This place had a scary aura around it. The tall pine trees cast dark shadows upon the graves; some graves were new, well decorated with white tiles and flowers, others were crudely plastered with cement while some were half open graves, perhaps damaged by the rain or rejected by earth. It was quiet in here except for the scratching sounds of two men digging a grave. Flashes of images burned through my mind. Every swoop of shovel burrowing through the earth cracked through my pain. The hole was deep enough now. 4 ft. The diggers stopped.
The priest was standing beside me. His white gown touched my black gown. His soft hums of hymns threw a cloak of grief over me. I saw Dozie hand something wrapped in white cloth to the diggers. Saw his quivering lips and tears dripping down his eyes. I was confused.
What’s happening I screamed at Dozie, my hands shaking his shoulders.
He didn’t utter a word. The priest began to sprinkle holy water on the wrapped object, as he murmured a funeral prayer.
“Amen…” I echoed, my voice laden with intense pain.
I didn’t understand what was happening but grief stood in the air.
The diggers reached for the white wrapped package and began to lower it into the hole. A scream escaped from me as I fought to reach them. Dozie held me firm in his embrace. My tears soiled his shirt.
That’s my baby that they want to bury. Dozie, that’s our son. Do something please. Tears exploded in me.
My arms thrashed about and my voice screamed at its peak.
“Stop… Stop.” Dozie called to me.
His hands held my arms firmly to the bed. I opened my eyes. The room was very dark except for the yellow hue of the low burning lantern at the mouth of the door.
The rain was drumming on our zinc roof. Tiny splashes of rain flew into the room through our slightly open window.
“You were having a nightmare. Dozie said, his hand patted my head.
No, it wasn’t. I cried pushing him away.
Our baby was buried yesterday. IkeikeIkenna is lying in that grave. My voice broke into a wail.
The pain was fresh again, this time real not in the numbness of a dream.
I felt my heart pounding, my head aching and began having flashes of the pains encountered in the labour room. I remembered the joy of the naming ceremony where my mother-in-law had blessed our child and named him Ikenna. Then, I remembered the mother-son moments; my baby’s chuckle, the light in his eyes as he suckled my bosom.
“This cannot be. Ikenna lives still…” I resolved, standing from the bed and folding the blanket in my hand.
Dozie watched me in silence. I placed the blanket at the crook of my armpit and reached for the hot water flask on the table. Dozie stood up. His eyes followed me as I headed for the door.
Amanda! Where are you heading to? He asked.
I turned. My ears reeled at the absurdity of his question.
I am going to the cemetery. It’s raining and our baby needs me. I replied solemnly hovering between sanity and insanity.
Written by CHIOMA NGAIKEDI