How It Started

by Yomi Ṣode

When she asked, in her less matriarchal voice, whether I had spoken to you lately, I responded with a gentle no, wondering why. She mentioned Uncle D had spotted Big Mummy in the hospital. Her tiny frame wrapped from the brisk wind outside, wearing her bold yet formal bifocal glasses. Uncle D saw her in the reception area on more than one occasion, waiting to be seen. Mum told me they would greet each other like awkward encounters at bus stops. They never asked why they were there. That cultural thing, you know? Treating illness like a wet dream, tying the sheet in knots to cover the embarrassment. It was as if they were strangers in that airy, clinical room. No one could tell the depth of their closeness. They would sit amid the ambience of the clock. The metronome of the second hand ticking louder until one of their names was called, breaking the melancholy loop. Leaving the other more alone. I should mention that Uncle D had a cancer scare roughly a year or so ago. I’m not sure when exactly. That cultural thing. A lump the size of a table tennis ball just above his shoulder blade, refusing to budge. I’d look, wanting to pop it with something sharp, a spindle to cast it to sleep forever. He saw Big Mummy in there, until the lump gave in and he went into remission. He saw her in that waiting room as branches shed their skin anew. He saw her as the sun shone over everyone, even the most unholy. He saw her on mornings his body trembled beneath his clothes. He saw her until the morning he no longer had to see her again. The same morning her secret left her. Flying its nest, and finding a home in him, as they both wept.