I held back tears as I stared. I’d been staring at a spot in the white ceiling for five hours. If that didn’t say anything about my state of mind, then nothing will. They said men don’t cry – bullshit! Men cry. And whenever they do, know that something had touched them deep in their souls.
One week, I’ve been crying for seven days straight, since the doctor gave me those words that disrupted my life and made me a sobering mess. Those words made me drink to sleep and wake only to repeat the process. Cry, drink, sleep, wake, repeat.
“I’m sorry. Your wife and unborn baby didn’t make it.”
Just remembering those words brought fresh tears to my eyes. What would I do without Amara, my friend, my confidant, my love, my wife?
Where would I be without her? What kind of cruel joke was the universe playing on me? We have been trying to conceive for two years. And now we finally got lucky, my beautiful wife had to die in labour.
I smashed the bottle of beer in my hand against the wall and it broke into pieces. Just like my heart.
“I need you,” I whispered to the picture I was holding.
It was a picture of Amara in black leather trousers and a blue crop top. She was wearing blue boots to match and holding a white coat in hand.
The picture was taken during our honeymoon in London and she was smiling so brightly. I sniffed. I would never see Amara smile again. Her smile would never light up my whole world again because she was gone. Gone.
I picked another picture. I knew I was torturing myself but I could not help it. I needed to keep staring at her pictures. I felt like I would go mad if I didn’t.
The second picture was of Amara and I. My hands were wrapped around her shoulders but I was staring at the photographer. She wasn’t.
She was staring at me and I could swear I still felt the love she was pouring into me through the picture. It was crazy, I knew it, but it wasn’t a new development.
I had always been crazy about Amara, ever since we met at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. I was a sophomore, but she – a freshman.
God. That was how long? Seven years ago. I knew Amara for just seven short years. I thought she would’ve been with me for the rest of my life. But no, she wasn’t even with me for half of it.
I can’t live without her. I won’t live without her. Coming to that conclusion, I decided to end it. To end the torture of living without my life. Yes, that was what she was. My life.
A knock sounded at the door but I ignored it. People had been knocking on my door for the past one week. To offer their condolences, I presumed.
I had ignored every knock as I didn’t need their condolences. I entered the kitchen, picked a knife and returned to the living room. I’d always longed to die beside my wife. But since that couldn’t happen, I would settle for dying beside her pictures I had scattered on the floor.
I closed my eyes and tears flowed down my cheeks. I wanted to picture how Amara had looked on our wedding day. I wanted to die with that picture in mind.
I raised the knife, and just as I was about to bring it down to my heart, I heard a familiar voice in the hallway. The person was talking to herself.
“We’ve left you alone for so long. You need to know you have people who care about you…”
I heard the door to the living room open and the voice trailed off.
I opened my eyes and stared into the shocked face of my mother. Her eyes moved from my face, to the littered bottles of beers on the floor, to the scattered pictures, to the knife in my hand, and back to my face.
“What are you doing?”She asked.
I said nothing. I just watched as several emotions flashed through her eyes. Shock, fear, sorrow, anger. She settled on anger.
“What were you trying to do?” She exploded and the bag in her hand dropped to the ground.
I still said nothing. Wasn’t it obvious what I wanted to do? Why did she have to come now that I wanted to end it? I had completely forgotten I gave her a spare key to our house the month before.
“Tell me you weren’t trying to kill yourself.”
Now her anger had switched to fear. “Nnamdi, tell me I’m not seeing well.”
“I can’t go on without her, mum. I need her.”I muttered in tears.
She crossed the room to stand before me. Then, as quietly as possible, she said,
“Give me the knife.”
I shook my head. “I need her,” I repeated.
“I know,” my mum said desperately. “We all need her. Please, the knife.”
“I want to see her again.”
“I know,” she sobbed.
“I want to see her again too. But killing yourself is not the solution. She wouldn’t want this for you.”
“I can’t go on. There’s nothing to live for anymore.”
“What about me?”
I blinked and just stared at her. What was she talking about? What about her?
She wiped her cheeks with her palm but tearing persisted. Her hand gripped me strongly by the arm.
“What about me? You would die and leave me behind?”She retorted again.
“You want to die and join Amara, huh?”She continued “Fine. If suicide is the solution we should all do it. Kill yourself. I’ll kill myself too because I cannot lose my only son. Then your father would kill himself because his wife and son would be gone. Then your sister would kill herself because all her family members will be dead. If the world goes on like that, everybody would be dead and burning in hell.”
“I love her,”I whispered hopelessly.
“We love you. Nnamdi, please give me the knife. Amara would not want you to kill yourself for her. That was how much she loved you. You have to live for her. You have to live twice as much as you did before, for her and yourself. Put yourself in her shoes and think about it.”Mum concluded with a pitiful glare at my swollen eyes. This weakened me.
I did as she asked. I thought about it. If I were dead and Amara was alive, I wouldn’t have wanted her to kill herself. I would want her to continue living her life. I would want her to treasure my memories but not let them hinder her life.
“I would have wanted her to..” I pondered on what I was just about to voice. If I were dead first, I would want her to join me in death. If there was love in the afterlife, it had to be her.
“Son?” Mum called.
“I would have wanted her to go on with life,” I whispered and released the knife in my hand. It clattered to the ground.
My mother smiled amid her tears and pulled me into her hands for a smothering hug.
I buried my face in her shoulders and wept.