LIFE, ABOVE ALL : Episode 1 – 10



My mother has been hospitalized for weeks now, awaiting death as her illness is terminal.

She is in her early forties- she looks more like eighty.
Once she had been beautiful, everywhere she had gone, people had gazed at her in admiration but her illness has suddenly taken away all that was beautiful.

Now her eyes are pale and glassy, her skin sallow and her lips have lost its red.

In the eight weeks she has been admitted, my father hasn’t visited her or even asked about her. He has been up and about attending to other important things, so he said.

Walking into the hospital, I went round into the room she was in and pulled the curtain around. There was no one in the room expect my mother.

I knelt beside her, tenderly holding her hand then I got a squeeze, it wasn’t a comforting squeeze. It was a jerking, seizure kind of squeeze. Still I held on.

Staring at her frail body, I sensed death was near. Her eyes were sort of staring at something far away and her breathing was fast and shallow.

‘Are you feeling okay?’ I asked
She gave my hand a lucid squeeze and said, ‘Ganizani my dearest son.’
She could barely summon the strength to talk and I could see she was fighting to stay conscious.


‘You and your siblings should watch out for each other.’
I merely nodded in agreement.
‘Do not grieve for me, your life shouldn’t come to stand still when I am gone, you must move on.’
‘Please don’t talk like that,’ I said in a whisper
‘And,’ she added, ‘When life gets tough and you feel like giving up, look up to your creator, he will be your strength.

I blinked away the tears that were threatening to surface. I couldn’t succumb to my emotions not in front of her.
She must have been exhausted from this small exertion so she lay back upon the pillow and tried to catch her breath. Then she closed her eyes.

After a couple of minutes, her skin grew cooler and the sense of movement beneath her hand stopped.
‘Amama! My voice caught in my throat as my love for her overwhelmed me.
‘Amama!’ I screamed.

The nurse walked in and checked her pulse she gave a slight nod to confirm my worst fear.
My mother was gone.

My mother had died peacefully she had gone to be with her maker. Her last breath was beautiful- just like her.

The nurse walked towards me and touched my hand with limp fingers, ‘I am sorry for your loss,’ she said softly. ‘May your mother’s soul rest in perfect peace.’

‘Thank you,’ I mumbled

Then she left the ward quietly to let the doctor know that my mother had passed on.

As I waited for the doctor, I looked at my mother’s lifeless body and wondered why God had been so unfair to us. Who would protect us from the cruelty of this world now?

‘I am sorry for your loss,’ the doctor said
He delicately draped a white bed sheet upon my mother’s body.

Then he held my shoulder and smiled sadly, ‘You need to go home and inform your father and siblings.’

At the mention of my siblings, my stomach immediately tightened. How would they handle the news of our mother’s death? They were too young to handle such kind of grief.

I nodded my head, turned and walked out of the ward.

I walked into compound an hour later feeling the weight of the world descending onto my shoulders. When my youngest sister Thokozani (6) saw me, she ran towards me and I scooped into my arms and started walking briskly to the house.

‘Ganizani, you are back?’ Tiyamike my immediate young sister asked.
‘Yes,’ I replied putting Thoko on the couch
‘How is mother doing?’

‘Sit down for a moment I have something to tell the both of you.’
She sat on the edge of the chair, from the way she was eyeing me, I think she could tell that that I was about to deliver some bad news.

I looked into my thirteen year old sister’s eyes and said ‘Amama, wamwalira.’
Tiya froze at my words her tone was a mix of confusion and anger. ‘You are joking right?’
Thoko looked at me with a blank expression, ‘Will she ever come back?’
‘No, she has gone to be with God in heaven.’
‘Okay,’ she said, her voice was void of all emotions.

‘No, she can’t be dead,’ Tiya shook her head as tears filled her eyes.

Tiya’s tears broke my heart but I didn’t cry, I had to remain strong I didn’t want to break down in front of them.

Then she sank to the floor, wailing loudly, ‘Amayi!’
I tried to find the words to comfort her but I was never good with words, I was finding it really hard to say the right thing.

I carried Thoko and put her on my laps, she let me hug her close. She buried her head into my shoulder gasping.
‘Breath baby, breath,’ I said softly.
‘Mummy is never coming back,’ she said, her voice was a broken whisper

‘It will be okay,’ I said, all the while trying to believe the comforting words I was telling my little sister.

The news of my mother’s death spread swiftly through the community. The next couple of days the house was always full of nieghbours and relatives.
To my surprise, even people who had never said a word to my mother, all came to mourn her.
There was a gathering of men sitting under the tent outside our house, some of her close relatives sat on the floor around the room most of them were saying good things and telling stories about my mother.

Unlike my sisters, I did not shed any tears not until three days later when I saw my mother’s body. That’s when it hit me that she was really gone.
It was at that moment that my numbness turned into grief.
A deep pain swept through my body, I felt like my heart had been torn from my chest.

Tiya wept in rage as I helplessly watched by.

They tried to comfort us but it didn’t work, this was bigger than us.
No one understood how we felt, they didn’t understand what we had lost, how could they when their memory and their experience of our mother was quiet different from ours.

My name is Ganizani Phiri, I am 16 years old and this is our story.

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