The Day You Died.
I was at my desk. There were a lot of documents to go through. I was having a migraine, I can remember. I usually have those but on that day, it was a bit more severe. I thought I could get rid of it with my usual dosage.
I swallowed hard as I shut my eyes, forcing the tablet down my gullet. I don’t like taking tablets and you always chided me for that. Called me a baby. When you became ill, you’d show me how to take them. Four, five six tablets. All at once. Down your throat. Without a flinch. You amazed me.
I remember the moment, going through the Dematek file. There had been a supply and I was told to ensure the inventory hadn’t been doctored. The call came in as I punched the soft buttons on my phone’s calculator. A strange number. I wasn’t in the mood for calls. I didn’t even know who was calling or cared to know. I ignored.
The number called again. And again. I picked on the fourth call.
“Yeah, who’s this?”
“Good morning. Are you Mr David Dappa?”
“Yes, who’s asking?”
“Do you know any Ms. Omasiri Benibo?”
Oma? Who the heck was this person and how the heck did they know about me and Oma? I thought to myself. We’d been very discreet. Always meeting at places where nobody knew us. We called ourselves at odd hours and shared intimate moments in rarely used hotels. We were hiding what we had from prying eyes.
“Who’s asking all these questions?”
“Mr Dappa, can you please come to St. Vincent’s Hospital at Richard Mansel Road? It’s an emergency and your number is first on the call log.”
I remembered that call. It had been by 5:25am. Just five minutes before my alarm would’ve woken me up.
“Oma. Good morning. You’re up early.”
“I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking of what you said last night.”
I’d told her I loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
“I’m sorry. I messed up your night.”
“No. No, you didn’t. I’d been waiting to hear that for a long time. I finally did and… it felt unreal. Like something from a dream that you wish was reality.”
“It wasn’t a dream, Oma.”
“I know that. But, I keep feeling like… it’s never going to happen.”
I told her that it would. I told her to not give up on what we had. I told her that I loved her… again.
My migraine intensified at what I had just heard.
“Mr Dappa? Are you there? Mr Dappa?”
“Y.. Yes. I’m here. What happened?”
“You need to rush down here immediately, Mr Dappa. She’s in a very terrible situation and there are some documents that need to be signed before we proceed with further treatments.”
I took the phone away from my ear and stared at it. What the fuck was he talking about? That couldn’t be Oma. No. Oma was safe. At home. In the company of her kids. Her husband. Her family. The people who loved her. The people who she was planning to elope from with me to some African country in the near future where we would get married and begin a new life. Oma wasn’t lying in a critical condition in some St Vincent’s Hospital. He was obviously joking.
“Mr Dappa. Are you on your way?”
“I… yes. I’m coming.”
I ended the call, and made another call.
It rang. My heart lept. You surely would pick and tell me all of that was just a hoax by some scammer who wanted to be silly so early in the morning. You’d tell me that you still planned to meet me later that day, at our usual hotel. You’d tell me that you loved me and couldn’t wait to see me. I could almost hear your voice.
The voice wasn’t yours.
The voice still wasn’t yours. A whisper in the background. The phone changing hands.
“Mr David. It’s me again. I told you your number is the first on her call log. We’re not joking here. This is a life and death situation. There was a hit-and-run. If you don’t show up within the hour Ms. Omasiri may lose her life. You need to hurry up.”
I ended the call. Dropped the phone on my desk and jumped away from it.
My head was banging.
My heart was racing.
My world was spinning.
Oma. Oma. Oma. No.
I arrived at St Vincent’s Hospital 67 minutes later.
It was raining heavily, the day you died.