Mum was sitting in the backseat with me as we drove back from the hospital, sobbing in a way that thawed at my heart. We’d just been told I had three more days to live. I really wanted to cry, but I was too shocked to
even move my lips. I took a deep breath as I looked through the window at the beautiful scenery I would never see again.
The car soon stopped and Mum ran out towards the house, crying uncontrollably. I walked slowly behind her, looking at the ferns, the flowers, the plants, trying to take everything in. I cast a quick glance at our little playground where I used to play with Bola, my sister and Femi, my 5 year old brother. As I walked past it, the memories of the shouts, screams and laughter whirled around in my head and I stopped to brush away a lone tear.
I finally made my way into the living room. Dad was holding Mum in his arms, consoling her in a barely audible husky voice I couldn’t recognize. My siblings were huddled together on the floor.
Femi sprang up when he saw me and ran to hold me tight. “Funmi, are you really going away forever?” he stammered through his tears. I couldn’t say a word. I knelt and hugged him back. I loved this child and it broke my heart that I wouldn’t be here to watch him grow. I pulled away from him and walked upstairs to my room.
People die everyday, but not everyone is given a notice. I’ve been given the chance to right my wrongs, to put things right before I breathe my last and I wasn’t going to throw it away.
I laid back in bed and stared at my ceiling. I was only 17. I had dreams, huge gigantic ones. I’d always wanted to be a lawyer the moment I knew what justice meant. I’d always daydreamed of the days I would stand before a judge to demand justice for a rape victim or a sufferer of domestic violence. I’d always imagined the relief and joy that would radiate on their faces. I shook my head slowly. I would never get that chance now. Never.
I heard a muffled sound near my room and rose to see what it was. I opened my door to see Femi, sitting on the floor, his arms folded around his chest. There was a deep-set frown on his tear-stained face. “Femi, it is 10pm. What are you doing here?”. “ I won’t let anyone take you away”, he said stubbornly as he quickly brushed a tear off his face and struggled in vain to hold snot back from his nose.
I sank to the floor,to his side. I couldn’t hold it anymore. The tears started to come in their torrents. “Don’t cry, Funmi, I will fight for you. You always tell me to be strong”, he said, holding back his own tears. “I’m not cr…”, I started to weep again. I pulled him into my arms and began to sing in a softly broken voice.
Dad met us there in the morning and led Femi away. I went back into my room. I sat at my table, tore a piece of paper and started to make a list.
At 7, I left my room and went to the dining room. Mum was walking around mechanically, dishing food that nobody seemed to have appetite for. “I’m going to school today”, I announced. I faked a smile and walked eagerly to my seat. “Aha! Let’s enjoy this Jollof Rice nah!”. Femi smiled and picked his spoon.
School felt normal. I hadn’t told my best friends about my diagnosis so they couldn’t be suspicious. I’d listened to Fatima and Josh rant about how much they wanted a camera and a PlayStaytion 3 respectively so I’d included it in the list I slipped into Mum’s hand this morning. I knew Lolade, the quiet guy at the back of the class had been playing the same guitar for 3 years. I’d included a guitar as well.
One day more.
I looked around my class today and I sighted Ngozi, our class loner whose Mum recently passed away. I didn’t know what to get for her, but I recollected that she liked to read so I decided on the complete set of Harry Potter books in hardcover. She’ll love them.
I remembered “The Madames”, the three most annoying girls in our class. I’d clashed with them last year. There was no use for the malice now. I knew what I had to do. I left my seat and went towards them. “Hi girls”, I said and took the nearest seat. “Yeah?” Jessica, the group leader answered, obviously irritated. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry. The fight was unnecessary. Forgive me and let’s put the past behind us”. I smiled at them and got up. I didn’t fail to notice the shocked looks on their faces.
I knew I was running out of time but there was something else I needed to do. I waited near George’s class after school. I’d liked him for a long time but said little to him. As he came out, I held his hand and asked him to follow me. I didn’t hold anything back. I was going to die tomorrow, nothing is scarier than that. “I’m so sorry, George. Life is really too short”. I gave him no chance to talk as I hugged him and backed away.
I was laid out on the sofa. Mum shut her eyes and kept muttering “I can’t take this”. She was shaking. I tried to reach out to hold her. I failed. My time was fast running out. Femi held my almost limp hand, his eyes glistering with tears. “Dad, Mom, Bola, Femi, I love you all so much. These past 17 years were filled with so much love and joy. Thank you for every… eve…”, my voice trailed off as I began to hear the screams from a distance. As I felt my soul leave my body, the screams and wails started to filter out. Finally, my sun set.