The sun hides behind the clouds, and nearby trees sway to the whistle of a gentle breeze.
I look around, as nature reminds me of the day I first saw her. The heavens, that day, looked heavy, waiting for a release. Then I was a shy twenty-one year old; she was eighteen, and thorough. She needed help locating the admissions office, and though I had a class I was already late for, I led the way to her destination.
We remained silent as we walked. “What’s your name?” I managed to ask, as I made to leave the admissions office.
“Ronke.” she had replied, with a smile. “English Language, 100 level.” She had given the extra information so I could look for her later.
That day was a Friday, a beautiful one, in 1987.
Today is a Friday too.
The requiem mass had been brief, and the chubby priest seems determined to maintain same pace as family and a few friends stand at Ronke’s graveside. Ronke wished it this way: quiet and simple. I had done my best to grant my late wife her wish.
For a moment I allow myself a luxury, my mind engaged with something beautiful. I listen as the priest, with words, paints a rare picture of heaven. Hell for a long time has been my abode; loneliness my faithful companion. So I let my mind and eyes wander as he makes a shift, describing what is already familiar: a dark, fiery hell. My eyes search for my children. Both of them stand side by side, with Ronke’s mother behind them. Roland has his eyes fixed on his mother’s casket; Rose has her eyes on me. Her look frightens me. It is tradition for a younger person to look away when they meet the gaze of an elder. But this time, I look away. Her eyes, as beautiful as they are, judged me—and the steady flow of tears from my eyes. I know, Rose, my nineteen year old jewel, feels I mock her mother with my tears.
Ronke, I whisper as my eyes rest on her casket. My tears are real; I feel pain, my love.
Truly, my tears are genuine, but they flow not because I just lost my wife. Ronke died only a week ago after a fierce battle with breast cancer, but, in sincerity, I lost my wife fifteen years ago when, for the second time, she learnt that another woman was pregnant for me. Ronke had been heart broken the first time when a neighbour’s daughter Tracy had announced to the world that she was carrying my baby. But her loving heart had healed, after a while. Sadly, it did not when a fling with her friend Amanda produced another child.
“For dust thou art; and unto dust shalt thou return.” I hear the priest say.
I loved you Ronke, I did; I mutter under my breath. You are the only woman I ever loved. I continue, sniffing in-between my words. I wish I had been faithful enough.