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She came into the house, went through her handbags, wore her favourite top, tucked the top behind all her clothes and left the house.
Before we proceed, I want to make some things clear;
- I am not crazy.
- I am not crazy
- I am definitely not crazy
- I could be anything, but definitely not crazy.
She thought she was being extra sneaky, you know; sneak in, shaky-shake-shake some of her belongings and then leave without anyone noticing. She did not realize that the next day we would finally decide to pack up her belongings after the cold and dreadful period of 1 year, 3 weeks, 6 days and 2 hours and 17 minutes(Nobody is counting, I promise).
Yesterday, we finally decided to pack up her belongings. It took a year after her death for the finality of the tragedy and the fact that everyone had indeed moved on for it to sink in. For a year, her toiletries, clothes, shoes, accessories and other belongings remained exactly where they were: Nothing had been moved in her room. If you think about it, packing the belongings of lost loved ones hits just as hard or harder as when hearing of their deaths.
So, on this particular day I have all her documents laid down on the ground beside me. I’m sorting through it all for our birth certificates or whatever is related to us. I keep all her certificates, notebooks, cheque books, ATM cards, awards, and school fees receipts from more than twenty years ago safely in a big chest, just the way she would have wanted it to be.
I start with her clothes and I am folding and folding layer upon layer of Ankara, gele, and various other traditional wears. I cannot help but admire her style and love for quality clothing. I slide my hand across a new suede material I found in one of her boxes I originally thought was full of books. The box was full of clothes, few rarely worn and mostly new ones. I saw a very big white towel in the box too.
The white towel in the box is mine. I remember the day we got it as though it was yesterday, even though it has been more than 4 years, A friend of hers was turning 60 and invited us for an evening buffet somewhere in Abuja. She took me along because she believed I would behave myself properly when we got there. We went together with another family friend that I always thought was a tad too eccentric. So Family friend and his wife(with a similar disposition) cackled embarrassingly loud as we entered the tents that had been set up for the event. Family friend and wife kept “ooohing” and “aaahing” at the marvelous decor. I also thought it was impressive but I knew better than to “oooh” and “aaahh” without restraint.
The buffet was a bit rushed as clouds had already started gathering in the skies. Then came to the sharing of the souvenirs. We sat somewhat in the middle and the stewards were moving round and round the hall and when it eventually got to our turn, just a bag was left. They proposed going out to get some other souvenirs but my mother declined because it was already drizzling. Inside that bag was the towel. 4 years and she left the towel inside the nylon covering, I wonder what occasion she was saving it for.
When I got to her wardrobe, I gently folded her gowns and skirts, no trousers, my mother never wore trousers. I put all her clothes in the big red box my grandmother had sent to me as a gift for my admission into university but then my mother had thought the box was too big, so she had converted it to her own property. That was when I saw the top. This red floral top with long sleeves and pockets on both sides with a button line running down the front of the shirt. It was carelessly strewn on the holding.
I held it and immediately her unique smell permeated my whole being. In that moment I knew it was possible, she had worn this clothe recently. Let me remind you that she has been dead for more than a year now and all her belongings were collecting dust in different parts of her room. I kept holding it because in that moment I knew that the sign I had been praying for had finally been granted. The closure I have always wanted she gave to me within full measure.
I may or may not have cried, it was like being caught in a maelstrom or a whirlpool or emotions. I sat on the ground and held the shirt close to my chest for some time. I don’t know how long I sat there, or how long I cried, it was surreal. She was reminding us that she was never far and that we should move on.
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