I am writing to tell you why the month of April haunts me. It is the month we bade you farewell all those years ago. At your funeral, people wailed, I wailed. Songs depicting your character tore the atmosphere - VaMukodzani vaigona kugara nevamwe (Mr Mukodzani was a good neighbour) - one of the songs went. I knew you were loved and revered by family and friends. I just never knew how much. Finally, you were at peace.
Since then, the memories you left behind have become taxing on my heart and soul.
We were close - as close as father and daughter can be. You were not one for gushing, but your love was noticeable and felt in the little things–your smile, your lousy jokes, your far-fetched tales, your warm gaze when you thought no one was watching, and in the way you hammered into me that the only inheritance worth having was a sound education. I get it now. I really do.
You entertained my curious mind, all that endless talk about my dreams, and you believed I could become whoever I wanted to be. You said all I needed was to be grounded, to have the faith and courage to hold on to my authenticity and uniqueness. To ensure I did not get things twisted, you reined in on my immaturity and dreamy mind by recounting poignant moments where you experienced failure, missed an opportunity and took unnecessary risks. However, you were quick to heighten my spirits by stating that life had not denied you some glory. From your overflowing bag of wisdom, you drew upon your success stories. How you scaled your trips around the world and navigated the challenges of diversity as you interacted with people from all walks of life, and how happy and fulfilled you were.
Of all the things I remember about you, it was your belief in your spiritual ancestors, that I found staggering. I was a Christian; you regarded yourself as more spiritual than anything else. As I write this, my mind recalls one of our conversations where you spoke in riddles: ‘Can you see it?’ ‘See what?’ ‘The future.’ ‘What? In your palm?’ ‘Yes, and yours, my dear child, is as bright as the morning star. Look, right there.’ I creased my brow, laughed, and shook my head in disbelief at your strange utterings. It was utter nonsense, and yet I hung onto every word. You became my muse. Now, having experienced life as I have, I know why you did it. On the last day we talked, you ditched your usual eccentricity and crammed your speech to give me the abbreviated version of your sentiments. You did not mince your words, for you knew we had limited time. I treasure those final words - sacred utterings of the dying we all seek to find closure.
I wish I could say that the adage time heals all wounds rings true for me. It does not. After your untimely departure, I rode the dragon of grief, just like everyone else. I heeded the advice you gave me over the years. I am grateful for your preparation. It gifted me with the resilience to withstand tough times. The foundation you laid cultivated, in me, a rooted sense of self and the propensity to accept that, in life, we do not always get what we want, when we want. You taught me that sometimes down is up and lost is found. And yet, the ache of longing for your presence never fades. During my rueful moments, my mind threatens to explode with pent-up emotions. I have things to say - things to show you. If only you could feast your eyes on what I have achieved. It is not much, but you would have rejoiced and reminded me, with a smug look, of the day I dubbed you a crazy man because of your weird prophesying. I regret you are not here to listen to your grandchildren’s insane stories, perhaps teach them a thing or two. I want to whine about my problems, share my joys with you, and seek your advice, draw from your well of wisdom, but I cannot. Your face has become elusive in my dreams. I see your lips moving, but your voice sounds distorted, and I do not understand the words you speak. A misty fog billows around you, and my eyes cannot penetrate through it. Everything has become a blur. You were not the perfect dad in the world, but in my eyes, you were kind and prudent. Despite your flaws, you insisted on my schooling. You were by no means the perfect parent, but you were the one who stayed. Many seasons have passed since your passing, but longing and rage still haunt me. My heart still jolts from the harsh reality–you are gone forever, and all I have are the relics of my heartache, the constant reminder being the tombstone under which you lay interred in the cold grave.