ONE THING I NEVER DID By Biodun Busari
Two decades ago…
It was on a Easter Sunday night when the whole world had gone to bed, and my parents were having a hushed conversation in the kitchen, but it was audible enough to wake me up from my sleep on the couch in the living room. It was a frightening argument. It looked like one of the nightmares in which my mother would try to devise means to hide my father from the men of the underworld whenever they laid siege to our neighourhood. And, my father would say, “Men die but once.” The content of their debate was clear to me when they came to the candle-lit sitting room. My mother was begging him not to embark on a particular journey; but he argued that the trip was not his call to make. He explained that he never planned it.
My heart began to pound where I lay with a blanket wrapped around me as they started to exchange words about the matter. My father strolled into the room and came back with his suitcase. It was then I realized that my mother did not want him to travel, as she went on her knees pleading with him.
“Please, don’t go,” she sobbed, “for the sake of our children.”
“They’ll be fine with or without me.” He responded with a heavy heart. “Everything will be fine, I can’t sit here and do nothing.”
He pulled my mother up, looked passionately into her eyes and kissed her. Then, he came to me without knowing that I was awake. He stooped and dropped a kiss on my forehead. He lifted his suitcase and walked briskly to the door. After he had turned the knob, he looked at my mother and grinned: “Please, nurture my boy to become a brave and strong man.”
He went out and shut the door behind himself. My mother could not fight back the tears that flooded her eyes. I did not have strength to console her when I stood up and stayed by the window. I stared at the streets. They were dark and deserted. I watched him walk into the streets, swiftly. He never looked back. I pitied him as he walked through the cold weather alone. I prayed silently that he could look back so that I could wave him, “Goodbye.” But, he never did.
I peep from the window every Easter Sunday night, hoping I can see him on that road he took for his trip, many years ago. But, he is not among the crowd. Whenever my mother tells the story to my sisters, I don’t say a thing. I prefer to be silent, since I never said a word on the night he was leaving. I could have lent my voice. I could have joined my mother to beg him to stay or better still, I could have said, “Goodbye.” I have learnt to always share my opinion in every matter since the incident. That was the one thing I never did when my father went on his last journey.