Oluwabunmike felt it first, the premonition that something bad had happened. And then she saw it, the bad thing that had happened. Her grandmother being lifted by some men into a car that she didn’t recognize. She started to run to catch up with the car before it moved but she couldn’t. When she got to the street, she saw some neighbours who moved towards her, all speaking at the same time.
“Ibo lo gbà lọ? Where did you go?”
“Ọ̀kadà ti gbá Màmá. Mama was hit by a motorcycle. She said she was going to her friend Mrs. Adejare to visit.”
How? How could Nana be going to Mrs. Adejare’s house when she knew well enough that Mrs. Adejare moved to the United States five years ago to live with her daughter.
It wasn’t until she arrived at the hospital with one of her neighbours that Oluwabumike started to cry. Seeing Nana looking so small and helpless did something to her.
This doctor who seemed too small, too young to know what she was doing started speaking, “From your reports and our observations of your grandma for the past two months that she has been here, my medical opinion is that your grandmother is showing signs of dementia. Her symptoms are more consistent with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. It can last for years and like in your grandmother’s case be undiagnosed or simply dismissed as “getting old”. Alzheimer’s is quite difficult to manage and there is no known cure. We can only try to manage it. You might need to get help because she needs to be watched around the clock to avoid any more wanderings. Just for her safety.
Oluwabunmike resumed her tears…
In the weeks following Nana’s diagnosis, Oluwabunmike threw herself fully into Nana’s care. She shut out the world and created a new universe where it was just her and Nana. She stopped going to school and on the days Nana remembered she was in school and was not supposed to be at home in the middle of the day, she simply lied that they were on holidays. All her friends, except Tunde, soon got tired of calling and texting and simply let her be. It was Tunde who introduced her to Jo and Fitila . Jo would eventually become her partner in the struggle. Jo listened while Tunde held her hand. Jo led her to a support group where she got all the community she needed and when things got too hard, she knew her MCF community was rooting for her. On the days Nana refused to eat what she had spent time and energy to prepare. On the days Nana became convinced her gold chain which she always wore and never took off even to bath was missing and accused of her of stealing it. On the days Nana asked for people who were either dead or moved a long time ago, Jo was there.
Oluwabunmike stared at the NYSC letter of redeployment before her and she remembered filling her change of institution form years ago. But this was different. She was finally going to leave this city of brown roofs and fly. She felt free and felt guilty for feeling free. Nana died three months ago and she was still grieving. But could she ever stop grieving?
The day Nana died still seemed surreal to her. They had both retired for the night the evening before and Nana had insisted that she slept in her bed. That would be the last time she would share a bed with her. That night, Nana had been full of stories of her childhood and they had laughed and reminisced long into the night. The next morning, Nana was stiff in her arm. And that was it.
Nana’s death enveloped her with a feeling of failure. She didn’t fulfill her promises to Nana. She didn’t buy her a car. She never built her a house with five bedrooms en suite. She never built a mosque with Hajia Abike Suleiman Nee Dosunmu on it. She never took her on that vacation to Canada. Nana sure had a head start at the death race and left sooner than she thought.
She shouldn’t be eager to leave, to leave all the pieces of her Nana buried in this city behind but she was. She really wanted to leave. The change might be good for her. And like Fawaz liked to remind her, the memories are not attached to this spread of a city. The memories are lodged safely in her heart to be pulled out whenever she wanted and sometimes when she did not. Kano, here we come. Maybe she’d be back someday to build that mosque with Hajia Abike Suleiman Nee Dosunmu on it. Till then.
Written by :Amal🍒