The Day My Father Died

I had a dream the night it happened. I was in the living room of our home in Chinhoyi. My siblings and I were gathered around my father, listening to his never-ending stories. He had us in stitches about adventures around the world, especially his German business trips. My father liked to embellish his tales, but we didn't mind. It made our time together more fun and special.

What astonished me in this dream is that all I could see were my father's legs which dangled from the sofa, but did not quite reach the floor. The harder I tried to zoom in on his face, the more obscure his countenance became. My father's voice sounded jovial and yet the words he spoke had a chilling echo to them. He spoke as if they were his last words to us - he was telling us to look after each other and to always be there for one another.

As he continued to speak in the dream, I got more and more frustrated about not being able to see his face. Why couldn’t I see his face? I could almost feel him turning towards me and smiling at one point, and yet I could not see his face.

It had been a month since returning to my home in the UK from Zimbabwe. I had gone to see father for he had been taken ill. He had been unwell for a while, but when the call came, the situation sounded serious. If he was dying, I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing my father one last time. So the decision to hop on the plane had been an easy one.

What I saw when I arrived in Zimbabwe had been shocking, to say the least. Father was but a walking skeleton. The man I knew had vanished. He had tried to smile for me, to appear strong but I could tell he was suffering. The sparkle in his eyes had gone. We sat down and we talked. He told me things that he had never told me before. Things about his family history and where it had all begun. I wanted to ask why after all these years he had felt the need to tell me then. But deep down, I knew why - it was my father’s way of making sure there would be nothing left untold.

In the days that followed, I did my best to feed father the best food I could find. As a nurse, I knew what was good for him but he had since lost the will to live. He was no longer the fighter I knew him to be. The more I tried, the more frustrated he became. Nevertheless, he did try for me. Perhaps it was because he knew it wouldn’t be long before I was on the plane back to the United Kingdom.

When the day of my departure came I could tell father did not want to let me go. Moments after we knelt for our usual parting prayer and hugged each other goodbye, father stood by the window to watch me leave. What he did next surprised me. He called me back into the house. Not once but twice. The first time to ask me if I was happy. I was having problems of my own at the time, but I had the sense not to inflict more pain on him. The second time my father called me back into the house, he told me he wanted me to be happy and that he was proud of me. He also said he believed in me and that I should not let anything or anyone stop me from going after my dreams. I reassured him that everything was going to be OK. Finally, he let me go.

Back to the dream.

My frustration of not being able to see my father's face continued until the wee hours of the morning when I was woken up by a phone call. The call had to be an international one - no one in the UK calls me at 4 am. As I stared at the caller ID flashing on the screen, my heart dropped. Placing the phone to my ear, I took a deep breath and muttered a quiet 'hello'. I knew exactly what I was about to hear.

‘Baba is no more.’ My brother said with an equally weak voice, and I could hear people wailing in the background. ‘OK,’ I said, putting the phone down. What happened next surprised me. I couldn’t cry. I had no tears and numbness rippled through my body. All I wanted was to get home.

Within hours I had booked a flight to Zimbabwe. And so the journey to bury my father had begun.

Now years later, the dream still haunts me. I'm not one to believe in dreams like that, but up to this day, I believe my father came to me in that dream that night, to say goodbye. My heart jolts each time I think of him and the good times we had. So as Father’s Day approaches, I want to celebrate my father. Even though he is no longer with me, he lives within my heart.

And to everyone whose father is still around, I say to you, show them love and appreciation because when they are gone, they will leave a hole which can never be filled by anyone or anything.

To all the fathers out there I wish you a very happy Father’s Day.

God bless.

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