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I remember when we met. Not the exact day, you’ll understand why…but I remember it was five years ago. We were at Sanyu FM, I was interning and you were sitting-in on the Love Zone. You said you were 21. I did not believe you. I envied you. You were taller than I was, a seemingly confident bubble of glee, as tall as a bubble can get anyway. I wore a lot of greys, blues and blacks at the time. You, my dear were all color! Everything from your handbag, to your notebook, to your phone and your shoes screamed color! You wore purples, pinks, greens and reds like flags. You drew flowers everywhere! You loved color and wore these different colored contact lenses everyday…if it wasn’t the contact lenses it was the spectacles…and yet I suspect you had 20-20 vision.

There was nothing pastel about you…you gave all. In the first weeks, just watching you seemed to exhaust me. You had so much energy, I wondered if maybe you were on some sort of sugar high. You told me about the diabetes, but even as we grew closer and I continued to see the scars, you seemed to transcend it, to the point that it was hard to imagine you had a harbored a life-threatening monster all your life. I mean, girl!! You hard a tattoo, multiple piercings …and there would be more tattoos! And then Zaabu came…and literally turned your life upside down! They say mothers straddle two realms when they’re giving birth. You never talked about it but I know there’s every possibility you’d never have made it out…but you did…and he turned your life topside once again. He was your everything…you centre…your anchor, it seemed to me.

You giggled a lot and succeeded in scaring me Sonia…you took to me too fast. I was suspicious. You called me dollface and darling and wanted to hear all my stories. You were so bubbly, so passionate… about everything. You designed your own jackets. In truth they were just jackets onto which you added pizzazz by bedazzling or layering. You learnt crochet! On Youtube! You cut your hair and rocked that crop. Then rocked the Mohawk that you wore immediately after. I was in awe. How did you manage to hold your own throughout all the changes? I got whiplash if my hairdresser suggested a new type or color of extensions!

Then you brought banana muffins to our Thursday meetings, you never asked for a cent, we could never get them anywhere you said. It was your treat, and only on Thursday. I found them Sonia!!! They are JAVAS! You sneaky girl!

You can understand my suspicion. I hope you can. I couldn’t imagine why you would want to be friends with me, me, the perennially damaged soul.

I have not really lost anyone close to me. This is how…leading up to their deaths, I drift away from them unintentionally. Sometimes I do not even notice. We are usually very close at some point but at the time of the death…sometimes I haven’t seen them for months. This is what happened with you. I do not know if the cosmos is trying to protect me from pain, but that’s the most sensible excuse I can come up with. I just thought how I couldn’t have possibly been able to handle your death had we been as close as we were two years ago. Before Sierra Leone. Before I let the distance get in the way.

I am sad Sonia. I am really sad. And I am really sorry. I was selfish…I let everything get in the way of our friendship God knows you tried. I have a knack of chasing the people who do not want me and running from those that do. Maybe that is where we got each other because for someone who was so happy…it saddened me that you also seemed very sad. Underneath the color, the giggles and flamboyance, there was poignancy. Some days, when we chatted or spoke it was almost tangible. Maybe that is what scared me, because I saw me.

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The camera I used to take these pictures, I had just received as an early birthday present from my aunt. You looked so lovely in each of them. We took more. You looked confident and different in every shot…we took some more on that camera.

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When I saw you last, it was at another 4040 charity fundraising game (at the last one you passed by to bring chocolate fudge cake from Javas for my birthday), we bumped into each other. No, technically, I didn’t bump into you…I found you. Seated at the entrance… you were wearing maroon I think. You looked…pensive. Like something wasn’t quite right. I was minding my cousins that day ( 9 and 3) …a little stressed out because nothing had worked out in the order I’d wanted. I was also rushing to a bridal shower of someone I barely knew. I said I would call. I should have. I should have stayed a little longer but no matter…these things work out the way they should.

Thank you for the color you brought into my life….

Rest dollface…

You will be missed…dearly.

P.S…24 hours after I received the news of your passing. I sat at my desk at work to write this…and there was a torrent of pain searing through me. I had not thought I would cry…but there I was, chest heaving…trying not to attract attention, not looking up and using my braids as a curtain. I woke with puffy eyes today. This has only happened once before…I had swallowed something I was allergic to. I shouldn’t mourn you it seems…so I will celebrate you Sonia, Peppa, Pepper, MamaZaabu…

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