My January Blues

Jan 4 2017 - 8:35am
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

By Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

I have grown to dread the month of January. It started with the January of 2003. I had been looking forward to that year, it was supposed to have been a special one, the year I turned forty. On January 4th 2003, I was in London. I checked my email at approximately 11.45pm, there was a message from my younger sister Bunmi in Lagos. It read Daddy-Urgent.

I had seen that message before. In March 2002, I was in Zurich attending a meeting. I opened my email around midnight, and there was a message from my sister. Daddy-Urgent . Our father had suffered a stroke, and was in a critical condition. I collapsed in the arms of my friend Zeedah in Zurich, crying over and over again, ‘God please let him wait for me, I want to say goodbye’.

I rushed back to Lagos to find him at death’s door. I had never seen my father so ill. I held him. We cried. I prayed. I said goodbye just in case he had to go. He didn’t go then. He survived the stroke. He got better. Even though the stroke left him with some mild brain damage, he got stronger, and save for the occasional memory lapses, we had our father back. On December 22nd 2002, we celebrated his 70th birthday. His birthday was in June, but we postponed the party till he was much better. It was a nice celebration, short, simple and moving. During the birthday celebrations, I noticed that he was rather excitable and his memory lapses were more frequent. He kept introducing us his children to our first cousins who we had grown up with. I left Lagos for London at the end of December. I told my sister and brother-in-law to keep an eye on him.

What happened to my father is by far the greatest challenge I have had to contend with. I will never get over the pain of losing him that way. Every time one year draws to an end and another is about to begin, my heart starts to pound faster. For at least five years after January 2003, I would spend January 2nd in my room, refusing to go out or interact with people. Over time, I started to tell myself that gloom and despair is no way to greet a new year. A New Year is supposed to signify new beginnings, resolving to do better, making plans and having hope. It took a while, but I stopped locking myself up away from the world on January 2nd. In spite of the pain that never went away, I decided I would spend the day like everyone else, celebrating life and the New Year.

Then, on January 4th 2003 I got the email. Daddy-Urgent. I opened it prepared for the worst. It was even worse. He was missing. A 70-year-old man with memory loss was missing in a city of over sixteen million people, millions of fast cars and buses, bad Samaritans, lurking ritualists, lazy and ill-equipped police and thousands of ditches. On the morning of January 2nd 2013, my father told my mother that he wanted to go and see his former driver, who was also a mechanic, about fixing his car. My mother asked him if he needed anyone to go with him, but my father said no. That was the last we saw of him. My father went missing and was never found, dead or alive. We did everything and searched everywhere. We involved the police, media, family members, neighbors and volunteers. We prayed, fasted and searched for answers no human being could provide.

Over the past fourteen years, I have written about my father many times. I have described what happened on January 2nd 2003, and spoken about the unbearable sense of loss and lack of closure that followed. I have often described the special relationship I had with my father growing up and how he nurtured me into a confident young woman. It was my father who taught me how to communicate clearly. He would say, ‘Write well and speak well. That is how you get people to take you seriously’. He was a strong disciplinarian who did not spare the rod (which I received many times) but he was a loving and compassionate father who did all he could to give his three children the best. I have faced many challenges in my lifetime.

What happened to my father is by far the greatest challenge I have had to contend with. I will never get over the pain of losing him that way. Every time one year draws to an end and another is about to begin, my heart starts to pound faster. For at least five years after January 2003, I would spend January 2nd in my room, refusing to go out or interact with people. Over time, I started to tell myself that gloom and despair is no way to greet a new year. A New Year is supposed to signify new beginnings, resolving to do better, making plans and having hope. It took a while, but I stopped locking myself up away from the world on January 2nd. In spite of the pain that never went away, I decided I would spend the day like everyone else, celebrating life and the New Year.

For full story, click here

http://abovewhispers.com/2017/01/03/loud-whispers-january-blues/

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

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