I cried and cried till I couldn’t find tears anymore. It was too soon. He was gone too soon!
My whole world turned upside down. I was shattered deep within the innermost part of my heart and soul. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t come to terms with the awful reality! He was truly gone!
I cried and cried to no avail, hoping for a miracle to happen, waiting for him to rise up; but nothing of such came forth. I watched how his body was lifted up right before my eyes, away from the room. He had died in my arms.
I thought I was hallucinating. I thought I was in a trance. I thought it wasn’t real; it didn’t look real… it didn’t feel real.
I locked myself indoor and sat on the floor, squeezing myself to a tight corner, gazing into thin air. I paid deaf ears to the persistent knocks on the door and remained that way till dawn.
• • •
I remained in that same, exact position for five hours straight without moving an inch. I could see bright rays of light from the window, revealing the setting sun.
Then, there was a knock at the door again.
“Fifi please open up.” Nancy echoed from outside, still knocking repeatedly.
I stood up and wiped my face to respond to her. When I opened the door, I realized she wasn’t alone. She stepped forward and wrapped me in a warm embrace the moment I opened up, and I hugged back too.
I eventually withdrew from the hug and stepped back inside, returning to my exact position on the ground. Nancy and the rest of the guys walked in too.
Nancy and Rita came forward and sat beside me on the ground, each by my sides.
“Fifi itʼs okay,” Rita consoled me, putting her arm across my shoulder.
“Please take it easy, things like this are bound to happen. It was his time to go…” Nancy added, trying to comfort me also. I faced her sharply the moment she uttered those words. Rather than finding solace in her words, my eyes welled up and became teary again, particularly because of her last statement.
“I would like to be alone,” my voice croaked up as I spoke. “I appreciate your kindness and care,” I sniffed loudly, and continued, “but I just want to be alone.”
Without hesitating, they all began leaving the room one after the other, glaring pitiful stares at me. Nancy and Rita hugged me one more time, and then they stood up and left too, closing the door behind.
I broke down into tears again, staring blankly into thin air with my head raised up. I still couldn’t believe he was gone, particularly at this moment I carried our child in my womb. It was supposed to be an endearing moment for the both of us. Why did it have to be now? I thought to myself.
In the midst of these thoughts, I heard a knock at the door. I had to quickly wipe my tears and clean up my oily face.
“Yes, whoʼs there?” I called out.
“Itʼs Simon.” He answered.
I wiped my face properly once again.
“You can come in!” I approved.
The door creaked open and Simon walked in, alone. He stood at a distance at first, scrutinizing me thoroughly with a fixed look, before walking over to where I was sat.
He bent low and sat right beside me on the floor, leaving less than an inch of space between us. Then he placed his hand on mine and entwined them together.
“Boma was my friend,” he said, gazing straightforward, “not just a friend but a brother to me. I took him as my family, my soulmate and my companion the same way he took me as his blood. He saw me as a younger version of himself – like a younger brother and he took me in and made me become what I am today. Whatever I am today, I completely owe it to him. I understand exactly how you feel; it isn’t easy for any one of us either, but we just have to accept fate the way it is,” he finalized, still keeping our hands entwined.
“Where is his body?” I managed to speak up.
“Itʼs downstairs in the next building at the boys-quarters, safe and secure.” he answered.
“Why is it still there, shouldn’t he be buried by now?”
“No, we can’t bury him… It doesn’t work that way.” Simon replied.
“What do you mean…?”
“Boma wasnʼt the only one we lost, we also lost two of our most precious guys, Emface and Nicholas. We have certain rules when cases like this arise.”
“I still donʼt get you,” I exclaimed.
“What I mean to say is that, Bomaʼs body has to be burnt while the other deceased guys would be buried individually.” he explained.
“What?!” I shouted. “Over my dead body!”
“Fifi that is our rule, the leader must be burnt when dead while his followers get buried. I didn’t make the rule on my own…”
“I said over my dead body Simon, I wonʼt let that happen!” I persisted.
“I am sorry but you have no say on this,” he said, “I just felt like you deserved to know. Itʼs going to be happening outside the compound tonight and everyone would be there, including you. You are going to be initiated and appointed as our new leader, due to his offspring in your womb. You donʼt have a choice.”
Simon finally stood up and released the grip from our hands. He dipped his hand into his pocket and took out something in a silver-plated, cube shape and handed it to me.
“Bomaʼs plan was to propose to you and build something worthwhile. He loved you, a whole lot.” Simon said lastly and turned back to take his leave.
A tear drop streamed down my cheek as I opened the cube to see a dazzling ring right inside, glaring back at me.
He truly loved me indeed!