There are some names you hear and you never forget. Imamuli is one of those names for me. I never even learnt its meaning or origin. The Imamuli I met is beautiful and her eyes shine like the stars. Wherever she is I hope she still shines.
I woke up and she wasn’t there. I reached out for her just in case my eyes were playing games with me. The familiar outline that crisscrossed my sheets every other night was gone. Her purse was gone. She didn’t need her purse to make the early morning coffee she could not do without. Her clothes were not neatly folded on the drawers where i had left them after undressing her last night. Imamuli had no problem walking around in her birthday suit. I smiled as i remembered the first night she slept over. I had almost gotten a heart attack from running round the house, trying to pull down the window blinds before she sashayed her naked way past them. The neighbors thought me weird enough as it were.
Before Imamuli, I was the puzzle with the missing pieces. Surely it would take more than this five-foot high woman to fill in the blank spaces of my life. One woman could never be enough to sort me out, i had boasted many a time to my friends. It turned out i wasn’t missing pieces, just something to keep the pieces from falling apart. Imamuli turned out to be the glue.
Last night, Imamuli hit me. And then she cried while i rocked her to sleep. It took a long time for the tears to stop falling and for her to sleep to. With every tear drop, a part of my soul leaked away.
“I would have told you eventually” I said to her before the slap and the tears.
“Eventually???” she asked looking at me incredulously. “Pray tell when or what is eventually to you? When you are dead??” The British accent was back. The one she used with the obnoxious sales girl at the grocery store.
“I am supposed to be your best friend. Every other freaking person knew except me. How could you let me find out from someone else. How could you have gone through these past months and not needed me when all i do is need you? And I am not even the one with cancer.”
“Maybe it is because I am not weak and needy like you,” I replied.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I had made a mistake. The slap that followed confirmed it.
“There is a difference between being needy and needing you,” She said in a voice that would have felled giants and then the tears began to fall.
I had held her and whispered how sorry I was. She had not said another word. I had hoped that morning would come and it would be as if none of it had ever happened. Not yesterday, not two months ago when I got my results from the lab, not whenever this evil decided to wreck its havoc on my body…I would give anything to take it all back.
I got out of bed and stepped onto the balcony. In another four hours, I would be up for my first round of chemotherapy. And then what? Imamuli was gone and I couldn’t blame her. Who could blame her? She had been through so much already in her short life. She didn’t need me or this cancer stealing the laughter from her mouth, silencing the joy she just started to feel, standing in the way of her dreams.
“Hey!” A voice called out.
I turned around and there she was. She was backing the sun but even with her puffy eyes, I had never seen anything more beautiful.
“You are dressed.” I said.
She eyed me, daring me to say more.
“Yes. I went to the store to buy stuff to cook breakfast.”
This from the woman who burnt even toast bread. I wanted to laugh but my cheeks still stung from the night before so i walked over and kissed her instead.
“You are not going to die, dammit. I will not let you die, you hear?” She said as she reached up to cradle my head. “I need you too damned much for you to die”.
My cheeks were disinclined towards getting fresh abuse so I agreed with every word she said. As I held her, I realized – this was as complicated as it got and as simple as it would ever be. For my life to make sense, I needed for this woman to need me. If she ever decided self-sufficiency was the way, then there was no telling if wholeness would ever find me again. Chemotherapy could only go so far.
Song of the day: Dido-Who makes you feel?