Photography by @topehorpload
THIS FLASH FICTION IS DEDICATED TO OUR FALLEN HEROES AND THE LOVED ONES DEALING WITH THEIR LOSS.
Momma was always in her room; lying on her bed with the duvet strapped around her pudgy feet and her fingers walking through his picture frame. She always kept starring at his face, his happy face. This very framed photo was her favourite.
She had said it was the best picture of him, because it captured his heart. I still couldn’t understand how a picture could capture one’s heart but Momma had always been someone we didn’t like to argue with.
We, my brother and I. We grew up learning she hated being argued with. No matter what, she always liked to be right. Even after she got sick, her stubbornness didn’t cease. It seemed to have grown worse.
Momma grew sick after Bolanle’s death. Bolanle was the first child of the family. Growing up, he was always those kids who knew who they wanted to be.
Bolanle would always say to me; his younger sister that he would join the army. He was just five years older than I was but even as at eleven years old he didn’t have a second thought.
He amazed me. His certainess, his determination. People twice his age still haven’t figured out what they’d do with their life. Bolanle was unique.
We both grew up together with Momma always proud of her son. We were strong together, together we were a team. Bolanle’s dream became a reality and before my nineteenth year, I was receiving letters from him – describing how grueling and somewhat exciting his new life was at the army.
Momma cherished his letters, she couldn’t read that well but always listened carefully as I read out his letters aloud. Smiling at some of his expressions and sighing at the end of every letter. She would keep the letters in a grey shoe box like a memory box.
Momma would always tell me my dad didn’t like naming his first son Omobolanle; it was feminine but Momma insisted saying he was supposed to be born a female.
“He was a wonderful baby, never too troublesome. He looked like a girl and acted like one” She would say, like there was a way baby Bolanle knew he was given a female name so he was obligated to act like one.
Momma was right though, Bolanle had a warm smile. When he sent a picture from his camp at the north before the war began, his smile still hadn’t change. Despite the unfavourable conditions of being a soldier, protecting millions of lives – he still had his warm smile on.
The picture came with a letter, telling us how much he had missed us and could not wait to return home.
Momma was expectant, flinching and turning each time she heard a knock on the door. But I knew things weren’t looking well at the north. The war waged on , the news headlines were not encouraging and there was recruitment of more soldiers. It didn’t seem like it would be over anytime soon, like a bad day that didn’t seem to end.
I hoped he would return home. I missed his company, I missed the warmth he always had around him whenever he was home. Momma was always happy, the four corners of our home seemed to light up whenever he was around.
The last time Momma flinched at the knock of the front door, before she wouldn’t move her muscles was the morning two army officials – the bearer of the bad news knocked at our door.
Bolanle died saving the country, saving a lot of people he had never even met. His remains were laid to rest and things never remained the same.
Momma would always lie in bed staring at his last photo of him now framed and easy to clutch, her fingers tracing his face. She was immune to the world’s problem, not because she didn’t care but because hers seemed a lot bigger than anything else out there.
She had lost her husband at a young age and she had lost Bolanle too. I saw deadness in her face each time I tried to feed her. She had lost hope, she was for a lack of a better word – depressed.
I wished I could save her, tell her things would be alright because she still had me, that together we could still be a team.
However, for some reasons I let her stay on her bed. I let her mourn her loss because I was never ready.
Perhaps I would be someday but not today.
SUSANAH OMOHUNOLA AJIBOYE
Salute to those who risk their lives everyday to protect millions of lives. This is dedicated to you.
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