Six months ago…
“I think she’s awake now, go and get the doctor.”
It was Yele’s voice. I tried to turn my head in the direction it came from, but my neck muscles protested vehemently. I needn’t have bothered; he was immediately at my side, concern written all over his handsome face. I was in hospital.
“Hello there. Thank God you’re awake. You scared us you know. How do you feel?”
I wanted to say something, anything. I wanted to ask him a million questions; I wanted to know if it was true that Bruno was no more. My tongue however felt as heavy as an ingot of lead and my chest hurt. Somehow the words stuck. So I looked into his eyes instead and he understood the question in mine.
Yele held my hands as he replied my wordless query.
“Yes he is Tami. As much as I wish it was all a nightmare, he really is gone. The doctors tried all they could but it wasn’t enough. I’m sorry.”
And he squeezed some warmth into my palms.
The door opened and the doctor came in, followed by Bruno’s sister Chinwe, the only other family I now had.
Yele’s voice kept resonating in my head. Bruno is dead, just like that? Too weak to deal with the weight of reality, I turned on my side and closed my eyes, shutting out the world again. Of what use was the world without my Bruno anyway?
Sleep soon brought its comforting arms.
Life could be cruel. One minute Bruno was upright and running, alive and in the best of health. The next and he was prone on the sidewalk, gone, snatched from me without notice. Death had found a way to snuff out his shining light.
If only I hadn’t suggested that early morning jog. The day before, I’d finally gotten confirmation that my delayed period was what I suspected it was. The excitement of that news carried overnight, and still buzzing with it early the next morning, I challenged him to a run. Of course it wasn’t the first time we jogged together, him being a fitness nut and all.
Something in the air around the paint manufacturing plant must have triggered his asthma, a particularly violent bout which struck with full venom from out of nowhere. He had his inhaler in his waist bag alright, but was too incapacitated to retrieve and use it. So I tried to help.
Honestly, I cannot say if it was panic that buttered my fingers or it was fate acting out the macabre script of her supreme fickleness. Inexplicably the inhaler fell from my grasp and I watched in horror as it rolled away from me, until it dropped through a gap in the pavement and disappeared into the gigantic drain below.
Everything happened so fast.
There was no entry point to the drain as far as the eye could see, and each concrete slab that covered its length weighed a ton. By the time a vehicle finally stopped to assist, he no longer had a pulse. I watched with tears in my eyes as Bruno died in my hands.
Today I felt it kick, for the very first time.
I had been washing dishes in the kitchen when I was suddenly overcome by a wave of dizziness, so I decided to lie down for a while on the sitting room couch to let it pass. It was while I was supine, relaxed, and in the company of my thoughts when the first kick came. It wasn’t painful, no, not at all. All I felt was surprise and joy and gratitude. My darling Bruno was trying to communicate.
And then it kicked again.
Yes, this time I touched it and clearly understood the message. Bruno’s voice, as endearing as ever spoke directly to my heart.