I returned from school and walked up the main road to my parents fabric shop. My mother was behind the counter, my father on the phone. I put my school bag down in front of the counter, and slouched over the top. My mum casually stood there and said “your uncle is a bit ill, hes in hospital”. Ok, I thought. The thought registered for a second and then was gone. I picked up my bag and made haste to go to the back room. The shop was a long rectangular block, and the backroom was at the furthest end. I stopped at some rails, to look at some clothes; the door was in front of me, to my right.
My mum rushed past, to answer her phone. She was just on the other side of the door, I could hear her voice. I heard the tone falter and break. I felt the blood leave my body and all the warmth it had. My mum rushed out, her voice shaking “you uncle has collapsed” she said. She was frantically zipping up her handbag. Dad started pulling the shutter down and they rushed out into the car.
I was instructed to go home and wait for my little brother to return from school. I walked a brisk pace, with thoughts flowing through my mind. My heart thudding, each step was painful. I didn’t know what was happening, everything was happening so fast. A sudden vision came into my mind and I pushed it away. I saw people gathered as though a funeral gathering. No, that was impossible. Hes fine I thought, a healthy young man, well not old. He doesn’t smoke, he’s not diabetic and there is no possible risk factor at all.
I sat restlessly on the sofa, waiting for my little brother to arrive, or for a phonecall. My mobile phone lay abandoned on its side, my coat flung on the edge of the sofa. I sent my little brother off to mosque and I sat there with a tv blaring, sat in the dim lamplight of a dark day. The time was painful to watch it go so slowly, eventlessly, with no news.
At six o’clock my brother returned from mosque and sat down to watch his cartoons, not knowing of the situation due to being at such a sensitive age. I went to the bathroom, to prepare myself for the evening prayer.
The call for prayer arrived, it was six forty-five. In mid prayer, just before the end, the phone rang. I paused my prayer and ran to get the phone. It was my mother. Her voice was quite normal “he’s gone” she said, and in the background I could hear muffled cries. I felt that feeling again, the feeling of losing all warmth from my body and feeling the blood circulation freeze. It felt like a cold burning sensation, a dramatic sudden fear. I put the phone down, slowly.
After completing my prayer, I made my way up the stairs and landed at the top in a crumpled heap. I could not believe it, it couldn’t be true. The tears flowed through my eyes like monsoon rainfall in a tropical rainforest. I sobbed to myself, alone on those stairs, for quite a long time. My little brother came out and looked up at me. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t understand.
My mother and father were at my uncles house, so was my older brother, my other brother was abroad. The hours went by in wet memories and regrets. At twelve o’ clock, my father arrived to pick us up and take us there to my cousins house.
I remember walking through the front door, seeing everyone, I felt as though I had missed everything in those few hours. I saw my cousin sister, sat towards the top of the stairs, leaning on her auntys shoulder. Her elder brother sat a few stairs below, smiling into the air. Little kids were running around making noise. I peered into the living room, towards the left of the hall. It was the vision, I had envisioned before it had happened. I stood in the doorway, watching my cousins sit silently on the floor. then, a woman walked in and hugged my cousins sister-in-law, and they cried. This was what I didn’t want to see. I slowly backed myself out of there. I walked up the stairs and sat at the top. I listened to my aunty and my cousin talk about my uncle.
It was still so unbelievable, I felt as though I was living a dream, an unpredicted nightmare that wasn’t going to end. I settled into bed that night, with my younger cousin sister, who had just lost her father. We talked of the strangeness, we talked of how will everyone cope?
I remember telling her, three months before, of a friend of mine who had lost her father. My cousin said “I don’t know hat I would do if I lost mine”. These words continuously echoed through my head since that night we talked. Even to this day those words spin in my head and I can’t forget them.