehow, it gets easier

  2. Death indeed has drowned you…. Very relatable and stunning piece…..Can’t wait for the concluding story…

  3. This bit speaks more if you have been through it yourself. It hits differently. It’s touching how you are able to put yourself thru those shoes and tell it vividly.
    Dealing with death of a close loved relative is hard…it chokes, even years after

  4. Losing my only sister in a very bizarre circumstances 3days ago, this story is so real. Thanks Elise

  5. You reminded me a lot my heartache and expressed it jx the way i wanted to but could not. The grief for a lost love sent me on a me search mission for me. Though still lost i hope i find myself. Thnx for this nice write up.

  6. Dear Elise, you write so beautifully.
    Why am I struggling to believe that this is fiction.
    It feels so real!

  7. How do I say excellent writing while trying not to see many of the people around me experiencing this in this moment.
    Thanks for sharing… yes I relate

  8. Amazing story. The intricate details you put in to describe a situation, or even how a character feels is phenomenal. Reading stories with such details like “ They say grief comes in waves. Mine didn’t. It only poured. It was drowning me, and I could not swim!” to describe someone’s grief makes the story so so real. Stay strong family. God knows best. 🙏🏽🙏🏽. Kudos Elise 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

  9. This is the most beautiful piece I have read today…I lost my papa and I can relate for the most part. Thank you

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