Mfumu’s Weeds

To say I was excited when I got my grade for the dissertation three weeks ago would be an understatement. Distinction: For a research I worked my butt off in the middle of the most emotionally trying time of my life, the sort of acknowledgement I needed to confirm whether I was right to be in Europe at the time even though home was calling. 

I posted it in my family WhatsApp group and then called my mother. We had known she was battling cancer for more than a month. She told me she was proud of me. Her voice was strained, I asked to talk to her later. 

“Chawama, mwe Mfumu,” she said. King she would call me. I was always a king to her.

The next day my siblings, on a conference call, told me she was excited about the dissertation news and it was all she had been talking about the night before. They told me to come back home soon. She needs to actually see it. I should have known then things were not so good. They knew I was travelling back in 10 days but when I think back to it, I realise they were sending me a signal to come back even sooner. 

I don’t remember much about that Sunday, but I know I will never forget that Monday morning. 14, June, 2021. 

I woke up to a text from a close friend that his mother had died. I sent him a message that if he needed me, he shouldn’t even hesitate to reach out to me any time, any day, and any way. 

And I meant it.  

I went for a walk and left my phone. After my walk I found a text message from my brother that I should call him. I did and he broke the news to me that at 07:45 that morning, my mother had died. 

“Mum is gone,” he said. “You have to come home.”

Being a continent away posed its own challenges from testing for COVID to switching and finding flights. Suffice to say I arrived six days after my mother’s burial. My sister and brother met me at the airport and took me straight to our mother’s final resting place. 

I have not been myself since then. My mind is walking, running, speeding, and flying to things, places, and conversations that we had or never had. I don’t even know. I am constantly finding myself crying every time I am thinking about her. I am blaming myself for some things. I can taste the tears on my trembling lips as I type this. This hurts so much, and I can never ever accept this as fair at all. I was never prepared for this.

Right now people are weird and infuriating. I mean, you have no idea how I am feeling, you think you do but you don’t. so please shut up. Please ease up on the clichés, my mother is not in a better place. Take your nonsense so far away from me. I’ve always had trouble letting people in and this situation has showed me that keeping people at a distance is probably the best thing I have ever done in my life.

She’s in a better place? Really? Who even started this dung? How about I send your loved one to a better place too, how would that work for you, you insensitive prick? How about you lie neatly on the ground and I run over you with my mother’s car? I am 100 per cent sure the bump when I go over you will not only jerk me into a smile but also conjure up at least some laughter in that car. 

That would be nice. 

On the day of my mother’s burial which I had watched on my small laptop screen miles away. 



This one person for some reason decided to video call me without notice. It’s my fault I answered that call. Maybe I shouldn’t have. 

“Why do you look like that?” the person said. I guess they saw downcast eyes or whatever.

“I was crying,” I said.

“But why are you crying? I was talking to your sister earlier today that instead of crying about your mum you must celebrate her life. This is the time to be strong.” 

[implication: You’re being weak]

I ended that conversation immediately. I pushed that phone away from me and watched it in my hand while honestly wishing that person would find the quickest way to the so-called better place. I am not celebrating her life; I am fucking mourning you asshole!

This other person announced to a WhatsApp group that my mother had died, and people should put me in their prayers. This was posted before the person even talked to me, and this is someone that was supposedly close to me.  Didn’t talk to me or ask if I wanted to tell people or anything. 

Another person threw a tantrum because I was not returning their calls. Really? My mother just passed, and you want to talk about why I am not answering your calls. How has this become about you? Perhaps your self-centredness and narcissistic behaviour is reason for me not to pick up your calls. Ever think of that? 

Another person I worked with sent condolences to someone else and told them to deliver the message to me. How does that even work? You don’t talk to me but tell somebody else. Like really? 

I have concluded that I do not understand people at all. 

While I was still away, I remember video calling my eldest brother. Surrounded by several people in the funeral home, he said “I can easily count at least 10 people who would have been better off dead instead of mum. Whoever is handling the death shift screwed up big time on this one.” My brother was right. I could have given anything to be in that room because that would be an easy count for me too. 

Here is the thing, apart from Barbie, no one asked me how I felt or what I needed. Barbie was the perfect rabbit in all of this. Barbie only held me when I cried. Sat next to me in silence and followed my pace whether I needed laughter, tears, or silence. If people had asked me instead of throwing those meaningless words at me, they’d probably know I needed to be left alone. I would rather talk about anything else with you than about my mother.

Do you even know the type of nonsense I’ve had to go through for me to just get here and see where my mother rests? In the last two years I’ve only seen my mother for like two months. The pain of coming home and realising the picture of the situation you had while away wasn’t the true picture because information was held from you? I wasn’t there when she was fighting the cancer. I wasn’t there when she needed me most and don’t you think that bothers me?

I miss her very much. I had never ever thought my life without her. This was the most important person in my life and you cannot approach me so callous. Leave me the hell alone if you can’t shut up. I don’t need your words or your sympathy. Don’t tempt me to take you to a better place. Let me mourn MY mother, MY way. It’s on me to survive this tragedy. Keep your Bible verses and careless religious rhetoric to yourself. Quit checking in please..

I repeat. 

Keep your words and scriptures to yourself. I don’t need it. I don’t need you. All I want is my mother back. I could care less about you and how uncomfortable this may be for you, but if you can’t die to bring my mother back to me then please leave me alone. 

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