When I was five years old, my mother was critically ill. She was in and out of the hospital like a clumsy drug dealer going in and out of jail. She was always weak and could not even bring herself to bath her own body.
Here’s the full story, but at some point, everything will begin to fade away.
In the middle of the night, a day after I had just turned six, I was awakened by the sounds of people shouting. They were calling Jesus and asking Him to come and take control. My elder sister, Sister Kim, was also crying and praying. I had never seen her pray before in my whole life. I walked up to where they were gathered and I saw my mummy in the middle. She was lying on the floor and blood was coming out of her mouth so I began shouting “Mummy! Mummy!” My daddy saw me and immediately told me to go to the room. So I did as I was told. On my way to the room, I heard Papa Maro, our neighbor, saying “I still have fuel in my okada, let us take her to the hospital.”
How I managed to fall asleep that night after that terrifying scene is something I’ll never fully come to understand. There really is no gift greater than being a child.
In the morning when I woke up, many people were in our house. My mummy’s sisters were there and they were crying. I went to meet Sister Kim, to ask her what was happening but she told me to take off my clothes so that she can bath me. When she was bathing me, she was crying. She was crying really hard and catarrh was coming out of her nose.
Me: Sister Kim, why are you crying?
Me: Sister Kim, where is mummy?
She did not answer me.
Then I began crying too. I was shouting and shouting for my mummy to come, that Sister Kim was beating me but my mummy did not come like she always did.
No one really told me she was dead. I figured it out myself. I mean, she went to the hospital and never returned. For me, at that time, the cycle of life was like this:
That was it. There was no inbetween.
I did not see my daddy a few days. He was always rushing in and out of the house. Then the tailor came to take me and Sister Kim’s body measurement. Then we went to the salon to make our hair. Sister Kim was looking very pretty. I was looking pretty too. I asked sister Kim what party we were going to attend but she did not answer me. Sister Kim stopped talking to me. It made me feel very sad.
Two days later, I was sitting under a canopy and many people were crying and there was a long box that was open and my mummy was inside the box. She was wearing white. They did not allow me go close to her but when I climbed on my chair and stretched my neck, I saw her. She was not smiling like she always did. Her hands were by her side. She was wearing a white gown and stockings like a big flower girl. Her eyes were closed. Sister Kim was crying. Everybody was crying.
I remember eating a lot that day. Whatever I asked of that day, I received. It was so surreal that I wished that my mother would always be in that box so that I would always get an endless supply of food.
They closed the box where mummy was inside and put it in the boot of a big car. I was sad that they were taking mummy away. Me, Daddy and Sister Kim entered inside another car. I did not know where we were going. Many cars were following us behind, too. Daddy and Sister Kim were still crying.
Then the car stopped moving and we entered into a big compound where there were many graves. I have seen this place on TV before. They use to call it a Cemetery. The car parked and Daddy came down and carried me in his arms as we walked into the Cemetery. We stopped at a place where they dug a very big and long hole. Then I saw the box where my mummy was inside again. Big big men were carrying it on their shoulders and before I knew it, they were putting the box inside the hole. Then I jumped from my daddy’s arms and began crying that they should not put my mummy inside that hole. My daddy carried me again and told me not to cry, he told me not to worry but I was still crying.
‘Don’t put my mummy inside there!”
Everytime I attend funerals, I am always reminded that one day, it’ll be me. It’ll be me all these people would gather for, cry for, and pour a portion of sand on the coffin that has already been laid six feet below. I am always reminded that one day it’ll be me, just like it was once my mother.
After two weeks, everything was slowly returning to normal. Sister Kim was now talking to me but mummy did not still return. I then made up my mind to go and find her. On a Tuesday night, when everyone had gone to sleep. I collected my daddy’s big torchlight that use to shine very well and I ran away from home to the cemetery.
It was probably the most stupid thing I had ever done.
When I looked at the time before leaving the house, the short hand was on 3 and the long hand was on 5. I climbed on the chair to open our door and when I came out, I began running. I knew the way to my mother’s grave.
Our street was very quiet and there was no light only stars and a half moon in the sky. I crossed the main road and I began running straight down until I saw the cemetery. Opposite the cemetery was a very old two-storey building. I wish I use to leave there so that I can visit my mummy every night.
The cemetery had no gate so I just walked in. There was a very big tree that was wrapped with red cloth. On the foot of the tree, there were many animal skulls and drinks. An old man was sitting outside and sleeping. I pointed the torchlight on his face and he did not move. His skin was very white and his hair was red. I kept on walking down and down and down until I found my mother’s grave and I saw her.
I must have been dreaming because surely, ghosts don’t exist right? Or do they?
My mummy was sitting on her grave with two small-small children. She was feeding them rice and chicken. Then I began crying. My mummy does not like me again. She went to carry other children. I was crying and she did not even tell me sorry, or look up at me. Then I walked up to her and said
Me: Mummy I hate you and I don’t want to see you again. You don’t love me and Sister Kim and Daddy again. You left us. They are all crying for you and you are here, feeding other children!
My mummy: Katy, that’s enough. Go home now.
My mother always called me Katy while everyone else called me Kathryn.
Then I began walking away. I was crying very loud on my way out and the old man saw me.
Old man: Small girl, what are you doing outside by this time of the night? Or are you a spirit?
Me: I am not a spirit, I came to meet my mummy but she does not love me anymore.
Old man: Sorry dear. Be going home now, okay? One day when you’re older, you’ll also become a mummy and love yourself.
I began walking very fast. I did not want my daddy to notice I had left home. He will surely beat me very well if he finds out. When I was getting close to our house, I saw three women. They tied white cloths on their chests and were holding calabash in their hands. One was tall, the other was short and the last one was slim. I greeted them as I was walked along but one of them called me:
Tall woman: My child, are you a spirit?
Me: No, I am not.
Slim woman: Where are you coming from?”
Me: The cemetery
Tall woman: What did you go and do there?
Me: To meet my mummy but she doesn’t love me again
Short woman: Come and join us, we’ll make your mummy love you and you can visit her every night
Me: Are you sure?
Then I heard my daddy call me. “Kathryn!”
And then the women vanished…
That’s where everything began to fade away.
Kathryn Olushola is a 21-year-old Engineering student from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. She is passionate about writing and photography. She has been published on FictionWrit. She enjoys dancing and would accept any invitation to sing. Catch her on Facebook; Kathryn Olushola, Instagram; @Oluwakaty