And then the dreaded moment was there, and with a mournful hymn, the actual burial began.
I felt my legs begin to tremble, and my father drew me closer to him. I did not weep or wail as the coffin was being lowered, but I felt the trembling that had started in my legs spread throughout my body until I was visibly shaking and struggling to breathe as I felt my chest constrict so tightly that I thought I was going to pass out.
Somehow I managed to drop the traditional clump of soil on the coffin, then breaking free from my father, I stumbled through the throng of mourners, away from the grave.
My sister quickly followed me, but when she finally caught up with me a few meters from the gravesite, on the fringes of a neighbour’s garden, I sent her away.
“Leave me alone! I want everyone to just leave me alone! Please!” I begged desperately. “Stephanie, please don’t push us away. We just want to help,” she pleaded.
“You can’t help. We have just buried him and now he’s gone forever, and no one can change that, so please just leave me alone!” I cried in response, the tears that had been frozen at the burial, now flowing freely.
She was visibly taken aback by the vehemence of my reaction, and actually took a step backwards.
“Alright, I’ll leave you alone - for now. Just remember we are all here for you,” she said, her own eyes welling up, and I felt a twinge of guilt for attacking her with my pain.
“I know,” I nodded, and after a moment’s hesitation, she gave in and turning sadly, walked away.
So strong was the sense of loss and pain, that I wanted to scream and scream until I had forced it all out, but I knew that would only attract unwanted attention; so, I bit down on it, and placing my hands on my knees for support, I bent over, allowing it to wash over me.
A few minutes later, I heard approaching footsteps and looked up expecting to see my sister or father, only for my eyes to land on Chris!
“Are you alright?” he asked, his voice full of concern.
It was a stupid question so; I gave a stupid answer.
“Yes, I’m great, thanks,” I answered sarcastically.
“We’re leaving now; I just came to say bye.”
“Bye,” I replied curtly.
“I guess I’ll see you when you get back to Kampala,” he said uncertainly, not quite sure how to deal with this ice-cold version of me.
“No, you won’t; what for?”
“Just to know how you are doing,” he fumbled.
“You don’t need to know that. All that was left between you and I has just been buried; so, there’s no longer a reason for us to stay in touch. I’m finally free of you!” I stated bluntly.
“Was I really that bad to you?” he asked, shaking his head in sad disbelief at my words and tone.
“Worse. First, you took me away from my family, then you beat me down and broke me, and then you took my son, the one person I had left in this world, and wouldn’t even call me when I was losing him; so, yes Chris, you really were that bad to me. But now, after all these years, I’m finally free of you, and I can’t begin to explain how good that feels.”
“I can’t go back and change things; I wish I could, but I can’t. Yes, C.G is gone, but we can’t act like he was never here. You and I will always be bound together – not because he has died, but because he lived,” he said grandiosely. His arrogance, and him including C.G’s name in it, made me sick.
“I have nothing to do with you anymore, Chris; you have buried your son, now leave,” I ordered icily, and then stalked off back towards the burial grounds and my family.