Chapter 5: Shadows


Foot on the last step on the staircase, I knew I had to turn now and walk to the arrival gate where my aunt would be walking out shortly. My feet became heavier, as if I was dragging them in sand and I could feel my heart trying to fight off a pain emerging from within it. I could see the arrivals coming out of the gate and in no time there she was, pushing her suitcases on the trolley and I could see it on her face; I could see the agony, the defeat, the hurt, the disbelief. It was so overwhelming that I turned my body from her and almost broke into tears but remembered that she could not see me crying because that would tear her apart. I turned again and started walking towards her and now my mother had rushed to embrace her and help her to a bench. Like pushing against a gusting wind I found it so hard to get close to her. I ended up hiding behind a pillar from where she could see me and I could see her, it was the best I could do and being in the shadows felt better because the glare of reality was much overwhelming.

In time I saw her looking around and I knew she was looking for me. I met her gaze finally and my heart experienced a torrent of pain, in her eyes I could see it all yet in words I cannot put it……….No parent deserves the right to bury their child. None at all, and what I felt was a fate I would not wish even upon my worst enemy. Behind me was the departure lounge where just a few years before I had said goodbye to Oscar, and now he had come back not more than a memory. We spent an hour at the airport, waiting for Oscar to be cleared through customs and be ready for pickup at the cargo hangar. Finally the paperwork was done and we could go and pick him up. My mother and aunt went with the hearse while the rest of us went to our vehicles and followed. We went around the airport, through many security check points and finally reached the cargo hangar. The hearse reversed and parked right at the hangar door and I parked a distance away, so I could watch from the darkness. My mother and aunt went into the hangar and submitted the papers for the cargo to be released to the undertaker and while that was happening I became more aware of all the people who were around me. We now had been joined by Angela and Obrey, Oscar’s brother and sister. I had not seen the two in some years now and Angela came to greet me but it didn’t go past a necessary handshake.  Many words played in my head of the night when Oscar passed away for when the news reached us it also reached Angela and Obrey and Obrey accused us all of murdering Oscar. Words still echoing in my head, he called my mother, my sister Sandra, my aunt and spoke words no man should ever speak to another in a time of grieving. The darkness allowed me great calm for I did not want to be overrun with emotion. As I sifted through the words my attention was grabbed by the hangar doors opening. Soon enough a forklift came out and on its forks was a box, a box. After twenty four  years of life together, all that was left was a box. The undertaker opened the back door of the hearse and the forklift stopped a few steps from the car. The undertaker and airport staff then lifted the box off the forks and into the hearse. Obrey stood next to the hearse all this time and saluted the coffin as it went into the hearse, and I wondered from the darkness why?

My mother and aunt went into the hearse with the undertaker and the hearse started pulling out of the hangar area. I went into my car and followed as we were now taking him to the funeral parlor where he would spend the night. We arrived at the funeral parlor and as the hearse reversed towards a group of men waiting to receive Oscar, I parked my car and walked slowly towards the reversing hearse. As I saw my aunt and mother standing close to the hearse I tried to walk away but my aunt turned and walked after me. She grabbed my hand and hugged me and tears rushed to my eyes and I could not fight them. I cried and she cried too and for a moment I wanted all of this to be a dream because it was hurting too much. My mother approached us and touched my aunt on the shoulder as she was needed by the undertaker as they had to open the box to get the autopsy report, passport, birth certificate and national ID that had been put in the box with my brother. The papers were taken and the undertaker started making arrangements for burial two days later, Sunday morning.  Just after midnight was the time and I had no feeling of sleep. Time to leave came and parting words were said as the people who had accompanied us through this part of the journey were now returning to their homes. We drove on our way home, and I was dead silent with my parents and aunt following in the car behind me. Soon enough we arrived home and I parked and went to receive my aunt into the house. I took her bags as she was being greeted by some more people who had been waiting for her at my residence. My aunt entered the house and I showed her the room prepared for her. I left her for a bit and she returned after she had taken a bath and had had a change of clothes. I never imagined I would have to take such a role, to cover and hold a person who had been just as good as my mother to the point where I saw no difference between her and my own mother. Life felt so unfair in the moment as I went through my thoughts. I could feel all the memories of Oscar and I, the times we spent in the house we were in at the moment, the little steps of us racing in the passage when we were kids, to the noise we made with the radio as adults.  My aunt left her room to go to the lounge and she asked for my help to send messages to her friends in Auckland who would want to know she arrived safely. I took my tablet and sent the message for her, trying not to burden her with technology which I knew she was not entirely fond of. A fire had been started outside, no one wanted to sleep really; who could even if they tried?

All of the people in the house, not more than ten went to sit around the fire and we tried to talk about other things, even throwing jokes but the thought never departed. Just after two o’clock in the morning there was a power outage and everyone decided to try and get some sleep. We all retired into the house and I felt more at home in the darkness, where no shadows would pose reminders. I caught a bit of sleep, not more than two hours but sleep was not all that my mind pondered. Dawn came about and soon enough I could see the sun starting to come through my window. The funny thing about time is that it has no consideration for what you are going through, it keeps pacing through its steps even when you would want it to not reach a certain point in its progression for the sake of avoiding a reality you would rather live without facing. My alarm on my phone went off at seven o’clock and to no surprise there was already life outside, friends and relatives going up and about preparing for funeral attendees who would start arriving soon. I got out of bed and quickly made my bed, then quickly stepping out of my room to go a take a shower. I didn’t want to spend too much time in the shower because I would start thinking. I got out of the shower after a few minutes and got dressed, and instinctively I reached to grab my wallet but I could not find it where I usually put it. I looked around for it but I could not find it. I got my car keys and went to check my car and it was not there either. A chill came over me; I had lost my wallet with my driver’s license, national ID and bank card. Though the bank card was a simple call to get it canceled the other two pieces were difficult. Insult to injury perhaps but I decided to go back to all the places I had been the previous night to see if I could find the wallet; from the air port arrival gate to the cargo hangars and then all the way to the funeral home but clearly I had lost my wallet. I felt a sense of defeat, you know how when faced with so much there is that one thing that just sends you over the edge. As I sat in my car outside the funeral home, my last stop in my search for my wallet I put my face on my steering wheel and almost cried a river. Words can never express the feeling of wanting this to not be your share, for it to pass, for everything to just be a figment of your imagination.

I pushed my keys into the ignition and started the car, putting the gear into reverse and pulling out of the parking lot. I was going home now, my thoughts focusing more and more on the fact that I would be back here in a few hours. I got home and found that some guests had already arrived.  I went around greeting some of them and trying to find out what had been done and what I could help out with. To my surprise I was not needed at all, everything was taken care of and that left me a prisoner of my thoughts since there was nothing else better to do than think of all that was happening. That day was a bit different in that I felt alone, no comfort of friends and for some reason I preferred it that way. Late morning turned to afternoon and some expected but not really welcome in my book guests arrived. They were the relatives of my late brothers’ dad. His dad passed away not too long before but he had not been a part of my brothers’ life since he was a kid.

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Chapter 4: Missing Person’s


Gaps of time make the progression of emotions and thoughts settle like dust after the passing of a raging sand storm. I had a full week and it had certainly felt like i would not have confrontation in any form at the end of the week. Well, at least i believed within myself that all of the things that had transpired thus far had been at most a pigment of my over imaginative brain. I had found sleeping easier and thinking was not as hard as it was when the shock of Oscar’s death hit me. I had no work that week and i spent most of my days sifting through memories and comforting myself that the worst was over. A lot of paper work had been sifting through my email as i helped plan Oscar’s repatriation so he could be buried back home and it was a constant reminder that the dream i was wishing away was not going anywhere. It was the kind of experience you get on a clock you want to tick towards the future and at the same time not tick towards the future, a bitter sweet symphony so to speak. In all things one statement held truth “time waits for no one!”, I got the text message i did not want to see from my aunt; “boarding the flight now, he has been loaded into cargo. See you tomorrow”. He was now on his way, i had sent him off with a hug a smile and a hope, a hope to seem him prosper and realize his dream and all that returned to me was a box, a box! Hell lies intrinsic in the gifts of Eden.

Thursday night was my last night of real sleep and i chose to use it wisely, early night to try and get as many seconds out of the night as possible. Dawn started coming about and i found sleep evaporating from me like it was being pursued by a raging in-law with blood shot eyes. Soon enough the sun was coming through my window and i could feel warm air starting to circulate around me. “Why :(” i asked myself, trying to think why all of this had happened but unlike the time when Belana passed away, I felt pain but a great peace as well. When Belana passed away i was angry, hurt, I was a heart oozing blood and a mind pacing around in a mindless rage trying to make sense of things and in the end blaming the one person i could blame, God! I wish i had the peace i had now when Belana passed, it would have made the eight months of my pure shutdown better than they where. I got out of bed and walked to the kitchen to meet mom, as i walked into the kitchen i was greeted by what i wanted to hear “they will be arriving in Dubai in the next 6 hours.” I hanged around mom for a bit, but there wasn’t much conversation because we could not talk  without getting emotional and though i could hold my tears at times she could not at all and it tore me asunder to watch her cry. The tears of a mother are bearable when they are tears of joy, not tears of burying a child because no parent holds the right to bury their own child. I left the kitchen to go outside as it was starting to be a hive of activity. People where up and about preparing for the funeral, tents being set up on the lawn lots of people just carrying stuff and moving stuff. I did not care much to see what they where doing, at most i was just glad they where there because it made everything easier. Soon enough three tents had been pitched up by ten o’clock and i drove out to get chairs for people to sit from a relatives house. My dad accompanied me, I guess the fear of losing another child was not one to entertain for my parents. As i drove, each turn i took and every road i drove on had a memory of my brother and I. Times at night walking home half drunk, or being chased by dogs, or afternoon walks. It was a strong dose of memory lane with a vital component missing, him!

I returned with the chairs and quickly went out again, this time i was buying drinks and meat that was requested by my mother. I drove to a nearby whole seller and picked up drinks and mineral water and loaded it into the trolley i was pushing. As i got to the payment point i took out one of the drink packs and put it on the counter. The drinks where the same and i simply had to take one out and count the number of the rest and i should have been good. However i encountered a cocky and rude till operator who near got a blast of all my bottled emotions. She said “You have to take them all out or else you can stand there and i will not process your purchase.” I moved from a straight face to a frowned face within a second and i almost leaped onto her to tear her to shreds. I asked her “they are all the same, why do i have to take all of them out when you can scan one and multiply buy the number in my trolley”. She looked at me with the “you idiot” face and i just near broke my banks wanting to pull her tongue, smash it with a hammer and shove it back into her mouth. Gosh I got so infuriated within 5 seconds and it scared me to bits. I quickly caught myself as i could not fight stupid with stupid and just pulled all the drink cartons out for her to scan and then put them back into the trolley. The till operator clearly just pushed a wrong button that day, and it made me realize the amount of emotional anguish i was under. I paid and pushed the trolley to my car, offloaded the drinks into my car and then taking a moment to breath as i really had just experienced anger i had put away from me a long time ago. Grief as i discovered has a way of bringing past vipers back to life. After a breather i got into my car and drove home and luckily i got home as lunch was being served. I had not had a solid meal in weeks as i lacked much resolve to eat. I ate like a savage beast, much to my surprise and up until today i am thankful i did. I kept thinking to myself what i was going to do in a few hours when he would be in front of me and there would be no place to hide. Inescapable fate is a terrifying host and truth of the matter i wanted this cup to pass from me but how could it, he was my brother! The day cruised by faster than usual and soon enough it was time to start preparing to head to the airport. I went into the bathroom to freshen up, looking at myself in the mirror and thinking this cannot be real. Oscar, you know Oscar; the guy who was one year older than i was and we had been together since before nappies and after nappies. I tried to look into the mirror, a mirror mirror in the wall incident i guess; trying to see if all this was a form of madness embedded within the mirror and if i looked hard enough i would wake up from the trance. No matter how hard i tried, this was surely no dream, it was happening and i could not change it, i could not stop it and i could not fix it. A knock at the bathroom door broke my wandering mind, “Corey, are you almost done in there?” It was my mom, and i know she wasn’t waiting she use the bathroom as she has her own. I opened the door and went back to the mirror, “keeping tabs on me now mom?” I could tell that these where the subtle beginnings of a leash as they could not lose another son. I turned to look at her and smile as i walked out of the bathroom, smiling was becoming such an effort. I got dressed; jean, sneakers, shirt and hooded sweater, nothing special but almost my daily dress code. I left my room and went to get some cash from the safe, i had forgotten to go to the bank and needed some cash for airport parking and any other expenses i would meet. As i walked from the safe down into the passage i met my dad who was already dressed and ready. I could not imagine what he was going through, he was never one to talk and i doubt the past weeks would be anything to talk about after he lost Godfrey, his closest friend for decades and now Oscar. The sun was just setting now and the time was half past five. The plane was due to land at six o’clock and it was time we made our way as we had to fight traffic since it was a work day as well and noise from rush our traffic was filling the air. As i got into my car, again i asked myself “is this real?”.

As i reversed the car out of the garage, my parents also entered their car as well as family members who were escorting us. Boy, do i wish i had some of my friends with me that day but they could not be with me, i had the final stretch to myself. I gave my parents way and they drove out first and i followed the rest of the pack. It was a short drive to the airport after dodging a few streets clogged by traffic. Twenty minutes later we were pulling into the airport parking bays and got out of my car and rushed to check the flight chart to see if the flight was coming in on time. I stood there with a bit of shock but better more relief, the flight had been delayed by an hour. My parents arrived as I was just leaving the chart and saw the delay. My mother turned to me, “Where are you going now?”, i turned to look at her as i walked in reverse “going to enjoy the view of the runway”. Even so that was not my intention, I was going to sit at the outdoor bar overlooking the main runway because if all was quiet i could hear the aeroplane coming in before i could see it. I sat there for a few minutes and my cousin sister Faith who had just arrived joined me. She didn’t have much words and i guess talking wasn’t part of my repertoire at this time.  Time passed by as i sat there, the same thoughts and disbelief running through my head. While i was absorbed in thought a distant sound broke my wandering ways, something was coming but it sounded like it blades and not engines, i looked towards the edge of the run way and Faith asked “what is it?” I looked at her and pointed at what was now a distant light but it was too slow to be an aeroplane, then two more lights suddenly came into sight and the noise grew more. They were helicopters, the President was coming in. I looked at them all the way until they landed with no thought in mind, i just looked! They turned off their engines and soon enough the airport was back to a dead calm. Twenty minutes later another noise caught my attention, this time it was the sound of engines and i stood up to get a better look. Seconds later lights beamed from the sky towards the runway and i knew the Emirates flight from Dubai had arrived. The noise grew as the aeroplane drew closer to the runway and subsequently landed. I stood, frozen in time as if a twenty one gun salute was in progress. The aeroplane taxied on the runway and then off the runway and i came into full sight of it as it slowed down to park. I looked at the plane, i stood there and looked at it; acknowledging that my aunt and Oscar were on board, the biggest hurt of my life had just landed on home soil. The aeroplane came to a full stop on the side of the airport where i could not get a view of it. I turned and started walking towards the arrival lounge. A restaurant overlooked the arrival lounge and i could get a glimpse of my aunt. I got to the restaurant and found that people had just started trickling in from the aeroplane. I stood there, searching for my aunt, seeing how reality was quite frankly molding itself from my nightmares. She was right, absolutely right; my aunt just a week before had said i would not be prepared for the pain and anguish i would face the day i meet him. He just wasn’t there anymore, part of me wasn’t there and no person help fill the gap, i just had to feel this and find a way to  live with it. I could feel a song playing in my head and i slowly started to sing it:

Missing person’s in the window
Staring at me
Saying things I cant hear
A missing person’s in the window
Staring at me
Haven’t seen them in years

Chapter 3: Take Two


Though I had started work again to kill time, the week had not started well at all. Oscar had passed away but that was the calm before the storm as I waited for him to come home, a dear uncle of mine Godfrey who had been fighting lymphoma for most of his life had now been hospitalized. Godfrey had been my dad’s closest friend from since I can remember and a father to me since I was a kid. He always used to buy me chips each time I visited his house and took me wherever he went with his son. He was a sound person, stuck to his values and lived the law to the book. How could he not, he was one of the greatest lawyers to ever grace our country. He had been admitted to hospital on the weekend before I went back to work and his situation was deteriorating. In all my confusion and denial I had not taken time to go and see him. The Wednesday of that week found me having found resolve to go and visit him during eleven o’clock visiting hours. As I put my desk in order to leave the office for the visit I got a text message from my mom, “Uncle Godfrey Has passed away.” I sat back trying to think why this was happening really, first Oscar and now Uncle Godfrey; it just wasn’t fair! I just called it a day at work and went home to be with my parents. Soon enough we left to go to my uncles house to pass our condolences to his wife and family. I remember sitting at the back of the car as we made our way, thinking how unfair life was, this season death was in our household. We got to my deceased uncles residence and went in, greeting crying people along the way. Ray, his oldest son had managed to come back from school abroad a day before his father passed away. We had not seen each other for 2 years and to see each other under such circumstances was not at all ideal. He knew Oscar too and was deeply shocked by the news but with his father’s passing I would not have blamed him for not focusing on it too much. I did not know whether to cry or to just crawl under a rock somewhere as the situation proved a bit too much for a human being. Of all things I regretted not being able to see him before he died, part of me was stuck in a loop because of my brother but for a man so important to me I should have made time to see him before he passed away. It’s an uneasy situation, without defense or justification; just the element of human nature that gets easily overcome by emotions of grief. We left the house just after ten o’clock at night having discussed all the preparations for burial. However a situation had now presented itself that was horrid in nature. Oscar was due to arrive on Friday for burial on Sunday and now we had to travel out of town, some two hundred kilometers to bury Godfrey on Saturday of the same weekend. I doubted that we could do 2 funerals in one weekend and the mere concept of it horrified me. I spoke to mom in the morning and she too felt it was not achievable yet it was unavoidable. Strangely my aunt called with some bad news as she would have termed it. “We are no longer coming on Friday, the booking agent mixed up the flights. They booked the body for flight on Friday but forgot me! We have re-booked and will be arriving next week Friday.” We almost breathed a sigh of relief as it meant we could just have one funeral this weekend.


I went to Godfrey’s house Thursday night with my dad. The morgue was bringing his body to his residence to spend the night before he was to be transported to his burial place in his rural home which was about 200 kilometers out of town. I remember the hearse arriving and backing into the yard and remembered all too well that the most painful moment for me was still to come. His casket was beautiful, didn’t expect any less from one as wealthy as he was and as it was carried into the house i just remembered evidently how short life can be at times. I spent the better part of the evening talking with Ray, all i could sense from him were moments of regret, wishing he had spent more time with his dad. He had wanted to come home to visit on each semester break but his dad told him to stay abroad until he was done studying. I guess in all things Godfrey would have regretted not giving him and his son that chance but in all things i knew he loved his son dearly and as stubborn as he was as a father it should never have been interpreted as lack of affection for his children. Godfrey’s wife called me over and asked me to take one of Godfrey’s cars and go and pick up a lady at the shopping center near by. I had no objection to it so i got the keys and drove to the shops. After many trials to contact the person I was suppose to pick up i failed to achieve anything. Ray called for me to come back towards the house to pick him up so he can help me. I did so and soon enough he was in the car with me and we scoured the shopping center but failed to find the person. We returned home empty handed and were greeted by a nasty surprise. I disembarked from the vehicle before it was parked because the garage was a tight fit to get out of if you were on the passenger side and man in his mid thirties approached me and said “you two should not play with that car!” I turned to look at him in shock, i starred him down in the eyes and said “Best you shut up if you don’t know whats going on. My aunt sent me in that car to pick up someone who i failed to find and thus i am back. There is nothing special about that car, here are keys to my car parked right there and i could have driven it without a moments notice. I have no need to play with cars as if i don’t have one. Best you step away and go sit by the fire or something because your mindless comment has just irritated the hell out of me.” My dad heard my response and called my name, he didn’t want me to come to him but he wanted me to back away. If at all he knew how very irritable i was of late. I left the man standing in quite a shock and Ray had a huge grin on his face, i think he enjoyed the show! I could understand clearly what was going on, Godfrey was dead and as sad as elements of lazy people in our culture were, people where already thinking of what they were going to be given off the estate. My culture dictates that each relative of significance gets an item from the deceased. Whether it be a car, or clothing or whatever, it became evident to me that people where now thinking of the succession run more than of thinking of burying my beloved uncle. I nodded my head in disbelief, just looking at Godfrey’s cars, none of them where cheap on purchase or maintenance and i began to wonder why people where rather childish in wanting to attain items they could not maintain. I laughed to myself, “laziness at its best”  but i knew deep down Godfrey was one calculated man! He had a will and i am pretty sure the will would not tolerate people intentions for succession. Time would break peoples hearts without a doubt and i knew i was in for a laugh! He had 2 son’s and a wife, one of the sons just barely a year old and in all seriousness they should keep the deceased estate after all he did work for their upkeep.

It got late and i left the residence with my dad. We drove home at a boring pace, discussing peoples actions especially on the issue of succession. My dad knew the deal and all he could say was “all these relatives are in for a very nasty surprise, He had a will and it is not pretty!” We got home and i dashed off to bed instantly. I needed to wake up early and meet up with Ray as we had to drive to a school out of town to pick up one of our cousins who Godfrey had been paying tuition fees for. It would not have been right for him not to attend the funeral. I met up with Ray and drove to school, it was not a great distance and we debated how we would tell him. In the end Ray just said “Just tell him he is wanted at home. Don’t tell him my dad has passed away, try to smile and act natural!” We found him and got him released from the school. We talked in the car like nothing was at fault, I felt sorry for whoever would have to break the news to the poor guy. Ray dropped me at home and continued with our cousin to Ray’s house where inevitably the news would be spilled. Thankfully i would not be there!

My Friday was lazy, quite lazy but we were due to transport Godfrey’s body to its resting place that day. My dad left early to go and process all the transport arrangements as well as as buy all the food for the funeral. As i was accompanying my father to Godfrey’s rural home i had the very dubious honor of driving the car that carried the food! The shopping list from the relatives of the deceased was at all ridiculous, twelve dozen loves of bread (who eats so much bread?) and the list ragged on. My dad applied common sense and cut some of the things as he shopped for the items and around five in the evening on the Friday the car was fully packed and i was in the drivers seat braving a dangerous road that was not advisable to drive at night! My dad, well like the food was a passenger and gosh was he drinking. I lost count of how many lagers he downed on the three and a half hour trip. Its nice i guess to have a driver in such situations. I got us to Godfrey’s village home where he would be buried next to his mother and father safe. The hearse had arrived moments before i did as well as all the funeral guests and relatives. It was just after ten o’clock at night as i backed up the car into my parking spot and pulled out the sleeping bag.  I had not anticipated how cold Godfrey’s rural home was, it was one step closer to a fridge! I struggled to get much sleep because of the cold but found a few ounces of it. I woke up and warmed myself at a large fire that had been built and found myself just wondering around. Morning came about gracefully and I helped Ray and a bunch of other guys set up the public address system that was going to be used during the funeral procession. I was called by my dad as i finished my task to take the car and drive ten kilometers to a shopping center to buy soft drinks as the ones he had bought seemed not enough. I did as he asked and soon enough i was back. I got back in time to hear the last few speeches and the best of them all was by a old man called Wonder who knew my dad and Godfrey. “I wish Godfrey’s children would inherit this mans brains, he was very intelligent. I also wish that these children do not inherit his stinginess, this man was very stingy same with his best friend (my dad). He was a Bateleur Eagle, he would never drop his feather for someone else to pick up”. I remember the wave of laughter that erupted at the funeral, it was funny and true, those 2 were quite stingy and i guess that stuck them together as friends.

As speeches ended body viewing started and i went with Ray to see Godfrey. Its funny when you look in retrospect and you realize that most of these things we fuss over in life are not so important as life itself yet in our ignorance we place such importance on them. Body viewing ended and the burial started. He was carried to the grave and was put on the stand that would lower him slowly into the grave. As he started going down in the grave i was so easily reminded about how i am not crying now but in a week to come i would be in tears. There was great song and cheer as people celebrated the person they called their hero. In all truthfulness, he was stingy but he had helped a lot of people in different ways. I guess as people we measure stinginess with respect to ones material wealth but should we not also see what he does outside of his wealth because i believed Godfrey was more giving than most at his age or on his position in society.  He settled at the bottom of the grave and soon enough the sand started being shoveled in. Again i was reminded, inevitable as it was. The grave filling soon enough was done and Godfrey had finally rested. The lawyers who worked with Godfrey had arrived with the last will in testament in hand . I smelt fire and ash in the atmosphere and with good foresight they refused to read the will in public. People mentioned in the will where requested to come to the lawyers office for its final reading. The funeral was over after that, and I mad my way back home. My dad took the car so he could return his mother to her home which was quite close to where we were and so i had to use one of the hired buses to find my way home. It was no problem, just a bit longer on the road than if it were me driving but i had enough to think about so driving probably would not have been best. After three hours i was back in the city and i got a taxi to take me home, I got home and immediately went to bed as i was dead tired. My dad arrived hours later and i knew i would see him in the morning so there was no need for me to wake up. Morning came and my dad and I found ourselves cleaning the car we used as well as the cooler boxes we had used during the funeral. It takes moments like those to realize how love is important and I was reminded that my dad though he still lives could one day be in the same boat and i must appreciate him together with my mom so i do not have regrets.We shared with my mom the proceedings of the funeral and passed the day sitting outside in the sun. This was better than solitary confinement because Oscar’s thought was one that was very painful to bare.

Chapter 2- Last Touch


It was a plain Sunday, morning at church with the more than usual chat with Adrian after the eight o’clock service. In all remembrance what we had discussed during our lengthily chat had never seemed more real than it did just hours later. I was getting ready to go to bed, Monday morning would bring with it the stresses of work and the joys of a damsel. I was just about to hit the shutdown button on my computer when I heard cries coming from the lounge. I imagined my mother had tripped and fallen so I got out of my chair and rushed to the lounge to try and help her. As I walked into the lounge I did not find her lying on the ground at all but I found her with tear filled eyes emerging from the unlit dining room. She had her phone in her hand and she was struggling to breath and speak at the same time. She thrust her phone into my hands, “talk to your aunt.” I took the phone and started inquiring on what had agitated my mother and my aunt didn’t waste time telling me what had happened. “Hi Corey, Oscar was involved in a car accident an hour ago, he hit a pole and died on the spot.” I froze in an instance of time, perhaps it was a dream I could wake up from or a passive state of hypnosis. She asked if I was on the line as I had gone dead silent and all I could say was “aha I am”. She carried on, “I have to go now, police are still here so I have to go and talk to them.” She hung up and I put the cell phone down. My mom was pacing up and down the lounge in tears of disbelief. I tried to calm her down, get her to sit down and breath but it proved so hard as she was now locked in a world of her own. After much effort she sat down. I went into the dining room to get her cell phone so I could call my dad, “Can you come home now, it’s important. I can’t tell you over the phone, just drop everything and come home now.” The man didn’t argue with me, ten minutes later he would be at the gate. I speed dialed my sister in Chicago next and asked her to sit down, “Oscar was involved in a car accident, he hit a pole and died on the spot.” She erupted into tears and that forced me to an inch of tears myself as I tried to calm her down. After a few minutes she had calmed down enough for me to hang up and try my brother in Atlanta but the phone would not get through. Intuitively I knew my sister would beat me to it so I left it alone. I went back to sit with my mother who had started though I was evidently void of words myself. She continued to say “you have hit my sister where it hurts, he was the one with whom our hopes resided and now he is gone.” Dad had now parked the car and I stood to meet him as he came into the house. I took the car keys from him and told him the news, I can still remember the look of confusion on his spectacled face. He held his head in disbelief as he walked into the house and sat next to my mother. They all started crying and I became overwhelmed with two people crying as all I could do was sit and watch. I would have never imagined I would face this day at such a young age. I moved away and went to my room anticipating I would cry but tears did not come out. My sister called me back, just updating me she had managed to pass on the message to my brother in Georgia and he was not taking it at all well. Perhaps it was all a dream, but that could not be, after Belana it could not be! Life like a deck of blinding cards with a trailing Ace of spades rushed across my eyes as nothing appeared to make any sense yet the undoubted fact was that death had taken that which is dear to me again. I went back to the lounge and sat to talk to my parents, “Shall we call grandma or tell her in person tomorrow?” The question had to be asked, and I couldn’t avoid it! “We can’t tell her now, she won’t make it through the night, your father and I will go and get her tomorrow morning and explain in person.” I couldn’t object, it was not my place to tell her and I do not think I would survive her initial shock since mine had not settled in. I got the cell phone and called my cousin brother down in South Africa, “Jay, you at home? You sitting down? Ok, Oscar had a car accident, he hit a pole and died on the spot.” The eerie silence really did crumble my spine to pieces, “Jay??”. He opened his mouth but his shock was too great, “have you told my mom?”. I hadn’t, I couldn’t. How do you tell a mother she has lost her son even if you are one of her sons? “I didn’t Jay, I am not going to until tomorrow where I go and pick her up in the morning and bring her here. Don’t tell her please, she is alone right now and she won’t have a shoulder to lean on.” Jay agreed and I ended the call. Mom and dad had now retired to their room and there is nothing much I could do, at least mom was calm. Time went by and I heard my dad’s cell phone ring, he answered and it was Jay’s mother crying on the phone. I didn’t expect any different, I knew he would tell her, I just hoped she could hold it together until she was with the rest of the family. Lights switched off and dreams tried to come but I heard the deafening cries of memory lane parading down the passage and all around me. I am one who knew and was always known for not being confused but that night I felt so alone and confused. I found no sleep, Oscar was gone, how could I sleep? An hour before he died he had driven up a hill and taken a picture of the police station close to where he stayed, he posted the picture on Facebook and wrote “Quiet day on the Shore for NZs finest”. I was online when he posted the picture and part of me wanted to tell him to go home as it was late but I wasn’t too bothered, wanted him to enjoy himself so I let him be. Little did I know that was the last contact I would have with him, those micro-seconds it took to post the picture and for me to see it and smile. There was something about that picture, that reminded me of all the times we went out and sat under the moonlight thinking about all our problems and dreams. We were worlds apart but for the moment I saw that picture it felt as if he was right next to me.

Morning found me having found no sleep, I had dropped an email to work saying I would not be in for a week. My director was understanding, perhaps he understood the bond I had with Oscar, perhaps he didn’t but he allowed me time. Everyone woke up but the mood of the house was toxic, there was so much grief up and about the place one only had to light a match for it to kill us all. Mom would burst into tears without warning making comforting her a constant feat. I could feel tears creeping on me but I fought them back, gosh I fought them fiercely. I could not cry in front of mom, I had to be strong so she would cry. If both of us cried it would have finished her off. Mom and dad left to go and pick grandma and I had time to go on the internet. I found the news article and it broke me to pieces when I read it though I didn’t cry:

“A 26-year-old Glenfield man died in a crash in Milford early this morning. Oscar Griffith’s car struck a pole just after 3am at the intersection of Kitchener Rd and Shakespeare Rd. He was the sole occupant of the car. Police …………………………

I couldn’t read on as I covered my mouth, my worst fears had been confirmed, it was him. I had hoped to see a different name on the report but it was my brother. I pushed back into the chair with no words to say, just two years before I had buried Belana and now I had to bury one closer to me than Belana. “Where were you going, what were you doing, how did you die?”, I spoke to myself having my words cut off with the sound of the car pulling in. My parents where back. I left my room and made my way through the house until I got to the front door. I opened it and went out to the car to meet my grandma, she broke into a cry I could and will never forget. One over the age of 70 should never have to experience such and I felt her grief. I helped her out of the car and walked with her one step at a time. After some time she asked me to let her go as she walked into the house, I released her and attended to her bags. It became excruciating to pass by her because every time I did she would cry. Oscar and I were so alike, we dressed the same, spoke the same, looked the same and for every moment she saw me she would see him. I ended up hiding so she would not cry, what could I do really! The day went past with phones ringing as the news now spread to every relative and friend of the family. Some relatives started trickling in to pay their respects and among them was Jay’s mother. She cried like I had never seen her do, worse when I finally walked in to see her. All I could do was keep quiet, I didn’t have the words. I was a problem in the house, Oscar and I looked alike, dressed alike and acted alike so much that one only had to see one of us to know both of us. I hid in my room for a better part of the day because every time I passed by someone would start crying! People where pouring in ferociously to pay their respects and to keep everything sane I hid. Night time found more people coming, close to fifty as there was a church service starting just after dark. I got a coat and went outside to my dad who had summoned me through a text message. There were so many cars outside that my dad and I had to stand watch to make sure none are stolen. As I paced about outside in the dark my phone rang and the caller ID said it was Adrian. As I answered my father called me and I had to ask him to call me back in a few minutes which he punctually did. When he called back I had walked a considerable distance away from my dad and the household and we started talking. He asked all the questions a person would ask “What happened, You ok? e.t.c” As I spoke to him I looked up into the sky and saw the moon out but more importantly I saw three stars in the sky Oscar and I had named together. As I spoke I broke down into tears, I didn’t expect Adrian to have anything to say really, one with unending words in such a situation has never experienced grief. I tried to pull back the tears but unlike when Belana died where I cried and managed to stop the tears there was a river coming out and I could not stop it. I am sure Adrian had heard of me crying once in my life time but today perhaps he knew after all that people’s perceptions that I have no heart or emotion where wrong. The moon made every memory of Oscar race through my mind and I could not stop crying. “Have you told anyone Corey? Is there anyone I can tell?”, Adrian asked. I had not told anyone outside of him I thought and I am sure there were people who wanted to know so it only made sense if they knew so I told him to tell anyone of significance to me. Phone calls started pouring in but the most unbearable was the one from Cris, I had never wanted her to hear me in tears and when she answered I was still struggling to put a cap on the tears. I paced about outside, hearing the people singing in the house trying to imagine how all this had come to be, how my older brother had just died! Songs also take a different meaning when someone passes away and the news always seemed to catch me in the middle of a song. The song by One Republic called Missing Persons took a different meaning that day. It was the song I was listening to when I got the phone call and it was playing in my head all day and all night long, same beat and part like a broken record. It had almost become a case of repetitive association based on circumstances that were similar due to a near identical occurrence in the not so distant past. Not so long back I could not stand the Cemeteries of London track by Cold Play as it was the song I was listening to when I got the call about Belana. As I paced about outside the song was on repeat on my iPod and it had at most become a medium through which all the emotion and state of confusion I was in could be experienced at the mere pressing of a button.

I spent about 2 hours outside, cold winter night but certain things don’t matter if you look in retrospect. People started leaving the house and getting into their cars, it was late and they had families to go back to. At least for them the grief could be left at the gate but for my family we ate dinner with it, slept with it, bathed with it and tried to live day after day with it. Soon enough most guests had left and I could enter the house without too much attention coming my way. I found something to eat and then left everyone to try and get some sleep. No matter how hard I tried I could not avoid revisiting the news article to check again if indeed the person mentioned there was my brother. however no matter how many times I tried, it was certainly not changing and one truth was remaining, he was gone! I managed to dose off eventually, getting a few decent hours of sleep and in a sense trying to nurture my non acceptance of the issue. It couldn’t be true, seriously it just couldn’t. I woke up at four o’clock in the morning as sleep had near evaporated at that point. As I checked my emails I found myself trying to search for more information on Google. I was however not prepared for what Google was going to return. I found an article from a news agency in Auckland and I opened the article in the back ground of the emails popping in my face. I finally reached the article and a severe chill went through everything inside me. The article had a picture of the crash, time paused for a good three minutes as I just paused looking at the picture. I didn’t need to read the article, I knew the car, the registration plates, the color; it was the car and the car was near wrapped around the traffic light pole. The car smashed into the pole on the driver’s door and in the instance I dug deeper into my imagination as I processed the picture I could see my brother as the accident happened. I stood up and quickly rushed to the door to lock it; pressing and turning the key with one hand as I wiped my face with the other as I now had tears streaming down my face. I am not one to cry, at most people who know me seemed to think I was inhuman, incapable of feeling. However every man has a breaking point and surely mine had been found in the ones I love. I cried trying not to make noise as my mother would hear me. I looked at the picture over and over, asking “where were you going Oscar, where were you going?” I cried for a few minutes, I knew I needed it but something in the inside of me wanted this to all be a joke. Mom woke up and as she opened her door and walked into the passage I wiped the tears off and closed the picture, she could not see it! She knocked at my door and I opened for her. She came in wanting to see how I had slept, I smiled and said “I slept ok mom!”. Lying is a sin, don’t I know that all too well but I could not look at her and tell her about the crash picture. That would send her into a depression state I could not pull her out if. She left my room and I followed her to the kitchen, grabbing a bowl of cereal and just talking. It did not take Doctor Phil to see that there was so much pain flying around the house. But we had to remain sane or else we would bury more than one person. The days passed, each day we fought to process paper work to have the body repatriated home and to have my aunt come home. In just under a week we had managed to fix all the paper work for the body, my aunts papers where however taking longer. My week off ended and I found myself at work trying to get back into the rhythm of my computer programming life but I could hardly concentrate. I would find myself wandering off and at times fighting away tears. My aunt and Oscar would only arrive on the Friday and I would while up time at work. But like an unreal tournament game where you are left dazed by such a horrid onslaught, the week did not end well.

Chapter 1- Dreaming Reality (Prologue)


Most days come with an expectation, you expect a day to be boring or fun, you can expect a lot of things in a day but hurt is the last thing one would ever expect. The rising sun sending its gaze into my room assured me that I had managed to get into the day and I had to face that which was to come. It was certain, the flight had left Auckland with both of them on board the day before and I expected only one reality, that the moment the wheels of the aeroplane touch the ground, my pain will begin. No man is immune to grief, whether through the passing of a tear or through the hardening of one’s heart, grief is unique per individual yet common across all men. The day went with preparations taking place, tents being set up in the yard and caterers arriving, it was going to be a long weekend.

The sun was setting just after five o’clock. I prepared, putting on warm clothing, getting some cash from the safe and trying to assure myself that in all things I will have the strength to pull through. Mom and dad were now prepared and we boarded separate cars to proceed to the airport. Part of a small convoy I found myself drifting down memory lane, trying to find a memory to live in that would not evaporate in the dense heat of reality. Arriving at the airport, I walked around looking for information on the flight, to my surprise I found that the flight had been delayed by an hour. I certainly would not drive back home, neither would my parents or the others accompanying us. I lingered around the airport, trying to while time, trying to find out why I could not wake up from this dream but in all things reality was even more present than my imagination could thwart. An hour passed like a flash and soon my ears could hear the near silent distant thunder of incoming jet engines. In the distance where bright lights with red blinking strobes on the side. The Emirates flight had finally arrived! It touched down on the far side of the runway and taxied to the docking port. As it taxied I looked at the size of the plane, majestic it was with a almost god like aura. “After 4 years, you come back to me like this!”, I said to myself.

I got off the balcony overlooking part of the runway and went into the airport lobby. From there I could  go to a restaurant I could get a bird’s eye view of the arrival lounge. Passengers started getting off the plan and through a series of security checks, doors and stairs, found their way into the arrival lounge. I looked trying to find her, it had been 7 years without seeing her in person. I would expect to be forgiven if I had forgotten what she looked like. After a number of minutes I found her, clad in a white blouse and black skirt she was waiting at the conveyor belt for her suitcase. She now had some white hair, old age visits all of us at some point. The distance between us made it easier, but I never imaged I would be meeting her again under such circumstances. Her suitcase finally came into her sight and she grabbed it and proceeded to customs to get cleared. I left the restaurant to proceed to the arrival gate where she would come out from. I could feel tears building up inside me but I kept walking on. As I turned the last corner I saw her coming out the gate, my mom and some relatives rushed to greet her. The short moment I had seen her face made my emotions surge inside me as I almost broke into tears. My aunt and cousin who had been following me all along touched my shoulders and I felt myself calming down. As I got closer to where she was I felt the urge to cry, every step became heavier and in the end I hid behind a pillar close by. I could see her and she could see me too but I could not get close to her, I couldn’t even greet her! We waited at the arrival gate for an hour, waiting for cargo papers to be cleared so we could proceed to the Cargo Handling Services hangar where he would be. Papers were cleared and stamped and the hearse had also arrived. We left the airport to go to the cargo hangars, a five minute drive without regarding the numerous stops along the way for security searches. Soon enough we had arrived at the hangar and the undertaker had proceeded in to get the last pieces of paperwork signed and stamped. Within minutes the hangar doors were opened and a forklift came out, on its forks was my worst fear. He was here, after all these years, after sending him off he came back to me in a box. I couldn’t stand close, I was a distance away but I could see everything. I had never imagined in all my years that the day I sent you off, hugs and all was the last time I would see my brother alive. He was loaded into the hearse and I turned to go to my car, fighting back tears and trying not to fall apart. I couldn’t do that with my parents and aunt around me, I still hadn’t even found the strength and resolve to greet my aunt since she landed. We drove away from the airport, towards the morgue where he would spend the night.